“There’s nothing funny about Alzheimer’s,” the woman in the audience told me. “It’s just awful–every single part of it–just awful.” As I recall I had just shared some funny moments my husband and I had spent with my grandmother who had Alzheimer’s for the 13 years she lived in our home. Keep in mind, I said, “funny moments.” Thirteen years holds a lot more time than that.
However, if you think about it, how many “funny moments” did you have today? Did anyone make you laugh? More importantly, did YOU make anyone laugh? Since you woke up this morning, how much actual fun have you had? Or, look at it this way, how much joy did you squeeze for yourself out of the last 12 hours? Somewhere, between punching the time clock, getting to appointments on time, driving the kids, paying the bills, and getting dinner on the table, did you really have a LOT of fun?
Hmm. I’m thinking back. Okay, I had one, really terrific moment this afternoon while I was grocery shopping. The aisles were empty and I couldn’t resist. Yes, in a wild burst of spontaneity, I did, indeed get a running start and jump on my cart, flying past both the butcher and the dear, old woman trying to get me to sample something weird-looking. Those few seconds felt really, really good–not just because I was getting a free ride, but because it made the people around me smile. In fact, I did it again as I headed into the checkout aisle where the lanes were blissfully empty. “I’ll take you here,” squealed the gal with enthusiasm. Now, how often do your hear THAT when you go shopping?
We tried to find the same joy when caring for Grandmother. She had no memory, so we told her, sometimes on a daily basis, that it was our birthday and would she sing to us? She did. One afternoon I tied a helium balloon in her hair simply because it made me smile to look at it. She, however, had no idea that it was there at all. When she asked me for the zillionth time where our baby (her granddaughter) came from, I finally said “the mailbox.” The answer not only satisfied her curiosity but also made me giggle. When Grandmother stood straight up in front of the congregation during the minister’s sermon and announced to everyone: “This is boring. He’s just awful. Let’s go,” did we laugh? Well, not right there, but trust me, we did in the car as we were driving away.* So, you tell me: is Alzheimer’s funny? Guess it depends on you. (*Excerpt from, “Kissing Tomatoes”, http://www.helen-hudson.com)