Adventures in Alzheimer's and Conversations with Mom

Saturday, September 12, 2015

I can't remember if I told you this (I'm pretty sure I didn't), but earlier this year I went to an art show and reception with my mom. Our art teacher had talked us both into entering something, which was a first for me. My dad had a meeting that afternoon, so he couldn't go with us (though he did go with mom later in the week to see our work "on display"). As someone who is completely non-competitive (can a person be anti-competitive??) I wasn't very excited at the prospect, but I did it for our teacher. And oh my, but Jen does a marvelous impersonation of a basket case. Oy. I'd never been to a juried art show before, so I had no idea what to expect. I had visions of people standing around criticizing my painting (it was only my second), laughing at it hysterically and wondering aloud who let the third grader in, or maybe I'd just trip over my own two feet at the reception and go sprawling; another of my call me grace moments (remember this post?). And silly me. Seems I needn't have worried about any of that. I was so doggone busy chasing mom around in circles that I didn't have time to even think about anything else. During the brief time we were there, mom managed to:

1. Dump an entire stack of cups in the punch bowl, then stick her hand in the punch to fish them back out;

2. Spill the cup of punch she finally managed to pour herself down the back of our art teacher's skirt when she gave her a hug;

- And (my personal favorite) -

3. Spend ten minutes digging around in a purse - pulling everything out repeatedly - before announcing in stunned surprise, "Heyyyy... This is not my purse!"


Thankfully, said purse belonged to a woman in the art class after ours, so at least it was someone we sort of knew. Even more of a relief? She had a really good sense of humor. I am telling you, by the end of that (mercifully short) reception I was wiped out. Alzheimer's, like so many of the trials we face in this life, often boils down to a laugh or cry scenario (and it's definitely a prayerful one!) In hindsight it's pretty funny, although now that I am facing a second show and reception next week I find myself reevaluating my sense of humor. On second thought...

Anybody want to go with me? 'Cause methinks I'm just a leetle bit scared ;o)
[Photo Inset: The watercolor painting I entered, "Ecclesiastes 3: Summer (Rose of Sharon).]

The conversations I have with my mother throughout the week (normal ones aside) range from tedious to hilarious. It is not always easy to speak in the same calm voice when answering a question for the 33rd time during a single conversation, but I sure do try (though sometimes I take so many deep breaths, I probably sound like an obscene phone call ;o) People with Alzheimer's are easily agitated, and sometimes this agitation can blossom into a major meltdown if you're not able to defuse it. It is incredibly helpful to have a bent sense of humor in such situations, so you can entertain yourself and calm the storm at the same time. I am, of course, a huge fan of multitasking (particularly when it works ;o)

I had the following entertaining conversation with mom the other day on the way home from art class:

Mom: [suddenly agitated] "Jennifer, I don't know where I am."

Me: [calmly] "Of course you do."

Mom: [panicking] "NO! NO! I don't! I don't know! I don't know! I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHERE I AM!!"

Me: [still calm] "You're in my car, Mom."

Mom: [annoyed] "Well I know THAT."

Me: [raising a brow] "See? I told you you know where you are silly."

Happily, mom found that observation hysterically funny, and for the rest of the ride she was just fine. Dodged a bullet there, eh? Whew!
[Photo Inset: Not terribly relevant, though it did put me in mind of the song "Bad Moon Rising" which is sort of apt when it comes to the volatility of an Alzheimer's patient. Ha. Taken with my "old" camera. The one I have now doesn't seem to be able to get the job done; I think I need some kind of filter - but quite frankly, I haven't a clue ;o)]

Guess that's all for this week - I'm off to try to shovel out the rest of our guest bedroom (the holidays will be here before we know it - ACK!) Thanks for reading this far, and have a blessed week everyone!


  1. Nice job turning a situation around with the humor.

  2. Wow. Good work on keeping it cool, Jen.

Your comments really brighten my day!

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