May 13, 2012

A Letter to Dotty

By Max Wallack Alzheimer's Reading Room

 Dear Dotty,

Happy Mother’s Day, Dotty. I will miss you.

I was “introduced” to you not long after Great Grams passed. You have kept alive for me the real life day-to-day coexistence with someone who is deeply forgetful.

I lost Great Grams when I was only ten. While I don’t think my memories of her fade, I know you were instrumental in reminding me about her, each and every day. You entered my life just about the time that my decision to devote my life to helping Alzheimer’s patients was being made. You strengthened my decision with every story, every video, and every cinch cast.

You confirmed my belief that there was “more there.” I could hear it in your singing and see it in your beautiful coloring.

I relished cheering on your feistiness, even when you were giving Bob a hard time. Perhaps I shouldn’t admit it, but I always felt a sense of triumph and you made me laugh when you did find those chips and stabbed open those bags.

As smart as Bob is, you were able to outsmart him, again and again. I also applaud your optimism: your belief that later, or tomorrow, you will be able to do more.

Shortly after we “met”, it was Mother’s Day, 2009. I remember Bob’s story about how you would take beautiful bouquets of flowers and cut the stems a little shorter every day, until there were only blossoms left. Bob said he used to be upset, but then realized how much joy “rearranging” the flowers gave you. When I heard that, I went out and bought the nicest Mother’s Day card that I could find with a beautiful bouquet of flowers on the front. I sent that card to you, but it came back saying no one by that name lived there. I even sent it out a second time, but it came back again. A few days ago while straightening out, I came across that very card. It will forever remind me of you.

Love, Max

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.