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I've been thinking of writing down/capturing some of the humorous things my sister says, and does. Both to help remind me that she is still herself, just hidden by the memory problems, and to have for her daughter&son and others later.
Using this forum as a journal will let me share with others as I go. Perhaps others of you may want to include your stories of smiles, for sharing also.
Last Edited on: 5/4/07 8:24 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
EDNA, THE "CRAZY LADY"
Edna likes to say that her daughter plays a "crazy lady" when she does storytelling, but that she herself is the original "Crazy Lady". Her daughter gets it from her.
For cold soft drinks, we use can covers. Edna finds the refrigerator temperature very chilly. Sometimes she puts the can cover on the top of the can, which makes it hard to open and drink. The other day she was looking for a can cover, and called it the "skirt". Which is actually sort of logical--it encircles the bottom half of something.
When we go somewhere for the first time: If I mention that it is the first time--it's almost a 100% guarantee that Edna will "remember" having been there before! Which is fine with me, except that she usually asks me to remind her specifically of WHEN we were there before, or why we came. My imagination usually fails at that.
Edna will sometimes "remember" things that never happened. The remarkable thing to me is that she tends to remember them much better than most things that actually DID happen. A few months ago, she "remembered" that the block where she used to live in Tennessee had been destroyed by a flood. Over time, the details got more and more elaborate. The flood had come up a ( about 300-foot tall) bank from the river, and had been caused by a (nonexistent) dam on the (small) river breaking, near where we lived when she was in high school, and had flooded the whole downtown as well as our block. Her son who lives in the area had called to tell her about it. For several weeks, she asked us to confirm this and tell us more about where the familiies had gone when they were flooded out. She wanted us to get on the Internet to see what we could find out from the local newspaper's files. As best I can recall, we managed never to directly tell her none of this had ever happened. One of the worst uh-oh moments was when her son called, and I forgot to warn him she might ask him about the "flood". Of course, she did ask.
I don't even have to mention that someplace is new for Edna to "remember" having been there before. We visited her sister and her husband a few days ago. If we had been some of the places, it had been at least 40 years!!! But Edna remembered that we had been there or eaten there a few days ago.
Edna is usually very sociable with people, and has humorous conversations with me and others. I'll try to capture some samples.
We were driving home, and were slowed by traffic with a motorcycle rider right behind us. I said something about him beng "impatient." Edna joked, "Do you think he'll come over the top???"
I asked whether she wants to go with me to the Post Office and Wal-Mart. "if it's a choice between staying home and cleaning house, or going with you, I'll go with you.
I received a PBS book today. The other member had included a postcard with a picture of Arizona's Superstition Mountain, with cactus, and a note "Enjoy!". I put it over with my sister's stamps and puzzles. She just showed it to me, saying she had had it for a long time. She said "Arizona must have sent it to me, because there is no name on it." (She may have been remembering a different postcard with Arizona cactus that a friend gave her.)
Last Edited on: 7/16/07 9:17 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
What a great idea.
My grandmother is a lovely, charming lady from New York City who has Alzheimer's disease. She has three children, and I am one of her six grandchildren. I'm 19, she just turned ** years old (a lady never reveals her age on the Internet ;) ;)) and she's the last grandparent I have left.
One of the interesting side effects of her current stage in life is that she tells me things that she's never told anyone else over her ** years of living (not even my mother, her only daughter!)
My favorite anecdotes so far:
1. SAD, BUT FANTASTIC COMEDIC TIMING
(over a phone conversation)
MIMI: Are you in college?
ME: Yes, of course! (obviously teasing) You forgot? My favorite grandmother forgets that I'm in college...
MIMI: Oh. (pause, totally serious) Maybe you just have a dippy grandmother.
2. RANDOM MEMORY: DID I EVER TELL YOU...
(sitting in Noodles & Co., a fast food restaurant)
MIMI: Did I ever tell you about the time that I met Eleanor Roosevelt?
MIMI: Yes, I remember now. I was working in the billing office at the Park Avenue Hospital in New York City (this is true) and all the celebrities used to come in. Mrs. Roosevelt came in one day, and she was greeted at the door. While she was visiting a sick friend, the man who got her a visitor's pass in the waiting area ran back to us at the billing office and said, "You'll never believe it...Mrs. Roosevelt is here!" To get out of the hospital, you had to pass our office. So we all came out of the office and waited for her, and sure enough, she came along, greeted everyone and shook everyone's hand. And that's how I met Eleanor Roosevelt.
