Posts Tagged ‘Alzheimers’

This is another post in a series, about a woman named Amara. Every Friday I will post another segment in this story.

“Hello?” Joe whispered into the phone receiver, not awake enough to really be talking yet.

Joy stirred, laying close to Joe, feeling warm, protected, and cared for.

“When did this happen?”

Joy was awakening more quickly now, as she heard the urgency in Joe’s voice. She glanced at the bedside clock, noting it was only six minutes after five in the morning.

Joe put the phone on the bed table, “your mother is not doing well. They said she may have had a stroke. We need to get to the hospital, as soon as possible.” He eyed Joy, looking for signs that she fully understood the words he had just said.

Joy took a deep breath, “okay. The girls are at Susan’s, and we can call them later. Will you come with me?”

She wants me to be with her … she needs me. Joe nodded a yes to Joy, and a great smile covered her face. She then turned and started to move at lightening speed, dressing and readying herself to head to the hospital.

In less than fifteen minutes, the two of them were locking up the house and climbing into Joe’s old Honda Civic that he had been driving since university. Normally a suggestion that they take his car would be squashed by Joy, immediately, due to it’s “gas guzzling” and “appearance of a vehicle that had been abandoned in a field, permanently.”

As soon as they arrived on the floor where Amara had been, one of the nurses, who had been with Joy the early morning when Amara was first brought in, walked directly to them.

“Joy, we are doing tests on her right now, and she will be brought back to her room very soon. As soon as she is back in her room, I will page her doctor, and have him inform you of her progress. Come in to her room, and I can let you know exactly what has been happening.”

The kind nurse ushered Joy and Joe into the room, and they sat on the small sofa in the room, while the nurse recounted all of the events leading up to the point when Amara was taken for a test to see if the problem was atherosclerosis or a brain aneurysm. It sounded like a dreadful test to Joy, who was assured that her mother was sedated while having it.

Once the nurse left the two alone, Joy fell into her hands, into a long and deep sob. She could feel Joe encapsulate her into his arms, and she felt no shame, no weakness for losing control so fully. Joy could not remember crying like this … ever in her life. At no other time in her life did she feel able to be so out of control with another person. Not her mother, or her father, or even her dearly loved grandparents, and definitely not Joe. Something had changed, within her? Within Joe? She did not know, but something had changed that allowed her the freedom to be so vulnerable.

Joe had no idea how long he had been holding Joy, as her body was consumed with sobbing. All he knew was that, for the first time in many years, the woman that he was holding needed him, and needed him terribly. Somehow, her needing him, caused his need of her to grow as well, and his recognition of his own responsibility for how their marriage had deteriorated.

All this time, while he would email and text and talk on the telephone with Roxanne he had been telling himself that the problems were the fault of Joy. He had been rationalizing that the time he was spending with Roxanne was related to work, and, even if it was more, that was because Joy had been cold to him, in every way. He had constantly said to himself, “she can’t expect me to live like this forever. At some point she will push me into another woman’s arms.” But now, holding the woman he truly loved, he realized that he was not pushed into Roxanne’s arms, he RAN into them.

As Amara was being wheeled back into the room, Joy’s phone started to ring. She looked at the caller ID and saw that it was Susan’s number. “Joe, can you take this call for me? It is Susan, and she is probably wondering when to bring the girls back home.”

Joe nodded and headed to the hallway to answer the call.

“How is she?” Joy asked the men lifting her mother to her bed. Amara’s body was limp, her face so pale. The only sign of life was a grimace as she was being lifted, followed by a moan.

“Sorry ma’am, we are just delivering her to her room. I am sure someone will come and speak with you,” one of the orderlies said, as the two were walking from the room.

Joy walked slowly towards her resting mother. It had already been days since they had spoken to each other, and Joy wondered if that might have been her last words to … and from her mother. Oh, what did we talk about? Joy was frustrated that she could not remember. Then it came to her that their last conversation had been on the phone, about Joy and her daughters going to her mother’s house to spend the night.

Just then Joe walked in the room.

“Hey Joy, is she okay?” He asked, as his eyes darted from Amara to Joy.

“I don’t know yet. I guess it was just orderlies who brought her back. They said someone would come to let me know.” Joy looked so sad, so tired.

“Robin is ill, so Susan thought it might be best if our girls don’t stay there, so that they do not get sick too. Will you be okay if I go to pick them up, and then I’ll bring the girls here?”

“Sure,” Joy responded more a reaction than a response.

“I promise, I will not be gone long at all,” Joe finished saying as he stood in front of Joy, where she literally fell into his arms.

“I am so sorry that I have not been here for you, for far too long.” Joe said, with deep regrets in his heart. “I promise to be here for you. You do not have to walk through this alone, I am here for you.”

Joe had not been more transparent or sincere at any other time in his life. He was beginning to feel as though he had a once in a lifetime opportunity to have a second start in his marriage with Joy, And he was willing to do whatever it took to make that happen, and to prove to Joy that he was committed to a better marriage.

