My name is Jane and my husband of 36 years was diagnosed with Dementia/Alzheimer’s about three and half years ago. This blog is a tale of our lives after “Al” (the name I’ve given Joe’s disease) moved in. In the two years since I began this blog, it's been read in over 25 countries. It really is "AL" over the world. Thanks for coming along with us down a path of uncertainty. Joe passed on November 19, 2016.
Monday, January 26, 2015
ALZHEIMER'S--FOGGY WITH SUN BREAKS
Joe on the Columbia River in 1991
January 26, 2015
day, I stumble into the kitchen (as I typically do first thing in the morning) to
find Joe at the counter, his head in his hands.
(He had awakened several hours earlier, and has just been sitting
there.) He looks at me and I can tell something is wrong. I know it probably involves Al.
okay?” I ask.
He makes a
muddled attempt to explain what’s going on in his head, and after several minutes,
I finally understand he’s describing fog, the same kind of dense fog we had experienced
back in Portland, Oregon.
In the early
90’s, we were living in Portland in one of the remodeling jobs we had just
finished. It was a house high on a cliff
overlooking the city; a real jewel. On a
really clear day (something as rare in Portland as a unicorn) we could see Mt.
St. Helens perfectly framed in the front window. On those days, everything sparkled
like it had been Photoshopped.
But, on a
more typical foggy, rainy, drizzly day the view was completely different. It was grey, almost entirely grey, and hard
to distinguish any outside scenery at all.
It felt like we were hanging from the clouds and overlooking a
featureless urban sea. We knew we were
up on a cliff above the city, but with the fog we couldn’t tell much of anything
On this morning in Arizona, in Joe’s fog, he
has the unsettling feeling that the world might have fallen out from under him;
that he might just float away (set aloft) like Carl and Russell in the animated
I sit in the
kitchen with Joe and we talk, and wait for the dreadful feeling to go away. I think, “What if it doesn’t go away? What if Joe and Al do just float away into
the fog?” (Whoa, that’s not a good thing to dwell on.)
We get on
with our morning routine. We don’t make
a big deal about it. We just turn on the fog lights, and slow down a little, and
wait for our clearing. And, after a good cup of coffee, (we love coffee in the
morning) Joe’s fog slowly begins to lift.
in Portland used to use the phrase “Foggy with Sun Breaks”, that’s what
happens. The sun breaks through and Joe lands
right back on the bar stool in the kitchen.
The day is good, not Photoshop good, but good.
is: Some days are just going to be better
than others. There’s no pattern to it
that I can see, no forecaster, no Doppler radar to help us. We just have to maneuver through it. We probably won’t see a “SHARP TURN AHEAD” or
“AL CROSSING” sign until we are on top of it.
(Well, you don’t need to have Alzheimer’s to “not see it coming” so to
learning to live with uncertainty.
That’s an interesting thing because life is never certain. We just didn’t think much about it before Al rang
not fearing uncertainty is a good thing.
Being too cautious might have stopped us from taking risks that
ultimately resulted in some of the best experiences we’ve had together. (I’m not talking about bungee jumping. I mean making a decision when you don’t know whether
the outcome will be wonderful or go seriously, “AL” style haywire.)
I spent some
time today pondering our Grandson’s upcoming wedding. I’ve
offered to help plan and make part of the décor. It may seem crazy taking on more responsibility,
but I need that. We need that. We need to
think about things other than how Al is fogging up the view. We need to celebrate life and the futures of
those we love.
Oh, Al is going
with us to the wedding, there’s no leaving him home. It will be Joe and Jane and our “plus one”. We plan to dance and laugh and enjoy our
family. And, we will have cake.
did a great rendition of “YMCA”. I
wonder if he remembers the Macarena. Ay