Sunday, November 1, 2009
Alzheimer's literally involves a gradual, complete loss of self. The body forgets details, words, events, people, and eventually how to breathe, eat, and function altogether. If people are containers for their own personalities, experiences, beliefs; their own souls, even. Then Alzheimer's becomes the fissure in that container, allowing everything to slowly leak out. If you choose to become a care-giver for that person, you will become the living repository of everything that person was or did, hampered only by what you know of or can remember about, them. I am an imperfect repository for my father because his story started long before mine, all I have are the bits and pieces he or others have given me. In addition, I have sometimes altered these bits and pieces, and I view him through filters of my own. But I am doing my best to hold on for him to all the things he used to be and do and know. I know that he liked waffles for breakfast, especially if they were brown and crispy. I know that he loved to fly and that the best part of a flight for him was the take-off, when the plane was going its fastest. I know that he had a brilliant mind, and that he loved roller coasters. None of these things are particularly important, but they are all part of what made up an individual, who is slowly losing his individuality. I am an imperfect repository, but a necessary one.