Tuesday, July 04, 2006

For a Dog She Speaks

Our new puppy is quite the attention grabber from strangers. At dinner tonight, we sat outside with her on a leash. A woman stepped out from the passenger side of a minivan and asked if it would be rude to have a look at our little cutie.

"Of course you can," I said.

"You never know," she said, "I saw a news report where some people have puppies in training, and people like myself could be intruding."

"Intruding is sticking your finger in the mouth of my newborn baby and saying goochie-goochie-goo, ok?"

She laughed and pet the dog. "I couldn't resist. My mother said, 'Look at the dog!', so I had to come out. Those are her first words in two months." She looked down and said, "She has Alzheimer's."

"Does she want to see the dog?" I said.

"You wouldn't mind?"

When the side door slid open, her mother sat there cradling a baby doll that was swaddled tight. I held out the dog and said, "This is Roxie."

Her daughter repeated loudly, "Her name is Roxie."

"I know that," she replied sternly. A man beside her took the doll as I placed Roxie in her lap. She pet her for a moment, then her eyes went sort of dull, as if focusing on a distant object over the horizon.

This was my first experience with someone so afflicted. Only a glimpse. Have a good holiday Eve. I still don't know what it's like, but I thought of you today.


Bailey Stewart said...

Thank you Scott. Bebo and I were touched. You've given us a bit of a glimpse into the future too. Mom spends about 90 - 95% of her time in bed now, but she's still talkative. And she responds a lot to the cats.

You and your family have a fun and safe Fourth.

Anonymous said...

Very touching Scott. You gave her a nice moment. Anything that sparks the old her to the surface is precious.

Writing Blind said...

That is so sweet and so sad. But at least for a moment, you made her life that much happier. It's those small moments that count most.

Jaye Wells said...

What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

My grandad had this.

Sometimes he would be really upbeat, but toher times he was horribly depressed.

He didn't know who i was in his last days.

He never forgot his faith though.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Scott.

Scott said...

You are welcome Bailey (Eve for anyone who is confused). It was a bit surreal, I have to say. Be well.

Jason - I hope it made a little difference to her day. Thanks.

Rebecca - Thank you.

Jaye - Thanks.

Toast - Sorry about your gramps. I'm glad that he could hang on to something.

Bernita - Glad you enjoyed it.

Toni Anderson said...

And her daughter must have been touched too. Lovely.

I can't imagine what it is like to love someone with Altzeimers. My brother's wife died after suffering from MS for 15 years. Her body disintergrated but her mind remained sharp.

I wonder which is worse?

Bailey Stewart said...

Thanks for clearing up the confusion Scott. I forget that some people only know me as Eve.

The body is worse. I've watched both. When the body goes you're aware of it to the very end. When the mind goes - well, mother doesn't know there's anything wrong with her mind.

Kathleen said...

I've read so many stories about how good animals are for the elderly who are sick, lonely and with Alzheimers. What a loving daughter to stop and ask for something like that for her Mom. And how like you to think nothing of it, as most of us wouldn't.

Maybe that lady thought about Roxie throughout the day and it brought a little smile to her face.

Shirley said...

What a beautiful story. I just love the way animals can touch people in so many different ways.
Happy fourth of July!

Beth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Beth said...

My mother used to work with alzheimer patients and the stories she shared with me were always tragic and heroic. This is something that needs a cure.

Moni said...

You never know how much of an influence outside stimuli might have on a person with Alzheimers. That was really nice of you to share a moment of reality with the woman.

Have a wonderful 4th...be safe. ;)

Erin-erin-bo-berin said...

A dear friend of mine ( I knew her from church)was also my Calculus teacher in HS and the head of the Math department. The summer after I graduated (1993), she could not find her car in the mall parking lot, couldn't remember her home phone number and couldn't remember her husband's name. Finally, she remembered her children's names and phone numbers. They picked her up and drove her home. Two weeks later, she was diagnosed with Alzheimers. My sweet friend greeted me as if I were a new person every time I visited her, until she stopped talking and later died (of natural causes)in 2003. It's a vile affliction, if I say so myself. It robbed her of many things. Thank you for reminding me of my friend, Gail!

ruby55 said...

What a wonderful little story. There are so few moments like that for Alzheimer's patients. I know. My mother had it too.

For her, a word that stuck long, maybe longest in her "active" memory was "married". That was one thing she spoke halfway coherently to me about. I think it must have bothered her a lot that I wasn't married. So when my nephew introduced his fiancée to her, they said she seemed to perk up. I don't know what exactly she said or did, but that word sparked something in her. They were married on Nov. 1, 2003. I kept trying to think of a way to have her there but it really would have been impossible to drive with her for 4 hours to get there. God took the decision out of our hands by calling her home on August 21, 2003. Now she is where she had begged to be for over five years.

ruby55 said...

Toast: That is what my mother held onto the longest too. She'd say, "Why won't God take me home?" She also clung to life longer than anyone expected her to in her last, comatose days. My brother and sister-in-law stayed with her during the morning and early afternoon and I went late afternoon till about 10 or 11. One evening, I thought of singing some of her favorite hymns to her. The next I decided to bring some CDs and my personal CD player. I let her hear all the CDs I could find with music that meant something special to her. She had hung on from Sunday early morning to the Wednesday when I played the CDs.

The next day, a friend of ours was the duty-nurse and she called me to say that this time it really did look like the end was close. Unfortunately, when she called I felt sick as a dog. So I said I'd come as soon as I felt better enough to drive the car. That was about an hour later. When I got to the nursing home, one of the aides said that she had died just before she came out on her break. In a way I was glad that I didn't have to see her go. My brother and sister-in-law were with her holding her hands. And Claire, our friend met me at the elevator with tears streaming down her face. Oddly enough, her mother seemed to be the one who was able to get through to her the longest. I was glad she had someone like that.

On my way home, I suddenly thought of a German hymn that I hadn't thought of for a very long time and I know that was my gift from God for her. A friend and I sang it at her memorial service.

Here I am blubbering. But thanks, Scott, for sharing this moment with us even if it brought back bittersweet memories.

Shesawriter said...

My grandmother is pretty close to having this. We're watching her very carefully. She's in deep denial about it, and I think I am too in a sense.



zingtrial said...

This is realy cool stuff
You made her happy:)

Scott said...

Toni - I agree with Eve below. The body seems to be the worse of the two for me. When my mom passed, she was acutely aware of her impending demise. I hope I don't have to think about it too long when my time comes.

Eve - See my comment above. And you are welcome.

Kat - It was funny how, when we were walking towards her mini-van, she explained to her husband that I offered, that she didn't ask. They were all so loving.

Shirley - Thanks. I hope yours was a blast.

Beth - If only. There are so many awful diseases.

Moni - Thanks. It really was nothing.

Erin - I would be in a panic if something like that would have happened to me. That is really so sad.

Ruby - That was heart wrenching. I'm so sorry that you had to go through that. That reminded me of watching my mom in her last moments. I posted about a long time ago, but I had just stepped out to get something at the cafeteria when I heard my name over the PA. I had just authorized extra morphine to ease her out.

Tanya - I pray that she doesn't have this. Denial is helpful in cases like this. I've been there.

Zingtrial - It was something small, but I hope you are right.