Last week somebody told me that they still find themselves thinking “I need to tell my mom about this!” whenever they see something, hear something, or think of something that reminds them of their mom... even though she has been gone for almost five years now. They then asked if it's the same for me. I had to answer "no" because for the three years before she died, my mom likely wouldn't have been able to understand or process what I was talking about. Thanks to dementia, I had years for that impulse to be driven out of me. Had she died when she could still make sense of stuff you'd tell her, then yeah, I think I absolutely would still have that impulse. As I have for most all of my other friends and family who have passed.
Whenever I run across something truly bizarre and messed up on Facebook, my impulse is to DM it to Grant. He died 2 months ago today.
Whenever I meet up with a mutual friend from "back in the day" and some hilarious memory comes up, my impulse is to reminisce with one of my dearest friends Doug. He died 6 months ago.
Whenever I hear a new song from some artist we mutually liked, my impulse is to message my friend Howard about it. He died 2 years ago today.
Whenever I order a Manhattan I think of my Grandpa and his wife Lois, who made epic cocktails that would blow your hair back. He died over 3 years ago. She died some years before that.
Whenever I eat apple pie my impulse is to run and tell my grandma that she still makes the best apple pie on planet earth. She died nearly 4 years ago.
Whenever I see an example of epic snark in my Facebook feed, my impulse is to forward it to my fellow blogger friend Kaply. She died 5 years ago.
Whenever I see a handmade bracelet that's especially crappy, my impulse is to take a photo and have a laugh with my fellow blogger friend Lisa about it. She died 10 years ago.
Whenever I see anything related to Dr. Who, my impulse is always to talk with one of my oldest bestest friends Howard about it. He died 18 years ago.
Whenever I make enchiladas from my grandmother's recipe, my impulse is to call her and tell her how mine never taste as good as hers do. She died like... 20... 25 years ago, I think?
Whenever I give myself a haircut, my impulse is to run and ask my barber grandfather how good a job I did. He died 29 years ago.
I think it's normal that we still think of people who are gone from our lives as if they are still around. Which is why I'm more than a little sad I can't feel this way about my mom... unarguably somebody I was closer to than anybody listed above. I mean, yeah, I still miss her terribly. There's not a day that goes by that I'm not thinking of her and wishing I could have her back. It's just that the impulse to run and tell her stuff is completely absent, and that's a bitter pill to swallow.
And speaking of dementia...
As we get older, our memory isn't as good as it used to be. And it's weird how that works. The lyrics to some obscure song I liked 20 years ago and probably haven't heard in a decade? Totally remember every word. What I had for breakfast last Tuesday? Yeah, I remember that. But the name of the person I was just introduced to 30 minutes ago? Gone. Vanished. No idea who they are, only that I should know their name.
But that kind of stuff doesn't worry me. Heck, I've been immediately forgetting people's names since birth! It's just that I notice it more now, I suppose.
What worries me... what terrifies me... is something like forgetting to turn the burner off after I've boiled some pasta and not noticing until 20 minutes later. Or forgetting to close the door flap after I've filled my car with gas and not realizing it until 2 days later. All those little things that should totally be ingrained in every fiber of my brain as habitual behavior... but obviously must not be because I've somehow forgotten to do it. Those things are about as unnerving as it gets.
After the whole pasta burner incident this past week, I ran to consult Dr. Google. This is what they say about dementia over at alzheimers.org...
In most cases, vascular dementia itself is not inherited.
However, a parent may pass certain genes that increase the risk of developing vascular dementia.
Sooo... good news bad news then? I guess?
Could be I'm overly-tired because I just can't seem to get my sleep back on schedule after my last trip, and that's the reason for it. Who knows?
If it is a sign of early onset dementia, however, at least I have the consolation of knowing that I'm on my way to not being troubled because I can't still think of my mom as being alive like I do everybody else who's died in my life. That would be great.
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After helping care for my in-laws who both had dementia, I am terrified of having it myself. I used to have a steel trap of a memory and now? Not so much. Just like you said, things that I should be able to recall without a problem are just gone. And I know what the MMS exam is to check for where a person is on the dementia spectrum and I’m sure I’d pass it with very few issues but it doesn’t make me any less worried.
Stress and lack of sleep, impact memory – comes back when you are rested and relaxed. Two grandparents, one on each side, and my mother all had dementia. I find myself checking myself. Live life, enjoy it, go on the grand adventures (and you have) for we don’t know the future.