The Story So Far

  • I'm a writer, photographer, consultant. Age 51. My father was a reporter and editor. Then he became something other than that. He died February 8, 2010 at 87. He was widowed in 2003. His decline started a little earlier. His sister died of Alzheimer's.

May 2011

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  • Copyright © 2004-2011 Alan G. Ampolsk
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'one of the pets was a parakeet called Fricassee'

That made me snort with laughter. I'm not much of a snorter, usually ;-D

How true, that a) it's not until later that you can see exactly where it started and b) it's not always forgetfulness that is the first symptom.

My MIL always had emotional problems, she was kind of a hysterical personality. Getting overly angry, having tantrums and more or less lacking in empathy. The main incident that I now think was our original wake-up call (which of course we didn't see as such but attributed to her being 'difficult') was the wake of a good friend of hers. She'd known her for years, and DH had roomed at the woman's house in the winter, as his school was an hour by bus and sometimes the roads were slick and the buses delayed. They were that close, but at the wake MIL acted like it was a class reunion, waving to friends across the room, 'Hey I haven't seen you in ages!', and not a tear shed. I was used to self-centered behavior from her but this took the cake. At the end of a Japanese wake held in a funeral parlor the family sees off those who came, they stand at the door and bow to those leaving. The place the family lines up is a clearly designated platform maybe 5 inches in height (it's all very ceremonial). MIL wanted to talk to the daughter but evidently didn't want to wait in line. She got up on the platform and started to dart up behind the lined-up family to make a bee-line for the daughter. Alarmed, I grabbed the back of her dress at the waist and held her back, and talked her into getting down. I was mortified.

After that, nothing unusual for a while and the incident slipped to the back of my memory. It was a few years after that we finally got a diagnosis after about a year of her refusing to see anyone about her memory problems. It was only last week that I suddenly remembered that wake, and the fact that it was about a year and half before FIL passed from AD. It means we're 9 years or so into the disease, and not the 5-6 we'd been thinking. Kind of surprising.

Thank you for continuing to write.


she 'always had been' a kind of hysterical personality...

Got a touch of insomnia, don't do my best thinking/composition at 4:30 am! :-D


Hey, Alan. I've been so selfishly focused on my own panicked struggle I had not thought to visit here (or anywhere else!) for a long time. However, this has let me read the last several postings made subsequent to my last check in with you as one rich narrative which I greatly enjoyed -- not the struggles they depict, but the amazing and compelling depth and thoughtfulness of your writing and sharing. Thank you for that.

I am still entangled with the grief of my Momma's passing and the preceding years of the terrifying decline and horror of Alzheimer's. I wonder when I will get enough scar tissue built up around those wounds to stop having the trigger of sharp 'heart pain' that takes me directly to the powerless rage and frustration that I could not prevent the undignified dismantling of her Self. God, I actually suddenly started crying in (unsuccessful -- wonder why? Ha) job interviews when I thought of her. I'm viewable now as 'older' so the sight of me with tears in my eyes fighting for a facade of mature equanimity was not appealing to prospective employers. My identity for 59 years as my parents' daughter and my life as a small planet orbiting around their magnificent sun has left me wobbling in a solar system no longer kept happily in balance by their reassuring gravitational pull.

Ugh! Sorry about that excessive melodramatic depicting! But we are our parents' children, and as you have so movingly observed, the tales and chapters of their lives work a tremendous hold on the slanting of our own.

Thank you for continuing to write. As always, you mean a lot to me in my journey.


Alan G. Ampolsk

Shu - oh, believe me, I understand. See my latest post (yes, there's a new one, finally) about where I am in the process.

Crella - thanks for hanging in.

More soon!

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