Ot: A Taste Of Alzheimer's Came To Visit - Ellen's Tastes Blog at Allrecipes.com - 225754

Ellen's Tastes

OT: A Taste of Alzheimer's Came To Visit 
Mar. 5, 2011 9:04 am 
Updated: Mar. 8, 2011 1:22 pm
Yesterday afternoon, our 80+ year old neighbor, Chuck, came to visit. (If you've read a previous post, you know he's living in an RV for the winter with his wife, Frieda, who has Alzheimer's).

Chuck doesn't like to climb the steps into our cute-as-a-button (but very tiny) park model winter home, so I greeted him at the lanai door and Chuck — along with my husband and I — sat at our outdoor table. 

Chuck had come to tell us that Frieda had taken a turn for the worse... a "big turn": she can't remember her name now, and she's lost control of her body.

He tried not to cry as he recounted the events of the day before, and he did well suppressing what has to be a painful sense of grief, helplessness, and loss. We learned they'd been married for 66 years, and that Frieda began to lose her memory just a year ago. But mostly we saw the sad (and courageous) side of getting old... and of losing someone you love before they're physically gone. 

Frieda will likely be in a nursing home soon, and if she hasn't already stopped knowing who Chuck is, that can't be far behind. Chuck's future also took a big turn, in parallel with Frieda's.

When he left us yesterday, he said he thought we'd want to know. In a way, I wish we didn't know. But the grown-up side of me realizes I've been given a peek at what might come, and the chance to wrap my wits around it.

At 61 myself, I'm aware that getting older is no different that it was to get good grades in school, to raise my son, to earn a living, to keep my marriage happy, and all the other phases of life. The elements are the same: there's as much joy as there is uncertainty. The facts, though, are different. And there's more in my rearview mirror than there is ahead of me.

With that in mind, it seemed worthwhile to mention the value of every moment.

Mar. 5, 2011 10:54 am
Ellen, so sorry for your friends, and you are so right about the value of every moment. Each Tuesday I am blessed to baby sit our five month old nephew. Leo came late to his parents who are twelve years younger than hubby and I. We're kind of old to be aunt/uncle to such a young one. Anyhoo, my Tuesdays with Leo help me to not take for granted the little things like knowing my family and friend, getting up each morning (yes, just getting out of bed), and other small things. Thanks for reminding us to live all we can while we can.
Mar. 5, 2011 3:36 pm
My SIL and I cared for her mother throughout her struggles with Alzheimer's so I can empathize with your neighbor. It's such a horrible disease that robs you of your past, your future, your family, and everything you ever knew or cared about. Treasure every single moment of your life and those of your loved ones.
Mar. 5, 2011 4:08 pm
Ellen You and your neighbor are in my thoughts and prayers. Nothing can prepare any of us really for what tomorrow may bring and as you said there is more value in every moment than can be measured. I wish for your neighbors to find every pleasure possible in ea little moment they are given and for you to be blessed with the growing knowledge of the value in each day....may it put a smile on your face and warmth in your heart!:)
Mar. 6, 2011 12:23 pm
Thanks all for your sweet responses. Chuck and Frieda left the park this morning, heading for Orlando where he hopes to camp for another month. Frieda, however, took a spill and bruised her face. They've now left our neighborhood, but not my thoughts.
Mar. 8, 2011 1:22 pm
Ellen, I have been blogging about my MIL who also has Alzheimer's and is in a nursing home. She thinks that I have a 3 month old baby when I have never been able to conceive in my life. Then there is my mother who also has the disease who just had a stroke and is a nursing home as well. The disease is cunning and strikes in increments. One day the person is doing this and the next day they have progressed to another phase of the disease. I will keep Chuck in my prayers. As I have watched my dear father, it is the caregiver who suffers the most. Thank you for sharing. God bless and keep you.
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About Me
I've loved cooking since I was a kid, and still have my first (very battered) cookbook. Other than cooking, I adore interior design, writing, and playing bridge. Oh... and tasting new wines (or old favorites).
My favorite things to cook
As I've grown older, my tastes and philosophy have changed. I now use organic ingredients whenever I can, and I prefer using unprocessed ingredients.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Well, my mother (bless her) had 8 people to feed, so she made foods that were easy to prepare. My favorites were her baked ribs with barbecue sauce; english muffins topped with cheese, tomato, and bacon, and then broiled; and spaghetti noodles with tomato soup and cheddar cheese stirred in. I wouldn't make these dishes today, but they're full of fond memories.
My cooking triumphs
Adding orange juice to diced tomato sauce • Adding Cointreau to fresh fruit salads or a chocolate sauce • Adding tequila and bittersweet chocolate to chili • "poaching" salmon in orange juice, sprinkled with Old Bay and tarragon • adding cidar vinegar and soy sauce to vegetable soups • adding fresh mint to steamed red potatoes • knowing how to bail out a botched dish (example: over-steamed broccoli mashed with bleu or swiss cheese isn't nearly as bad as over-steamed broccoli on it's own).
My cooking tragedies
Over-steaming broccoli and most any other veggie... and a lasagna that was so loaded with oregano, no one could eat it.
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