Monday, April 6, 2009

Yesterdays Memories

I just got back from a little stroll. Considerably different from the walk I took yesterday afternoon. Yesterday I only needed a short sleeved t-shirt under a sunny, clear blue sky. I saw the early signs of daffodils, new buds bouncing on the tips of trees and the unmistakable smell of life. This morning.......this morning, I woke up to howling winds and blowing white snow!!!? Tonight the wind was stinging my cheeks and making me wonder whether I was living in the same city. Ah! The joys of living in a four season climate.

More seriously though, I was thinking of an older acquaintance of mine whom I haven't seen since just before Christmas. My friend is suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Murray is closing in on 80 years old and this disease has definitely robbed him of a brilliant mind. Murray had his idiosyncrasies but there was no mistaking his intelligence. In an earlier life, he was a Civil Engineer and was pretty much responsible for a lot of the roadways that we travel on in my neck of the woods.

I guess I've known Murray for a little more than 13 years. He was always ready with a story of the various projects that he was involved in over the years. And generally, told those stories with great gusto and uncanny detail. However, what I saw at Christmas was only a shell of the man that once was. This disease is cruel beyond belief. To think of the knowledge, the memories and experiences that are being rapidly lost is tragic.

When I look back at our many meetings, I guess I am now able to remember when things started to change. Out of respect, whether I heard the story before or not, I always gave Murray centre stage. But within the past year and a half the stories became more repetitive and the timelines seemed to change. I found myself periodically filling in the blanks for him, having heard the stories many times. But I was still kind of ignorant as to what was actually going on. Attributing it to his advanced age. When he removed himself from the picture for awhile, his wife kindly filled in the blanks. It was a great shock.

It's a sad, slow ending to an otherwise great life. The memories of a career, accomplishments, friendships and most of all family doomed to disappear into the dark recesses of his mind. Being a witness to this makes me appreciate the fact that I have the memory of yesterdays sunshine and this mornings snow flakes on my face. Even now, Murray is teaching me to appreciate the fact that I can wake up and fill my day with memories and share them with whoever will listen. And for that, I will always be grateful.


Amel's Realm said... father-in-law has been diagnosed with this disease. I don't think it's too bad yet, but my MIL said that sometimes he peed in a bucket instead of the toilet...and there are times I see him looking confused when he tries to put on a sweater or sock or shoe.

I sure do hope he won't deteriorate fast, because it'll make many people sad, esp. my MIL. :-((((

Lover of Life said...

I really hate that disease. It is unimaginable to be trapped in your body without your mind. My sincere condolences on your friend's illness. We really don't have a second to waste on stupid stuff, do we? Carpe Diem.

Loved your comment on my blog today -

Bogey said...

Sorry to hear about your Father in Law Amel. I don't think this disease has a timeline...and it takes no prisoners. Sometimes it helps them if you talk about things that they are passionate about.

Thanks LOL for your thoughtfulness and gratitude. It is a scary feeling to think that all of our memories can be wiped out and very little that can be done about it. I can only imagine the frustration that those who are suffering are going thru. Scary!

Michelle said...

Sad sweet combination of Spring and your friend's personal "winter". It's a truly horrible disease and I am sorry both for your friend and his wife. My one internet friend lost both her parents this way. Her father was similar to Murray - a very bright mind. He was genius level mathemetician, in fact.

The strange irony in her case was that she was the child he'd considered "slow" in the family, not up to his levels, and yet she was the one who was able to soothe him and take care of him when his mind started to erode. Something her "smarter" siblings couldn't cope with.
Your description of your weather sounds like us here in Scotland. Yesterday was cold, today is sunny and lovely. Last week we went from glorious sun to sleet and hail. I now understand why the British talk about the weather so much. On this quirky changeable island it does become an obsession.

Hope you are having a good peaceful Easter weekend. :-)

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to learn of your friend's illness. It is an awful way to live and I sympathise greatly.

CJ xx

Tint~ said...

What a sad story. I'm glad you blogged about your friend. So many suffer alone. My aunt has alzheimer's. It is, as others have mentioned, a terrible disease.

I am a little envious of your fresh weather and 4 seasons. I thought it was getting cooler here, but I was fooling myself.