The wait

I think the last time I wrote about my mom, the Alzheimer's victim, was about nine months ago. Honestly, I thought that last visit was gonna be the finale, the graceful goodbye before she mercifully kicked the proverbial can.

Well, sorry to say—I'm still waiting.

These are the tough days. The lousy days. The crummy days when you're waiting for an end … praying for an end … begging for an end … and it just doesn't fucking come.

Poor ole momma. What did she do to deserve this? Well, actually, nothing. She's not being punished for anything. She was just unlucky. A lot of people who live into their 80s are. We spend our 60s and 70s tiptoeing through the Minefield of Life, dodging all the cancers and aneurysms and heart attacks we can, only to cross the 80-yard line and find that the playing field is now even more perilous with the addition of all these Mines of Dementia. As Warren Zevon once said, “Life. It'll kill ya.”

It's not safe for me to make generalizations about what will happen if you or a loved one are diagnosed with The Big A. In each case, there are individual idiosyncracies that come into play. But I can say this much—if your parent is diagnosed, and it's the “standard” A that comes along between 75 and 85, as opposed to that nasty early onset A which arises in one's 50s/60s, make sure you take advantage of the “good” time you have left. That's the ‘break' you get with this disease. It won't get truly debilitating for a while, probably a few years. I know my mom was actually pretty functional for at least four years after her dreaded diagnosis was pronounced at 79, and that she blew it by immediately indulging in a persistent, fretful depression about being afflicted with this thing that she positively abhorred. That depression robbed her of the ability to do something enjoyable with the precious time she had left. Was it her choice or was it her fate or was it out of her hands? It no longer matters. However, I can't help but feel that precious time was squandered somehow.

Of course, what's the point of jumping on a global cruise ship to live large in the last few good years of your life if you know the entire horde of happy memories will soon be completely erased from your mind? Answers to be supplied by each person who has to sincerely ask the question, I suppose.

My mom is now gone. Long gone. Her expression is blank. She can't talk or communicate as she digests herself. She weighs about 70 pounds. It's a horror. The angels in the home that take care of her give her the minimal food and water they must to avoid legal action. Which leads one to ask—why?

Bottom line? You're much better off being killed by lightning.