Popular Posts

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Where is Louise?

It was quite obvious, the other day, that our son wasn't fully cognizant of what Alzheimer's disease is.

After misspelling a word he rubbed his head and in a melancholy voice he said, "I think I have Alltimer's."

"No. You just forgot how to spell the word. Look at it again. I'll bet you wrote it too fast," I assured him.

Sure enough, he looked at it and saw the mistake.

"So I don't have Alltimer's?" he asked. "What is it?"

First I had to say the word slowly and tell him that he was saying that word incorrectly. And I have heard some folks over the age of 12 say it the same way.

I gave him some information about it and suggested he look it up, online, and get more.

"Do you know anybody who has it?" he asked before I could leave the room.

My maternal grandmother had dementia but I'd never heard anyone mention the word until my adult years when we reminisced about her. She passed away when I was in sixth grade. When I was told, later, that she had it I easily pulled up vivid memories of my time with her and I could see glimpses of it but as a child I would never have known anything was wrong. I just loved her deeply.

My first encounter with Alzheimer's was probably in 1990. I'd just graduated high school and found a cool job for the summer as a nanny/sitter! After speaking with the owner of the agency by phone (landline) we agreed to meet at her home. I arrived and rang the doorbell. The friendly owner let me in and asked me to wait in the foyer while she ended a call in another room.

"This is my mother," she said, pointing to the lady, dressed to leave, who was leaning on the wall near the stairs.

I smiled and said hello.

"Hey baby, how are you?" she responded. We exchanged pleasantries and then she asked me if I could let her out.

I looked at her. She was, as I said, dressed to leave. She had on a coat, hat, shoes and a purse with a short handle that made me giggle because it looked like the one Esther had on Sanford & Son. Sure she was close to the door and could walk on her own but I didn't think much about it.

Not wanting to be disrespectful but helpful I obliged and went to open the door. Another first- had never seen doors where you had to unlock the door from the inside with a key. The key was still there so I easily turned it and held the door open for her. Wasn't I sweet! Points for me...I was definitely getting the job now.

Made sure she got down the two steps outside the door, waved bye and went back in to wait.

The owner came in about two minutes later to apologize for the wait. Before she could finish her sentence she yelled out,

"Louise!" then waited for a response. I did too. Wasn't sure who Louise was.

After looking around for her she asked if I'd seen Louise. I told her I'd never met a Louise. "Louise is my mother," she informed me. "She has Alzheimer's"

"Oh! She was ready to go so I let her out," I told her.

She ran upstairs yelling for someone else. Her husband.

I knew things were bad because he came downstairs with shaving cream on one side of his face, razor in hand, boxers and those brown slippers everyone bought their uncles for Christmas.

They both ran out! She ran back in and asked me to wait in case Louise came back.

I felt so bad but I didn't know. Sure there were clues: she had on a coat and hat in summer; why couldn't she get out on her own, etc.

To sum it up and this post, they were able to catch her walking, two blocks down the road in the neighborhood.

Glad she didn't swing that purse, like Aunt Esther.

Still got the job!

No comments: