Thursday, January 12th, 2012
Guest blogger: Stephen Woodfin, Venture Galleries
When my mom was mid-stage AD, I often got this call from one of her caregivers: “She’s mad, and we can’t do anything with her.”
I knew that meant I needed to get to my mom’s house as quickly as I could. My mother loved being in motion. The worst thing for her was to feel trapped, to have the sense that she couldn’t get in her car and go for a ride. We had already disabled her vehicle for fear that she would drive off and not know how to get back.
One of the techniques I often used was to serve as her chauffeur. I would take her by the hand, lead her to my car, and we would head out to wherever the road took us. We would ride by familiar places, the house where she grew up, the schools she attended, the church where she spent so much of her free time.
On one such occasion, I popped a recording of the Irish Tenors into the CD player to serve as a soundtrack for our journey. When “Danny Boy” came on, my mom, who hardly knew her name by that stage of AD, began to sing and hum along. For an hour or so, the AD world disappeared, and we were just a mother and son out for a ride in the country. We held hands and I could feel her grip as it pulsed with the music. Her mood transformed from fear and hostility to light-heartedness. We had reached a place beyond words, a beatific spot of blessedness.
I will never be able to listen to the Irish Tenors again without remembering that moment, and the look on my mother’s face as the remarkable strains of music freed her from the shackles of Alzheimer’s, if only for a few minutes. If you can, try it with your loved one, too. Miracles are few and far between, but they still happen when you least expect.