The One I Can’t Shake

I can't carry on like this since I've had something consuming my mind the past week. I got a call from my buddy a week ago following my soccer game. We didn't get around to chatting on the phone until last Saturday. My buddy had a somber update regarding the status of his mom. I've known this friend of mine since ten years old. His mom is one of the warmest people I've ever met and is a tremendous role model for teachers. Perhaps that's why I'm so fond of anyone who's bold enough to become a teacher. She taught in public schools for 35+ years and and and and… I could go on and on. I will say this, she's so thoughtful she would always take the time to ask me about my mom, "Egan,how is your mom doing?". It stuck with me since they hardly ever met.

Unfortunately, life has taken a tough toll on her since I last saw her a few years ago. My buddy explained about a year and a half ago he started to notice some signs of Alzheimer's. The signs were very small at first, but last summer things got worse with her memory. She had trouble recognizing familiar sights and surroundings. To add insult to injury, last October she was diagnosed with cancer in her sinus and immediately underwent radiation therapy.

It wiped out the cancer, but was a very painful time emotionally and physically. The family soon witnessed a drastic change in her behaviors, chiefly her memory. The symptoms of Alzheimer's had advanced quickly and impacted her daily routine for the worse. My friend no longer works and spends four days a week at home with his parents. This was supposed to be the time of his parents life when they'd both be retired and enjoying the fruits of all those years of hard work. That's just not happening.

This is a rather personal issue for me as Alzheimer's runs in my family too. My grandmother and grandfather both had Alzheimer's when they died so I vividly recall my own feelings. It's tough to know someone your whole life and then suddenly they have no clue who you are. With my grandparents, they had lived a full life before they were diagnosed. My friend's mom is 65.

Each passing day since I spoke with my friend has allowed me to reflect. I guess I never realized how often I think about his mom until now. My heart goes out to his family as the world they know is forever changed and not necessarily for the worst. My friend says his family has become really tight since this happened. This is what I believe family and friends are all about, unwavering support.

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About lessinges

Seattle native, discovering life! I like ice cream, cold cereal, and The Amazing Race.
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21 Responses to The One I Can’t Shake

  1. Chris says:

    Alzheimer’s is super scary. I’ve spent some time visiting alzheimer’s patients in nursing homes and it’s very difficult to see. My heart and prayers go out to your friend.

  2. Gwen says:

    That’s a tough one, E. So much of what happens in life doesn’t seem fair. I’m sorry about your friend’s mom and also about your own family history which I’m sure weighs on you.

  3. Eunice says:

    Wow, that is tough news. Especially to be dealing with that so young. Alzheimer’s also runs in my family, and it freaks me out to no end. Hope that your friend’s family continues to cope with this and that she doesn’t progress to being much worse.

  4. meno says:

    What a lovely way to be remembering her, an adult who touched your life more than just a little.
    *still waiting for an e-mail so i can donate $ to your wife, you know, if she wants $*

  5. sizzle says:

    That is very sad. I’m so sorry. 😦

  6. brookem says:

    This is such a sad illness. I’m sorry to hear that your good friend’s mother has to endure all of this. And one of the toughest things about all of this, is that so very often the case is, it ends up being harder on the relatives of the one with the disease.
    I will keep your friend and his family, as well as you my friend, in my thoughts.

  7. Nilsa S. says:

    Wow, that’s really difficult. The strange thing for me about getting older isn’t the stuff I’m personally dealing with, but the idea our parents are aging, too. I see small things change with my parents, but nothing drastic yet. I dread the day when I will have to fly back to the east coast to care for one of them. My heart goes out to you and your friend.

  8. The Grunt says:

    Alzheimer’s at 65 is too young. I feel for your friend’s mother. My family took care of our grandmother when she went through it. What a heartbreaking challenge that was. I hope things get better for that family, somehow.

  9. Cheryl says:

    I am so sorry for your friend. My grandmother had Alzheimer’s. It’s one of the saddest things. Thinking of you all…

  10. cdp says:

    My grandmother also had Alzheimer’s when we lost her two years ago, and it was incredibly difficult. It sounds like you feel very deeply for the people you care about, and I’m sure your friend is comforted by your support. You’re a good friend. And that’s exactly what we all need in times like this – good friends and unwavering support, even if that just means sitting quietly during a rough day.
    Will be thinking of you and your friend and wishing peace, comfort, and strength for your both –

  11. That’s just horrible. That has to be the worst sickness that has ever come to be. I can’t imagine all your memories just being taken from you little by little. My thoughts are with you and your friend.

