Good morning my darklings.  Today you’ll be treated to a post by the very talented and kind Linda Brendle.  I would never call her a darkling.  She’s one of those lights in the world as a caregiver.  And that’s great because I’m sick and she’s taking care of my blog for me today.  Read on and leave comments about how great she is. 🙂  Also, my computer was acting up so I had to print and retype this.  Any mistakes are mine alone.

The Horror of Alzheimer’s by Guest Blogger Linda Brendle

When Krista invited me to be a guest on her blog, I was excited but a little worried about how to write about my usual subjects of caregiving, faith and family in a way that would fit into the aura of KompletelyKrista.  At first I thought I might write a tragicomic piece about how gremlins stold Mom’s memory, but just to be on the safe side, I checked out the little fellows on Wikipedia.  It seems the imaginary creatures are closelyrlated to imps of ol English foklore, but the more modern version is inclined to damage or dismantle machinery, specifically aircrafts.  That didn’t fit, so I checked ot afew of the other critters that populate Krista’s world.  I found pookas, goblins, brownies, gnomes, fairies and more, each with their own characteristics and inclinations, but none of them fit either.  It’s not the first time I’e had to re-think a writing project so I went back to the mental drawing board.  I mulled it over and thought of how Krista describes what she writes:  drk fantasy, paranormal, horror.  That sounds like a perfect description of Alzheimer’s.

Once again I did an Internet search to be sure of my terms.  The first definition I found of paranormal was “an adjective denoting events of phenomena such as telekinesis or clairvoyance that are beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding.”  As fas a I know there are no cases of Alheimer’s involving telekineses or clairvoyance, but the disease is certainly beyond the current scientific understanding.  Alzheimer’s causes plaque-encrusted nerve tangls to form in the brain, but the cause has not been pin-pointed.  Strides have been made in slowing the progress of the disease, but so far there is no known cure.

I didn’t have to look up dark fantasy to see how it related to Alzheimer’s.  Mom started having delusions before she and Dad moved in with me.  One evening David was suposed to pick her up and brink her to the church where I would meet them for dinner. Shortly after I arrived, I got a phone call from my frustrated husband.

“Would you please call your mother and tell her to open the door.  She won’t let me in.”

I called and asked Mom what was going on.  She spun a wild tale that doesn’t bear repeating and calmed down only after I went to her house and let myself in with my key.

Later, after they moved in with us, I frequently came home from work to her tales of phone cals Dad had received from old girlffriends.  More than once I was awakened by a knock on my bedroom door and a tearful revelation that Dad had run off with some unknown hussy when inf fact he had gone to the bathroom.  Thankfully the dark fantasies came to an end when the neurologist prescribed the proper medication.

Mom’s disease came on slowlu, taking tiny bits  of her memory over a 15-year span.  First she began to ask the same question three times in five minutes, or she came home from the grocery store with two cantaloupes when therer were three in the refiderator.  her mother died from the mind-wasting disease after eight yearsof lying in a bed, unaward of her surrundings, and Mom was aware enough for many years to know that she faced the same fate.  There were times when the horror of her future was too much, and she broke down and sobbed that she would rather than live like her mother.

The one good side of Alzheimer’sis that as the memory fades, so do the fears.  Once she no longer remembered that she was ill, she became sweet and childlike, enjoing the moment and delighting in the attention she received from her caregivers.  But those of us she left behind in the rel world still knew.  I suffered the agony of watching the mother I knew become dependent on me for everything from medications to baths and even clean underwear.  After she moved into assisted living and I didn’t see her for weeks on end, the changes between visits were heartbreaking.  I watched in horror as she slowly lost the ability to walk, to feed herself, to communicate much beyond a sile, a hug and a few jumbled words.

But Alzheimer’s didn’t win.  My last visit with her was a month before she died.  Most of the time I was with her, she was asleep or vacant, but one morning, her eyes cleared and she looked at me and said, “You look pretty today.”  She still lit up when my brother ame to visit, and she clapped when he played his guitar for her.  Her faith was strong and up to the end the nurses said she hummed along to the old gospel hyns she heard on TV.  The day she died was a good day.  She smiled and giggled at the therapy dog one of the nurses brought to see her, and she ate everything the hospice nurse fed her.  Shortly after dinner, an orderly put hr to bed and two hours later, when the charge nurse made her nrmal rounds, Mom was lying there with a smile on her face, and she was gone.

I like to think that, as she slept, she fet a gentle hand on her shoulder.  She opened he eyes and saw Jesus on one side of her bed and Dad on the other.  Then she heard a soft voice.

“Helen, wake up.  You’ve had nough of thi horror.  Let’s go home.”




Linda Brdle is retired from the busines world and caregiving and lives just outside a small town in East Texas with her husband David.  Her memoir, A Long and Winding Road:  RVing with Mom and Dad is in the hands of her wonderful agent, Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Literary, LLC

She can be found on:

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