One of the most beautiful women in the world to me is my granny. She is the third parent of my family unit. From my infancy until now, she is my constant mainstay. I cannot remember my life without her. I don’t want to even think of my life without her. But over the weekend, to put it vague as possible so as to give her the dignity of privacy, she went off the deep end for a moment. When Tuesday rolled around, her behavior was more or less still on my mind.
Every November, I have the great pleasure of interviewing R. J. Thesman, who is a writer, writing coach, and exceptionally smart woman who unpacks a lot of information about Alzheimer’s. On this particular show, we talked about what Alzheimer’s cannot do. She went into six things Alzheimer’s couldn’t do and then provided tips for caregivers to help them mitigate the stress, concerns, and other aspects of caring for their loved ones.
Also, I dedicated the show to two good friends of mine who are familiar with this topic as well. One of my friends took care of his mom for years as she suffered from Alzheimer’s. Several years ago, we were talking and I remember he made an angry statement about God. He said something to the effect, “You know God, if you want her so bad, why not just take her. Why put her through this?”
In my youthful arrogance, I remember giving an answer to the effect of, “Then you’d be upset that He took her so God doesn’t win anyway.”
Thankfully he doesn’t hate me for saying that. I cringe because I said those words out of a vacuum, not being cognizant that perhaps he needed me to just shut up and listen instead of trying to give him advice. Why the man doesn’t hate me I’ll never know.
Fast forward to this Friday when I saw my granny act weird and I was painfully reminded of my arrogant statement back then. When it hits home, it’s a whole other ball game. Because…and hopefully this comes off the right way…I don’t want to see her any different than how I remember her. I want her to still remember my name, who I am, and our relationship. Alzheimer’s takes those bonds away. I finally understood the emotions and thoughts behind what my friend had said.
I think everyone learns this lesson at some point in their lives. When it hits close to home, you’re surprised that you’re not as strong, or holy, or with it as you thought you would be.
RJ’s books are unique in a number of ways. For one thing, and this is kind of off topic but relevant, the main character is a reverend who is a female. For all my egalitarian friends, make some noise! For my complementarian friends…don’t make any noise. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s okay. I thought Molinism was the study of moles. I remember scratching my head at these heated arguments in my apologetic circles wondering, “Why is everyone getting so uptight about moles? Is there a salvation plan for moles that’s different for everyone else?”
But I digress.
Another aspect about this book is being in the mind of a character who is dealing with Alzheimer’s. Having a chance to peer into the mind of someone who is suffering from Alzheimer’s is invaluable. RJ has particular insight in that both of her parents were afflicted by this condition.
In the world of fiction we generally tend to have characters that are flawed in some way, whether emotionally, or physically, but not often are they ‘flawed’ in the mental capacity. In the cry of the publishing world for diverse fiction, it’s more than just a call for ethnic diversity but for diversity on different levels. Not everyone is “with it”. Autism, Asperger’s, Bipolar, and other neurological disorders are rampant, particularly in the Western society. The reason why we’ll save for another day, but addressing these in our fiction helps to bring awareness.
If you know someone who is suffering from Alzheimer’s or caring for someone who is, make sure you send a prayer for them. Educate yourself and ask how you can help. RJ mentioned on the show that caregivers sometimes care so much for the loved ones they often neglect themselves. If they need a break for an hour, don’t be afraid to offer it. If they need to talk, by all means, don’t be like me and offer advice. Just offer a shoulder to rely on.
And let’s not forget our loved ones even when they may forget you.
Parker is a diehard Trekkie (TOS), sci-fi lover, fantasy dweller, romance junkie, anime freak, old movie buff, church-goer, off and on Mountain Dew and marshmallow recovering addict who writes to fill the void the sugar left behind. Visit her website at parkerjcole.com