Monday, March 09, 2009


Four. Four days a week her weary feet, tired from homemaking made their way to the local YMCA. And four days a week she left: muscles fatigued, a forehead covered in salty beads. Her hope grew with each strained muscle, with each dab of a sweat-soaked cloth; her hope grew that she would somehow be skipped.

She’d watched her mother die. It was slow, painful. Keys forgotten, memories faded, strange faces in family pictures, foreign visitors providing warm embraces…until finally, one day, she cried her last guttural groan & finally slipped into God’s peaceful embrace.

An article said that exercise might prevent or delay the onset of early Alzheimer’s Disease.

And so she went, four days a week.

I looked at her. Flaking skin. Shiny cuticles, the dry hands from her days of scrubbing sinks & folding laundry long gone. Matted hair, graying & oily. Rotting teeth. Cracked lips. Empty, lifeless eyes.

Small remnants of toned calf muscles remained, evident beneath the scars where she’d gotten her legs caught in the Geri-chair.

Now she sat, restrained. She’d had too many falls. Too many scars. She’d had too few words. Too few functions remained to leave her to her own resources.

Her helmet was flung at the secretary. Her strong fingers found their way around a nurses neck. She screamed when she was cold, lashed out when in pain. Her words were gone, emotions robbed.

She was reacting. Reacting to her environment, reacting to the pain she felt but couldn’t express.

Keys forgotten, memories faded, strange faces in family pictures, foreign visitors providing warm embraces…words, executive function, emotion, and most apparent humanity stripped.

Her daughter called once a week but rarely visited. Too painful. Too heartbreaking to watch the woman with once-weary feet, tired from homemaking strapped to a leather chair. Too upsetting to see her buttocks raw & reddened, caused from scooting back-&-forth, back-&-forth in the chair. Too unfair to see her bed surrounded by zipped nets--reminiscent of a childhood crib.

Too sorrowful to know that it, the disease—the horrid, memory-robbing disease—would likely come for her too…

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