“I will be right back.” He said as he pulled back from Joy, kissed her forehead, smiled and walked through the door.

Unfading – Part 1

Unfading – Part 14


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This is another post in a series, about a woman named Amara. Every Friday I will post another segment in this story.

As Joy stood back up from kissing her sleeping mother on the forehead, she felt a hand on her back.

“I left as soon as I got your text,” came Joe’s voice before Joy had managed to turn around. He awkwardly pulled her into his arms and held her tightly, as she tried to piece together this rare expression of affection, her own arms dangling at her sides.

“Well this is odd. What is up?” Joy’s thoughts became audible words before she had a chance to edit them. Joe’s body stiffened in response.

Oh Joy, I so wanted to come home and be wanted, be needed by you.

“How is your mother doing? What happened? The last I heard was from your email saying that you and the girls were going to spend the night at her house” Joe tried to hide his hurt.

“Well, that was the plan. But when we got there …” Joy’s voice trailed off, as she glanced at her mother, sleeping peacefully in the hospital bed, as if to remind herself that the nightmare of her being missing was truly over. “… when we got there, she was gone. We looked everywhere imaginable, I called the police. Then I remembered the clearing and they found her there. She was rushed to the hospital, and has been here ever since.” Just saying the words, for the first time since it all had occurred, made the weight of all she had been through lay firmly on Joy’s shoulders. Suddenly, she was overcome with fatigue.

“Joy? Joy?” Joy could hear Joe’s voice, but it was drifting so far away. The next thing she remembered, she was lying on the small sofa bed in her mother’s room, with the face of a nurse too close to her own face. “Mrs. Jackson? You are in the hospital. Your husband is right here.”

“What … what happened?” Joy was coming to, but not sure what had occurred.

“It looks like you fainted, Mrs. Jackson. Have you had anything to eat or drink today?”

Joy struggled to remember what day it was, let alone what she had eaten. “I really do not remember,” she answered honestly.

“Mr. Jackson, could you please get a glass of water for your wife?”

Joe nodded, and moved towards the plastic jug of water on Amara’s bed table, filling the plastic glass, and returning it to the nurse.

Just then the door swung opened, and in walked a physician. “So what have we here?”

An hour later, Joy was already curled up, in bed. A cup of tea on her bed table, and Joe beside her.

“I can’t do this alone, Joe. I need your help,” Joy said, looking straight ahead.

Joe had never heard such vulnerability in Joy’s voice. She was the original Miss. Independent. Joy needed no one, ever, least of all him. Maybe her fainting in the hospital had something to do with it. He felt such fear and concern as she lay on that sofa bed in her mother’s hospital room. All of a sudden what was most important to Joe was more clear than at any other time in his life. He loved Joy, and he wanted nothing more than to be loved back by her. Joe was determined to do whatever it took to earn her love back.

Joe stared into Joy’s eyes, “Joy, I am here. You have me at your side, and I am not leaving … ever. I am so sorry for not being here for you in the past, I promise to do better.”

Tears fell from Joy’s eyes, and fell into Joe’s arms.

Unfading – Part 1

Unfading – Part 13

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This is another post in a series, about a woman named Amara. Every Friday I will post another segment in this story.

A noise from Joe’s cell phone on the table, plucked Joe from the moment. “My phone, not now,” Joe thought as his lips touched Roxanne’s for the first time. A kiss that he had been anticipating for months.

The first time they had met was at an annual general meeting for their employer, in Boston. She had held the elevator door for him as he was running for it, hoping to get on, so that he would not be terribly late for a session he was leading. Then they ran into each other again later in the week, at a coffee shop where they remembered meeting in the elevator, and shared a table and the fastest hour of Joe’s life. After that, the emails back and forth … just to keep in touch. Then she and her husband separated, and the emails became more personal, Joe taking the part of confidant and encourager. With more and more often there being talk of when they would see each other again.

Joy never seemed to need him anymore. They were living two very separate lives, under one roof. She with her running around doing things for their daughters, or her mother, and he working. Living with Joy had become more of a sibling relationship than a married couple one. He sometimes wondered if it would just be better for their daughters if they too were to separate, like Roxanne and her husband.

Recently, Joe was able to convince his superior (and himself) that he needed to personally check on the running of the office in Vancouver. The office which Roxanne was responsible for. So they were able to spend his two days there together, without raising an eyebrow. Of course neither one of them admitted to their self that they both had intentions that were anything but platonic. After arriving the day before, when Roxanne picked him up at the airport. The only time they had spent apart was during the night. Now, only about twenty-four hours after Joe touched down in the city, they were kissing, passionately, in his hotel room, admitting the desire they both had been feeling for the other.

This expression of passion felt so good to Joe. It was something that he and Joy had not shared in a very, very long time. And he could tell that Roxanne was fully responsive to him.

