Thank you for sharing

Most adults can remember a time when they were really embarrassed by something that their parents said or did. Later when you are grown up, you can see the humor in it and have a good laugh.

When my brothers and I were young and our family was driving somewhere, occasionally Mom would see a car next to us with a Cornell University sticker on the window or bumper.   Mom would lean out of our car, wave her arms and wildly yell, “ITHACA!!”

Oh no. There she goes again! Our nightmare was if the people in that car saw us. We would dive to the bottom of the car and in those days, there were no seatbelts so it wasn’t a problem.

Mom loved Cornell and Ithaca, New York. Their family house was down the street from campus and part of their family business was to rent out the second and third floor rooms to students. Dad was in Cornell law school and they met there. She adored her mother and missed everything about Ithaca when she married Dad and moved to California.

Now with her Alzheimer’s disease, Mom was missing home but it wasn’t the home in southern California that she and Dad owned for 50 years that she missed. It was 107 Catherine Street, Ithaca. She was insistent that I check on the students and make sure they were making their beds and paying their rent. It made her anxious. She was obsessed. Of course I hadn’t yet mastered the art of going along with everything she said, so I tried to explain that the house had sold many years ago and there was nothing to worry about. This went on for weeks and weeks.

My husband Bob is very clever on his computer, so he decided he would design and print a “Real Estate Grant Deed” to prove to Mom that she no longer owned her family house. We thought we were very funny.

The funny part was that Mom didn’t buy it for one second. She said, “Oh, I don’t think so!”

Nice try Bob. Back to the drawing board.


Suggestion: It was profoundly strange to me that someone can live in the same house for 50 years and have difficulty remembering that place. In Mom’s mind, her home was where she grew up. She left it when she was 22 years old. My response to her should have been, “Tell me about your house in Ithaca!”

Google and search Alzheimer’s disease. This site has a lot of good articles about the disease and caregiving.