Sunday, October 21, 2012

Road Trip

John recently submitted an online bid for a rental car that, much to our surprise, was accepted. We arranged for a house sitter, packed up with little notice, and were on our way.

The kids were super excited. Here they are waiting to see which car we would get. 

Jonah and Andy had their own little apartment in the back, and Ben and Mom stopped bickering as soon as the DVDs were started.  
Mom's screen broke almost immediately but she didn't seem to mind. She just sat looking straight ahead while the kids watched movies and John and I listened to music and talked. Every once in a while she would interject something in response to what she thought she heard but had clearly misunderstood. I hoped she could enjoy the ride and the beautiful scenery, which she seemed to--at first.

We drove through Wendy's for lunch and I asked her if she would rather have a salad or a sandwich. She chose a chicken sandwich because she has trouble with utensils. I got hers grilled but when the food was passed out she grimaced at her lunch and wanted John's because it was fried. They traded. Then she took a bite and said it was delicious but would rather have my salad. I traded her but she couldn't eat it because, as I said, she has trouble using a fork. So I tried to get her to use her fingers but she wouldn't. In the end, everyone had plenty to eat but nobody was very happy and we were reminded just how frustrating Alzheimer's can be.

Later we were munching on snacks and I gave her some crackers. She ate about three then told us, in a panic, she shouldn't have because "they're thick and they'll keep me up all night". She repeated herself about every twenty minutes as if it were the first time she'd said it until I held up the box in frustration to show her that they are called Wheat Thins and can't possibly be too thick for anything and that crackers don't generally affect a person's sleep anyway. She acted like she understood but picked back up where she'd left off about twenty minutes later. It makes for a funny story and God knows we have to laugh sometimes or we'll cry, but I was close to tears by the time we stopped for the night.  

I was grateful that John had the foresight to book a hotel room halfway in Wichita, Kansas so we could get a break from the car. The nighttime routine was another stressor. John took the boys to the pool while I got Mom ready for bed. She kept saying "This is the wrong place" and I was beginning to question the wisdom of taking her away from home. I slept in her room with her and she was very nervous that she wouldn't be able to remember my name if she needed me in the middle of the night. She was up most of the time pacing and going in and out of the bathroom. By four o'clock I gave up and turned on the news.

The next morning she had the idea we were going to leave her somewhere. She was absolutely miserable and looked disgusted with everything and everybody, which is why this photo is so remarkable:

When I told her I would like to take her picture, she gave me one of the only smiles I've seen since we left Texas. (And, yes, Ben is wearing a life jacket to breakfast.)

Andy loves few things more than a good breakfast buffet, and we let Jonah have a cup of coffee so they were loving life. The kids have been wonderful through the transition and are treating their grandmother very well. I am proud of them all.
Andy's my budding photographer and he got a picture of us which proves that what hasn't killed us has made us stronger.
The car ride the second day was about the same and we were thankful that it wasn't worse. Mom seemed happy to see John's family but was sure we planned to leave her with them. It seems she'll only believe that she's going home when we take her with us next week.


  1. Hi Sam! Thank you for sharing your story through your blog. I'm encouraged by your selfless devotion to your mom. I can't imagine the difficulties and heartache you face each day (and night). I think about you and pray for you often.

  2. Hi Sam, I want you and John to know that I am praying for you. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to see your mother in her current state. May you be filled with peace and his love. Please, please let me know when you get back in town (if you aren't already). I want to come over and visit you and pray with you.

  3. Samantha, I think so often about your situation with your mother. I know it breaks your heart when you have lost so much of your mother. Thank you for the update.