Again the noise from his cell phone, another text was coming in.

“I really do need to check this.” Joe said, with great regret. He walked away from Roxanne, who was standing by the door in his hotel room, to the table where his phone was lying. When he picked it up, he saw two messages, both from Joy, his wife, “love you” and the second, “Mom is in the hospital. It’s been an ordeal. Text me when you have a moment.” His heart felt like it was stopped. He kept reading those two words, over and over. “Love you” was not something that Joy had said to Joe is so long, it was something Joe had not said to Joy in as long. It was something he almost said earlier to Roxanne.

“Are you going to leave me here at your room doorway, or do you want to invite me in to stay?” Roxanne said, purring.

Joe read the two words again, and a feeling of dread, a feeling of regret gripped his being. He had made such a big mistake, and he had been moving towards an even bigger one. What would Joy think? What did he do? What would the girls …”

“Hello … Joe, you do remember that I am still here?” Roxanne asked cheekily.

“Uh, Roxanne, I need to go home, it’s an emergency,” Joe stood, grabbed his carry on bag and started filling it with the contents of a dresser drawer. He did not face or even glance up at Roxanne, who was standing there, but just moved around the room, filling his bag.

“Do you want me to drive you to the airport?” Roxanne asked, with great pleading in her voice.

“No, I will take a taxi.” Joe replied, still not making eye contact with her.

Roxanne turned, and walked through the door, shoulders hanging.

She did not even ask what the emergency was. Joe pondered, as he packed up his laptop.

He grabbed his bags, checked out of the hotel, and hailed a taxi to go to the airport. Joe was heading home … needed, and … loved.

Unfading – Part 1

Unfading – Part 12

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This is another post in a series, about a woman named Amara. Every Friday I will post another segment in this story.

What a day it had been already for Joy.

Her mother had been missing, and then found, in the wooded area near her home. She had been taken to the hospital nearby, to be checked out. Now, at only nine thirty in the morning, she had given countless vials of blood to be checked, and had undergone three medical tests, and was resting comfortably in the hospital bed.

“Mrs. Jackson, your mother has been given a sedative for the last test. She will probably sleep for a number of hours. You should go home, and get some sleep yourself,” the doctor on call said to Joy, with great sensitivity, and great concern. “Your mother will be well taken care of here. You need to care for yourself, so that you can come back refreshed, when your mother awakens later this afternoon.”

Joy started to shake her head, and was about to say no, when the nurse interrupted and said, “I will call you, myself, if there is any change, or if your mother seems to be awakening. Go home, Mrs. Jackson.” Joy looked at the nurse, then back to the doctor, to see that they were both nodding in agreement. She knew that to argue would be pointless, and she probably could go home for a bit.

“Besides,” the nurse continued while pointing to towards the corner of the room, “your daughters need to get some rest too.”

Joy’s head swung around to where the nurse had pointed. She had been so consumed with concern for her mother that she had totally forgotten that her two daughters were lying on a small sofa in her mother’s hospital room. They looked so beautiful, so worry free snuggled up together on the sofa. Joy could feel the corners of her lips curl up into a smile of pride.

“Mrs. Jackson?” The voice of the nurse moved her attention away from the girls.

“Yes,” Joy said with the smile still on her face, “yes, I will go home for a rest.”

Once back home, and the girls were in bed. Joy got herself ready for bed, but, with the adrenaline rush from driving back home, and getting her daughters settled in bed, she was not feeling ready to rest. She wandered out to the kitchen to heat her kettle and make a cup of tea. As she reached for her cup and saucer, she realized that, in all of the chaos of the past twelve hours she had not contacted Joe to tell him what had been going on.

She glanced at her watch, almost noon here means it is … almost four in the afternoon on the west coast. I can send him a text, and he can call me when he has a break later.

Joy went to her purse to retrieve her phone. “Oh dear, it’s almost out of battery.” She quickly touched the screen to create her text to send to him. “Mom is in the hospital. It’s been an ordeal. Text me when you have a moment.” Joy pushed send. Then she stopped, and re-read the words she had written. They were certainly not much more than sharing of information. No polite introduction. No questions about his day. No ‘I love you’ to sign off. Where did the feelings of affection for each other go? Maybe it was time that she lay down the olive leaf … Without another thought, Joy touched “love you” onto the phone screen, and then, as her finger touched the ‘send’ button, the phone powered off. Her good intentions lost, as technology defeated her well-meaning action.

Joy breathed a deep sign. She felt that even technology didn’t want her to be the slightest bit vulnerable.

“Well, I guess I will just get my tea and head to bed. Maybe I will be better able to handle Joe’s lifeless conversation after a few hours sleep.” Joy spoke her thoughts out loud to no one. Then she did as she said, taking her cup and saucer to her bedroom. Crawled into the sheets, warmed by the noon day sun shining onto her bed, and fell fast asleep.

