I’ve been all over Atlanta trying to cash in these pieces of foreign currency that Dad had stashed away in one of his many wallets. The bills came in holiday cards from his family in Ireland, who always told him to “have a wee drink on them.” It was a family tradition. When I was a girl, they would include money in my birthday cards. (No, they didn’t tell me to have a wee drink, ha.) Before Dad had dementia, he was prompt about getting the foreign currency cashed.
But once the dementia took over, he would forget to even open the cards his family sent him. His sisters revealed how concerned they had been when my mom called his family to tell them he was in the hospital. They had not been receiving responses back from Dad. In addition to writing, Dad had lost interest in calling them on the phone as the dementia progressed.
My mom asked for me to help out with these last few bills that her local bank could not convert for her. So I went to the branch of my bank in my neighborhood, and they told me I needed to go to another location. I went to a branch in what is known as the “financial center” of town where I work, and they directed me to an American Express office that handled currency conversions. So on my lunch break, I walked down there with this envelope that I’ve been carrying around for months.
The clerk only had to take a momentary glance. “Sorry, those are too old to cash here. If you ever go to Europe, you might be able to get them converted there.”
Well, that’s not happening any time soon, so back the envelope comes with me. I don’t care whether I ever get them cashed or not, it’s just another sad reminder of how dementia robs one of completing simple tasks and simple pleasures, like enjoying a token of love from your family. It’s especially ironic since Dad, like many Alzheimer’s patients, became obsessed with money, always asking about his $20, yet he had a stack of foreign currency long forgotten in his nightstand drawer.