Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Thelma & Louise Do Alzheimers - Reprise

The writing class assignment due ten days from now is 1000 words, on a topic of the writer's choice.  An open canvas on which to paint whatever wordscape comes to mind...

In class Sunday night I wrote a piece of dialogue from 'Mom's Story' and I'm thinking I'd like to expand on that for the assignment.  To that end, I've been reading and re-reading the text of a presentation my sister Cathy and I created some eight years ago, chronicling our journey with Mom through those early months of Alzheimer's disease.  We called our presentation, "Sincerely Irene -- Thelma and Louise do Alzheimer's".  I think we presented our work maybe ten times between 2003 and 2005, always to rave reviews! 
Reading through the text now stirs up a soft sadness along with flood of memories rich with poignancy and love.  What a long, sad and challenging journey it was, yet Cath and I managed to laugh -- A LOT! -- and find the gems amongst the rubble of it all.  I suppose that was the key to my survival -- the laughter.  Cath has always been able to make me laugh and prevent me from taking myself and life too seriously.  It's what I cherish most about her.  Oh make no mistake,  we've cried and cursed and cringed in fear together too, but it's the laughter, that fall on the floor, pee my pants kind of laughter, that has been the life saver. 
Like the time just after Mom had broken her hip, and of cousrse just as we were just beginning to get caught up in the tangles of dementia.  It was in that first week and we were very tired and somewhat shell shocked by the week's revelations.  Mom was supposed to be non-weight bearing, but we hadn't acquired a wheelchair yet, so we were assisting her walk to my car, both of us focussing very intently on Mom.  We were so worried she would slip and fall.  There was a little skiff of snow on the ground so we were verbally cueing her every step, "Now, careful Mom, there's a bit of snow here. That's it. You're doing fine."  Then it happened!  No, Mom did not stumble. Cathy did!  She tripped over the curb.  There was maybe a two second silent pause before we caught sight of each other, then we both let go of Mom and fell to the ground, all the pent up tension of the week pouring out of us in laughter.  I managed not to pee myself, but only just! I remember looking up at Mom and glimpsing one of those moments of clarity that I would soon learn to cherish and celebrate.  Mom was standing there, looking at us with a profound look of exasperation, yet a twinkle in her eyes. "I thought I was the one who needed help.  You girls are impossible!"  She laughed with us (or was that at us?) and then said, "Come on now you two, we can't stay here all day."
And indeed we couldn't, though I truly wanted to stay there in bright winter sunshine, ignoring the gathering clouds warning of the storms to come.  We were entering the strange and troubling world of Alzheimer's disease and eldercare.  Nothing and nobody could stop this from happening. 
Fasten your seatbelts -- it's going to be bumpy ride.

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