I wasn’t always this way; I wasn’t always here, sitting alone in the corner of a crowded room in a chair where I couldn’t feel my feet. I didn’t always feel like a burden to others, and I certainly didn’t need anyone to tend to me this way in the past. I didn’t always spend my days in bed, sleeping far after the sun came up, existing for the sense of existing, waiting for the sense of waiting.
Someone turned on the television, that box of bad news that screams nothingness loudly in our ears;”The old ones love this” one of them said, in her phony caring voice that I hate to hear. They try to dress cheerful, with clothing filled with flowers and sunshine. Sunshine in a dark room screams pain to my old eyes, and I already have enough pain, so go away and leave me to my misery.
Misery is the only thing that is certain around here, the only thing you can count on each day. Misery doesn’t take you from your own home, a place where you lived, where you raised your kids, where you loved and you were loved, and where you cried. Misery doesn’t take you miles away from your home to a place where you are a stranger, and misery certainly does not forget you, it does not forget your birthday, and it definitely does not forget you at Christmas. Nope, misery is there for all those special occasions, and even the other events in your life when everyone else forgets that you are even alive. In this place, misery is your only friend.
They wheeled a new one in here yesterday, or was it the day before? No matter, who cares anyway? Just another person to share nothingness with. Did I mention the food? Probably not, sometimes it is better not to talk about that stuff, just sit and wait for one of them to feed it to you. It all tastes the same anyway, or my taster isn’t working, wouldn’t be the first thing not working today, each day, something else stops working.
I close my eyes and darkness fills the air. No pain, no noise, just darkness. My eyes are hurting now, it is morning, and one of them is in the room. One of them is smiling, like she has something to smile about. She has my meds. Pills some quack gives us to prolong this nothingness even longer. We are guinea pigs in a lab where morons work to make this life keep us longer; but we take the pills just to shut everyone up. Why am I still here, why can’t I remember where I used to be, Why can’t I go home?
Home. Now that was a good place. I think I built it myself from sticks and nails from an old house someone had abandoned long ago, or was that just a dream? Was I dreaming a dream about a man and a woman and children and a farm and animals or did I live it? My mind plays tricks sometimes and fools me to think I lived once. This is not fair, Give me back my mind. Right now, I would even trade misery for my mind, if only for a moment. A moment would prove that I wasn’t always a crazy little old man, living in a dark retirement home with people running around pretending to care only because they are paid to pretend to care. A moment would take away this crazy embarrassing disease that has stolen my life, my memories and my past from me; and let me be the man I think I once was. If only I could have that moment. Right now, I would kill for that moment. I would even die for that moment, but this damn disease won’t even let me die; so I go on dreaming.
Alzheimer’s is a thief. The disease has stolen my grandmother from me. This disease has stolen my dad’s mother from him. She cannot remember her husband, her kids, her grand kids, her friends, or her life. She is at the point where she is playing with a doll who she thinks is her baby. A baby without a name. She is afraid of her children and their children. She doesn’t know her own home. She gets confused easily and needs someone to help her with the bathroom. She cannot cook the splendid suppers she was famous for. She forgets who my grandfather was, all the times he made her smile, all the times he made her laugh, and she forgets when he died. Damn you Alzheimer’s! Leave my grandmother alone!
My Grandmother has Alzheimer’s, so did my spouse’s grandfather. Today, I tried to put myself in their place, and try to explain how they feel. Hopefully the darkness of this work did not scare anyone, or maybe it would be great if it did, that way, we would be more empathetic to the poor souls stricken with this disease and even worse, their families, who feel helpless.
Update: My grandmother passed away a few years ago. She finally beat the disease! Prior to her passing, she became so childlike that she carried a little doll, which she named ‘Henry’, my dad’s name. She was afraid of Everybody, even her own reflection. On her death bed, it seemed as if everything came back to her for one brief moment. She said goodbye to all her kids (She named all eleven of them), smiled, and passed away peacefully. God Bless her heart.