I'm the kind of person who skips to the conversation when reading a book.

… the rest of the story

Paul Harvey used to have a radio spot where he told “the rest of the story.”  He would take a well-known story or person, and then reveal the back story that would give insight into something we thought we already knew.

Today, you are going to hear “the rest of the story.”

The other day I had taken Grace and Hannah to visit my mother in the nursing home.  My mother is disappearing in dribs and drabs.  There is a reason Alzheimer’s is called “the long good-bye.” Little by little, the disease gobbles up memories.  It may start with inconsequential ones, but then it begins devouring memories of even the people who are important parts of a person’s life.

It’s been some time now that my mother hasn’t known my name.  Occasionally, it will pop out, but, more often, the only way I know that she recognizes me is by her smile.  Her face will light up and she’ll greet me when I walk in the room.  I’ve taken a great deal of comfort in that.

at the nursing homeWhen I ask her, “Do you know who I am?”  —

She answers, “Of course.”

“Okay,” I challenge her, “who am I?”

She’ll smile, tilt her chin at me a little, and say, “I know who you are.”

But I know she can’t remember my name.

At least I get a smile, though.

That is, until the other day.  Grace, Hannah, and I came around the corner and found her sitting at a table.  I smiled and waved.

“Hi, Mom,” I said to her, but she only glared at me.  I pulled up a chair beside her, and she narrowed her eyes and glared some more.

“How are you doing today?” I asked, trying be cheerful and engage her.  I watched her set her jaw, clamping her whole face into a frown.  She turned her eyes from me toward the last few bites of pancake in front of her.

I asked Hannah to go into Grammie’s room and find a photo album.  I thought it might spark something.  We flipped through the pictures and I tried to ask her about different ones.

Finally, with a wave of her hand, she said, “I don’t know about all these classifications.”

She turned away from me and I puzzled over what she had said.  My father arrived and she perked up a little, but really, for the rest of the day, I was sad that I hadn’t even gotten a smile out of my mother.

Which was why I needed a picture of a smiling gas tank. (See “Finding a Smile“)

And now you know… the rest of the story.


In case you never heard Paul Harvey, here is one of his stories:


8 comments on “… the rest of the story

  1. lala1966
    February 28, 2013

    I am afraid I might be having to go through this with one of my parents. There have been signs. I had forgotten about Paul Harvey lol. Brings back old times. I am so sorry that you have having to go through this with your mom. I am sure it must be really hard emotionally for you xx

  2. pinklightsabre
    February 28, 2013

    Great writing, but what a difficult topic and time for you. I hope the writing brings some comfort, some insights. Thanks for sharing.

    • sarahlangdon
      February 28, 2013

      Writing is, for me, the best way to process all these difficulties.

  3. catterel
    February 28, 2013

    Sometimes it’s very difficult to follow the trail of associations in a mind affected by dementia. You may simply have reminded her of someone who spoke harshly to her. We have to learn not to take these things personally.

    • sarahlangdon
      February 28, 2013

      Yes, I know this is true. Some days it’s just easier than others not to take it all personally.

  4. Anna
    March 1, 2013

    We used to listen to Paul Harvey driving to school in the morning. Thank-you for bringing back good memories even as you are losing the gift of sharing memories with your loved one. It is hard when you are the only one who can say “Remember when…”

  5. sarahlangdon
    March 1, 2013

    It seems it was hit or miss when I would hear Paul Harvey. I know he was on every day around noon, giving his take on the news and saying, in his unmistakable voice, “page TWO!”

    Thank you for your kind words.

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This entry was posted on February 28, 2013 by in Family conversation, Postaday 2013 and tagged , , , , , , , .

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