The third Alzheimer’s Bull post was on my birthday. I was at the farm.

By then, I had begun to show up on the farm every month for at least two weeks. Like most caregivers, I fumbled around, sorting out what to do for mom—and for dad, because the closest of kin are also in the path of the bull—and nurturing my patience so that I had extra when I was with mom on bad days.

As a child in a family of doers, sitting doesn’t come easily. Surely, there’s something I can do!

Not all Alzheimer’s victims are aware, they may not see the bull or feel the rumble of his hooves as he charges and the heat of his breath as he nears. But mom was aware, and she sat with the emotions around that awareness—anger, terror, frustration, loneliness—for over a year.

Mom needed us to sit with her. She wanted us to show up and sit. But who is to say that the seemingly oblivious victims of Alzheimer’s or the volatile ones who rage in denial don’t also need someone to show up, to take a moment and sit with them.

Going into this journey, I didn’t realize how dreadfully lonely Alzheimer’s can be for its victims, and sometimes its caregivers.

If you’re not sure what to do for someone battling the disease, just show up. Sit a spell.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2023
Sit with me
Sunday morning service. Can you sit with me?

What was I scared of?

Last Sunday, the service kicked off with a reading of Dr. Seuss’s What was I scared of?  (Spooky pale green pants with nobody inside ’em.) The service continued with readings from Jesus Christ Superstar songs that sometimes drifted into melody and verses from Jesus’s last days. Children’s stories, humor, songs, and big-little messages. A great service. I paused to tell the guest minister that I enjoyed it on my way out.

The service was good, but I didn’t take it personally.

Yet the last words (Just sit with me) sat with me. Even as the Sunday hours ticked off, I could feel the weight of those words. Just sit with me. As I worked my way through the days of the week, my head worked backwards through the service, deconstructing the parts (love, compassion, powerlessness, fear). By Friday, the service was mine. That guest minister was speaking to me.

Keep watch with me. 

That’s all he asked. He didn’t require that they fix anything. They needn’t rescue him from the dark journey. Just sit with me. But they didn’t. They fell asleep.

I get it. Even if they had wanted to do something, what could they possibly do? I get shutting down in the face of fear and powerlessness. But he didn’t ask them to do anything. All he requested was, “Keep watch with me.”

I’ll sit with you.

I feel helpless in the face of the Alzheimer’s bull that bullies my mom.  How can I fix this? I can’t, nor can I change the course of her journey. I can, however, sit with her.

She’s afraid. I’m afraid.

What was I scared of? examines fear on many different levels. Fear of other, fear of difference, fear of change. We’re all afraid.

There is very little I can do, and I know I can’t protect her from that bull, but I can sit with her. That’s something. And perhaps in this situation, it’s everything.

©Copyright 2018 Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved