Saturday, November 16, 2019
How Much Farther?
Yesterday I received the news that a friend of my parents had passed away. She was a sweet and kind person, she was also a friend of my sister and I to be honest because she was one of those adults that children loved to be around. We couldn't believe that she was a teacher, there were very few teachers that kind and caring when we were children. I often wondered what would it be like to be one of her students, she even (with permission) brought us kittens once, how can you not like someone that brings you kittens.
The news was not really sad that she died, it's probably a blessing. It's sad in what happened to her and frankly, quite disturbing to my sister and I. She unfortunately also suffered from Alzheimer's disease. This was definitely one of those stories of a beautiful life robbed way too early. She began to show problems right after retirement. She never got to have that retirement period of being old enough to finish working but still young enough to travel and enjoy herself. It was pretty much straight to the nursing home, multiple doctors appointments and getting her affairs in order.
The thing that frightens us is her timeline of illness. She is older than mom but not by a lot, maybe 5 to 7 years; however she was completely "gone" mentally, at least eleven years ago. I remember because my father often asked about her, we were worried about what was going to happen to mom. I often felt this woman would pass shortly after my Dad, yet here we are all these years later. It's quite possible that she died of natural causes and not the Alzheimer's, even after having it so long. As a testament to what a good teacher she was, many former students, (now adults) still came to see her, even though she no longer could remember them.
I often say to people now, that it's not the thought of mom dying that gives me the greatest anxiety, it's the thought that she could live and suffer for another ten years or more. I was mommy's boy, I will be heartbroken when she is gone but I'm stressed at seeing her like this now. I also heard a frightening statistic, many Alzheimer's patients outlive the family members looking after them.
My sister and I also feel the clock ticking, mom suddenly showed signs at 66 but now when we think back, there may have been earlier signs. One of her younger brothers showed signs at a much earlier age. This weighs on my mind. This morning for example, I cooked eggs for breakfast. Later on as I was walking past the stove, I could feel heat coming off it. When I checked, I realized that I had cooked my eggs and then just walked away to eat, leaving the round on. This frightened me, I have done that a couple of times now. I begin to wonder, was I just sleepy, did I have something on my mind, was I just not paying attention, could this be an early sign of something else?
What a horrible disease, it takes away the ability of perfectly healthy, normal people, to live their fullest lives during their senior years. Not only that but it seems to have the ability to drag out their humiliation and confusion for up to twenty years. Rest in peace kind lady.