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The Blessings of Alzheimer’s to Heal Broken Hearts? Who would think that there were any blessings with Alzheimer’s, right? Today I spent some time at my mom’s house, helping sort out closets. She was one of many children from a poor family and didn’t have much growing up.
You could say that she overcompensated as an adult and has more clothes than anyone I know. Today? I emptied two of her six closets and bagged up 14 bags of assorted clothes and plastic hangers, most items still had price tags on them, all items were several sizes too large for her.
The Blessings of Alzheimer’s: to Heal Broken Hearts
There is more to Alzheimer’s than just losing your memory. Your body shrinks, aggression increases, agitation occurs, difficulty with self-care develops, you have the meaningless repetition of your own words, your personality changes, and you have a general lack of restraint.
A lot of this was evident today with Mom. She would get angry that I bagged up certain items of clothes, even though they were four sizes too large. She remembered loving to wear a certain top or dress, and where she wore it but had a hard time understanding that it was no longer something that fit her. When I filled up two bags with plastic hangers that were now empty? She yelled at me.
Soon, the agitation set in and she started walking around and digging through drawers. She dug through the secretary’s desk of hers and found fifty-year-old love letters that my dad had written to her before going off to Vietnam.
She smiled as she read them aloud.
She was able to transport herself back to those days of young love, and remember things like how he had proposed to her ten times before she finally said “yes”.
She forgot about the nasty divorce that happened after their tenth year of marriage when he was cheating on her. She was miserable. She was a newly divorced mother of two who didn’t even have a driver’s license.
She forgot about the arguments that occurred over medical decisions for their shared son and fighting with the schools over his disabilities. She didn’t remember trying to take her own life when I came home early from school and found and stopped her…
She forgot about all of those things and would go on and on about how he loved her, and the special things he would do for her. The letters he wrote her from Vietnam, how he researched the Catholic Church and compared it to his own faith upbringing. How he thought he might not be a great father as he was too much of an “Alpha Male” to be able to do right by kids… and I could go on.
I used to be so angry with my dad and blamed him for so much of what went wrong. After all, he was the one who brought other adults into their marriage. Today?
I took peace in the fact that she didn’t remember any of the bad, but only the good. She had happy memories today. She smiled and laughed today. I hope that is how this journey ends for her: with smiles and laughter.
I cried when driving home.