Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Unrelenting Tide


In 2011 a tidal shift took hold of our BB. A disease became an ebbing tide, slowly taking my mother piece by piece out to sea. A sea that became so angry and violent there was no chance of rescue. There would be periods of slack tides, and even a glimpse of the water rising and toying with our hopes that she had returned. But each day it carried her farther and farther away with its relentless pull. This disease decimated her motor skills, erasing any memory of how to cut a rug to Van Morrison with my father. She could no longer drive to get her caramel macchiato, much less hold a caramel macchiato in her hand. Little bits and pieces of the intricacies that made her who she was slipped under the dark waters never to be seen again. All in seven years.

This is what Alzheimer's does. It takes. It steals. There is no resistance. There are no life preservers. No Coast Guard. While it feels like an ebbing tide to outsiders, it is a rip tide to the hearts of loved ones. The family survives only with the expertise of the Alzheimer's Association, Memory Care, Hospice, support from friends and family, and from those that have lost their own to this unforgiving sea.

Grief ironically enough is also its own tide. You pray for the slack tide so that you can resume your life but it is rare, grief is ever present and always moving. It can be slow enough to allow you to miss your triggers, or it can be a tidal wave of emotions over seeing a grandmother with her family at swim lessons. A grandmother filming her grandson. She looked to be older than BB and could still use a phone. I sometimes get perplexed when I see people older than my mother doing things like driving, feeding themselves, shopping, using technology. Simple every day tasks my mother couldn't do in her mid 60's.

All I have remaining are stories told to me through her belongings. Her rosary found in the back of her dresser drawer, lip gloss tubes, expired licenses, seventy eight pairs of mismatched earrings, her favorite boat shoes, that perfect yellow top from Talbot's, blank greeting cards, matchbooks and letters.

And my own memories of her. For now. What if Alzheimer's takes those from me? What if Amelie and Ford have to watch my deterioration the way I experienced BB's? What if Amelie has to help me use the bathroom, bathe me, dress me, put me in a nursing home, listen to me scream obscenities at her for a four hour car ride. These are real fears. I haven't been able to start fundraising this year because I haven't been able to write. Is it because I don't have any more stories about my beautiful mother or is it something else? Is my mind slipping?

There is STILL no cure for this disease. No prevention. No miracle drug. Only emails and articles about a trial with mice somewhere that might have shown something.

Please consider donating to our Krewe BB in this year's Charlotte's Walk to End Alzheimer's. We HAVE to end this disease. We have to give hope to MILLIONS, yes Millions, of adult children that have been through the hell of watching a parent die from Alzheimer's.


Katharine's Walk Page HERE



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