A GOOD Day in the Life of Alzheimer’s

a good day

So after spending Sunday afternoon with my mother and my daughter, I realized that the October article was due to the publisher of FamilyAffaires.com by October 8th…well, I now had my fodder!!!

It had started out like any ordinary weekend outing to give my dad a break from the 24/7 care he provides my mom who was diagnosed with — what will be four years in November — Alzheimer’s. I had made reservations at one of my mom’s favorite restaurants and requested to dine al fresco in an effort to savor every moment of the picture perfect weather this weekend and they were able to accommodate my request. This was going to be a GOOD day.

Upon talking to my daughter that morning and her wanting to come home for the day so that she could join us, I gladly changed our reservation to a table for three, knowing how much my mom loves hearing about her love life!!! Even though she doesn’t have much to contribute, she never forgets to ask if there is anyone new…much to my daughter’s dismay when the answer is often no!!! And to be honest, although I’m sure that my mom enjoys seeing her granddaughter, I know fully well that she prefers when there’s a third person since it kind of takes the pressure off of her having to remain engaged and answering questions.

Upon arriving at the restaurant, we were greeted by the hostess who was happy to see us since I’ve had to cancel reservations twice in the past couple of weeks due to my mom “just not feeling up to going out.” So this was a GOOD day. She offered us a table without much of a view in consideration of my mom not having to walk any further but I declined, telling her that my mom likes to watch the trains go by and I wanted to be on the opposite side. She graciously accommodated us by having us take a shortcut through the restaurant to a perfect table. It met with my mom’s satisfaction and this was a GOOD day.

My daughter and I ordered our drinks but my mom declined. She was focused on the menu but in a bewildered kind of way. The crab cake at this restaurant is her favorite, but this day she was having a particularly difficult time and I had to send the server away twice before we were able to place our orders…which, of course, came full circle to none other than the crab cake!

We had a lovely meal and my mom left just enough on her plate so that she’d have room for dessert. My dad is an excellent chef and cooks nutritious, delicious meals for the two of them, but the standing joke in our family is: we live to eat while mommy eats to live. She never was much of a food lover but desserts were a different story. We’ve caught her checking out the dessert cart at restaurants while the rest of us are deciding what appetizer to order! And now, of course, with her diagnosis, her stomach is so sensitive due to all of the medications and her tastes have become so selective, it’s very challenging for him to get her to enjoy anything he cooks, as she continues to lose more and more weight.

After my mom’s beignets arrived and I cut them into bite-size pieces for her and fixed her coffee, I just sat back and smiled. It seemed to me that she was enjoying herself in her own way and only her way. When our server came to check if the beignets were to her liking, she pulled up a chair and asked if she could share, and I said, of course. I asked her her name and I introduced ourselves.

She asked me if I was from around town and I said no, but I work there often. She asked what I did and she told me she used to work for a Judge for over 20 years. So, needless to say, we had an immediate connection. 

She then said that she looks at the three of us and feels that we are a gift to her. She said that she was me; my mom was her mother; my Ashley was her daughter Tara. She said that she wished that she could see more of what “we have that’s so special. Her mother and her daughter are no longer with her on this earth but they are in her heart every day. I gave her a hug and said that she, too, had been a gift to me and that I didn’t believe in chance meetings.

She agreed and we hugged and shed a tear or two and she went on to attend to her other tables.

I don’t know how much of this conversation my mom “really got” but I do know my daughter and I “got it” and for many untold reasons, this was a GOOD day.

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About Linda Burns

As a working court reporter and also owner of Infinity Court Reporting, LLC, I have become the chief, cook and bottle washer, which definitely has its ups and downs.  If I had to choose my favorite aspect, it would definitely be reporting at the depositions.  I love watching a case develop, producing a quality transcript and, at times, getting to see the case through to trial with my clients.  My most favorite aspect of my personal life is being the mother of two great kids!  I share our story in “Beating the Odds at Autism; One Family’s Winning Hand,” and I look forward to creating many more of life’s chapters with them!

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