As my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg has grown older, Alzheimer’s Disease has caused her to slip back in time in many ways. Her memories are of things in the distant past, while current events often elude her now. She doesn’t remember the passing of loved ones, and talks of them often, asking us when they will be back. That was hard at first, but we have learned to go along and tell her they are at Walmart or something, because it serves no purpose to tell her they have passed away. That satisfies her until the next time she asks. Nevertheless, our answers to her will always be the same, because for her not so much has changed.
My mother-in-law doesn’t have as many ways to communicate these days. Conversations often come down to simple answers to the questions we ask her. Nevertheless, parts of the funnier side of my mother-in-law have stayed with her. She really never liked having her picture taken, although she didn’t mind it as much as her dad always had. These days though, every time we ask her to smile for the picture, she scrunches up her face. That is also the way she tells people she likes them. The nurses and aids at the nursing home all know that if they get that look, they are one of her favorites. The funniest thing about that is that in looking at some of her baby pictures, I came across a picture of her making a very similar face to that scrunched up smile. So maybe that wasn’t such a new look after all.
She also has a way of playing games with her doctor too…and she has for years. Her doctor, Dr Schoeber has been taking care of her for a very long time. She always loved to tease him some, and since that is a memory that started prior to Alzheimer’s, Disease, it has stayed with her. Every time Dr Schoeber tells her to stick out her tongue and say “Aw”, she sticks it out as if she were mad at him. That always makes him smile, along with telling him that she is doing well, because if she ever did that the right way the first time, he would have to wonder if she was sick.
As she has regressed into her past, my mother-in-law has gone from being a bit more on the serious side, to being very funny. She is a delight to the staff and other visitors at the nursing home, and to her family members. You never know what she might say or do. Her newfound humor is such an awesome thing. And, the funniest thing is that she doesn’t really know that what she said is very funny. But, when she tells the staff that she cooked the dinner, that she went to Walmart and bought all the food, or that they need to shut the blinds because someone might see in and shoot them, they simply can’t help but smile…or even laugh. Then they go on about their day feeling just a little bit brighter, because that is what happens when she says something so off the wall. Today is my mother-in-law’s 84th birthday. Happy birthday Mom!! We love you!!