Calgon, Take Me Away.

At this point, I thought that I choked her. That she was gone enough, what’s left of her in my memory could just be gone, too. It had been so long since something affected me–I’ve even grown immune to the smell of her perfume.

But it was a cleaning spray that did it this time–one of Mrs. Meyer’s summer scents, Blue Bell. I’ve used it before and had a slight disdain for it, thinking I just didn’t like the fragrance. It wasn’t until tonight it finally hit me.

That was the scent of her bath oil–I can’t remember now if it was Avon brand or Skin so Soft. I only remember it was in a plastic bottle the color of the bathroom tile and she kept it under the sink. Continue reading

When they love you and they will, tell them all, they’ll love in my shadow…And if they try to slow you down, tell them all, to go to hell

The past couple of months have been such a crazy whirlwind, and although I’d like to believe that will slow down soon, with the holidaze almost upon us, so I’m finding that hard to believe. Continue reading

See? Sometimes Alzheimer’s Can Be Funny…

Today has been a pretty grey day in the Garden State, which means that it was an early day for my dad, who is a farmer.

Being that I’m working from home today, I’ve spent the afternoon in front of the computer while my dad and mom sat on the couch and watched the news.

Today has not been a good day for my mom–she’s been fairly agitated and not really communicative. At one point she was trembling and near tears. When I’d ask her what was wrong, she would look up at me with a face of fear, clearly not recognizing who I am.

Although she perked up a bit when my dad came in, she’s still been relatively quiet, which, sadly, seems to be the new norm for her.

But when my dad got frustrated with one of the commentators on TV and exclaimed, “This guy is full of crap!”, my mom didn’t miss a beat. She turned, looked directly at him, and said, “So’s your head.”

 

The Beat Goes On

The benefits of using music as therapy for Alzheimer’s patients¬†are pretty well documented, but seeing the complete transformation that takes place when my mom listens to music is still pretty extraordinary.

My mom was always a very musically inclined person–not only she was a gifted musician who played several instruments (the guitar, the French horn, and the flute, to name a few), but she also just loved listening to a variety of different bands and musicians across genres. My mom passed on her love for Cat Stevens, Simon and Garfunkel, Queen, and “oldies” to me. So many of my memories of her and my childhood are infused with the sounds of her and my dad’s music blaring the speakers in the living room or the old Pontiac Bonneville.

And music continues to be one of the strongest threads that connect us to who my mother was before the illness started to take over. The minute you turn on the Solid Gold Oldies station, she is singing, clapping, snapping, and stomping. And her clarity seems to improve almost instantly. She is more engaged, more happy, more alive than she was just minutes prior.

This morning I spent a few hours with her before my grandmom came to pick her up. We listened to oldies and I sang along (loudly and badly) while she whistled and snapped along (in proper rhythm, I might add). The highlight was when “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” started playing. Not only was she really into it, but she was also making it very obvious that she found my falsetto questionable (a fair observation).

It was nice to share a laugh with her and realize that you can still find happiness and normalcy in situations that, on the surface, seem like they leave no room for such luxuries.

Preserve Your Memories; They’re All That’s Left You

A few nights ago, my brother, his wife, me, and D all sat around their kitchen table, eating dinner together and shooting the shit. It was my brother’s 42nd birthday, and so we were spending the day together, relaxing and hanging out. It also happened to be the day of my cousin’s funeral. Continue reading

Oh, hai.

I like to think I’ve been getting better about writing more regularly, but I just realized I haven’t been posting as consistently as I thought. I blame this in part to the fact that we are somehow barreling through March at a breakneck pace (seriously, I’m pretty sure it took twice as long for us to get through February and it’s 3 days shorter!), but it could also have something to do with the fact I’ve been busy. I am taking comfort in the fact that this is partially due to the fact I’ve been writing other things for other sites. That counts for something, right? Continue reading

Basking in my 15 minutes

Well, I can’t post much right now because I need to start my work day soon, but I wanted to share some exciting news for those of you who might not already know: xojane.com published one of my articles yesterday!! I am so beyond excited and thrilled for the opportunity and am completely blown away by the response I’ve received so far, both from people close to me and from people I’ve never met. It’s been so awesome to read all the responses and get so much feedback, although admittedly it’s a bit bittersweet (it sucks to know so many other people understand the pains of Alzheimer’s firsthand…).

But the experience has definitely reenergized me and I’m even more focused than before to get my writing out there and to keep finding avenues where I can promote my work. And I really hope I get the opportunity to work with xoJane.com again–what an awesome publication to write for! (The same day my article premiered, they posted a piece by one of my favorite comediennes, Lisa Lampanelli!!)

So… I’m stoked, and humbled, and grateful, and overwhelmed, and excited. 2013 is my year, damnit, and this is just the beginning.

May All Your Christmases Be Bright…

Today the Holiday Music Bracket officially started at my work. My friend Dave and I put it together, using suggestions from our co-workers. For the first round, we had a little fun with the match-ups, pitting songs against each other that created some kind of theme. We had one battle royale of “A Very Motown Christmas,” which had Otis Redding vs The Drifter’s version of “White Christmas.”

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Where are you going? Where have you been?

A part of me is almost embarressed at how long it’s been since I’ve written a proper blog, especially since one of the last blogs I wrote was resolving to write in this blog every week, but as I sit here with more than half of 2012 already behind me, I think it would be nearly impossible for me to put into words most of this year, especially while it was happening.

In fact, that was exactly how I felt most of the time I attempted to even think about posting about whatever random things happened. There just hadn’t been enough time to really process the event, or the subsequent emotion that event brought on, before something else equally as impressionable happened. I think what made these events particularly difficult to write about were that there was no real clear line between whether they were “good” or “bad,” and it took a considerable amount of time and additional living to figure out what they meant for me overall. Continue reading

never stare up the stairs, just step up the steps…

When I was in second grade, I was enrolled in CCD at our church. The point was to instill me with a more fundamental knowledge of our faith — to help me realize more fully what it meant to believe in God, and what it meant to be Catholic. There was a textbook, with pastel paintings of Jesus and his disciples, helping the sick and feeding the poor. There were tests — memorizing the Commandments and reciting the Our Father. I needed to learn these things to make my first Holy Communion, to advance in my faith. The weight of the spiritual world was essentially resting on my shoulders, being this was the first rite of Christian passage that I actively was participating in.

But none of that mattered. The fear and anxiety of the tests and the practicing and the ultimatums (“If you don’t learn this, you won’t be able to get Communion,” which loosely translated into “You won’t be able to wear a pretty white dress and have your own special party”) completely paled in comparison to my true source of anxiety every Sunday: the open staircase that led to our classroom. Continue reading