My mother-in-law is in the hospital tonight. Her age, Pneumonia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Diabetic related Kidney disease are taking a toll on her body. We don’t know how long she will be with us, as she is in and out. When she is somewhat lucid, this dear sweet lady is asking us things like, “Do you want me to make you some breakfast?” or “Did you feed that brown dog?” Here she is very ill with Pneumonia and very messed up electrolytes, causing her to hallucinate about things like the crocheting she used to do, and the pets she used to have, yet she is thinking about doing for others. She isn’t moaning and complaining about how much she hurts, and demanding that something be done for her. She is thinking of others…or she is resting quietly…asking very little. She just weaves her story as she goes along.
She has always wanted to make sure that guests didn’t go away hungry, and so offering to make breakfast for Kevin, Corrie, Amy, and Josh isn’t so unusual, but she hasn’t cooked in years, so you would think that she wouldn’t bring that up. That is what Alzheimer’s Disease does though…takes away your present and leaves you only the past. She lives in an alternate reality…a review of the life she lived. Much of what she says makes sense only to her, and those who knew her in her young life.
I mentioned the dog question to my father-in-law, telling him that I had assured her that we fed the dog this morning. He said the dog had to be Brownie, a dog they had when Bob was a baby. A picture popped into my head…a picture of my sister-in-law, Marlyce with a brown dog. I had written a story about that dog with Marlyce just 3 days ago. I didn’t really know the whole story, when I wrote the story, I could just see that Marlyce and her dog loved each other. It would take my mother-in-law’s trip down memory lane to bring out the full story of how protective the dog was of Marlyce…often stopping her from going where she shouldn’t…like too close to the railroad tracks near their home. And yet, it was just what I was thinking when I looked at the picture.
I don’t know how this hospital stay will end. My mother-in-law is a fighter, and I don’t believe that she will leave this world until she is ready to go. We all hope and pray that she will stay with us a little while longer, because we are not ready to have her go. I guess we never will be ready, and it doesn’t matter anyway, because when it comes right down to it, we will have no say in the matter. All we can do, when the time arrives is to remember that she lived a good long life…even if part of it was lived in the past…in an alternate reality.