My experiences while living with my mother and her Alzheimer's Disease.(her birthdate = January 2, 1925)

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Dear All,

Well, our Christmas went off just fine. Mama ate about 8 times before David, Linda, and Tara came. She was totally furious with me for not eating every time she did!!

The meal turned out pretty tasty, if I do say so myself. We had ham, turkey, baked potatoes, green beans, and Holiday Cherry Coke Salad. I was worried about the biscuits since I forgot to buy shortening, but found a recipe in a cookbook that called for oil instead of shortening. They weren't Angel Biscuits, but they were good. Mama even ate well after she gave up trying to fix plates for everyone from what was in the fridge!! We had Mrs. Smith's Pecan Pie with ice cream for dessert. It was pretty yummy, too--and no work whatsoever!! Mama didn't want any pie until later. She went into the kitchen, picked up what was left in the pie tin, took the whole thing to her chair in the living room, and scarfed down every crumb--using the knife I had used to cut it as her utensil. Guess it was a good thing I didn't use a sharp knife!!!

After the meal, we exchanged gifts. Over Thanksgiving, Linda had brought her device for studying gemstones. She had looked at Mama's engagement diamond and the one she got when she graduated from college (I think). I told her Aunt Jean and Aunt Ruby Ruth had given me Granny Ratliff's wedding set a while back. They told me I could have the diamond reset if I wanted. Anyway, she looked at that diamond and ended up taking it with her to have it redone for me. The ring is beautiful. Thank you Linda, David, Tommy, Don, and Tara. I just love it. I tried to get a good picture of it, but it is so shiny that the flash reflects too much to really see it. I will try during daylight tomorrow so I can share it with all of you.

Tara had David drive around the pasture so she could take some pictures of cows, old houses, trees, and the creek. She is studying to be a photographer and loves interesting subjects--Thanksgiving she got a picture of me brushing Mama's teeth!! Am sure the cows were much more photogenic than I am!!

Mama ate two or three more times after everyone left--it is hard to keep up with the number when I am with her all day--I am not sure I can count that high, and the meals tend to begin to run together. She went to bed around 5:30 or 6:00. Then she proceeded to call for me to come to her for about an hour. She finally dozed off for a while and then started calling again around 8. I gave her the nighttime meds and she has finally settled down again. I guess I had better go get some rest myself before she decides it is time to eat again!

Hope your day was full of love, joy, and safe journeys.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Michelle, Beverly, and I were sitting around laughing about some of Mama's antics over the past few days. Thought I would share some of these with you today.

Over the weekend Mama tried to feed me many, many times. One of these times she rummaged in the refrigerator for a long, long time, and then she put the jar of peanut butter by my place at the table. I am not sure, but I think it was either a drink or a roll since she put in where she generally puts either of those items.

Later she was digging around in all the cabinets and drawers in the kitchen. I couldn't decide what she wanted. She grabbed the loaf of bread. I was afraid she was going to start tearing it into little pieces so I grabbed a baggie with her cookies in it and handed it to her. She was so happy because evidently that is what she was looking for all the time.

Next we were sitting in the living room watching some television. She handed me a brown ball that looked like chocolate candy. While I was trying to figure out where in the world it had come from, she popped one in her mouth. That was when I discovered it was NOT candy; it was poop. YUCK! And she had popped it into her mouth. I tried to get it out, but she fought me off. I ran and got her toothbrush and put a ton of toothpaste on it and quickly tried to clean up her mouth. I must admit I was gagging the whole time. YUCK!!!! It took a while to get that vision out of my mind.

Last week Mama tried to fix plate after plate after plate after plate to feed herself and anyone else in the house. Beverly would divert her from the refrigerator time after time after time. So Mama told her she was sleepy. Beverly said Mama walked to the kitchen door, turned and grinned at her, and then ran to the refrigerator to get a plate to feed someone.

Friday Beverly was trying to brush cookie crumbs off of Mama's lap because they were EVERYWHERE. She said Mama told her, "That is MINE!" and hit her on the hand. Now Beverly glossed it over, but Mama is pretty strong so I hope it didn't hurt too badly.

