I’m not going to give a history or facts about this incredibly sad disease. I think it’s safe to say that most of us know someone who is affected by this illness.
My aunt has been in the hospital two times over the last few weeks. She has Alzheimer Disease. That isn’t why she was taken to the hospital, however, the time spent there seems to take a toll on her in a negative way.
She is now in a place of rehab, building up her strength to return home, where she lives with her daughter and her daughter’s family. I sat with her for awhile yesterday. I walked away with a few thoughts and even more feelings about it all.
My aunt couldn’t get comfortable and told me countless times how miserable she was. She would go from lying in the bed to sitting on the side of the bed and back, in a matter of minutes. I finally got her settled in the wheelchair, which seemed to be the place she found most comfortable. The foot thingies were off the chair, and I was waiting for the NA to come out of the room across the hall to ask her to show me how to reattach them. In the meantime, my aunt propped her legs up on the bed.
She commented a few times on the No Nonsense pink striped no-show socks she was wearing (we called them “footies” back in my day, which dates me, I know). I noticed what tiny ankles she had, and shared with her a flashback I had while looking at those socks.
I remembered when I was a little girl, how my aunt would always wear an anklet, or ankle bracelet (as we called those back in the day). She would always wear one, and I thought it was so cool. Couldn’t wait to grow up and wear one myself. I shared the memory with her. She didn’t remember, of course, and I didn’t expect her to, but in that brief moment, we connected.
I felt so useless, sitting in the room with her, as she tried to come to terms with her discomfort, and the whys and whens of home. I gained a greater respect, and sympathy too, for my cousins, her daughter and son, who are taking care of her on a daily basis, for as long as they can do so at home. And I know there are countless others who are doing the same thing. My hat is off to you.
I will return to visit my aunt again in a day or two. Not that she’ll remember that I did. But during my time with her yesterday, she called me by name. And that’s why I’ll go. Because while I was there (for now anyway) she knew.