Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a
whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think
you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see
us as you want to see us – in the simplest terms, in the most convenient
definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…
…and an athlete…
…and a basket case…
…and a criminal…
Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club. (-1985 John Hughes classic movie)
Alzheimer’s patients are a unique group, not unlike The Breakfast Club. Each one of the Sweet 17 has her own problems, some of which are painfully obvious (Mrs. W’s tremors, Screamin’ M’s outbursts and inability to swallow, my mom’s extreme anxiety and pacing and falling), and some are hidden, still crushing but not vocalized. 🙁 But I want to tell you in this piece that each is interesting and has a story too:
Mrs. W was a school teacher for many, many years and does really well even now except when the flu bug passes by yet again. (3 times in 4 months mom has been there. 🙁 ) She is articulate and has a teacher’s vocabulary. She reads and she still teaches me something many times that I go, not the least of which is perseverance.
My mom has worked very hard throughout her life whether in the field, the garden, at countless blue collar jobs or just raising 3 challenging kids. This lady could hold her own in a men’s fast-pitch softball league and was one of my primary two catchers (along with dad) in my long baseball career when I needed one at home. She bowled well. She golfed well. She could kick my butt and still can out-walk and out-arm wrestle me. While she is much more, she is and was the athlete.
Another M, sadly, is the basket case in the club. This sweet damsel has zero minutes’ worth of short-term memory. She knows one thing: she lives in Dallas County. She is sweet and smiles…and remembers nothing. “Hi, I am M. I am from Buffalo. Who are you?” I have heard in 100 times and always try to answer.
Little Miss B sings like a shaky songbird and whistles, but seldom talks. She loves fancy hats and a nicely folded bib. She, indeed, is a true princess if I have ever seen one. (My mom is a close second, not for the same reason. She has tried on every pair of shoes in her unit and they all “fit”, so she must have some princess lineage too!!!)
Screamin’ M is, inaccurately, the “un-criminal”
character in our little exercise. The actual criminal is the brain bandit that
has ruined her story. This precious firecracker uses the heck out of the last
three phrases that she knows. She has said them every single of my probably 100
“I Love You!!!”
“I Hate You!”
“Get me out of here, you SOB.”
Poor Screamin’ M is really struggling right now and needs your prayer. She will very soon “get out of here” indeed, but unfortunately not with family by her side unless something changes. 🙁 Bonus: rumor has it that this sweetie was a police officer in a former time, but I have no way to know. She has been sentenced to the unit for a long time. 🙁
If I could tell the Sweet 17 two things and have them “stick”, if you will, it would be:
1. You are loved exactly like you are.
2. Each one of you is precious, needed, special and of infinite value in your own ways both to me/my family and to the Savior. You are not in trouble and you will be free someday.