Thunderstorms are in the air today. My mom who has Alzheimer’s gets agitated when it storms. She has lost two houses to tornadoes. She paces the house mumbling to herself, arms wrapped tightly around her body, her face drawn in, and her mouth a tight, thin line that cuts across her face. Suspicion lurks in her eyes as she paces and darts out at me when I talk to her. I try to divert her attention away from the windows, but she is drawn back to watch the rain and hail splatter across the lawn. Sonny, the nervous little Dachsund mix, stands by her and barks constantly at the thunder. He shivers uncontrollably with fear. Fat Ralph the overstuffed Beagle is comfortable on his overstuffed dog pillow.
The first house mom lost was about 56 years ago in Konawa, Oklahoma. The second happened several years ago in Moore, Oklahoma after the onset of Alzheimer’s was beginning to affect her. The storm wrecked our town. I live two miles from work, but it took me about two hours to drive home that night through the debris and destruction. Mom and my younger brother climbed over rubble to walk out of their neighborhood.
My husband works nights and therefore sleeps during the day. When I walked in the door, even though my house was untouched, evidence was clearly visible of the storm. Fat Ralph had taken his blanket to the bathroom where he lay wrapped in safety. Sonny had peed all over the house. My sister is on the answering machine screaming at my husband, “Art, wake up! Art, wake up!” He slept though it all.
Yesterday was my mom’s birthday, so we had cake in the house. She is irresistably drawn to sweets. I have to hide them. She will eat a piece of cake and then a few minutes later see the cake and eat another piece. Each time she sees it she says, “Oh, there’s cake. I didn’t know we had cake!” She does not remember eating it a few minutes earlier. She’ll go through a whole cake in a day if I let her go unchecked.
So today, as she is fretting and Sonny is fretting, I break out the cake. She gets a big piece of chocolate cake and Sonny gets a sweater. Both are comforted for a bit.