We asked my lifelong friend Terry if he'd compose a song about Alzheimer's caregivers, for the reasons that follow, and after our first meeting Sharon said, "Do you think he's into it?" I've known Ter since high school, and still can't always tell when he's "into it", but the answer came back passionately.
The first time we even inquired, Terry blew us away by responding "The tune is done...If art requires an uncomfortable and painful aspect to it, then this might be art. I thought of my sister and my mom, and that good moment we all meet up in.." And so here now is Terry's story:
My mother's second husband had passed away a few years before and I was flying into Florida from Los Angeles to spend time with her after she had tended to the details of her "new" boyfriend's funeral. She has had her share of losses in her life and maybe she has perfected the delicate balance of dwelling and yet, not dwelling.
She was in good spirits as I was explaining this new fangled GPS device that was leading us to our restaurant and good thing - I have no bearings to speak of in Florida. That said, when the 6th repeat of "do you know where you are going?" came out of her mouth halfway through the short trip, I figured she was screwing with me and frankly I didn't deserve it.
I yelled at her, and if I could take back that idiotic outburst I surely would. She reacted in a way that I was sure she had not been screwing with me. Something had changed, that's all I knew...
In the months that followed, it became apparent that her late boyfriend - who benefitted from her care as he wrestled with cancer - had been there for her as well, bridging her memory lapses. She had been a part of a remarkably supportive retirement park, people looking after people, and these same friends contacted us - concerned she was unable to keep herself safe, yet knowing this information would separate them from her.
The transition was as hurtful and frightening as any my mom had been through - but my sister had said "Mom, I want you to live near by and be with me" and while everything else we had said to convince her was suspect, this is what my mom was counting on.
Because of my sister - her caring nature, devotion, and sense of humor, my mother continues to enjoy her life in an assisted living apartment. Kathy tends to my mother's needs in a way that mimics how my mother must have looked after her as a child. This is uncomfortable, of course, one in a menu of things that are uncomfortable.
"One To Another" is a song about my sister and my mother.
Love and devotion practiced everyday under difficult conditions.