In addition to the lowest of lows of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, there are also some pretty great highs. Like these:
- I wake her in the morning, gently running my hand over her back. Her eyelids flutter, eventually opening, and she gives me a bug hug. “Today’s going to be a great day!” I exclaim. “Yes!” she replies enthusiastically.
- We take turns saying the blessing before meals. Actually, I ask her to say the blessing until she says, “It’s your turn!” which is about 1 in every 8 or 9 asks. She says that she’s grateful for the good, and the bad, and then names something amazingly specific (sometimes imagined) which is a great reminder to remember the little things.
- We listen to classical music while she “journals” (cuts up the newspaper and tapes it into a notebook) and I read or work. Every so often, she’ll look up and say, “This music is just so beautiful.”
- On our daily walks, she’ll stop and examine a dropped flower or a leaf, turning it over in her hands, then carrying it home, to tape into a notebook and color around it. The flowers and leaves are usually dead, ones I wouldn’t have given a second glance. A reminder to look for the beauty in everything.
- She hides candy throughout the house. Every so often, she’ll sneak into my office while I’m working and pass me a Hershey’s Nugget or Kiss, with a mischievous grin.
- In the evening, I’ll ask her if she’d like to go to bed, or watch an episode of The Golden Girls. “Oh, the girls! The girls! I just love them.”
- I sneeze. She laughs hysterically. Over, and over, and over.
- She asks me for a dish of ice cream (usually right after she’s finished one). I go into the kitchen, fix a bowl, and when I return and hand it to her, she says with surprise, “Oh! Ice cream! Thank you so much!”
These are the highs I relish.