My mom is thoroughly enjoying the Sunday concert at Hebrew Home.
“He’s really good!” she says of the musician who’s singing folk songs and playing guitar. She’s looking relaxed, happy, and unselfconscious, with none of the worry lines that marked her face for all the years I’ve known her.
And I think, “This is a good day with Alzheimer’s.”
For a moment, looking at my beaming mom, I go even further and tell myself maybe Alzheimer’s is a blessing. It’s freeing my mom from so much of the shit that bogged her down in life, the chronic worry, the low self-esteem, the junk that kept happiness at a distance.
And as if to underline my thoughts, a man toward the front gets up from his chair and with the aid of his cane walks down the aisle. He has a huge smile on his face, and on reaching my mom, he stops, bends down, and whispers in her ear, “Life is good at 97.” And I think, “Yes! Yes! It’s NOT all about loss!”
Fifteen minutes later, after we’ve all risen to join the musician in singing,”God Bless America,” my mom asks, “How are we getting home?”
And I say, “We’re getting on the elevator, Mom.”
And she says, “But that’s not how to get home.”
“Well, … you’re going to your room, Mom.” Your room at Hebrew Home, Mom, the only home you have.
“You mean I’m staying here?”
“Yes.” Oh, no.
“Well, you’re staying with me tonight, right?”
“Umm, no. Mom, you’ll be ok. You know this place.”
“No, I don’t. You’re not staying with me? You’re leaving me all alone?” The tears start.
“Mom, you know these people. You won’t be all alone.”
“I don’t know anyone,” she says. “I can’t believe you’re doing this to me.”
She doesn’t want to get on the elevator, but she does, and when we get to her room she collapses on her bed and cries and cries.
“Don’t worry, Mom. You’ll be ok.”
“No, I won’t. And you don’t care about me.” She’s weeping and moaning and she won’t be consoled.
“Mom, it’ll be okay. I promise.”
I get no response and her eyes won’t meet mine. She’s giving me that look of betrayal. She’s miserable, and I’m a terrible daughter.
This is a bad day with Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a bitch.