The Silence Within

She waited for that open door, just the briefest moment of silence. After what seemed to be an eternity, she jumped. She dove, she leaped in with her comment in the midst of a tumultuous and lively conversation. And she was knocked over like a gust of wind soaring past the helpless dandelion.

Politics, children, college, politics, news, entertainment, politics.

The words passed by her. Or was it that they passed over her?

Frustrated? It was not evident to the human eye. What was she thinking, where no one could hear her? What would she have said, if we had heard her?

Random comments interjected at random moments. One minute the conversation centered around the ensuing emotional loss after an historic building had burnt to the ground. Like a mosquito lying in wait, the sting came suddenly as she swats the conversation with a verbal fly swatter. She does not want to discuss a burned-down building. Oh yes, she does. She pushes, shoves the conversation rapidly to another building, another state, another decade. She wants to discuss the Twin Towers.

9/11. Emotions flooding forward as we recalled the ‘how’, the ‘why’.

I am wondering why.Why can’t she follow the conversation? Why can’t she discern information? Why don’t we notice her slowly slipping away? Will she ever come back?

The governor. The governor. The governor and his son. The governor’s son. Repeating, changing, each time a slightly different conversation. Who is she referring to, how do we respond?

The purse. The inevitable purse situation. I had mentioned that we were paying for nearly all the incidentals because of the regularly vanishing purse. My brother stated that there was a simple solution. Verify that she has her purse each time you leave with her.

The purse. The same brother has picked her up for a day of activities. There is no purse. Where is the purse? We look everywhere, seemingly. Is it in the car? In the trunk? In a bathroom? It is not. The purse was where she left it on the table as they headed out the door.

Do I feel happy, as though this is some small victory in a smoldering sibling rivalry? No. There is no rivalry. There is no such thing as being right in these situations. There is sadness, overwhelming sadness. There is a shared understanding of the reality. We discuss other coping mechanisms, but the tone is now different. Now there are questions. Have you tried taping reminders for her?

We all struggle in our desire to make life easier for her, simpler, more peaceful. We have a common goal.

She clearly had not been bathing. Again. I had suggested recently that perhaps she had run out of shampoo, and we reviewed where to locate the wall-mounted bottle of shampoo in the shower. She insists there is no confusion. There are political strategists and there are family strategists. We call them Caretakers.

I want to present her to her family as she should be remembered. She should have on clean clothes that are neatly pressed. Her teeth should be brushed. Her hair. Oh, the dilemma of the hair. It should be freshly cut. It should be clean, newly washed. It should be attractively styled. This is how it would have been. I want to create an allure of days gone by. Days when these decisions would be second-nature. She was from the generation that went to the beauty shop each week.

We have an appointment the day before their arrival, with my stylist. No longer do I call her or him a beautician. I don’t know when terminology changed. Is this a relevant question? It is when I mention the appointment because the term ‘stylist’ is a foreign word. So we have an appointment with the beautician. My stylist.

Trisha does an amazing job, bringing fullness to a thinning head of hair from out of nowhere. In amazement I shower her with glowing compliments, assurances of her elegant look, and photos. Am I taking the photos for her, or for me? Pushing the thought aside, I rapidly share the photo with everyone in the family as though she is a work of art that is to be admired. See, your mother looks marvelous! Your grandmother is just glowing! The snapshots have been taken, and now she wants her hair restyled. Once again, it is flat against her head. The bounce and fullness is gone. . . a mirror image of what is happening with her mental faculties, her emotions, with her. Flat. I. . . am trying to fluff her up, like the hair.

I want my mother back. She is disappearing. For today, I have my memories encased in photos.

This is the face of Alzheimer’s

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10 thoughts on “The Silence Within

  1. Wendi Moen September 5, 2012 at 9:46 am Reply

    Such a great description of how it is. I’m sorry for your moms condition. My mother in law had severe dimensia and my grandma was just starting dimensia when she passed about 3 weeks ago. May the Lord grace you all with love and peac as you move through this season.


    • Overwhelmed By Joy September 5, 2012 at 9:52 am Reply

      I am very sorry to hear of your recent loss. I struggled with the content because I didn’t want it to sound so depressing. Some days, it simply is. The raw content hopefully sheds light on a difficult topic. Thank you for stopping by.


  2. maryanneral September 5, 2012 at 10:06 am Reply

    Thank you for sharing. The painful truth is oftentimes hard to write. You managed to do it well.


  3. sagescenery September 5, 2012 at 10:44 am Reply

    Great post!!

    Touches home…lost my Mom, at 90 years old, a year ago…being a caregiver is a full-time job! While she didn’t have Alzheimer’s…she was forgetful, and she was a full-blooded, stubborn, Scicilian Italian…so there you go!!

    I was good to her, for sure, but, I pray my son will be kinder to me, when I’m old…and don’t make sense!

    Keep writing the hard stuff…you’re good at it! God Bless!


    • Overwhelmed By Joy September 5, 2012 at 10:46 am Reply

      I pray my son will be kind to me as well! I am sure you have many remembrances that are just as compelling. Thank you for stopping by to read my blog.


  4. lenwilliamscarver September 5, 2012 at 11:28 am Reply

    Today is the 5th anniversary of my mothers passing from dementia she suffered greatly , we her children suffered more I believe. She also had lung cancer but the dementia the losing of her that way daily was harder for those of us that loved and cared for her.
    I offer you my sympathy on her loss but words are just that…words… with no relief for you although they are offered to do so. She is no longer in any kind of pain or turmoil and you will continully miss her and love her but eventually the pain lessens but never to be forgotten.


    • Overwhelmed By Joy September 5, 2012 at 11:33 am Reply

      I am very sorry for your loss. I agree that words fail to adequately communicate what the heart feels. I struggle with the same emotions, as my mom fights her cancer alongside the dementia. Her physician and I have had some frank, difficult conversations regarding the possible outcomes. . . as though either of us gets to choose that. I understand your struggle all too well.


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