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I have Alzheimer’s?

July 17, 2013

A couple weekends ago Mother sent me this text message:

If you’d like to see The Lone Ranger, I could take Daddy to meet you in Cartersville for the 11:30 show, and then the two of you could come home together.

I interpreted that to mean:

Please take your daddy to see The Lone Ranger so I can have the afternoon to myself.

Despite my disinterest in seeing The Lone Ranger I cooperated so Mother could enjoy a 4-hour span sans daddysitting.

Daddy with his Annual Popcorn Bucket

Daddy with his Annual Popcorn Bucket

Daddy brought his Carmike Annual Popcorn Bucket for a mere $3.50 refill, carrying it like a trick-or-treater. His confusion at the concession counter, difficulty shuffling through the dark to our seat, and hyperbolic handling of his large Coke Zero reminded me of a toddler. Perhaps his physical and mental devolution perfectly coincided with the movie release, since both my parents watched The Lone Ranger growing up. With intense concentration, I pretended to be Daddy’s best friend Carolyn sitting on the living room floor of her childhood home, watching The Lone Ranger on the McCollum family’s black and white television.

Once Daddy and I returned to the house, Mother solicited his thoughts on the movie. He expressed himself like a child put on the spot at Thanksgiving dinner.

“There was action, and… and… it was exciting.”

Daddy immediately went to bed and stayed there when I departed for Atlanta – the first time he hasn’t walked me to the door.

Over the course of the past few weeks Mother has canceled Daddy’s subscriptions, particularly to The Wall Street Journal — now a needless $400 expense. These days Daddy might look at each section’s cover photo and then drop the paper back on the floor.

“We can’t subscribe to you anymore,” Mother tells whatever random customer service staff member calls. “My husband has Alzheimer’s.”

“I have Alzheimer’s?” Daddy asked the other day when he overheard the conversation.


“I thought I had mild cognitive impairment,” he continued, an impressive phrase to remember from the early stages of the disease.

“No, you have Alzheimer’s,” Mother broke the news to him as if it were new.

Lately I’ve missed my father’s mentorship; Ryan and I are under contract on a house, a topic Daddy and I would have bonded over if he were normal. The director of my department at work looked at a scary inspection from another property and begged Ryan and me not to buy it.

“I really appreciate your advice, Peter,” I said, “since my dad can’t talk to me about this kind of stuff.”

“That’s great,” Peter said. “But I’m not that old. Can you please say older brother?”

I even cried to my realtor the other day, explaining why I asked so many personal questions about the stress of a mortgage. “I mean did you and Judy ever rough it? I’m s-s-s-sorry,” I stuttered. “It’s just, my dad has Alzheimer’s, and I sort of see you as a father figure even though we’ve only known each other a f-f-f-few weeks.”

As Daddy noticeably progresses, I feel myself embarking on a new phase of grief as well as coping techniques. Waking up naked and hungover in the guest bed or on the bathroom floor isn’t working for me anymore. After all, Jack and Cokes are expensive, and I have a mortgage to pay.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 25, 2013 1:33 pm

    For once, I’m at a loss for words. All I can say is: I work for a non-profit financial institution, and I’m sure we can help you with advice on mortgages & home-buying. We aren’t currently lending on homes, but it seems like you already have a lender. We’re here for advice. Financial counseling of ALL kinds is free to members, and membership is free (all that’s required is a small deposit into a savings account). Let me know if you’d like more info; I’ll talk to you about it privately. I personally teach a used car buying class and more. I’m here if you need more help of this variety. Can’t help but feel some love; sending it your way. Is a cyberhug too 1997? :/

  2. July 25, 2013 2:13 pm

    Even if cyberhugs are 1997 I’ll gladly accept one. Thank you as always for reading and commenting!

  3. Timber permalink
    August 25, 2013 9:56 am

    I’m not sure if you feel this way, but I now find Daddy’s infrequent insightful comments to be completely bewildering. His ability to function in certain environments (like Sunday school) is shocking. I know it’s cliche, but sometimes I think of how we can see the light from stars that are already extinguished. Though it’s rare for him, there’s still something in his mind that occasionally shines through.

    • August 28, 2013 4:45 pm

      That is a beautiful but depressing image. I dread the day he totally loses that spark.

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