My wife and I are out of town this week, at a series of church meetings in Dallas, about 120 miles from home. Last night, about 9 p.m., a caretaker at the assisted living home where my mother resides (in the same town where we live) called me. She said my mother was very confused and wanted to talk to me.
Mom: Can you come over?
Me: Mom, you know I’m out of town, I left a sign on your door and we talked about my leaving on Sunday. We’ll be back on Wednesday. What’s the matter?
Mom: There was a man over by the sink this morning and he was taking things.
Me: Do you mean the man who came to fix the air conditioner?
Mom: Is that what he was doing?
Me: Yes. I told you he would be there. Now what’s the matter?
Mom: I’m just so mixed up. But I’ll be OK. I’ll give it to the Lord.
(She had moved on Saturday from one apartment to another- same exact layout, but a with a different hallway. She is crying now.)
Me: Good. Give it to God. I’ll be there Wednesday.
Mom: I couldn’t get you on the phone. I wanted to wish you Happy Birthday.
Me: Thank you, Mom. I’ll see you Wednesday. Are you OK now?
I holler a foul word into the night. My birthday is in October.
Last Friday, she asked who the man in the picture on her wall is. It is my brother, whose family she lived with for two years before coming here in January.
She used to be a baker and a caterer. She would cook meals and cakes and pies for a hundred people right in our kitchen and then deliver them with my dad in their car. They paid for my and my brother’s college doing that, back in the 60s. She liked doing it so much she continued the business until the late 90s. Now, we don’t even allow her to have a coffee pot in the room, because it has become too frustrating for her.
It will get worse, I know, much worse, and then she’ll die. Lots of people tell me their own loved ones’ Alzheimer stories, and they are all heart-breaking. But none of them are her story, or mine.