Alzhiemer’s patients, as you probably know lose their short term memory, but the more distant past is so clear that sometimes it seems like that is where they still live. In many ways, this is a truly sad fact of their lives, but if you look on the bright side of things, you can find a little bit of humor in an otherwise losing situation. And, when dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, you really need to find things to smile about. My mother-in-law and I have a very good relationship, but with Alzheimer’s disease, that doesn’t come without a few disagreements. As her mind progresses backward in time, she has become somewhat kidlike. Another problem she has is very itchy skin, and she scratches too hard, injuring her skin, so I have to stop her from scratching. Whenever I try to stop her, she says, “Don’t Esther!!” The first time she said that, it shocked me. My husband, Bob has an Aunt Esther, but we don’t look alike or anything, so I didn’t know where that came from.

I had the pleasure of visiting with Esther a few days ago, and I mentioned this funny sequence os events, and told her that she was helping with Mom’s care clear from Oregon…or rather she was doing all the stuff that got me in trouble. I told her that it was better for me, if she was the one who got the blame. We had a nice little laugh and then she told me that she knew why she said that to me.

When Esther was a young girl, her family lived on a ranch in Montana. Her brother, Bob’s dad had married by then, and was living in town. Winters in Montana can be pretty severe, making it hard for kids to get to school from the outlying areas. Periodically, Esther came to stay with her brother and his wife, Bob’s mom. As you know, kids can be roudy, and mischievous. It doesn’t mean they are bad…just kids. Being a mom herself, my mother-in-law had to keep order in her house, so whenever Esther would do something she didn’t like, she would say, “Don’t Esther!!” Her own kids, she might spank, but it’s a little different with your sister-in-law, so her main recourse was simply to say, “Don’t Esther!!”

Now it all made sense. I always knew who she was talking about, but didn’t understand how she was connecting me with Esther. We laughed about that for quite a while, and I told Esther that in my opinion it was better for her to take the blame, since she was a lot further away, and doesn’t have to have Mom really be mad at her. As for me, when faced with doing something my mother-in-law doesn’t like, or doesn’t want to do…well, I’ll just tell her that Esther did it. It will sure keep me out of trouble…sorry about that Esther!!

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