Monday, May 31, 2010

Learning About Alzheimer's -- Part 1 of 5

In Chapter Eight of Where Love Once Lived, the male protagonist, Brian Donelson, learns that his mother has Alzheimer's. This week, I'm going to give you the entire chapter to read. I would love to hear what you think about it. I know that Alzheimer's patients react in different ways, but I'm basing this on my own experience with my mother.

Brian parked his rental car in front of his parents’ home in Redondo Beach, California, and glanced at his watch. Last week, at this time, he was parking the bookmobile at Karen’s school. An image of her walking across the parking lot was as clear to him as if he were there now. He wondered if she’d miss him when he didn’t show up today. He started to call her before he left, but he wasn’t ready to talk about why he’d shut down the bookmobile service. He owed her an explanation after barging into her life the way he did, but he wasn’t sure what he’d say. He still wanted her to love him the way she once did and the way he loved her still, but the bookmobile approach hadn’t worked. Perhaps this trip to see his parents and his daughter would give him time to decide what to do next. He stepped out of the vehicle and breathed in the smells of his youth. Even though his future was fuzzy, he felt a calmness he only found here in his old neighborhood with its palm trees, stucco homes, and the fresh smell of saltwater from the nearby Pacific Ocean. As he walked toward the house, he noticed Dad hadn’t kept the yard as neat as he usually did. Perhaps Brian could give him a hand with it while he was here. It’d be fun to trim the bushes, dig up the weeds in the flowerbeds, and mow the grass again.

The front door opened as he approached the house, and his daughter stepped out. She shut the door behind her and put her arms around him.

“Hi, Daddy.”

He’d planned to stay in his old room while at home, but when he called Amy to say he was coming, she’d insisted he stay at her place. She wanted to show him her new condo, she’d said, and it’d give them more time to visit. Even though he talked to her by phone and e-mail frequently, seeing her now reminded him why he’d stayed in a loveless marriage for so long.

“Hi, sweetie. What a nice surprise.” He backed away and looked into her eyes. “But what are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be at work?”

Her smile faded slowly and her eyes took on a seriousness he’d seen only once before, the time he told her he was getting a divorce.

“I need to talk to you before you go in.”

Something was seriously wrong.

“What’s happened? Is it Mom? Dad?”

Amy reached out and grasped his hands, her brown eyes focused on his eyes. “It’s Grandma.” She gently squeezed his hands. “Don’t be alarmed, Dad. She’s in no danger. It’s…it’s Alzheimer’s.”

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