Thursday, August 11, 2011


I have spent the last few days cleaning my Aunt's house and getting it ready for sale. There will also be an "estate sale" in the next month or so in order to get rid of the contents accumulated over a 60 year marriage.

It has been a long haul, these days of sorting, cleaning, dumping, and saving.

My aunt has Alzheimer's, a sad diagnosis in itself. To think that I will lose her soon - not physically but mentally and emotionally - is daunting, to say the least. I had a conversation with an old friend recently. She is the major caregiver for her mother, who also has Alzheimer's. Her mother no longer recognizes her, and my friend's heartache is acute.

As I go through my Aunt's personal belonging, a clearer picture emerges. It is heartbreaking to see the attempts she made to keep track of things after my uncle died last summer. Heartbreaking to see how often her mind failed her in significant ways. Heartbreaking to know that she was/is aware that she needs to be responsible but that she is no longer capable of thinking clearly enough to do that.


And what do I say when I return home to Idaho with so much of her stuff? She will want to go home, but that isn't possible anymore. Do I tell her that she has Alzheimer's and that she will one day cease to know me? I want so much for her to know how much I love her and that she will always be secure with me watching over her. But would telling her just be a selfish act on my part? She is, after all, God's child - perhaps it is best to leave the knowledge of her condition with Him?

- Catherine


Lisa Riley said...

I feel your pain. We went through it with my grandmother and Bill's mom. Alzheimer's is as devastating to the family as it is to the person who has it. Love her, hug her, and treasure all the memories. Who cares if you bring home a car load? You have room for them.

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

My parents had/have so far been blessed to avoid alzheimers, but too many of my relatives and my folks' dearest friends have had it. It's cruel, and i have to feel that God's help is infusing them in ways we, and maybe they, can't perceive, but that help is there working in the background of consciousness.

Your aunt is blessed to have you! She seems to be having a good time, from what you describe in your blog, and has the burden of keeping it together lifted. Going through the house is one of those tasks both heartwrenching and wonderful. I've found that my feelings about life and death have expanded through it. So many things showing me lives interestingly and well-lived, and a feeling that it's ok for them, and therefore someday for mine, to run their course and come to rest.

Those are treasures you're finding!