One of Bryan’s aunts has Alzheimer’s.
It’s a little hard for me to grasp still. Partly because we have lived in Denver for 15 years now, away from home, away from the family except for sometimes-yearly visits – so, to me, it’s almost like everyone is still exactly as I remember them when we left. Sometimes I snap to attention and realize that *I* am almost 40, which make my parent’s generation pushing 70. Certainly in Alzheimer’s range. It’s like when I read Fussy’s recent post about her mother – sometimes you just have those moments of mortality. You realize everything does not stay the same.
Bryan’s family had one of those moments with Aunt Anne this weekend.
She and Bryan’s uncle live in the suburbs, but decided to go to downtown Baltimore for a special shopping trip. And while at a very busy downtown market, he lost her. He turned his back for one moment, and she was gone. Just like we all imagine about our young children, except this was the grown women he had shared most of his adult life with, the one who he raised 4 kids with, the one who took care of his home for decades… but now the one who didn’t recognize her family at times, and simply wandered off into the crowd.
He looked for her frantically, called the police, they looked for her frantically, and finally – 6 hours later, they found her wandering alone on a bridge in downtown Baltimore. Shaken, scared, but unharmed.
Can you even imagine? Living your whole life, filled with memories of your family and loved ones, and then slowly, painfully, it’s all gone.
And you’re lost.
I started this blog because I began my life with memory problems. I have dissociation disorder due to trauma in my childhood, which means I started blocking the bad stuff and it seeped over into the good. I wanted to remember our lives, especially Declan’s, because everything seems so precious. It IS precious.
And I don’t want it lost.
I hear you loud and clear. I am well aware that the things I write in my blog (public and private) may well become one of the most important records of history for my son one day. I want to believe that I’ll be around to tell the stories and I’ll remember them – but what if it doesn’t turn out that way? What if next I’m not there? Losing my life or my mind before I’m done with them is one of the very few real fears I have.
The way you are making a record for Declan is beautiful but I hope it’s not as necessary in the future as you fear it might be.
I sometimes think that losing my mind would be worse than losing my life.
We really need a beer and a chat, sister.
Aimee, I am so sorry for this news. We, too, have had family members suffer through Alzheimer’s and it’s just very sad. Both of my grandparents had it, but my grandfather died before he totally lost recognition of us. My grandma, however, didn’t really know us at all by the end. It was strange when she died, because the grandma I had known as a girl had already been gone for several years.
On that happy note, I’m very glad you found Bryan’s aunt, and that she was physically unharmed. A good ending for now, anyway.
very touching post.
Alzheimer’s is a very big reality around here. On both sides of my mother’s family it’s rampant. So I feel I’ve got a 50/50 shot of going down that way too. Since I’m still young yet, I try to not worry too much. (hey, maybe my dad’s genes will win) But at the same time I’ve been trying to prepare my husband, just in case.
And I agree with sizzle, the idea of living with Alzheimer’s is scarier to me than dying.
What a scary frightening ordeal for everyone. Thank goodness she was found unharmed.
I think this is a beautiful and wonderful journal for you and Declan, he’s a lucky boy to have you for his Mommy.
I’m scared I’m going to get alzheimers. The other day I was out grocery shopping. I looked at my list, saw the word “rotini” and drew a complete blank. Totally did not recognize the word for what it was at all. I could read it – but the meaning was gone. Total blank. And I’m Italian, grew up on rotini, feed it to my kids all the time.
I’m 42, and a little worried.
My former boss’s mother died of Alzheimer’s and he would talk about its effect on the family. Their story sounds eerily like your husband’s aunt’s story: husband and wife together forever, four kids, slowly losing her memories. At first she just thought she was getting older, losing her memory for where she’d put the keys or where she’d left her shoes, but then she’d leave the stove on all day, leave the fridge open. It was all just chalked up to getting older, a little feeble. Then one day, she was on her way to her lifelong church for bingo, which she’d played every Monday for decades, and she got lost in the area of the city where she grew up, that should have been mapped in her memory like the very air she breathed was in her lungs. She called her husband from a pay phone to come get her. Luckily she remembered the number.
It’s such a scary thing, and I hope that for your family, it’s something that doesn’t hurt too much. Alzheimer’s, man. The Great Thief.
I have seen you around some of my other bloggy friends’ places and thought I’d come check you out.
