Hello in There / by Sid Hopkins

She was always the first to call me on my birthday so I’ll never forget the first time she forgot. Back then I had no idea how rapidly her condition would decline. At this point, I’d be fine with forgotten birthdays - if she could only remember my name or who I even am (or more importantly, who she is). Sometimes I’m her brother, other times her husband (too weird), or even a “good friend from out of town”. She’s 91 and I don’t know how much longer I’ll have her. Her mom lived to 90 and had no signs of dementia. Her father died in his 70s and, as far as I know, had his mind until the end. But mom has had a certain self awareness that I’ve heard is rare for people with advanced dementia (at least according to my brother in law, an MD). She told me recently: “I know I’m losing my mind and I’ve heard of this happening to people but I never thought it would happen to me” she continued… “but I look around and I see all these pictures of people who love me and I feel better” (her condition has worsened since she said that). So this is quite sad and unfair for a woman who was an educator for over forty years, a loving mom, grandmother, and wife of 36 years to my terrific step dad. She’s had a full life and I just wish I could do more to help her in this last chapter. So maybe follow @alzassociation on Twitter and when you get a chance, have a listen to John Prine’s “Hello In There” from his Souvenirs album. It’s a song that comes back to me these days when I walk the hallways past the residents of the assisted living home.

The photos below are of mom when she was 20, at her first teaching job, and in 2017.

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