Unfading – Part 1

Unfading – Part 11

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This is another post in a series, about a woman named Amara. Every Friday I will post another segment in this story.

As Joy sat at the kitchen table, providing as much information as she could think of to the police officer, she was feeling an increase in numbness of her entire body, including her mind. The effort it took her to focus on the officer’s questions while, at the same time searching her mind for possible places her mother might have gone, was greater than any she had exerted in her life.

“Mrs. Jackson, since your mother has the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease there was no waiting to officially start searching. We have had announcements of her disappearance airing on the radio for the last hour. The other officers have gone to all of your neighbors in a one mile radius, but we have had no leads. It is now five hours since you spoke with her on the telephone. We will now start checking the wooded areas, with a search team to see …”

“That’s it!” Joy shouted, coming out of the trance-like state that she had been slipping into. Oh, why didn’t I think of that before? There is a clearing in the wooded area just up the street, on the north side of the road, about a mile in. My parents took me there when I was young. It was special to them, to us.” As the words were passing Joy’s lips, she was recalling the clearing, and being there at times when the sun was pouring down on them through the trees.

“Can you describe exactly where you think your mother might be?’ Officer Joseph asked.

“Couldn’t I just come and lead you?” Joy was desperate to do something other than have to think.

“Mrs. Jackson, if really would be most helpful if you stay here, so that when your mother is found, you are easy to reach.” The officer was friendly, but firm enough that Joy did not press further to lead the way. She then proceeded to give specific directions to the special area in the woods.

In no time at all, there was a search party dispatched, and Joy was no longer needed.

It was now almost two in the morning. Her girls were sleeping in the spare rooms. They looked so peaceful, so relaxed, as they slumbered on in their dreams. Joy felt nothing even close to relaxed. She felt fearful, she felt she had no control. At this point Joy was not sure what was worse, the fear of her mother being missing, or the thought of not being in control.

As she returned to living room, from checking on her daughters, she glanced at the photos all around the room. Those photos told the story of her mother’s life, the story of Joy’s own life.

On the mantel were pictures of her entire family. There was the family picture from when she was just five. This was the picture that came to Joy’s mind whenever she thought of her family. It was taken before Joy had come to first face death, it was before her big brother Jacob got sick, it was before her vast amounts of time with her grandparents, it was her childhood … before.

That picture had been taken on a sunny spring day. Her mother had been given a free photo session in town, and none of the family had wanted to dress up and go have pictures taken. So her dad had promised that if everyone went with a good attitude, he would purchase fried chicken on the way home, and they would hike to their precious spot in the woods to have the first picnic of the year.

Oh what fun they had that day. Even the photo session was more joyous, knowing what was to come. They laughed more than Joy ever remembered before, or especially since that day. She and Jacob skipped their way through the shaded parts of the hike. Her mother and father walked along, smiling. She had even caught them holding hands while they sat and picnicked in the clearing. Joy could remember giggling when she pointed to her parents hands, clasped in the others. She giggled, and Jacob gagged. Oh what sweet, sweet memories.

Then, as they sat there, laughing and enjoying the time together, the clouds opened up, and poured down a cool, sunlit, spring rain shower on them. They giggled all the more, as they packed up their picnic, and ran for the cover of the wooded area. They then stood under the trees, and watched the beautiful water and light show. The rains had not even stopped fully when the biggest, and brightest rainbow appeared in the sky.

“Family, that rainbow is a sign of good things to come,” Joy’s father said, with the biggest smile on his face. He had turned to her mother, and Joy could still remember the way they looked at each other.

“I believe you said that just a few years ago, my dear, when you brought me here to steal my heart forever,” Joy’s mother replied, “you do remember the rainbow then?”

“I could never forget it. It was a good sign then, and it is an even better sign now,” and then he grabbed his wife’s hand, and kissed it.

Joy and Jacob then worked their way in between their parents, and into a big family hug.

Joy could almost re-live the inner warmth of that moment. It is almost as though the world stopped, as their family shared a time of love and closeness that was one in a million. It was the last moment they shared together in that way. Everything changed just a few weeks later, when her brother was found to have …

“Mrs. Jackson, we found your mother. Mrs. Jackson, wake up, we found her.”

Joy was being pulled from the slumber she did not realize she had slipped in to, by the voice of the police officer who had been stationed at the house with her. Joy opened her eyes, feeling so very disoriented.

“We found her.” The police officer’s face sad that she shared the relief that Joy would as well. “We found her, right where you lead us to look.”

Unfading – Part 1

Unfading – Part 10

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This is another post in a series, about a woman named Amara. Every Friday I will post another segment in this story.

“Just come, darling, I will have everything ready when the three of you arrive,” Amara said to Joy, and then the line went dead.

