I've written on this blog before about my mother, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease about five years ago, though my father says that the signs were there for some time before that. I went to visit her last weekend, and decided to write this story. It's all fiction, though obviously some of it is taken from my knowledge about the progression of the illness. I hope it will be of interest to anyone with a loved one in similar circumstances.
Mum and me, about 18 months ago, in the care home where she now lives
Fly Away From Here
I find it’s best to make a joke of it. I know Richard’s concerned. I am, too, but I don’t want to worry him. He’s always been such a worrier, my husband.
I thought I was managing to hide it pretty well, but I got caught out when we were in Cornwall.
Richard asked me, one morning, what I would like to do that day. We were on holiday, you see.
I said, “I’d like to go to St Ives.”
Richard said, “What, again?”
I didn’t know what he meant. I had no recollection of the day before - which we had, apparently, spent in St Ives. Richard showed me some of the pictures he’d taken on that clever new camera of his, the one where you can see the photos as you take them. They did jog my memory a bit, but I pretended to remember more than I did.
Paul and Vicky make jokes about it and say things like “Mum’s getting senile”, but Richard has stopped being amused by this. For me, it’s frustrating, and sometimes a little frightening. I think it’s probably just my age; well, at seventy-eight I can’t expect my mind to be as sharp as it was when I was fifty, can I?
Richard’s still is, though.
Something awful happened today. Paul came round to 'keep an eye on me' while Richard went to watch a cricket match, and when I tried to make him a cup of tea I couldn’t remember how to do it. My mind was a complete blank. I was so confused and upset that I just went back through to the living room and blurted it out. I said, “I don't know how to make a cup of tea." Paul was very sweet and said it was nothing to worry about. He forgot things all the time, too, everyone did, he said, but I made him promise not to tell Richard, anyway.
I fell over a few days ago. I’m not sure how many; I’m in hospital and the time tends to blur when you’re lying in bed, doesn't it? I’m not even sure how or why I fell. I must have been in the kitchen, looking out at the back garden, because the last thing I remember is the daffodils; they’ve just come out, you see. The next thing I knew there were paramedics everywhere, all yellow and bright. Like the daffodils.
The doctors and nurses say I can go home when they’ve done some tests. I'm not telling them about the thing that happened earlier. Or it might have been yesterday, I'm not sure. Paul came to see me, and I didn’t know who he was. I was a having a nap, and I could hear him saying, “Mum, mum, it’s Paul,” and I thought, don’t be silly, you’re a big tall grown up man, my Paul is only a little boy. I think I might have actually said it, too. Then he laughed and I recognised his face.