Adventures in Alzheimer’s – cold, deep water edition

by Julie Frayn on April 5, 2015 in  Adventures in Alzheimer's,Mama Bird

Mom & Dad with baby girl at the zoo 1994

Mom & Dad with baby girl at the zoo 1994

Lately, Mom has been trying to come to terms with death. Well, maybe not coming to terms. She’s begun to assume it is imminent. I gave her a hug the other day and she laid her head on my collar bone and sighed. I sighed too. She used to come up to my forehead.

She asked, “Is there any hope for me?”

“What do you mean, hope?”

“Hope that I won’t die?”

Well shit – there isn’t any hope for any of us. But that’s not what she needed to hear. So I said, “Well, you’re alive now. Any day you wake up is a good day.”

I love to make her laugh. It eases her concerns and fears and makes everything seem normal. Seem like it used to be. But it isn’t. Those ‘seem’ moments are temporary and becoming fewer and further between.

We had a relatively lucid conversation the other day about incontinence. Or at least, urination urgency. I told her about Depends and she said she’d like to try those. Of course when I brought them to her she had no recollection of the conversation and was embarrassed by it all. But that’s another story.

Mom & Dad on a BC Ferry 1975

Mom & Dad on a BC Ferry 1975

During the lucid moment of that convo, she proclaimed that she didn’t want to go into the cold, deep water.

Um, okay.

She’d been thinking of my father. When he died twenty years ago, he wanted his ashes sent up the river. Well, no – he was the cop, sending others up the river. So he wanted to go down the river. He loved a particular spot on the Bow in Banff. So that was his final resting place, in the river where he can fish for eternity. It’s a pretty swift current, so maybe it wasn’t his “final” stop. Maybe he’s in Greece or Italy. Or spread all over the globe.

But I digress.

Mom’s only wish in death is to be with Dad. But she doesn’t want to go in the cold, deep river. What to do? How will she ever find him if she doesn’t let us dump her in the Bow?

Mom & Dad on their wedding day, 1956

Mom & Dad on their wedding day, 1956

This atheist daughter swallowed her beliefs and said, “Mom, Dad’s not in the river, only his ashes are. When it’s your time to go, he’s going to be right there waiting for you.”

Well, be damned if she didn’t burst into tears. But good tears. Tears of relief. “Do you think so?”

Hell no, I don’t think so.

But I didn’t say that. “I’m one hundred percent certain of it. He’s waiting for you and you won’t have to look for him at all.”

“Oh. That sounds wonderful.”

Yes, it really does.


{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary Smith April 5, 2015 at 3:34 pm

Yep, we have to say what they need to hear and put our own beliefs to one side!
Your mum was a gorgeous bride – love the wedding photo.


Julie Frayn April 5, 2015 at 5:24 pm

She was! I wore her dress for my own wedding. Of course I took out the crinoline because I didn’t want to look fat. Man, I wish I could go back in time and be less stupid. Love that my Dad looks like he’s giving a thumbs up :)

Kathi April 6, 2015 at 6:54 am

Oh, Julie…big hugs.

It all makes you wonder, doesn’t it, how much this reflects some kind of unconscious awareness of her present circumstances. You’re wise to have figured out what she meant about the cold river & offer her the reassurance she needs, even with the likelihood that she won’t remember it.

xoxo, Kathi


Julie Frayn April 7, 2015 at 12:22 pm

Thanks, Kathi. Sometimes the right answer is obvious. Other times I just stare at her blankly while my mind searches for words that don’t come.

Carolyn Frayn April 6, 2015 at 7:35 pm

That is the best thing you could have said to Mom, thank you for being so wise. ♥


Julie Frayn April 7, 2015 at 12:24 pm

Not wise – got lucky with that one :) <3

Carolyn Frayn April 8, 2015 at 11:46 am

You’re pretty damn wise, lucky or not… :)

Donna Dillon April 8, 2015 at 9:33 pm

I was so touched by this post. I worked for years in a long term care facility and spent many hours with alzheimer patients. I am not a religious person, not by any means, but I do believe the soul is energy, and energy can neither be destroyed nor created. It is my hope that after death, the soul is free. Free of pain, free to fly, free to do all the things they ever dreamed of. If that’s reuniting with ones gone before, or those still on the earthly plane. For those that suffer in life and death, I sincerely hope there is a reward of some kind, a happiness, a peace. Bless her.


Julie Frayn April 9, 2015 at 7:39 am

Thank you, Donna. I have great respect for you and all the care workers. Dealing with this is tough, but not as hard as poor Mom. She spends so much time confused and afraid and paranoid. Sometimes the best I can do is hug her and cry along with her. I hope the same as you (despite my own non-beliefs) – that she will find peace. And her memories.

Nelson - One Old Sage April 9, 2015 at 8:29 am

Well done. I have a picture nearly identical to yours with your mom and dad. My brother was an RCMP officer too and he has his bride by his side. Unfortunately, like your mom, my beloved sister in law also has Alzheimer’s. Seeing what my brother has gone through, anytime you can get a lucid moment and make an impact, well done!!


Julie Frayn April 9, 2015 at 12:39 pm

Thanks, Nelson. Cool about the matching wedding pic and the mountie weddings. Not so cool about the Alzheimer’s. Stupid damn disease. I hope the impact was lasting, but you never know.

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