Joy hung up the receiver, and felt strangely excited about heading over to her mother’s home for a sleep over with her daughters. Oh, when was the last time that she had spent a night at her mother’s house? Whenever it was, Joy could not recall.

She set about to ready herself for a night out. She sent a quick email to Joe to let him know where they would be, in case he called them, but that would probably not happen.

As she told each of the girls what they were doing the girls expressed complete surprise and elation. It was as the girls were packing their individual bags that Joy realized that she had not seen that level of excitement in either girl, in a very long time. Jilly even offered to assist little Jessica with her packing. So, Joy set about packing her own bag. How very out of her nature was such a spontaneous act for Joy.

It took no time at all for all three to prepare, and pile into the family vehicle. Joy loved her 1998 Volkswagon Beetle, in a conservative, but metallic, blue. It reminded her of the one her grandparents owned, and drove all the way to Disneyland. She remembered the games she played on the trip with them. Games her Gramma called the Bug games, and they included ‘Punch Bug’, ‘I Spy with my Little Eye, a Bug that is … (a color)’, ‘How Many Bugs in … (a city)’ and so many more. The memories of that trip left Joy with a deep affection for VW Beetles, because they reminded her of her dear Gampa and Gramma.

“Mom, you need to put it in reverse if we are going to move,” came a cheeky comment from Jilly in the passenger seat of the car, jarring Joy back to the present.

“Momma, you are becoming like Nanna,” came Jessica’s voice from the back seat.

Oh, what a fear entered Joy upon hearing Jessica compare her distraction to her mother. Jessica did not know or understand that her Nanna had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. She did not know or understand the fear that Joy was feeling for her own future, and the futures of her daughters. She simply said something that made sense to her, at the moment. An innocent comment, that Joy hoped was not Freudian.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I was just making a mental note that we packed everything that we will need for the sleepover tonight,” Joy lied, hoping it sounded convincing to her five and sixteen year old daughters.

When they arrived at the house, the lights were on all through the house, and the door was opened wide for them. The three grabbed their bags, and bounded up the stairs to the open door. Jessica racing ahead yelling, “Nanna, Nanna, I brought my forest animal picture book to show you.”

As Joy and Jilly reached the entrance, Jessica came running back to them, wide eyed, “Momma, Nanna isn’t here. I checked everywhere, but she is not home. Did she forget that we were coming for a sleeping over.”

“Oh Jess, she must be here,” Joy reassured her concerned girl. “Mom …” Joy called out. There came no response.

“Lets look for her.” Joy smiled down, figuring her mother might just be in the bathroom, or upstairs, or outside … although she could not imagine a reason why her mother would need to go outside at this time of night.

“How about you check this level, Jessica? Make sure you check in all the rooms. And Jilly, you check upstairs, and I will check outside. I am sure she is here somewhere around here.” Joy gave her instructions with great confidence that there was a good, if not unexpected, reason for her mother’s lack of response. That was her mother, unpredictable at the best of times. It made Joy smile, as she watched her girls go off, calling the name, Nanna.

They called their grandmother Nanna because Jilly so loved the story of Peter Pan. It was her favorite movie, as a little girl, and she decided that ‘Grandmother’ was not what she wanted to call her mom’s mother, anymore. She had decided to rename her, Nanna, like the big, protective dog in the film, who cared for the Darling family. Her Nanna also always called Jilly, darling, and so the renaming was done, much to the chagrin of Joy, who preferred the formal sound of Grandmother.

Joy searched and called out, all around the house, and in the garden. Her mother was nowhere to be found.

As she started up the stairs, the girls came out the door, looking concerned. “Mom, Nanna is not anywhere in the house. Did you find her?” Jilly’s concern showing on her face.

“We even checked her closets, and I checked under her sinks, and even in her sewing box,” Jessica said, breathless.

“There must be a good reason we cannot find her. Let me double check in here.” Joy said with a reassuring smile, but Jilly could tell that there was concern behind Joy’s smile. She saw something in her mother’s face that she had never seen before, fear.

Unfading – Part 1

Unfading – Part 9

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This is another post in a series, about a woman named Amara. Every Friday I will post another segment in this story.

“Uh, okay then Joy. It has been nice talking with you.” Amara stuttered the words from her mouth, in a robotic manner.

“Mom, did you hear what I said? I said that the doctor thinks that you are n the middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Do you understand this mom?”

Mom … she said it again, it was like music to Amara’s mother heart. Mother is a title, but mom … mom is a verb, one that says that is synonymous with love, and it is one that filled Amara’s heart with the hope of a new relationship with her daughter. Oh, any news could be good if Joy would just love her, and not just treat her humanely.

“Mom, I know this is difficult news to take. I could come over to your house if you would like, and we could search for information on the internet, or read through the pamphlets that Dr. Faw gave us, or I could just make you a hot milk, if you do not want to be alone.”

