Nov 21, 2011

A Train Ride and Some Dole Whip Make a Great Memory

It’s the last time that I remember Great Grams wanting to buy things for me, as she had always done when I was younger.

By Max Wallack
Alzheimer's Reading Room

I enjoyed reading Carole’s story about the Furry Chickens. It made me think about the last good time I had with Great Grams.

We were on a trip to Hawaii, about six months before her death. She had been diagnosed with dementia several years earlier. We had encountered many, many difficult moments on that trip, some of which I’ve written about previously. Yet, following one disastrous day, we did have a wonderful day.

We had decided to spend the day at the Dole Plantation in Hawaii. Great Grams even enjoyed the car ride from Waikiki to the Dole Plantation. Once we got there, we decided to go on the Pineapple Express, a tiny train that circled the plantation, explaining what we saw.

Great Grams was so happy on that train. She obviously saw things she never saw before: pineapples, bananas, and other fruits growing. She pointed them all out to me to make sure I would not miss any.

True to her obsession with financial matters, she frequently exclaimed how wealthy Mr. Dole must be to own all of this, and how smart he must be. She was obviously very impressed.

After the ride, we went inside the little shop. We all had frozen dole whip, which was delicious. Great Grams loved it. Then we went around the shop, looking at T-shirts, etc. It’s the last time that I remember Great Grams wanting to buy things for me, as she had always done when I was younger.

What was most amazing is that this wonderful day followed a horrific day when Great Gram’s accusations (about her impending danger from us) brought us into contact with quite a few members of the Waikiki police force!

But on that day at the Dole Plantation, she was acting like the Great Grams that I had always known and loved. It is a wonderful memory.

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.

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Original content Max Wallack, the Alzheimer's Reading Room