We Had Him For a Month - An Alzheimer Journey by Sue Scoggins

This picture was taken in 2009.  What a handsome guy!

A lot  has happened since the last post.  Two months ago, Jerry seemed to be on a serious downturn and I wasn’t sure if I was ready for it.

Last month,  however, Jerry came back.  At least a little.  He had taken two steps down and one step back.  It was a good month, in that, all of our children were able to have a one-on-one visit with him where he knew who they were for a few minutes.  The girls were able to bring their babies to the park and Jerry was able to sit next to them.  They even threw the football.  The time was sweet, sweet.

When Mark  came , the first visit was pretty difficult and very emotional.  Both Mark and Jerry cried.  In fact, SOBBED!  I try to imagine myself as a child of an alzheimer parent.  Especially this young.   I can’t.  The emotional energy that was released was nearly enough to make all those watching leave the room but we managed to muddle through.  It’s not unusual to want to avoid painful events so I’m sure Mark was reluctant to go a second time.  But, with a deep breath of courage, we went again a few days later.

In order to stay out of the heat we chose not to leave the home.  The living room was cool and filled with books.  It’s a nice place to spend intimate time together.  As Jerry and I looked through a large book on lighthouses from all over the world, he seemed to be interested.  I reminded him of all the countries we’ve traveled to and when I came to the page on Ireland, he said, “ARELAND.” Then, out of the blue, holding hands, he said, “I worry about her.”  I looked at him and asked, “Who’s her?”  and with a squeeze, he raised my hand and patted it.  It was me!  I think, for a second or two, his protective spirit revealed a concern for me.  What a moment to treasure.

A few minutes later, Mark came in and decided to find some old country music on his cell phone.  Jerry and I began to dance.  This must have gone on for 10 minutes, when the song, “I’ll Fly Away” came on.  Jerry began to sing!  He actually sang!  “Some glad morning when this life is over I'll fly away .  When I die Hallelujah, by and by I'll fly away.”  He actually sang most of those words!  What a gift!

Today it was evident, however, that Jerry has shifted back down again.  Although he  jumped up to see me immediately and wrapped his arms around me, his eyes were completely glazed over and staring across the room.  No amount of coaxing could get him to engage his eyes with mine. He has lost more weight.  Maybe 144 lbs now.  I walked him to his room, which is now occupied only by him. George, his roommate, passed away two weeks ago.  I took Jerry over to our pictures and pointed out each of our children. Named them one by one.  There was no reaction.   I showed him a picture of himself but I’m not sure he even recognized himself.

Jette, his nurse, told me a few weeks ago, he looked in the mirror, nodded,  and said,” good lookin’ guy.”  We smiled.  He still is.