Joy almost sounded as though she did not want to be alone. She almost sounded as though she wanted to come over and just be with her mom. Amara’s hopes were rising at record speeds. “Well yes, Joy I would love for you to come over, bring the girls if they would like to come. We could have cookies, and … why don’t you bring an overnight bag? There are more than enough empty beds in this house.’

“Okay mom, we will come, but the girls do have school tomorrow, so it cannot be a late night for them.” Joy was sounding excited about coming over, Amara knew that is what she heard in her voice.

“Just come, darling, I will have everything ready when the three of you arrive.” Amara knew the excitement in her voice was not appropriate for Joy’s sadness, but she could not reign her anticipation in.

As the phone line went dead, Amara hung her receiver up, and sat there, just absorbing the hope of Joy needing her again, of Joy wanting her again.

Amara began to daydream of the last time she remembered feeling that way. Amara had taken Joy for a picnic in the wooded area just up the road from where they lived, where Amara still lives. She had packed a lunch of tuna salad sandwiches (Joy’s favorite), and cookies. They had wandered through the giant trees for almost an hour, to the clearing that Amara knew so well.

It was there, in the clearing, that her husband, John, had proposed to her. He had packed a picnic lunch too … well, his mother and sisters had packed the lunch. He and Amara had wandered through the wooded area, hand in hand … oh, how delightful it felt to have her hand encapsulated by his large, protective hand. When they reached the clearing, it was the most beautiful sight that Amara had ever seen. The sun shining through the trees, to this cleared out space of green and daisies … oh, so many daisies! He lay down a blanket, and set the picnic basket on it’s corner. Then he took Amara’s hand, and led her to the blanket, and they sat, and ate, and laughed, and smiled. Oh, what a beautiful smile he had, it could lighten up any dark day. And then, right there, with the sun cascading through the trees, he proposed to her. Amara remembered his words, “I want to marry you, and I want to build a house for us to live in with the children we will have, just down the road from here, so that we can come here anytime life gets tough, and we can remember how we started, with hope and love and sunshine on our faces.”

And Amara said, “yes.”

So when Amara brought Joy here that beautiful spring day, to have a picnic, they laughed, and smiled and ate their picnic on the big blanket. They sang, first silly songs, but then ones they both recalled from Sunday School. Then Joy got up from her spot and sat in front of her mother. She looked deep into Amara’s eyes, her own more serious than Amara had ever seen her young daughter’s eyes. She looked at her mother, then smiled and said, “Mom, you are the most boo-ti-ful in the world. I love you, even more than tuna sandwiches.” Then she wrapped her arms tightly around Amara’s neck, and there they sat, in a mother daughter embrace for the longest time.

The next thing Amara knew, Joy was flying out of her arms, and dancing and singing “You are My Sunshine” as the sunlight lit Joy up like an angel covered in a gossamer cloak. She twirled in the sunlight, taking joy in how her skirt would rise and spin with her body. Joy and Amara smiling brightly,  a moment of beauty and intimacy, that they would not share again.

Then Amara felt a cool breeze, that was growing colder by the second. The image of Joy dancing in the sunlight was fading away, being left with dark, so dark, and so cold. Amara shivered uncontrollably and opened her eyes. She was outside, and it was night. The moon was shining directly down on her, and she did not know where she was.

Unfading – Part 1

Unfading – Part 8

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 This is another post in a series, about a woman named Amara. Every Friday I will post another segment in this story.

“Hello? Mother is that you? Are you okay?” Amara was startled to awaken from her memories, with her phone receiver in her hand, and Joy’s concerned voice coming through it.

“Uh, yes dear, it is me. I am just fine, sorry to worry you.” Amara responded, still whirling from the thoughts of the past. Some days that is the only place she really wanted to be, in the dreams of the past. It was safe there, it was comforting there, and she always knew what would happen next. She always knew that there, in her memories of the past, she was who she really was, with no strange occurrences of being in places that she didn’t know, or forgetting chunks of time, or sad looks from her family, as though they too did not know her anymore.

“Mother, did you need something?” Joy asked, wondering why her mother seemed to be responding to her on the telephone as though she had called her mother, instead of the other way around.

“Oh, uh no dear. What are you up to this evening?”

“Well Joe is still away, until the weekend, and the girls are working on homework in their bedrooms.”

“And you, my dear, what are you up to this evening?”

“Just having a cup of tea while I … ,” Joy paused a moment, “while I think about the day.”

Okay, now I have an opening to ask about her day, and maybe that will help me to remember what my day held, Amara thought hopefully. “And what did you do today Joy?”

There was a long pause on Joy’s end of the phone. Amara had heard her daughter inhale significantly when her words reached Joy’s ears. Amara knew that whatever she had forgotten about today, had involved Joy, and she should not be forgetting it.

“Mother, we went to your appointment with Dr. Faw, don’t you remember that?” There was that familiar edge to Joy’s voice, an edge of anger and disappointment and … pain.

“Oh, of course I remember,” Amara lied, “I just meant since you got home.”

