Dotty was always convinced she could take "care" of herself, and then something changed.
|Dotty, 95 years old|
By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room
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I was convinced for thirty years that Dotty would live to be more than one hundred years old. I did waver on this a bit when Alzheimer's disease came into our lives.
In 2004, I started to believe that Dotty would go to Heaven when she learned the most important lesson of her life - how to accept care. This proved to be correct.
Dotty started working when she was 16 years old, she worked until she was 79 years old (1995). She stopped working because she got mad, not because she couldn't work. She was in very good health.
I now suspect that dementia started taking its toll on Dotty when she was 79. I just couldn't understand her logic when she quit working.
In all those years, I never once heard Dotty complain about working.
Dotty liked to work and I believe Dotty liked to work because she liked people. This was a bit of a disconnect because Dotty was more of a do it yourself person. She preferred to do things on her own.
For example, our four neighbors would take turns driving each other to bingo. Not Dotty, she went by herself, and she drove herself.
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Dotty was a very caring person and mother.
When I was a boy, I had to wear a shirt and tie to school for the first 12 years. Dotty worked full time, nevertheless, she washed and ironed everyone of those shirts. I went to school every day with a clean, freshly pressed shirt. I preferred button down collars.
Not only did Dotty iron my shirts and pants, she also ironed my play cloths, underwear and socks. You read that right, Dotty ironed my underwear and socks.
I could tell you hundred of stories about how Dotty cared for others.
In my case, Dotty frequently sent me "care" packages when I was in college and grad school, she continued to send me these packages throughout my life. A care package always had cupcakes and Hershey bars in it. And then, who knew. Maybe a shirt or some other item of clothing.
I really didn't get it when I was in school. I always thought, she could just send me the money, I can buy all this stuff right down the street. The real point of the "care" package did finally dawn on me as an adult. Dotty was a very caring person.
By the way, my sister Joanne still sends me "care" packages. Just like the one's Dotty use to send me.
In 2004 after Dotty was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, I took Dotty down to the Medicaid office for a financial interview. I was pretty dumb at the time, and I had bought into the myths that surround Alzheimer's. I figured I better get some paperwork in place for the day that I could no longer care for Dotty. I figured that day would be coming soon.
While Dotty and I were waiting for our interview a Jamaican man walked in. A giant of a man I might add. He took one look and with great enthusiasm he started saying, Dotty, Dotty, Dotty.
Once he finished talking to her I asked him, how do you know my mother? He said, I worked with her at Boca West. She took "care" of all us. At the minimum he had not seen her for nine years.
Yes Dotty took care of all of them. She invited them over to eat. She gave them advice. And, she lent them money. Some of those loans went south.
Once a group of workers at Boca West took Dotty with them for a wild party weekend in Key West. Not a single one off them was over 30 years old. Dotty was 77 years old at the time.
When she returned I asked Dotty how she liked it. She responded, great, they almost killed me. I never saw anyone party and drink so much she told me. Later one of them told me Dotty stayed up until 2 in the morning with them.
Oddly, by 2009 or so, people were literally yelling at me that I should have Dotty on Medicaid. It happened 3 times in April when I was in New York. I was only there 2 days. I didn't know the people that were giving me this advice by the way, and I didn't ask for their advice. They really didn't know much about us.
It was pretty simple. I never considered Medicaid after that first interview. I don't know if Dotty was qualified for any government programs and I didn't "care". Dotty and I were doing just fine. No reason to rock the boat. We took care of each other.
One time when Dotty was about 82 years old I called and asked her what she had done that day. She told me, I took the old ladies to the grocery store. The two old ladies were 67 and 69 years old. They didn't drive. So Dotty drove them. This was not a one time thing.
And now to the point.
Dotty was a very caring person. Even though she was like the Lone Ranger without Tonto.
Don Quixote without Sancho Panza. The car was her donkey.
Dotty was very caring. But, she had one really big flaw,
she was not good at accepting care.
She was not accepting of care.
When I arrived on the scene in 2003 to take care of Dotty a day rarely went by where Dotty would say, "get out, I can take 'care' of myself".
Dotty was always convinced she could take "care" of herself even when she was living with Alzheimer's.
And then things all of a sudden started to change in 2010.
Dotty started saying, Bobby is taking good care of me. She said this over and over and to anyone that would listen. She would tell people she knew, and people she didn't know.
In January, 2012 she started putting her head on my chest when she woke up in the morning. She would just hang on. Dotty was very warm in the morning by the way.
In those last months Jim our good friend and neighbor said over and over. I can't believe how good she looks, and how good she sounds. So much better than she has in the past. Ruth agree. Although, I am pretty sure that Ruth also noticed that Dotty was starting to fade out.
Dotty started to fade like a candle that is flickering and getting close to its end.
I knew in January that Dotty was Ready to go to Heaven.
She looked more peaceful. She looked brighter. She looked happier. And she did not look like she was "suffering" from Alzheimer's.
I can say this with confidence because many of you watched the videos and wrote to me. Quite a few of you told me, "I can't believe how good she looks". Many of you made similar comments on this blog.
I knew Dotty was going to Heaven because of the way she looked and acted. I knew because Dotty had finally learned the most important lesson of her life. The lesson that brought her full circle in Life. Dotty had learned
How to Accept Care?
And with this acceptance came an inner peace that was there for all to see.
If you are doubtful consider this. For years Dotty told me to get out, that she didn't need me, and that she could take care of herself.
But the night before Hospice came she said,
"I don't want to go anywhere, I want to stay here, I want you to take care of me."
Quite frankly, that was the greatest moment of my life. I am sure those caring for a person living with dementia know exactly what I mean.
From this point on the candle which was Dotty's life began to flicker out. And then it went out.
Dotty looked more peaceful than I had ever seen her look as her spirit flew out of her body and went to Heaven.
She was clearly at peace with herself.
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Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 5,000 articles.
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