Yesterday I made a fried egg sandwich, ate it, left the house to go shopping, came back two hours later, and turned the burner off under the frying pan. I thought maybe I should put an X on the calendar so we could have a definitive date for the onset of my Alzheimer’s Disease but my husband said, no, I’d done it before.

I wasn’t so sure.

It seemed an especially egregious error. Noteworthy.

The stove incident led me to wondering about what might have been my mother’s watershed event, the moment she knew she was at a point of no return. She’d had Alzheimer’s Disease for many years before I knew about it. We were estranged, split over a bad telephone conversation, something so inconsequential that if I told you right now what it was, you’d shake your head and wonder what kind of person I am. In any event, many years passed until my father started writing me letters. The letters dribbled out the truth until I got the full picture. My mother was losing her mind.

When, after many years, I finally saw my mother face to face, she remembered me, knew my name, but I think she’d been practicing. There were thin wisps of memory around her and I was one of them. But I was floating away and I could feel it, what I was, what I had been to her, was fast becoming ephemeral. We sat together on the couch and she pulled out an old family scrapbook. It was the one with pictures of her family when they spent time at a cabin at Gun Lake in Michigan. She pointed to a little girl sitting at the end of the dock, “the little one,” she said, “the little one.” It was her sister Marjory.

There were more times like that with my mother, times when she was leaving me just the briefest of notes, words that she’d found in her pocket. It was too late to ask her how it had been to lose her mind. I’d missed that chance. There was no backtracking on the journey she had already made while I was gone.

So I wonder about the fried egg incident and whether it was a random event or the beginning. I wonder how many random events my mother had before she started to string them together into the noose that would become her Alzheimer’s Disease. How many times she left the house with the flame still burning under a frying pan. It’s chilling to consider. So I won’t.


Photo by Kelly Neil on Unsplash

As part of World Alzheimer’s Month, the Alzheimer’s Association is conducting charitable walks across the country. I’m walking in Milwaukee’s walk in honor of my mother, Virginia. Each of us has a relative or a friend who has struggled with this disease. Consider doing the Alzheimer’s Walk for them.  Funds raised will support research for a cure and help for caregivers. Find a walk by going to 






14 Comments on “Cracked

  1. When the dr. administered the Mini Mental Exam during my last wellness exam I became very anxious. “What if I can’t do one of the exercises?” When my senile Mother-in-law was asked who the president was she said, “Oh that goofball in Washington.” I think it was Bush Jr.

  2. Leaving the cooker on is getting so regular I’m remembering to look for it now before I leave the kitchen (most of the time. Strategies… is that good or bad?). You can trace the slide when you wonder why you put your sudoku 9 there when there’s another on that line two spaces away, or you see the wallet you’ve been searching for on the table (not under anything) where you looked not ten minutes ago at the start of your hunt…

  3. V.J. I think it’s important to talk about it. Take my hearing problems (which I hope will soon be history with the cochlear implant) which have been the root of my misunderstanding and misjudging Marilyn. It’s the elephant in the room which I didn’t want to discuss or concede. If you discuss it, when “it” occurs, you can handle it with less difficulty and emotional distress. Again, I remember dealing with Mom’s dementia near the end of her life. It was difficult even when acknowledged. As elderly adults, this is something we all have to acknowledge. There’s no shame or blame.

  4. When I was a child I was always so excited to be off to school that I continually forgot things. So my father suggested that before I go anywhere to ask myself, “What have I forgotten?” And it works! (most of the time–except when I forget to ask…)

    Both my parents lost track of things as they got older, but never full-blown Alzheimer’s. My father’s quip was: “Barbie, I have the best ‘forgetory’ I know!” Comforting.

  5. Jan, my Mom had dementia in the final years of her life. It was heartbreaking for my Two Brothers and Me. We were surrounded by old pictures and memories of Mom who moulded our lives./

  6. PS. My mother loved Fried egg sandwiches . A somewhat lost art. The bread needed a fair amount of butter. This was a “ your dad is not coming home for dinner” dinner. Or if we had gotten great farmer eggs at the farmers market.

  7. Consider writing something about trump and McCain. I am so bothered by it but can’t find the words like you could

    Sent from my iPad


  8. So easy to read tea leaves in every day events. If we think about, we did absent minded things when we were 20 or 30, where we are stressed or in a hurry or just plain thinking of what we had to do next. When I surgery, pre-op one way I show the stress is to get forgetful. Before my recent knee surgery, I lost the car keys, left my wallet at the grocery store and could not find my car at the mall. But when we get older, a slight lapse in memory, we jump to our woes fear! Better get my check book out( if I can find it ) to make a donation for the research towards a cure.

    • Paula, I had a streak about 8 to 10 years ago when I repeatedly left my shoulder bag in the grocery cart when I went shopping. I’d get home, realize my bag was missing and go ballistic. Fortunately, the Supermarket staffers knew me and my bag and my forgetfulness. The last time, they sent it to the Police station. When I went to retrieve it at the Police station, my embarrassment was covered by the Police recognizing me from my TV News days and asking for my autograph. They gave me a “no worries” response when I thanked them for my bag. I was still very, very embarrassed. Remember, that was 10 years ago. Now, I remind myself about the bag when we go shopping. I even tell myself aloud, “Garry, don’t forget your bag”. I get stares but don’t care.

  9. My husband did the same thing as you, leaving the burner on under some eggs he was scrambling, and there is no Alzheimer’s in his family. So please don’t get too discouraged.

    • Marilyn and I try to remember to turn the coffee pot off before we go out. try to remember..

  10. It’s so unnerving when these things happen. I suffer memory loss and confusion. I see the frustration on my husbands face. Yet we keep on. What choice do we have?

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