Category Archives: Alzheimer’s Disease

Heaven got better


In many different traditions lighting a candle is a sacred action. It expresses more than words can express. It has to do with gratefulness. From time immemorial, people have lit candles in sacred places.

Today’s candle is lit For: William Oswald Lacombe, January 24, 1914 – February 25, 1988.

I remember well how in his last days, I kept a vigil at Dad’s bedside, watching him, comatose, taking one breath in, then one breath out, all the while I repeated “I love you Daddy”.

How close I came to lighting a candle by his bedside in his private room in the Centre d’Accueil Alfred Desorchers. What stopped me I don’t know — Mom who had gone before him almost exactly one year before, or Bill who had passed on almost seven years exactly to the month, or my angels and guides who are ever with me? In any event, had I done that, what with Dad being on oxygen, I would have set the whole Home ablaze!

But no, I went home and there by myself, lit a candle and prayed: Daddy, it’s OK; I’m OK, you can go now. I don’t need you anymore; I don’t want you to suffer anymore. Please go to the light. And I slept to be awakened in the middle of the night by the voice of the nurse who said you had better come right away. And I arrived, to find his soul had just left his body. My father was dead. Daddy, I love you immeasurably. You are in my heart and in my soul and in every breath I take.

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How could I not forget-me-not ?

Today is forget-me-not day. Little blue flower, emblem of The Alzheimer Society. Makes me think of my dad, diagnosed with dementia in 1985, four years after my brother died at the age of 38 from leukemia. Mom & Dad never got over Bill’s death. I remember my dad coming to my bedroom, kneeling by my bed, holding his head in-between his hands and saying “Chrissie, I think I’m going crazy.” I cannot imagine the torture when he realized he was losing it, slowly but surely. When I took Dad to the neurologist for an exam, the Dr. told me in front of him that I mustn’t let Dad drive any longer. As we left the doctor’s office, my Dad, who had never sworn in his life, looked at me and said vehemently “If that son-of-a-bitch thinks he can take my keys away from he, he has another thing coming to him.”

Dad’s condition deteriorated as Mom & I tried valiantly to care for him at home. Always a docile man, he became violent and on several occasions, I cringed thinking he might hit her or me.

A social worker I called to the house assessed Dad and put him on the A-1 list. I took Mom to see the home we were waiting for him to be placed in as soon as there would be a vacancy. Mom said the place looked nice & that Dad would enjoy the garden. That was in the fall, and I thank the Lord, God took Mom in the winter, before she had to see my father go.

In February I moved Dad to the home. On my first visits, he would see me coming, and beam to the nurses “That’s my daughter!”. As time went on he didn’t recognize me anymore. And so, I would go before work, feed him his breakfast, do his laundry to give the nurses a hand & occasionally help track down his dentures which he might have taken to another room. It broke my heart to visit because Dad who always loved nature and the wide open spaces was like a wild animal caged in that home. He walked and walked up and down the corridors with nowhere to go.

Pneumonia was the angel that took him on that February 25th twenty years ago.
But I still remember like it was yesterday and oh yes, the forget-me-nots, they remind me too.

Life is a Cabernet, old Chum

What good is sitting alone in your room?
Come hear the music play.
Life is a Cabaret, old chum,
Come to the Cabaret.

Put down the knitting,
The book and the broom.
Time for a holiday.
Life is Cabaret, old chum,
Come to the Cabaret.

Come taste the wine,
Come hear the band.
Come blow your horn,
Start celebrating;
Right this way,
Your table’s waiting

No use permitting
some prophet of doom
To wipe every smile away.
Come hear the music play.
Life is a Cabaret, old chum,
Come to the Cabaret!

I used to have a girlfriend
known as Elsie
With whom I shared
Four sordid rooms in Chelsea

She wasn’t what you’d call
A blushing flower…
As a matter of fact
She rented by the hour.

The day she died the neighbors
came to snicker:
“Well, thats what comes
from to much pills and liquor.”

But when I saw her laid out like a Queen
She was the happiest…corpse…
I’d ever seen.

I think of Elsie to this very day.
I’d remember how’d she turn to me and say:
“What good is sitting alone in your room?
Come hear the music play.
Life is a Cabaret, old chum,
Come to the Cabaret.”

And as for me,
I made up my mind back in Chelsea,
When I go, I’m going like Elsie.

Start by admitting
From cradle to tomb
Isn’t that long a stay.
Life is a Cabaret, old chum,
Only a Cabaret, old chum,
And I love a Cabaret!
So have a glass of red wine, listen to a good tune and check out this video if only to hear Dr. Marambault’s gorgeous accent.

My Dad died of Senile Dementia of the Alzeimer Type or Multi-infarct Dementia, I am not sure which because the conclusive cause of death could only have been established upon autopsy and I did not want to put my father through that — he had been through enough already. So I have a vested interest in this medical topic.

“To Life!” “L’Chaim!”