The Long Road

Image credit Lisa Perry

June, 2014

In the hallway, fluorescent lights reflected off decades-old polished linoleum, more white squares than green. 

A “Wet Floor” sign signaled caution.

Medication carts stood at the ready.

Wheelchair parts waited on the floor to support frail legs that could not lift themselves.

In your room stood a dresser with drawers that you would never open.

The windowsill thick with layers upon layers of paint over the original coat.

Your bed had rails to keep you from rolling out.

Your walking days behind you, but your tendency to thrash your legs was as strong as ever.

Background

Alzheimer’s had been marching through your life for years and we, your daughters, each in her own way, gasped and struggled to keep up with its pace, but those early days in the nursing home proved to be a wall too high to scale. Tacit expectations and relentless resentments, each formidable challenges on their own, proved fatal when combined. 

Alzheimer’s came for the whole family, shining a glaring spotlight on us, looking for cracks in our foundation so it could be complete in its destruction.

It ravaged your mind, your body, your life.

It ravaged our tenuous hold on connection to each other, saying, no, no way, you will not survive it, either. None of you will escape unscathed. I will take you all down with me.

We watched, we waited, we grieved.

Helpless, we raged at our impotence and at the loss of you, our glue, our anchor.

We could not save you.

February, 2022

In the end, somehow you had the last word. You called us back. You waited for us.

Together one last time, you and your daughters, each one bearing the battle scars of this ordeal, our hands on your body as we said goodbye for the thousandth time, but for the last time.

You, as always, navigating us through the hard spaces. 

“This is it,” we whispered.

This is it.

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