I can’t imagine that happening to me or anyone I love. I can’t help but think of how alone and scared she might have felt, and my heart breaks for her. That is very scary.
I studied pychology in college, so I’ve heard of dissociation before, but have never known anyone with it. I didn’t know or didn’t remember that it can make you block out positive memories too. There are a lot of things from my childhood I wish I could dissociate from, but not at that cost. I’m sorry that that happens to you.
Your blog is great–I’m glad I clicked over. I will most certainly be back. 🙂
Wow Amy, that must have been so amazingly frightening for everyone involved including Aunt Anne. Coincidentally, I also had an Aunt Ann who slowly began to forget her loved ones and it is such a helpless feeling. At that point, all you can do is try and remember the wonderful times you had when she was present and support her and your husband through the difficult times. There are often moments of clarity that are precious.
Oh Aimee- I am touched by this post- for many reasons. tearing here in Ohio and hugs to you.nxo
Alzheimer’s is such a scary, scary disease. My heart goes out to Bryan’s aunt and uncle, and the rest of his family. You guys are in my thoughts.
Dementia is hard to watch. Specially in those we love. Life is precious, you need to soak it up.
We lost my great-grandmother to Alzheimer’s. I was very young and didn’t really understand it much, and my grandmother’s way of dealing is through humor. But I’m sure it was much scarier and sadder than I remember it. My mother is almost the spitting image of her grandmother and I often wonder if this is her fate as well. When Ciaran was a baby I went through some terribly emotional stuff and was thinking today that I need to sit down and write a bunch of it down. Before it’s all lost.
great post, aimee.
Being lost really scares me. Glad that your aunt was found safe.
Cherish the good stuff!
I have seen a loved one slowly succumb to alzheimer’s and it was hard even as a young teen. I am glad they found her safe but goodness I would have freaked had it been one of my family members!
it’s very scary, but I think even scarier for those who are caring for alzheimer patients.
I’m sorry to hear about Bryan’s aunt, but so glad she is safe
It does make you think about everything you need to capture. My motto is “Make a Memory” and I can’t imagine not having that.
It is scary…the hardest people i work with, yet my favorite, are those with dementia…another good but sad movie about it is ‘Iris’.
this broke my heart.
It is a very scary thing – memory AND loss. My grandma is slipping away day by day – dementia that nobody is calling Alzheimers from her priken hip last December – and the pain, the regret, the lost days . . . they pile up until they suffocate me. But he worst is knowing that there is just nothing you can do.
The most poignant film I’ve seen about it is Away from Her w/Julie Christie – it’ll make you sob, but it really put it into light.
I dunno, it may help. And while you’re at it, stay away from The Notebook, that’ll just make you cry.
that is . . . BROKEN, not ‘priken’.
Maybe I should be more concerned w/myself?
thanks, everyone, for your very supportive comments!
I love that your blog is a living memory book for your son. Wonderful idea to keep the memories for him to enjoy when he grows up!
dementia is horrifying.
And the word makes it sound worse.
uber cool blog!
What a selfless reason for a blog. I salute you!
It’s so sad. My grandmother has dementia, so I can completely relate!
Apathy, well, there are all the selfish reasons too, but thank you! :)))
I’m so glad she’s safe.
I can handle the knowledge that my body will degenerate as I get older. It’s frightening to think of how my mind might will likely degenerate.
I blog for my children’s sake too but I’ve never been able to bring myself to blog about Andy’s mother as she has full blown Alzheimer’s. Last week she was down and had no idea who he was. It’s hard to blog about her as she’s his Mum and I’ve never liked her – I struggle with it – so choose not to talk about it. Maybe I should.
My mom passed away in July 2007 after a 12 year battle w/ Alzheimer’s. I wouldn’t wish this disease on my worst enemy, not even George W. Bush. I’d especially never want to wish it on someone’s family. It’s pretty messed up. Watching someone you love disappear before your eyes, even though their body is still there to hug & kiss, is devastating. When it’s your mom, it sucks even more.
I had my daughter at age 39, my mother was in the last year of her life at that time (my daughter is named Declan btw). I’m SO grateful that mom got to “meet” my baby, even if she couldn’t interact w/ her, I *know* she and Dexy connected & that my mom knew the baby she was holding was somehow hers and mine. If that makes any sense.
Anyway, I digress.
Thank you for sharing this small piece of your life. It touched my heart.