Alzheimer's · Book Review · family

The Benefits of Rust

Remember when I said I would be rusty trying to write again? I was feeling that rust this morning as it seized up my writing gears.

Today I wrote a whole post, deleted half of it, wrote a little more, made a meme, considered dropping the whole thing in the trash, and then decided to just stick it in a draft folder. Here’s the meme, though —predictable

Then I looked back to see what else I had written on this day in history.

Five years ago, I had written a book-review-ish post for a fellow blogger, Christine Grote. We had started blogging about the same time and visited each other’s blogs fairly often. Each of us was dealing with Alzheimer’s — me with my mother and her with her father.

We cross paths with so many people, especially in the blogging world. When I visited her blog today, I felt like I was visiting a long-lost friend.

Here’s part of what I published 5 years ago —

Dancing in Heaven — a sister’s memoir is a tender story of growing up with a severely handicapped family member.  Christine’s sister, Annie, was so developmentally handicapped that doctors predicted she wouldn’t live past the age of eight.  Through the love, devotion and tireless care from the whole family, Annie lived to be 51.

Christine weaves into the story the onset of her father’s Alzheimer’s.  That’s what I had been following on her blog.  Before Alzheimer’s, however, she had interviewed her parents about life with Annie.  When she asked her father if he had any regrets, he said,

“The biggest regret I’ve got of the whole thing is that she cannot speak.  Everything else I can deal with pretty much as it comes along.”

As I read that part, I felt a catch in my throat.  His Alzheimer’s has taken away his ability to speak.

Alzheimer’s seems to affect people in very different ways.  Some symptoms are universal — the loss of memory, for example.  But my mother has not lost her ability to verbally communicate.  She can be sharp-tongued and nasty.  She can definitely communicate.

2017 note: My mother did eventually lose the ability to communicate. She rarely spoke near the end, and when she did, it made little sense.

Christine’s father has fallen into a silent world.  He doesn’t speak often.  As I read his quote about regrets in Dancing in Heaven, I remembered one of Christine’s posts about a communication break-through they had experienced using a whiteboard, Resolving a Quandary.  How much more meaningful that post became knowing how precious that ability to communicate was to him!

Thank you, Christine, for your beautiful memoir.  It is sweet, gentle, and encouraging.

In the intervening five years, Christine’s father passed away as has my mother. Today, when I visited her site, I saw that she had completed her book about her father, Where Memories Meet.

I guess rust can sometimes be a good part of the adventure. It made me slow down and help me reconnect.

I can’t wait to read her book.

3 thoughts on “The Benefits of Rust

  1. I’m so happy to see you’re back. I’ve let things so by the wayside myself. I hope to get back to blogging once a week. I’m glad your ordeal is over and your mother is at peace and I’m also very sorry for your loss. Welcome back.

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