It Breaks My Heart

Twenty minutes ago my sister and I spoke on the telephone and she told me she had spoken to Joe, our cousin.  Joe is married to Lyn and they have two wonderful children.  Joe and Lyn are both in medicine and didn’t marry until Joe was 40 and Lynn was 37 or 38.

Lynn is a tall, thin, lively woman who loves to chat and is kind and smart and interested in everyone.  She knew no stranger.

Lynn was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease a couple of years ago.  Each time I see her she seems more remote and gone are the days of her lively chatter and laughter.  Gone are the days of her drinking wine and sitting on the edge of one of the beds in the house just to have a quiet talk.

This woman was so thoughtful and generous.  At their wedding, when we each checked into the Biltmore Resort outside of Phoenix we were handed a goody bag that Lynn had put together based on our preferences in wine or beer, snacks, and other fun stuff.  Each bag was different and unique to the individual.  Thus was her attention to detail and her kindness.

Lynn is 57 years old and has an 18-year-old and a 12-year-old.  Lynn’s mother died of Alzheimer’s Disease several years ago.

Luckily, married to a physician and living just outside of Phoenix in Paradise Valley, she is in a clinical trial at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix.  However, my cousin, Joe has been watching her progress and he believes she is on the placebo.

The last time I saw Lynn was over Thanksgiving weekend and one-on-one she is ok.  She sticks next to her husband or one of her children until she feels comfortable with another family member and then she sticks with one of us.  She was in the kitchen with me and talked but gone is the enthusiasm and the joy she exuded.

As the disease takes more of her mind, she is forgetting simple words.  She can no longer turn on the television by herself.  The time has come to have a full-time companion in the home to help her and do some light house work and cook.  The children are having difficulties in dealing with this situation.  I cannot imagine having to rationalize and accept the loss of my mother at the age of 12.

For all intents and purposes, Joe is a single father.

My family is close.  You that know me know this as fact.  My cousins are our family and are loved and held tightly into this big family.  This family started by two sisters years and years ago; Jane and Ellen, and their first cousins, are one big, tightly knit unit.

My heart breaks for Lynn because I know she knows what is happening to her.




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