Reader’s Letter: Rewrite your story


Wendy Smith writes:

My role model had Alzheimer’s disease. Many people will frown because amnesia can’t tell any stories. Sometimes one thinks that these uninvited illnesses are terrible, that everything will just stop in an instant and that we can no longer walk the earth with whispering feet.

But when you pay attention to the little things, when your heart and soul take over your words, and you speak without even making a sound – that’s when you can rewrite any story.

My road with Alzheimer’s disease was not easy, nowhere did anyone ever confirm that it was going to be beautiful. Everyone gets the news with a touch of sadness and immediately mourns everything that will surely be lost. Look with sad eyes at the loved one, who may not even remember your name a year from now.

My story had miracles in it. Every time I went to visit, there was even less remembering, even less movement, even less talking. But there was always hope in our guy who kept looking up. Language became gestures that we all understood. My father told stories about who he was. He buried his Bible, glasses and teeth under a thick-trunked tree where there were shadows. Walked away to the trees where the owls stayed and sometimes tried to sneak out of the gate to find the Lord where there was water.

And I understood. I knew that his Bible was the book that directed his feet so that he did not have to be afraid while he was caught up in his own thinking. After all, it had to be protected by the shadow of a tree that the Creator made for it. His glasses allowed him to look at all that was created with such thoroughness and compassion. His teeth were the smile he wanted to save for the one person he could only remember as “Little One”.

How then will I choose to remember it? Shall I think of the fact that he went and buried things and then has to struggle without them, or can I continue to think that it was his way of telling me that he remembers, that he wants to store what was precious to him for me where he always went to fetch God.

I will rather remember that one day I happily watched my father “escape” with a dance. Yeah, I think that’s how I’ll remember it. My role model may have forgotten me, but still remember that dance was my world.