Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Learning About Alzheimer's -- Part 3 of 5

This is a continuation of an excerpt from Where Love Once Lived.

“Well,” he said, brushing his hair back with his hand, “come on in. It’s about time you learned the truth.” He moved out of the way to let them enter.

Brian saw her on the sofa and was shocked by what he saw. Her gray hair was flat, not styled in the usual way, and she sat slump-shouldered, when all her life she’d taken pride in her posture. He bent down to give her a kiss, but before he could, she moved her head away and looked at him in a way that told him she had no idea who he was. He saw her glasses on the floor and scooped them up and put them in her nonresponsive hand. She held the glasses up and examined them in the way a child is thrilled with a new toy.

“Why didn’t you tell me, Dad?”

His dad stuffed his hands in his pockets and rocked on his feet. “I guess Amy told you before you came in. The doctor says she’s got that old timer’s disease.”

“Yeah, Alzheimer’s. Why didn’t you call me?”

“I didn’t want to worry you. What can you do? What can anybody do? Yeah, I should have called. I should’ve cleaned up around here, too. Do you think there’s time to do anything but care for her? I feed her and bathe her. I do it all. I can’t leave her alone long enough to talk on the phone.”

“I’ve called. You still didn’t tell me. You deliberately hid this from me.” Brian sat close to his mother and put his arm around her. “If I’d known, I could’ve helped.”

She cried softly.

Amy sat on the other said of his mother. “It’s okay, Grandma. Nothing is wrong. We’re just talking.”

“Now look what you’ve done,” Brian's dad said, scowling. “Get away from her if you’re going to make her cry like that.” He moved around to the back of the sofa and rubbed her back. “It’s okay, Martha. She can hear, you know,” he said to Brian. She seemed to relax as his dad massaged her back, but she still had tears in her eyes. “Talk to her nice, Son, while I go get her hankie.”

Brian sat next to her and put an arm around her, being as gentle as possible. She leaned into him until he could feel the heat from her body and the rise and fall of her breathing. With a jerk, she pulled away and looked at him as if noticing for the first time he was in the room.

“Brian, what a surprise. Amy? You’re here, too. Where’s Grandpa? Is he okay?”

“Yes, Grandma.” Amy said. “Grandpa went to the bedroom to get you a handkerchief.”

“Mother!” I was so worried about you.”

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