Today, We Saw 57 Gray Cars on our Trip to Town and Other Gifts of Alzheimer’s

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Today, We Saw 57 Gray Cars on our Trip to Town and Other Gifts of Alzheimer’s

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First, let me say that I absolutely detest my mom’s Alzheimer’s. I picture it as a living breathing cruel-hearted creature. I hate that it is robbing my mom of her precious memories, independence and incredibly sharp mind. I feel the same way about any of the circumstances impacting our carees. None of us would willingly choose to be a part of this club, if we had any other option. Having said that, today I realized a gift that my mom has given me through her Alzheimer’s.

She has taken to counting gray cars when we go somewhere. You’d be amazed how many gray cars are out there! At first, my nerves would stand on end when I saw another gray car coming towards me. I knew it would pass us with the inevitable “There sure are a lot of gray cars on the road. That’s the xxth car, we’ve passed today that is gray. Look, there is another gray car. It's the xxth+1 gray car, we've seen.” Now, I just smile and even find myself pointing out gray cars in parking lots and commenting on which shade of gray I like best. (Please note that gray and silver cars are interchangeable in this equation, but in our world they are all gray.)  A few weeks ago, Mom stopped commenting on gray cars and I missed it terribly. I found myself pointing out the gray cars. Now, we are back to counting gray cars and commenting on different stories about cars. I look forward to gray cars.

I’ve also come to know that when I take Mom into town, buildings that have been there since I was born are suddenly “new” and never been seen before. This is the same town my mom has been in since she was a child and she will be 85 in August. It is the same town I was born in 55 years-ago. Trust me…we’ve seen this town for decades, so I know when we pass an old store that it is not “new”. I also know that when we take our second trip for the week through mid-town, that it hasn’t been “years since I’ve been up here.” I know that my cousin didn’t live in that house on the golf course that was built 20 years ago as he died before I was born. I know.

So, what does this have to do with Mom’s gift. Before her diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, I never looked at the colors of cars. I never paid attention to the buildings. I never commented on every store sign and wondered how it got its name or whether it was there two days ago. I never looked at a house and wondered who lived there. I never "waited years" to go see something. Now, I notice. Now, I seek the details out. Now, I care. I’ve slowed down to enjoy the “new” buildings, to count the cars, to go places I haven’t been in years even if I was there yesterday, and to appreciate that before this awful, horrible, dreadful disease, I simply missed a lot. I will forever treasure my mom and I will forever smile every time I see a gray car.

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Mike

Cathy - I know we've talked about this briefly... I really like this post. While you describe an experience unique to you and your mother, I think many of us can relate to it in our current situation with our loved ones. The way you're doing everything you can to make this phase of your mom's life as enjoyable as possible makes me smile... the two of you obviously have a special relationship, and she's blessed to have you as a daughter.

Lillie Fuller

this is beautiful. i find it amazing that after all these years there are so many things!!! i love silver cars, i drive one!! :)