Friday, September 21, 2012

nyu grad 1991Today, I'm told, is Alzheimer's Awareness Day.

My grandmother had Alzheimer's. One day the fridge was full of oranges. One Christmas Eve she went to the grocery store and didn't return for four hours. Three people had to be dispatched to track her down. She got back before we found out what happened and she couldn't tell us where she'd been. At my cousin's wedding she said to my mother, "I don't know any of these people." My mother replied, "It's OK, they know you." To me that last feels incredibly creepy but it seemed to comfort Biddy.

There's a woman in the park who has suffered a stroke. She's recovered but her memory isn't so good. It's some sort of dementia but I don't know which sort. Let's call her Sandra.

One day this summer she was so confused, no leash for the dog (sometimes she uses a belt), unable to remember our names, no clear idea of which way she was headed, that one of our little group took to the internet to locate her family. She found a member, voiced her concerns, and she looped in a whole bunch of neighborhood folks on the email. Sandra's family was, of course, right on top of the things we were worried about but welcomed other eyes on their loved one.

Today I went out to lunch with an old friend so I didn't look at my phone for a couple of hours. When I did every other message was from the Sandra Support Email Tree. Apparently her aide had arrived to find the dog at home but no Sandra! Terrifying, I can only imagine. One of the tree branches had overheard in the park that Sandra would be going to a movie with someone not on the tree. I was able to find an email for that woman and we got the full story (I'm sure that Sandra's family had gotten the story and the relief much earlier). Apparently they'd been to an early movie nearby then to another member's house for luncheon and, while they'd tried to call the aide at Sandra's home, hadn't reached anyone to clarify their plans.

Now we've got an extra limb on our ever-growing tree and we've, unknowingly, "celebrated" Alzheimer's Awareness Day. I am grateful for the happy ending and even more grateful that I keep company with people who take care of their own this well.

Fuck dementia you guys, fuck it in the ear.


  1. Your tree is amazing. My aunt had another type of dementia and there was no tree - no one except for the two little twigs of my mother and me.

  2. I know the glasses you're wearing in that photo are 80s style huge, but man, that is an adorable photo of you with your grandparents- just sweet!!

    My grandmother on my dad's side had Alzheimer's. My godmother has it and she's only 66. My grandmother on my mother's side is starting to get short term memory loss. Losing your mind really really sucks. I think it's got to be one of the worst diseases out there.