By Marie Marley
Alzheimer's Reading Room
Some days we talked only once, but most days we talked several times.
Some calls lasted an hour or more, some just a few minutes. He called me. I called him.
We talked about whatever topics arose: my job, my friends, my pets; his friends, his job, his travels. Politics, world events, TV shows, movies and, most of all – our feelings.
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Often he called just to tell me something funny he’d heard on TV or something interesting he’d read in the New York Times. Or, I called to tell him about an exciting development at work or a fascinating aspect of whatever hobby I was pursuing at the time. We talked so much he sometimes told me he had to take a break because his arm was getting tired from holding up the phone.
A year before he went to live at the Alois Alzheimer’s Center in Cincinnati, I got a new cell phone and assigned him a special ring tone – the Love Theme from the Godfather. This made my best friends, Joyce and Marsha, laugh. It was such an appropriate ring tone because Ed was both imposing and loving. I looked forward to hearing the Godfather during the day singing out its rich polyphonic sound on my little Sanyo.
In the last months before Ed went to live at the Alois Alzheimer Center, he’d fail to answer his phone occasionally. I could never get him to explain why. After he went to Alois, the situation got worse. He called me less often and failed to answer my calls ever more frequently.
When he did answer we often couldn’t connect. The aides reported that he sometimes held the wrong end of the receiver to his ear, or held the phone in his lap while talking, or put the receiver on the nightstand and just went about his business.
I was distraught. I was used to calling him whenever I wanted and talking as long as I wanted as many times a day as I wanted. But it had become nearly impossible to talk to him on the phone at all.
While lying on the sofa in the evenings watching TV, I often caught myself reaching for the phone. Then I’d remember and pull back my arm. I couldn’t imagine how the situation could get any worse, but it did. He finally stopped calling and answering at all. He’d completely lost his ability to use the phone.
So one day I made the agonizing decision to have his phone service discontinued. The Godfather went silent and I never heard his love song again.
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Original content Marie Marley, the Alzheimer's Reading Room