Joy’s voice faded from Amara’s ears. Amara knew that Joy was still speaking, and that she was speaking to her, but she could not focus on her voice. The questions in Amara’s mind were so powerfully strong that she could no longer hear outside of her own mind.

Now Amara was very confused, who was Dr. Faw? And why did Amara have an appointment with him? And why could she not remember going to a doctor’s appointment? What was happening to her memory?

There was a time when she had a problem with her memory in the past too. It was back when Jacob was sick. When Joy was spending more and more time with her grandparents, when her hard working husband was pondering that maybe he ought to get a second job to pay for the medical bills. It seemed as though she could not keep her thoughts straight. There were days, back then, when she would awaken in the morning and not know what day it was, or if her daughter had slept the night at home, or if there was a doctor appointment or treatment for Jacob that day. There were days when she would have fallen asleep in the chair in Jacob’s hospital room, when she would awaken and not know the time of day, or when she had last fallen asleep in her husbands arms, or kissed the sweet face of her daughter.

Those days of memory loss were really nothing compared with the memory losses that Amara was facing these days. Now she would awaken in the morning, and have no memory of the day prior, or she would arrive at an appointment …

An appointment! I remember now, about my appointment. I was with Joy at the office of Dr. Faw, and he was asking questions about my forgetfulness. Amara was feeling more confident, and great relief that she was remembering something. The details of that day were still foggy for her, but she was getting glimpses of that day. She remembered that after she was examined, the doctor met with she and Joy at his desk, in his office. He had asked about memory loss in her parents. He had said that there were indicators … “now what were there indicators of?”

“Mom?” Joy’s voice broke through Amara’s concentration on her memories. “Mom? Indicators of what?”

Amara realized then that she had been daydreaming again. Oh, why was she having so many problems with her mind, her memory, her concentration?

“Oh Joy, I am so sorry, honey. I was just thinking about the appointment with Dr. Faw. He said something about my memory, and forgetfulness and that there were indicators of something, but I just cannot remember what there were indicators of.” Amara was almost riveting with the excitement of putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

The other end of the phone was quiet, too quiet.

“Joy? Joy are you still there?” Amara asked, feeling concerned with Joy’s silent lack of response.

“Mother … mother do you not remember anything that the doctor said about possible reasons for your forgetfulness?” Joy was cautious, and more … tender than Amara ever remembered hearing from her before.

“No dear. What did he say?”

More silence. Amara’s heart felt somewhere between not beating at all and feeling like it would pound right out of her chest. She needed Joy to answer.

“Please tell me, dear. I feel like a child waiting for Christmas.” Amara tried to lighten the heaviness of the moment.

“Mom …”

Amara had not heard Joy call her Mom since … since those years of Jacob’s illness.

“Mom, Dr. Faw said that all of the indicators would lead him to think that … ” Joy sighed, not a tired sigh, so much as a sigh of regret. Whatever she was about to tell her mother, she was telling with regret. “… to think that you are n the middle stages of … of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Unfading – Part 7

Unfading – Part 1

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 This is another post in a series, about a woman named Amara. Every Friday I will post another segment in this story.

Joy was startled out of her childhood memories by the ringing of her phone.

“Three rings and she has not picked up yet” Amara questioned no one but the air around her.

“Hello,” was the voice of her daughter. Oh, how soothing that voice of confidence was to Amara’s ears. It helped to erase the frustration and anxiety she was feeling due to her forgetfulness. There was no voice on the face of this earth that could communicate so much to Amara, with only one word … hello. It could communicate annoyance, sadness, happiness, weariness or fear. Although Amara was feeling a soothing relief from hearing Joy’s voice, she was also concerned, because what the tone of Joy’s voice was communicating was a level of weariness that Amara had never heard come from Joy.

She was named Joy because that is what she brought to my life, Amara reminisced. Amara’s firstborn was a boy, David. Although Amara loved him at first sight, she had secretly wanted to have a baby girl. Jacob was a most healthy newborn, who was never ill once as an infant or toddler, or even as a preschooler. He was easy in every way.

For over six years Amara had hoped that she would have a daughter. She had become pregnant six times in as many years, but never a baby in her arms. Finally, on Jacob’s first birthday she discovered she was pregnant … again. But this time, nine months late, she gave birth to the joy of her life, wrapped in pink … and whaling like a banshee. She whaled that way, every day (and seemed like every hour) for almost two years straight. Amara was convinced that God had gotten so tired of the constant begging she had done  and he had thought that if she really wanted a baby girl, she would have one, but she would have to earn this blessing.

