A to Z Blogging Challenge · Alzheimer's


The ABC’s of how I’m feeling:

A is for ANGRY

B is for BITTER

C is for CRANKY

Clearly I’m doing this A-to-Z Challenge all wrong.

I feel angry.

And not kind.

I hung up on Time-Warner yesterday. Told them we were switching to Direct TV.

I’m not happy with them.

I posted a rant yesterday and almost immediately the person I ranted about contacted me. I was in the midst of a conversation with a different friend.

“I should have said something to her before I posted it,” I told my friend about my other friend — are you following this? Too many unnamed friends, I know.

But I knew the right way to handle the situation — and I didn’t do it. I posted a stupid blog post. (It has since been edited.)

This is how not to do things, kids. Talk to people who upset you. Don’t rant on your blog. Do as I say, not as I do.

I believe in handling things the right way and in kindness. Sometimes belief isn’t enough. We have to actually do it.

I’m working to memorize Isaiah 58, a chapter where God is dealing with a people who are oblivious to their sin.

“Look at me fasting,” they say to God. “Look at my sackcloth and ashes. Look how humble I am. Why aren’t you noticing any of this?”

And God says to them, “I really want you to be nice to each other. Don’t be grumpy. Don’t strike out at people. I want you to fast from your meanness. Put that aside instead of food. Undo someone’s yoke. Feed a hungry person. Invite a homeless person into your home. Sheesh!”

He didn’t really say the “sheesh” part. I added that.

But you get the point.

Can I just say here, in the depths of this post where few people will probably read, that life is hard right now? My father is struggling — and he doesn’t even know he’s struggling.

“You’re not thinking clearly,” my brother and I told him, ganging up on him to persuade him to have a medical test which may put us on a path to improvement.

“That’s what they keep telling me,” he said, in a tone that showed that he clearly didn’t believe a word of it.

It reminded me of a post that I had long since taken down. The post, from April 2011, had been called “Four Questions.”

It ends with kindness — which works for “K”.


Four Questions

Mom -- April 2011
Mom — April 2011

Question #1

I asked my mother this question one day when we were in the car, “Mom, do you know what Alzheimer’s is?

She knew the answer. “It’s a condition where people can’t think sensibly,” she responded.

Yes, it is. It’s not a condition where someone doesn’t think sensibly. They can’t. And yet, sometimes, they can. Like being able to answer that question with a pretty concise response shows some sensible thinking.

Question #2

Yesterday my mother handed me a sheet of address labels that had come in the mail to her.

“These are for you,” she said.

“I can’t use these, Mom,” I told her. “They have your name and address on them.” I tried handing them back to her, but she pushed them over to me again.

“That way you won’t forget me,” she replied.

I felt a little ache in my heart at those words. “Mom, I won’t forget you,” I reassured. “Will you forget me?” I asked it, even though I already knew the answer.

“Oh, no,” she said. “I’ll never forget you.”

But moments later, she forgot that she had even given me the address labels and took them back to her pile of things. She removed one and stuck at the bottom of a note she had written herself about dinner with a friend. It was a dinner with a friend that had taken place months or years ago. She had forgotten. But she stuck the address label on the bottom of the note.

“This will help me remember,” she said. Oh, if only it were that easy.

Question #3

Alzheimer’s is a condition where people can’t think sensibly. The varying pieces of information that are constantly coming at us are no longer being filtered correctly in the mind of someone with Alzheimer’s. It’s impossible to make sense of it all.

When my parents were going through some of the clutter that had accumulated at their house, my father picked up a kitschy dog made out of golf balls. “We could probably get rid of this,” he said.

Are you going to get rid of me?” she asked. With the filters missing, that was what she heard.

“You’re too valuable,” he told her. “We’re not going to get rid of you.” She still has value. She needed to hear that.

Question #4

In difficult situations, so many people show little kindnesses. With my mother’s Alzheimer’s, people have been so kind. Total strangers, long-time friends and family members have all pitched in to keep my mother safe and to make life easier for my father. I know my father appreciates it, but I often wonder if my mother is even aware.

Yesterday, she answered the unasked question I have had for a long time. Are you aware of all the things people do for you?

She was looking for my brother. “He’s up at his house, Mom, right next door,” I told her.

“That’s right,” she said. “He has been so nice. Every night he brings dinner right down to us so I don’t have to fix anything.”

Yes, he does. And his wife does. And I’m so glad you recognize that. Even if you don’t always recognize me. I know it’s because you can’t think sensibly.

A to Z Blogging Challenge


“Can you still juggle?” I asked Helen the other day.

She picked up three somethings — I don’t remember what they were — pom-poms or apples or Easter eggs — and juggled them quite handily.

I’ve seen her do it before. We have a video of it. As she focuses on juggling golf balls, she keeps her eyes on them and her mouth is wide open.

Like a ukulele player who presses his lips together or sticks his tongue out to the side while playing.

We aren’t all professional.

When jugglers juggle they have to focus, and something else may fall by the wayside in order to keep the balls in the air.

I guess I’m back at imperfection.

This is supposed to be about my mother.

And juggling.


My mother was most at home in the kitchen. She cooked for our family, for her church family, for special occasions, and for the every day. Huge spreads. Humble soups. Everything always delicious. (Except the beef heart. And the lamb burgers.)

Her juggling took place in the kitchen. She had an amazing talent for getting all the food on the table piping hot for us to enjoy. Her timing was perfect.

I, on the other hand, serve lukewarm green beans with hot meatloaf and cold potatoes. I forget to heat the plates the way that my mother did. I can’t get people to the table on time. I have not yet figured out the art of juggling many food dishes in the kitchen.

When my mother began struggling in the kitchen, we should have seen it for it was, a sign of dementia. She couldn’t keep all the balls in the air anymore. She called me for help more and more.

And I was resentful.


Unsympathetic and unaware that she was moving into a strange vortex that left her confused in the kitchen.

“You make such good scalloped potatoes,” she called one day to tell me. “Could you make some for Dad and me? We have company coming tonight.”

I bristled inside. I was home with seven or eight children, tired, frustrated — and honestly, the last thing I wanted to do was make scalloped potatoes for my mother so she could go golfing and still have a nice dinner to serve her guests.

But I did it.

In retrospect, I think she was worried about her cooking — and how sad that is for me to realize today!

But she had dropped one of the balls she was juggling and asked me to help pick it up.

If only I had known. If only I had understood better in those early days.

People — be patient and kind. Don’t mock the open mouth of someone keeping the balls in the air.

We’re all juggling something.

And we all drop balls.

We all need help, not criticism.