Me: Mom. Hi. It’s me.
Mom: Oh, hi. Janet’s here with the dog. (Janet being my sister, the dog being a German Shepherd puppy, just the thing to add that badly needed chaos to an otherwise peaceful elderly day.)
Me: Why did she –
Mom: [to Dad] No, Eddie! Don’t give him that.
[to me] Daddy’s trying to kill the dog with chocolate.
Me: Oh, boy.
Mom: Eddie, no!
Dad: It’s fine. He likes it.
Mom: It’s bad for him.
Janet: Dad, dogs can’t have chocolate.
Mom: You’ll kill that dog!
Dad: No, I won’t. I’m just giving it some –
Mom: Now stop it!
Janet: You can’t –
Dad: See? He likes it.
And these are the things they don’t necessarily tell you, about Alzheimer’s Disease.
They don’t tell you that your dad or grandma or wife or whoever may one day accidentally kill your pet. They don’t tell you they will likely put motor oil in your windshield washer fluid container, or flour in your coffee, or all of the bread in the entire house out in the driveway for the birds to eat.
They do not tell you how hard it will be to explain to that person that they can’t have a bun for their hot dog, because ALL THE HOT DOG BUNS ARE NOW IN THE DRIVEWAY. They don’t tell you how he will repeatedly insist he needs to take a pill that’s he’s just taken, even waking you from a deep, three a.m. sleep, no matter how many times you explain that he’s already taken that pill so please, please stop asking.
They do tell you how sad it all is. And it is, sometimes unbearably so.
But they do not tell you how maddening it can be, how you will consider plunging your head under water until you’re dead just to avoid answering the same question for the ten gazillionth time. As far as I can tell, they never tell you how angry you will sometimes be. Often be. Whichever.
One thing they might tell you, but you can never really understand until it happens, is that the dad/grandma/wife you once knew will turn into such an entirely different person that you will one day find yourself trying to remember what he used to be like, while he is still alive and sitting across the room from you.
“Dad,” I heard my sister say. “You shouldn’t have – now he’ll be sick, he’ll have diarrhea, and I’ll have to clean it up.”
“It’s fine,” my dad said. “Cats like cookies. What’s his name again?”