Sep 16, 2011

Max Shares an Email From His Friend, Emma

By Max Wallack
Alzheimer's Reading Room

I want to share this email from my friend, Emma. Today is her birthday.

Happy Birthday!


Thanks for asking about my mother. Today is my birthday, and to be honest, the only gift I wanted was for my mom to "remember" my birthday and she did!

I called her this morning, because I did not want to obsess over whether she would call me to wish me a Happy Birthday. I called her and first she said "hi" and we chatted a bit.

Then, I said, "do you know what today is"? and she said (drum roll please) "YES, it's your birthday! I have your card and can't wait to give it to you, I made it".

It is really amazing what people may take for granted. We just assume, that our parents will automatically know it's our birthday.

A few weeks ago, my mother did NOT know when my birthday occurred.

We were in the park with Hailey and I mentioned that September is coming, and a "special holiday" occurs then, and she did not have a clue. When I asked her when my birthday happens, she was not sure of the answer, that day. To be honest, it really hurt and my eyes welled up a bit.

As the illness gradually progresses, each "little miracle" such as recalling a birth date, etc means the world to caregivers, and is such a gift!

On that same day when my mom was extra forgetful, Hailey made a profound comment:

Grandma is very forgetful, but she is MY grandma and I won't trade her in, I need her because she is fun, and plays with me and is my friend and it's my job to remind her about stuff if she doesn't remember.

My husband had tears in his eyes when I told him what she said...

Max, there is no way that this type of empathy can be "taught" in school. it comes from, as Bob DeMarco says, "living in the front lines of the disease".

The shaping, moulding and impact on her personality development from these real life experiences will truly have such positive impact on her character development.

(Your great grams, had the same affect on you...)"

Max Wallack is a student at Boston University Academy. His great grandmother, Gertrude, suffered from Alzheimer's disease. Max is the founder of PUZZLES TO REMEMBER. PTR is a project that provides puzzles to nursing homes and veterans institutions that care for Alzheimer's and dementia patients.