3. RANDOM MEMORY: SPECIAL TREAT
MIMI: For Passover seders, we always used to switch off where we'd have it, one year in Brooklyn, one year in the Bronx at our house. One year, when I was very young, we had it in Brooklyn. My father and I took the subway to get there, and we waited for a transfer for so long that my father said, "Don't tell anyone what we're going to do," and we left the station and got ice cream sodas. We finished them just in time to make the next train and ended up getting there right on time. Isn't that something.
More updates as more stories come out. I love my grandmother. She's the best. :)
Another fun tidbit, friday night dinner with Mimi.
1. "ME: My mother's a little crazy, you know...she used to talk in her sleep.
MIMI: Well, I think that's okay.
ME: What? Talking in your sleep?
MIMI (with perfect timing): No, being a little crazy."
2. Mimi asks if she can leave the table to "read a letter" (code for using the john)
When did my pocketbook start having to have 2 handles? [[This is a macrame gem that she has carried for at least 20 years.]]
Visiting our sister Joanna in Goldsboro NC: Is this the real Joanna? Then she looked at some games on a shelf, and "remembered" that we had had some of those games back home in Tennessee. So since this Joanna had "the same games" from home, this must be the real Joanna. BTW We had a mostly great visit for 3 1/2 days.
Last Edited on: 7/16/07 3:41 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
WHOLE NEW ENIGMA -- CHANGING FACES
Here's a whole new story of mysterious origin. My sister has been talking periodically for several weeks about a friend of ours at church. She's a young newspaper reporter who is African-American. Edna had "noticed" that her skin color had "changed", that her face is darker than Edna remembers. She asks me each time if I have noticed this, and what reason Lisa might have for doing this. I have NO idea what might have triggered this idea.
Today the story got more elaborate. (We saw Lisa at church yesterday, and went to a Native American cultural festival in the afternoon--don't know if this could have anything to do with it.) We've been watching Law&Order this afternoon. She has decided that African-Americans in general have decided to let their faces be darker than they were.
She is delighted by this, seeing this as evidence that African-Americans are happier and valuing themselves more, not seeing lighter skin as more desirable.
I believe this "spontaneous generation" of memories is called "confabulation."
Last Edited on: 7/23/07 8:39 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
A Friend of mine cared for a lady with Dementia for many years. Towards the end of her life she started having halucinations. Nothing too serious, but they were rather humorous.
One time she came out of her bedroom and said very angrily, "There is a man in my room." (Impossible)
My friend just smiled and said, "Can we share him?"
The lady brightened up and said, "Neither one of us would like that!" and went back in her room with her "man."
Another time this lady decided she wanted to go back home to Arkansas... mind you I live in WA state. About as far from there as you can get. But this lady got in the car and refused to come out 'til she saw her home.
So my friend got in the car and drove her a half hour out into the country. The lady wistfully talked about "how much this place has changed since I was young." Then they drove home. So her "trip to Arkansas" lasted about 2 hours. And she was much happier.
It is a sad thing, and nothing to joke about really. But those were the funny and sweet moments.
Last Edited on: 8/11/07 8:49 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Someone gave this book to a friend, and he loaned it to me. Many of these are hilarious. But the last item touched me most, because it fits so well how my sister's memory is working these days.
Mark Twain, as he did so often, has perhaps the final word on senior moments: "When I was younger," he said toward the end of his life, "I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened."
Last Edited on: 10/5/07 8:37 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
My sister Edna has started a couple of new behaviors that are puzzling but also comical. She has been dizzy for a few days; we found out yesterday it is an ear infection. And of course that has affected her thinking.
The last couple of weeks she's had trouble understanding what to do with pills. Sometimes she wants to drop them into the glass of water, instead of putting them in her mouth. A few days ago, I noticed a water glass on a shelf, with the dried-up, partly-melted remnants of 2 or 3 pills. The ear infection only makes it worse. This morning, as she was very dizzy, I used a straw in the water glass. She took hold of the straw, and tried to push the pill into the straw.
This evening, I made her a cup of coffee. There were a couple of empty cups on the table. She evidently had checked one of the empty cups, looking for coffee. So when I gave her the cup of hot coffee, she poured it into the other cup and started drinking from that one. We carried the cup into the living room and back. When we got back to the kitchen table, she poured the coffee back into the original cup, because that one was empty! (I took away the empty cups to try to reduce the confusion.) She never did finish the coffee.