  12. Amanda says:

    You’re right, 65 is way too young to get struck down with Alzheimer’s. You’re post today is such a sad one. I really can’t imagine what it must be like for the family….any family with that has to deal with issues like this.
    I had this idea the other day that I should really get a list of all the main illnesses a person gets from about age 60 and then actively work against it from now. But….I’m a real procrastinator so lets see when I get something like that done!

  13. justrun says:

    My heart goes out to any family suffering from Alzheimer’s. Though it strikes an individual, it is an entire family that hurts and has to make their way through.

  14. churlita says:

    They say that if everyone lived long enough, they would all eventually get Alzheimer’s. it’s the early onset that is so hard. My heart goes out to your friend.

  15. egan says:

    Chris – yeah, I know all too well how rough Alzheimer’s can be. I’m hoping my friend’s mom stabilizes, but I’m not optimistic that will happen.
    Gwen – my own family history does weigh on me. What really makes it tough is the game is changed a bit now. As a parent and husband I’ve got people who are dependant on me should something happen. Very weird to think about.
    Eunice – let’s hope they find some sort of cure for Alzheimers in the next 20-30 years, if not sooner. I think I recall you saying it ran in your family too. Sucky.
    Meno – I will shout you an email with the details. Honestly, my friend’s mom had a profound impact on who I am today. I never realized it until now.
    Sizzle – thanks, it was tough to hear my friend explain this to me. I think I sat motionless for about ten minutes, so unlike me.
    Brookem – you’re so right about the impact on the family. It’s really hard on family members and I can only hope my buddy is doing well. We’re meeting up for drinks later this week. Not you and me, me and my buddy.

  16. sprizee says:

    Sorry to hear that Egan. Dealing with Alzheimer’s is never easy but this situation sounds even more complicated and difficult. You’re super fantastic at listening to people and just being there for them, and I bet that’s a huge help to that family. They’re lucky to have you in their life.
    P.S. Happy Anniversary (yesterday). Seven, oui?

  17. BigBro says:

    Happy Anniversary…hope you got the card- mom remmebered, so it is safe to say she hasn’t got early onset of Alzheimer’s.
    Julie Christie’s movie, “Away from Her” is all about this…and Sandra Day o’Connor opened up about her struggle with her husband who has forgotten her in his Alzheimer state.

  18. VIVA says:

    I was impressed and though it was a misprint at first when you said Alzheimers changes families but not always for the worse. I think that realization comes only after you have dealt with it as you have with various members of your family. It is a sad disease because the progression can be fast or slow, and the onlooker is helpless in trying to help with any recognition. all this is so obvious I cannot believe I am writing it. My grandfather died of dementia (which is a very early 80’s term for alzheimers). It was sad to see him go downhill with all the basic functions. I hope your friend is okay. that is a lot for him to tackle staying at home as the caretaker!

  19. B2G says:

    My grandmother has Alzheimer’s too. It’s been really hard on my family. Your friend is lucky to have you as an extra support in his life.

  20. egan says:

    Sprizee – thank you very much, it has been seven years of wedded bliss. Time sure does move fast. Thanks again for saying such kind things about my listening. My jaw had to be on the floor when I learned about his mom. It’s heartbreaking to think I will likely never see her as the person I knew all through childhood and formative years. That really pains me. Which makes me think how hard it must be on their family.
    BigBro = mom does seem to be fine as of now. Let’s hope it stays that way. I have noticed her hearing is crap though. You have to really talk loudly for her to catch anything, but that’s nothing compared to Alzheimer’s. I did get the card from you and mom, so thank you for that. I hope her visit has been good as she paid damn good money for that ticket.
    Viva – yeah, I guess if you look at the situations we’re given, they don’t have to be negative. Alzheimer’s is terrible, but it can unite families. It can get someone such as myself to plan ahead a bit more than normal. There are many good things which can come from these sorts of events. I’ll be hanging with my friend very soon so I’ll keep you posted.
    B2G – thanks for the comment and visit. It’s sure is tough on the family isn’t it? To not be recognized by a loved one is tough to look past. Good luck to your family and hang in there.

  21. Tiffany says:

    Sorry to hear about this. My prayers and thoughts to your friend’s family.

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