And Amara did just that. She earned the right to say that she had a daughter. And as loud as Joy would cry, Amara would relax. There was not one time when Amara lost her patience with her wee whaler. There was not one time when Amara did not attend to Joy’s demanding cries. There was not one time that Amara did not look on her daughter with love and delight. Joy was born with the full attention of her mother … until Jacob got sick …

After he started to get ill, Amara was forced to remember that she had a son as well. There were doctors appointments, and blood tests, and treatments, and prescriptions, and hospital stays, and bills. Amara had been so thankful for the help of her nearby parents. They filled in with Joy, while Amara was tending her son.

Her parents had taken Joy on adventures and vacations. They had taught her how to bake a pie and grow vegetables. They played games with her, and even took her to school on her first day of kindergarten, when Joy had to take Jacob to a specialist appointment in another city on that same day. It nearly broke Amara’s heart that she and Joy were apart so much, but she knew that Joy would be loved and cared for and doted on, by her parents, just as she would have done (and just as she had so wanted to do).

Unfortunately, the years of Amara caring for Jacob, and of Joy being cared for by her grandparents, left a gulf in the relationship that Amara had once had with her daughter, and Joy was never again in her life, in want of her mother. Amara was left wondering why God had forced her to choose between her dying son, and her beautiful daughter. In the end she gained the life of her son, but lost her relationship with Joy. And nothing she tried could ever get it back.

“Hello? Mother is that you? Are you okay?” Amara was startled to awaken from her memories, with her phone receiver in her hand, and Joy’s concerned voice coming through it.

“Uh, yes dear, it is me. I am just fine, sorry to worry you.” Amara responded, still whirling from the thoughts of the past. Some days that is the only place she really wanted to be, in the dreams of the past. It was safe there, it was comforting there, and she always knew what would happen next. She always knew that there, in her memories of the past, she was who she really was, with no strange occurrences of being in places that she didn’t know, or forgetting chunks of time, or sad looks from her family, as though they too did not know her anymore.

Unfading – Part 6

Unfading – Part 1

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 This is another post in a series, about a woman named Amara. Every Friday I will post another segment in this story.

Amara followed Joy through the doors, and to the elevator of the professional building at rapid speed. She had now begun to experience that familiar feeling of her knee swelling and throbbing.

Once in the office of Dr. Faw, and once Joy had informed the Vulture-lady receptionist of her mother’s arrival, they were quickly ushered into a sterile examining room. Before they were able to be seated, Dr. Faw walked in.

The next memory that Amara had was that of sitting in her living room, her foot up on a stool, with an ice pack on her knee. It felt as though she was just startled awake from a solid sleep, and did not know what day it was, or where she was, or anything leading up to this very moment.

Amara looked around the room, all looked as it always did. She saw the setting sun outside her large bay window, noting that it was mid evening. She looked down at her knee, saw the dirt on her pants, started to feel it’s throb, and the cold of the ice on it. Now how did that happen without my knowing it? She wondered, worriedly.

Surely I should be able to remember what caused this pain in my knee, or at least my getting the ice on it. Now, what day is it? I do not even remember that! What was I doing before this moment? What did I do all day? About my knee, how did this happen? Where did it happen?

With every question Amara pondered, only more questions surfaced, with not an answer or clue in sight. Anxiety was setting in, not due to her knee, but due to her not remembering.

She decided to call Joy to see how her day was, and maybe she would give Amara a clue as to what she had been doing all day.

As the kids did their homework, and Joe was gone on yet another business trip, Joy poured herself a steaming hot cup of tea.

This was not a mug, but a china cup, complete with saucer. She had received this beautiful pair when she was just five years old, the same age as her Jessica. Her grandmother, Ellie, gave it to her for Christmas, the last Christmas before Gramma Ellie died. They said she died of a heart attack, but those who knew and loved her, knew that she died of a broken heart on Valentines Day of the following year.

Her husband, Joy’s lovable Gampa Carl, had died just months before of a major stroke, and Gramma Ellie was so very lonely, so very lost without him.

Oh how wonderful were the memories Joy had of her Gampa and Gramma. She had spent weekends with them in their immaculate old Victorian home. Baking cookies with Gramma or finding treasures in Gampa’s vegetable garden. He could grow anything! And, if he plucked it from his garden, Joy would eat it. Gramma made the best blueberry and raspberry pies. There was something magical about the crusts of them, that no other person’s pie crust could duplicate. Joy would spend weeks with them traveling the countryside down the east cost, from their home in New Brunswick, all the way to Orlando, Florida, where Joy was able to meet all of the Disney princesses that had captured her imagination. That was her best, and last trip with them. Just a week after their return, Gampa had the stroke, and died immediately.

Joy’s memories of this special pair filled her heart like no other childhood memories. Really they were the only special memories of childhood that Joy could remember. Her memories from her own home, with her mother,  father and brother, well she just did not seem to remember much. But, those days were filled with the memories of her brother being ill, and her mother caring for him, and her father working a second job to pay for all of the medical costs racked up by her brother’s treatment.

Joy was startled out of her childhood memories by the ringing of her phone.

Unfading – Part 5

Unfading – Part 1

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