Julie in Michigan

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Goodbye Elinore

Last night was my last night to visit my friend with Alzheimer’s. Yes, I was being paid for my time but she had become a friend and I will miss her. I don’t know that much about the mind, I’ve never had any training in western medicine - I'm strictly an alternative healing type of a person, but I do know that in spite of the fact that she would sometimes look at me and ask if I had ever been there before, she had moments of true clarity.

I always spoke to her as if her mind was operating at 100% capacity and I guess she gave me the verification this morning that she knew that. As we went for our morning walk around the neighborhood, she asked “You’re not coming back, are you?”

I had refrained from any discussion of the decisions her family and the agency were having as far as her continued care. I had not told her that I have been sending resumes out. But she’s still an intelligent woman and she picks up clues from people’s behaviors. I was honest with her. “No, I won’t be back”.

We said the standard things people say, “I’ll miss you”. But then she surprised me. She said, “I could count on you to answer my questions, I won’t have anyone now”. Once again, the tears threatened. How truly heartbreaking this disease is. This intelligent woman, a caring and compassionate human being, a former RN, who stayed married to her original mate and raised five children, is experiencing the deterioration of her brain. However, it appears to me that the cells that remain still work the same as they always have… it’s just that a lot of them are gone – the parts that store short-term memory.

This morning I didn't have to repeat anything. For some reason her mind was operating at near-full capacity. She was able to continue our thread of conversation. She asked about my new job, where I would be living. She asked what time I would be starting my drive. She commented on how good it is to 'go home'. We both agreed, its good to go home.

I’ll miss you Elinore, although in time, probably by this afternoon, you won’t remember me. But I’ll remember you.

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