Michelle said Mama was coming back from the bathroom at her house last night. Mama started walking toward Michelle's chair. Michelle started to get up asking Mama if she wanted to sit in that chair. Mama sat on her lap and swung her legs over the arm of the chair. Michelle said she was so surprised she didn't know what to do. We were laughing so hard when Michelle told us that I am not sure how long Mama sat there. Beverly wonders if Mama hasn't seen Michelle's kids sit in her lap and decided that might be a cool thing to do.

Well I am off to parts unknown.
Hugs until next time.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Here's a copy of my Christmas letter in case I missed you on snail mail:

Christmas 2003

Dear All,

I know many of you hate these form letters. I really tried to write a personal note in every card, but I wasn’t getting anywhere very quickly. The past couple of years I never even got the cards to the mailbox so guess you will just have to suffer through this or pitch it in with all the others unread—your choice.

Mama is much worse. She seems to be spiraling down daily. My “Mama Stories� can be found in unedited diary format at the following website: If you have access to the internet, you can read about my trials, tribulations, laughter, and tears of dealing with a mother with Alzheimer’s disease.

We now have three workers trading off taking care of Mama. I would be a basket case without them. Michelle comes for the night shift from 10:00 PM to morning. Her shift ends at different times depending on how the night goes. Sometimes she takes Mama to her house for the night so I can get some sleep. When she does that, she just keeps Mama there until she gets her kids ready for school. Then she brings Mama home. Beverly comes in around 6:45 AM and stays until Penny comes. Penny comes in between 9 and 11 AM and stays until I come in from school. I thought I could do the weekends, but Mama’s schedule is just so unpredictable that I wasn’t getting any rest. Beverly, bless her heart, has also started coming in on Saturday morning and staying through until Sunday morning. This has been an unbelievable stress reliever for me.

The Mama-sitters suggested I get a baby monitor so they could hear Mama when she is in her bedroom. That way they can tell when she is up and moving around or needs some assistance without making Mama feel like she is being spied on all the time. They can also get to her before she comes in and wakes me up. Many times every day and night, we hear, “Come to me! Come to my house! Come to me.� She starts out very quietly, and then if no one comes she gets progressively louder until someone shows up in her room. She is so happy to see us that she grins, kisses us on both cheeks, and says, “I love you. You have a pretty thing.� Then we are released to go back to whatever we were doing before we were summoned to the royal bed chambers. Luckily I don’t hear much of this at night since my cousin made the brilliant suggestion that I get one of those “sound� machines that have constant soothing sounds. I just turn that wonderful little machine on, relax, and snooze away. Occasionally Mama sneaks past them and into my room, but usually I have no clue about what is happening outside of my dreams.

I am still trying to “Stomp out Ignorance� (to borrow a phrase from a former co-worker) in sixth grade in Van Vleck. I have three groups of Language Arts (reading, English, writing, etc.). My morning bunch has 15 kids, but my other two bunches have 24 and 25 students. There is a definite difference in energy needed to work with the different groups.

My nieces, Margy and Martha, are doing well considering all they have been through in their short lives. Margy and I keep up through email and an occasional phone call. Martha is a little less communicative, but Mama and I were able to visit with her at my brother, David’s house last Sunday. She and friends were driving through to the West Coast via New Orleans to see her sister, The Woodlands to see us, the Grand Canyon, and Nevada to drop the two dogs off with one of Mike’s brothers. Martha will be back in school in San Francisco and Margy in New Orleans for the Spring Semester.

My email address is: until I find a faster, better deal. I am much better at communicating through that method than snail mail. So if you have email, drop me a line. I love to get something other than those ads for Viagra, etc!

I love and miss each of you bunches. Hope our paths cross one day soon. You are always welcome to come to Cedar Lane. Mama loves new people to hug and kiss and to give all kinds of interesting goodies, but that is another story. Bunches of Hugs to one and all.