Mom with “Polly” the talking bird toy.
Today is the three-year anniversary of my mother’s death. While the immediate suffocating phase of grief has mainly dissipated, it’s still a day that I reflect upon my mother’s passing from this world, and the memories that remain.
If Mom had her way, she’d want me to remember her as a funny lady.
Mom loved to laugh and make other people laugh. As one can tell by reading my book, I also try to have a sense of humor, though Mom and I couldn’t be more opposite in our forms of humor. Mom loved to tell corny jokes and I’m far more sarcastic with a dry wit.
I was going through some paperwork that I had set aside at the time of her death, and discovered a manila envelope labeled, “Jokes.” Inside were a lot of jokes I remember from my childhood, such as the infamous “Rose Bowl” ticket.
I also found one of Mom’s final jokes, the “web” joke. Here’s how Mom wrote down that one:
I’m not a “hi-tech” person. I do have a cell phone, which is handy to use. But I have never been on the “web.” I take that back. I was on the “web” one time. I stepped on a spider web. Very sticky and I was unhappy about that. After losing 4 legs, the spider was very unhappy. I never returned to the web and neither did the spider.
Mom wrote a note underneath the joke: “I wrote this 3 years ago and is printable (?) right venue!!”
I think this blog is just the right venue.
If one had to pick a holiday to associate with Alzheimer’s, it would definitely be April Fool’s Day.
Our loved ones with early to middle-stage Alzheimer’s often appear so normal, just how they’ve always looked to us. (During the latter stages of Alzheimer’s, the physical symptoms of the disease tend to be more readily apparent.) But then they open their mouth, or don’t respond to their name, or don’t recognize that you are their loved one, and it is like the cruelest April Fool’s joke in the world.
If only our loved ones were pulling off such a prank, and could snap back into their old selves while laughing and shouting, “April Fool’s!”
As I’m reading the wonderful stories in the upcoming “Chicken Soup for the Soul Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias” book, I found two Alzheimer’s-related behaviors that fascinate me. One relates to April Fool’s in that humor can still be found in the Alzeimer’s experience. Often it is unexpected or unintentional humor, but it is there if you seek it out. The other is the way the disease works on the brain and how people with even mid- to latter-stage Alzheimer’s can sometimes have a lucid moment. Time and time again, people described how it was like a veil was lifted, or the fog dissipated, albeit temporarily. I remember experiencing this with my father, and what precious moments those were for me.
But then Alzheimer’s would cry, “April Fool’s” and my dad’s mind would be lost in the fog of dementia once again.