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This Day in My History


We would like to believe that each of us, in our own time, will find her again.  Somewhere out there where green willow trees bend to meet sparkling blue waters, she will be waiting--with that very special twinkle in her eyes, a fishing pole in her hand, and surely a very large catfish on the end of her line.

~ Barb's eulogy, on the death of their sister Marge

Yesterday's Entries

2000: Adventures Without Toilet paper
  Two a Day
2002:  A Weekend of Firsts
2003:  Obsessions


Breakfast:  Special K
Lunch:  Fried Chicken, Fruit Salad
Dinner:  Leftover NanBan from last night


The Oath
by John Lescroart


The West Wing

(also the Kings' playoff game!)

Buy my stuff at Lulu!



  • Barb is still "with it" and we can still have special times with her.

  • My mother has, so far, been spared both this terrible condition and the cancer which has claimed all the rest of her siblings.

  • I-5!  If it's rush hour and you know I-80 is going to be a parking lot, take I-5!




20 May 2004

"Can you see your nose?"

"I can just see the tip of it," she said, crossing her eyes and squinting.

"I want to cut my nose off," the other replied.

"Then you’ll look like Michael Jackson," was the reply.

Was I eavesdropping on a couple of grammar school girls having a chit-chat while waiting for the bus, playing games, and teasing each other?

No, I was sitting in a spare room at a convalescent hospital near Sacramento and I was watching my mother and my aunt Barb checking out each other’s noses.

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My uncle's widow, Pat, has come down from Oregon and she and my mother, along with my cousin Peach, planned to go to the hospital to visit Barb today.

"I don't suppose you'd like to come with us, would you?" my mother asked, when I spoke with her yesterday.

"Sure!" I said, realizing that I had a stack of tapes to transcribe and a feature story to write, but not wanting to pass up the opportunity to spend some "family time" and to visit Barb.  I remember the sadness in Nancy Reagan's voice recently as she announced "Ronnie has finally gone to that place where I can no longer reach him..." and I know that Barb's time for joining him in that place where Alzheimers patients eventually reach, while waiting to die, will come all too soon.  While she's still with us, mentally as well as physically, I wanted the chance to spend time with her.

We drove to Peach's house and picked her up and then stopped off at Raley's to get stuff for lunch, finally arriving at Barb's around 12:30.  We sent Peach off down the hall to get Barb, while we set up the table in the spare room we were able to use.  Chicken, fruit salad, drinks and a sinful looking strawberry shortcake.  

Barb was surprised to find us there.  You never really know with her.   She describes her brain as taking in information and putting it in a giant ball with other information and then throwing it out.  I'm never sure she knows who I am, but she greets me the way I greet people I can't remember to save my soul, but who know me very well.  We were fairly certain she didn't recognize Pat at all, since she hasn't seen her in several years.  She's become a good actress.

But she always recognizes my mother, and the longer we are there, the more my mother is able to pull out old memories from her brain.  There are always a lot of laughs and you can see her kind of drifting in and out of awareness of who we all are.

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I was thrilled, though, when at one point she pointed at me and said they should watch what they say around me because I would be the one to write it all down.   She and I always had this bond about writing and I knew that at least in that moment, she knew who I was.

She was also "with it" when my mother asked what she thought of George Bush. 

"He's a nut," she said, a look of distaste crossing her face.   She may be losing her mind, but she still obviously has some wits about her!

We were there about two hours and she held up pretty well, under the circumstances, though she finally started drooping and then dozed off.  We knew she had reached her tolerance limit.  Peach and my mother got her up and opened the door to the hall to take her back to her room.

"Which way do we go?" she asked, confused at having to make the decision of turning left down the long hall, or right out into the parking lot, of the place she has lived for two years.

It's always sad that the wise, witty woman I grew up with is no more, but in her place is this older, softer, slower, but still funny, woman and it's nice to be able to get to know this new person and to visit her every now and then.

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In 1999, earlier in her Alzheimers, Barb wrote a piece called "The Mind--Losing It."  This seems a good place to reprint it, as a description of what it's like from the view of the Alzheimers patient herself....

There is a difference, I suppose, between losing one's mind or losing one's memory.  The truth is one will surely follow the other.

As I write this, my memory is in crisis.  The mind is not perfect, but can function enough in a twenty-four hour period to get by.  For example, I can clean the house, take care of the laundry, cook the meals, read the paper, read books, and remember telephone conversations.

The first two on the list are completed as I always have done them.  The cooking part is a bit different in that I find myself forgetting how to prepare certain dishes, which I've been cooking for 30 years or more.   Cookbooks are a Godsend but the "Family" recipes one has prepared without having to think have begun to escape me, and some of my efforts in that respect have turned out rather interesting.

Reading books or the daily papers and remembering telephone conversations are a problem.  Very seldom do I get beyond Chapter 1 in a book.  Most of my reading, in the past, has been at bedtime, prior to going to sleep.   With the memory loss, I can't remember what I read the night before, so I must re-read everything and with the effort and time it takes, the book becomes a garbled story of bits and pieces.  So, the exercise makes very little sense.

Crossword puzzles, which I have worked most of my life, have been my salvation.  I can "almost" work them as accurately and as quickly as ever.  However, I must check the dictionary many times for the correct spelling.  This is new.

Telephone conversations are the one thing I dread the most.  I love to hear from family and friends, but trying to listen and recall what is said is very difficult for me.  Sometimes very important things are lost.  I have tried to make notes as I listen, but the act of having to write down something takes my mind away from what is being said and my notes become a garbled mess of bits and pieces which do not make sense when looked at later.

As each day passes I seem to lose a little more.   There is a very deep sadness that goes with memory loss--the look in a person's eyes, when they realize I am not the "same old Barb," the inevitable signs of irritability in a husband who must remind and repeat so many things each day.

These sorts of things begin to tell on a person and eventually we begin to realize our lives are so troublesome to other people that we sink further into ourselves, forgetting more and more each day.

There must be a time when the caregiver is forced to let go and let God handle the matter and the person.  My one wish is that my caregiver lets go of me soon--before he becomes the victim.

My uncle, her "caregiver" died two years ago.  She hasn't been told, because she would never remember and would have to be told over and over again.   She almost never asks about him.


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When we returned from the hospital, we stopped at Peach's
house to have coffee---here is her husband and their dog, Mollie


For more photos, please visit My Fotolog and My FoodLog

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