From the Alzheimer's Association caregiver forum (alz.org, Living with Alzheimer's, Message Boards, Caregivers Forum) I ran into a link to a blog set up by another caregiver. She explains some of the tips and tricks she is using. There are also lots of funny stories. I've skimmed a couple of months worth, and they are worth the reading. I will quote a couple below here. Kathy is much quicker with a creative response than i am. (Both alz.org and her blog require and emal and password for an ID.)
My Father is Shrinking Saturday, January 20th, 2007 Dad was always stubborn, but Alzheimer’s has added a new level. According to dad, he has worn a size 36 pant for 60 years. He has never worn anything bigger than a 36 (I may have believed this if I had not seen pictures). But why argue, right? So, anyway, a while back, I decided that instead of with my dad wearing 36” pants that cut off his breathing, I would just cut out the tags so he had no idea he was wearing 38s. So, I have found that with dad, once we like something (the way pants fit, a particular food or brand of juice, etc.) we stock up on that particular thing so there is no guessing games with any future purchases. Well, for Christmas, we got him 4 pairs of the same pants (38 waist so he can breathe) and I promptly removed all of the tags. Dad came into my office this morning, and with a puzzled look, proclaimed, “I must be shrinking.” He was standing there, wearing a giant pair of pants that were about 6” too big in the waist and 4 inches too long. I guess when I grabbed the stack of pants at the store there was an off size mixed in with the other three. I just looked at him and said, “the diet must be working”.
Third Time’s The Charm Monday, February 26th, 2007 We are down in Atlanta visiting my sister for my birthday weekend, and my sister Nancy is helping me figure out how to add more features to this website. I have gathered a lot of information about Alzheimer’s disease and had it spread all over Nancy’s dining room table. Dad is naturally curious, but a table full of Alzheimer’s information made him ask “Have I been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s”? As always, I told him, “No, I am doing volunteer work to benefit Alzheimer’s Caregivers”. So a couple of minutes later, he asked what we were doing, and I said, (not wanting him to worry he “might” have Alzheimer’s), “I am doing volunteer work to benefit the Arthritis foundation and again he asked ”I don’t have arthritis, do I”? ”No”, I said. The last time he asked I said, “We are doing volunteer work to benefit breast cancer”. Then he went back to reading the paper…and that was the end of that.
My sister Edna, who has dementia, has been a huge fan of jigsaw puzzles for years. She can no longer really put them together, but she enjoys looking at the pieces and picking out similar colors or patterns. She's had an ear infection for about 10 days that has really affected her balance and abilities. So she's hardly been touching her boxes of puzzle pieces these several days.
She saw one odd puzzle piece lying on the living room floor, a mostly dark piece. She picked it up and asked me what it was. I said, "I think it's a piece of a puzzle." She looked at it, turning it around for a while longer, then remarked, "Well, it must have been a pretty small puzzle."
I took care of my mother for the last five years of her life after a debilitating but survivable stroke. Talk about confabulation...it was like walking into an alternate universe with all the amazing embellishments to family & personal history. Luckily, she had a twin brother who hadn't suffered the type 2 diabetes & TIA & stroke & dementia problems who could set me straight when I asked about the "new & improved version " of reality.
I came to realize that these "ideas" were very comforting & gave her the strength to go forward under very trying circumstances & the shreds of real memory were so important they needed to be embellished & hung onto for "dear life". Every time I would hear the same story for the 50th time that day I would just close my eyes & remember all the times she did something sweet or kind or unexpected for me & my friends & my siblings & say "Thank you Lord for this special person who was always there when I needed her & help me be the person she needs right now."
So eventually I realized the important thing was that she enjoy the moment, enjoy the day & I didn't care that anyone else thought it was weird that she had to say hello to a restaurant full of strangers because she was so happy to be there. It's ok to be a bit ditzy when it's out of so much joy & love of life. The important thing to me became living in the moment;she taught me that by forcing me to accept it by her example. Yes, she had dementia but she was still very aware & cognizant of what mattered: the joy of the moment & including everyone in her happiness.
Good luck in your journey through caregiving; I realize now I gained so much more than I could ever have imagined at the time.
Something really amazing about Edna. Almost mystical or supernatural. Apparently she never goes ANYWHERE for the first time.
Went to a new Thai restaurant just opened. Mentioned to my sister that this was the first time either of us had been in the restaurant. Later on, Edna started "recognizing" things in the restaurant, and decided she had definitely been there before. She asked me who she had come with when she was there before.
