The Long, Slow Slide of Alzheimer's Disease: A Moment With Bill Reflection
Well, not all of us, Oscar.
A Home with No Memories
The first thing you notice upon entering is the array of Post It notes strewn throughout the house. Every room is adorned with little reminders. Take pills at noon….take out the garbage Monday…..brush your teeth…..mow lawn…..they all seem like simple reminders that might be found in any home in the world, but keep reading….
Your niece's name is Julie…..she is two year's old now……the dog’s name is Bruce…..you were born in 1960 in Topeka…..
No, this is not a normal home.
Yes, there are pictures on the wall, the gallery of your life, but this gallery has name tags to remind you just exactly who these people are or were, and what role they played in your life.
No, not normal at all.
The lawn was mowed three times last week. You simply could not remember if you had done it, so you did it again, but that’s okay because there is safety in staying busy, and a feeling of accomplishment, and if you are accomplishing something then by God you can’t be that bad off, right?
Ah, but what about those who cannot recall the blessings of childhood? What treasures do they pull out on the tough days of adulthood?
For more information
- Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia | Alzheimer's Association
Learn about signs and symptoms, stages, diagnosis, research progress, treatment and care of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Get support from our 24/7 Helpline, message boards and your local Alzheimer's Association Chapter.
Exercise Is Good, Right?
You walk daily with your dog. A few years ago it was a way to stay busy and get in better physical condition, so you would walk throughout neighborhoods and around the circular walking path at the local park. Then the day came that you got lost on the circular walking path and could not find your way to the parking lot where you left your car….a circular walking path!
Now you stroll the city walking path, a seven mile long fenced in safety area that goes one way till the end, where you turn around and head back again, with no fear of getting lost. Your dog knows the way, so the two blocks from home to the path is not that difficult.
Exercise is, indeed, good, but it has become a way for you to feel some self-worth, so often you overdo it, strolling hours until your body is weary, and of course you forget to eat meals, so the diseases and illnesses are never far away, and you are losing weight and with it your immune system.
You are fifty-two years old and you have Alzheimer’s Disease…..
And you are my best friend!
- Alzheimer's Association - Local Help, Support & Care Resources
Find your local Alzheimer's Association chapter now for help, support groups, care consultation, educational workshops and information on Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
Life Is Good
Profound words, Helen, but what if those memories are scrubbed clean from your heart?
Your best friend is named Bill Holland. He sends you an email every morning that says “good morning, buddy, and Happy Monday,” or “good morning, buddy, and Happy Tuesday.” The reason is obvious, is it not?
You share text messages throughout the day, little reminders of a friendship that began nearly five years ago. During those five years a solid bond of brotherhood was formed, based on mutual respect and eventually blossoming into a love. You are a good man in a horrible position, or as you have heard it said, a spiritual being having a very human experience, for nothing is more human, and de-humanizing, than Alzheimer’s Disease.
First words out of your mouth….life is good! Can it be so? Is it possible to have an appreciation for life when it is slowly fading away?
You believe those words, and anyone who knows you has to believe them too, for how can those of us who are truly blessed refute the words of a man whose future can be measured in months rather than years? Whose freedom will be determined by the effectiveness of those Post It notes and the degree of safety there is in leaving him alone during the day?
Nights In White Satin
Which Is an Illusion?
“Cold hearted orb
That rules the night
Removes the colours
From our sight
Red is gray and
But we decide
Which is right
Which is an Illusion”
I am reminded of those lyrics by the Moody Blues when I think of you. The colors have been removed from life for you, replaced by the realization that not too far in the future there will only be grays. What was once a slow, gradual slip into the realm of nightmares has become a free fall, and what was once truth is no longer.
How does a man stand strong when the very foundation of his life has crumbled? How does a man carry on and in fact declare that life is good when he can’t even remember what that life once was?
And perhaps, my friends, the answer lies within the question itself.
Yes, Life Is Good
We come into this life kicking and screaming, and when the stop sign has been posted, and the never-ending highway in fact is a sink hole, there comes the realization that what we have is now and nothing more.
Clinging to the past is a fool’s chore, and planning for the future is the act of a robber baron. All we have is now!
That is the lesson you have taught me, and for the remainder of my life, I will be grateful. This is the moment to be grateful for, and this is the moment to hold onto, kicking and screaming as the inevitable slow slide continues for all of us. Yes, your slide is much faster than ours, but the lesson learned should be the same for each and every one of us.
Carpe diem! Grab hold of that sucker and squeeze from it every ounce of life possible, for if you are looking for guarantees from the future you will inevitably roll snake eyes.
Yes, dammit, life is good. One does not need a memory to appreciate a brilliant sunrise. One does not need a memory to experience the joy of friendship or the warmth of true love. One needs nothing but the moment, and a willingness to embrace it all as what it is, a gift that only comes once. It is a gift worth fighting for, worth grasping, and worth appreciating, and if any of us ever lose sight of that fact then heaven help us, for we have missed the main point in life.
Life is about living, and life is about love.
And you, my friend, are alive and loved!
Post it on your forehead….I am loved!
Post it on the bathroom mirror….I am loved!
Post it throughout the house devoid of memories for there is only one memory worth having and that the one you are creating right now…..
Life is good!
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”