While we were sitting there during a looonnng wait for our bill, Edna remarked that something was really odd. "How is it that I can remember the places that I've been before, and you can't? You're usually the one that can remember anything!"
Most every time we pass a car parked at the side of the road, or a person standing or walking there.....
Edna will remark "Every time we drive by here, that guy is walking his dog at that same spot."
This afternoon, I pulled into the parking lot of our apartment complex.
Edna looked at the car next to us. "That looks like your car? Is it?"
While I was quiet, sort of dumbfounded, trying to figure out how to answer..... she finished up:
"I thought maybe you borrowed a car."
Edited to add:
She's said some similar things also. We get out of the car, walk past 2 or three others ones on our way to the front door. Then she asks if the car we are passing is mine. Usually that car is dark green like mine, but not always.
She is sometimes recognizing my car now, when we come near it. After 3 1/2 years.
Last Edited on: 4/27/09 5:55 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Last night, Edna came in from the bedroom, cuddling one of the pillows. She tried to explain to me some problem she was having with the bed. I couldn't really follow her explanation, but we went on to bed. I kept my hand on her arm, and she seemed relaxed. This morning, I found another one of the pillows in the laundry basket in her closet.
REMEMBER, EVERYONE IS WELCOME TO ADD THEIR OWN STORIES TO THIS THREAD.
It's 11pm Saturday. Edna went to be a little after 8, and has been up to check on me twice since. She seemed rather more puzzled that usual this time. I reassured her as best I could, since her conversation was quite disjointed (to me). Whatever she asked me about, or seemed worried about, I told her we would do in the morning. Then she asked, "Is it today or tomorrow?" I told her it is still today, time for sleeping now. She seemed content with that and went back to bed.
more about the days:
Edna often asks me what day it is. Only Sunday and Wednesday seem to have any real meaning to her, as those days we go to church. And Saturday is a preparation day for Sunday. She seems to think that by evening that day is over. So sometimes she will ask "what day was it?"
Just now she asked me the day. Thursday, I said.
Is it this week or next week? !!!!!!????
All I could say was "this week".
My daughter is missing half of her heart. She amazes me with the things she says, but obviously in a much different way than an adult might.
I just took her to Build-a-Bear to celebrate yet another open heart success and she got very upset because the bears have to have their hearts 'worked on' too. She sat crying for at least a half an hour, wanting her bear to be okay.
For the past few weeks, my sister Edna has been asking at LEAST once a day about our mother's death. (Which was in 2000.) She lived with her and took care of her for the 10 years before her death.
She seems to think Mother has just died, and we need to do something about the funera or the house. She worries about something left to do. She asks me why she thinks it just happened. I try to reassure her that she thinks it just happened because we have been talking about it EVERY day, and because she loved Mother so much.
So I explain again, and again, and again about how she died, that Edna was with her, and that everything that needed to be done in our home town of Newport has already been done.
Just now she asked again about the house. She asked whether we had moved it up here (Tennessee to Virginia). I said no, of course.
Then she asked if we had sold it up here. Of course, no.
Edna is beginning to have a hard time remembering who I am. Lots of the time she does not clearly understand that I am her sister. Since we have different people who help us, I think she is sometimes tangling me up with them. We have some really surreal conversations.
She has asked me: "Were Mother and Daddy living when you were born.?
Thinking about the time when our mother died, she asked tonight: "Was she carrying you then?" I told her I was 50 when Mother died, and 40 when Daddy did. She stared at me as if thinking, "Yeah, riggghhttt. Now pull the other leg." She asked how long she had known me. When I told her all my life, 59 years, I got the same sort of stare.
A few weeks ago, we had a long, very surreal conversation, with me trying to prove to her that I am her sister. She ended up asking me: "If you aren't who you say you are, then who are you? (Answer that, now.)
She has lots other unanswerable questions.Â\ Most are unanswerable because I can't figure out what she is trying to ask. Language is getting harder and harder for her. The other night, sitting in the living room watching TV: "Are you the first one going down?" I eventually realized she was concerned about the volume of the TV program, and disturbing our neighbors.
A couple of days ago, there was a real "awwww" moment. I looked from another room to see her in the living room, watching the Weather Channel Local on the 8s from about 3 feet away from the TV set. She was shimmying her whole body to the music.
Last Edited on: 5/31/11 8:02 AM ET - Total times edited: 1