Train of Thoughts
Alzheimer’s disease is a real bummer any way you look at it. Luckily, with the mapping of the genomes, there is a cure in sight but that doesn’t help the people who have it now or the ones trying to care for or protect them. Sometimes, protecting them means having them live somewhere where professionals can keep them from wandering off into the forest or traffic, depending on where the facility is. It’s like having a pet snake. You know if it ever gets out it can get into tight and dangerous places, it doesn’t care if it has clothes on, and it will never be sure if it knows you or not.
Sometimes I wonder if people with Alzheimer’s are very spiritually awakened, so much so that they can’t find words for their constant state of ‘being in the moment.’ There may be no past or future for them. Isn’t that the state of mind people who meditate always say they desire to reach? I guess if you were completely clear headed and free of any remembrances of your human history you would find it difficult to speak. What would you say? “I am here, now.” I believe Timothy Leary was the one to first encourage us to ‘be here now.’
If you are always here now I imagine you would want there to be cool stuff in front of you at all times. I would want to see movies…but not sad ones - happy ones. Musicals. Maybe ‘Singing in the Rain’ or ‘The Producers’, or ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.’ I wouldn’t want somebody to turn on a scary movie like, ‘The Exorcist’ or ‘Saw’ or anything with Jim Carrey in it.
In the movie, ‘Away From Her,’ there was a character in the facility where she went to live who had been a sports announcer. So, he announced everything from moment to moment. He even announced what was on the lunch menu. I would probably continually sing the theme songs from, ‘Paladin’, ‘Rawhide’ and ‘Oscar Meyer bologna.’ That would drive people crazy and then I would have to be relegated to the broom closet so as not to bother the others.
I would want flowers and beautiful pictures in front of me. Maybe some people would want to see a bottle of bourbon or maybe Playboy magazine if they were a man. I bet it is freaky deaky to be sitting there staring at the canned green beans on the lunch table and all of a sudden have some human being you’ve never seen before in your life come up to you and kiss you on the forehead and say, “Hey, how you doin’ today? Remember me? I’m your oldest daughter.” Whoa. You were minding your own business of complete involvement in the design of a fork, not even knowing for sure what it was called, and all of a sudden a stranger reminds you that you did some heavy duty stuff in the past…like - have children. Confusion must ensue. That would be like lying on the grass at the park and watching the clouds and having someone come up to you and tell you that your seat on the rocket to Saturn is ready. You would be trying to remember making the reservation, but luckily in five minutes your entire consciousness would be enthralled with an ant on a blade of grass. And, so the daughter walks away, and the patient never knows the difference. The daughter has memories and that hurts. Not having them might be better than we can imagine.
The brain might be losing cells but the mind isn’t. After all, we are not humans having a spiritual experience. As I believe, we are spiritual beings having a human experience. I can see the spirit of the poor Alzheimer’s patient going, ‘Wow. This is a trip. My body down there on earth is fine but my brain looks like some sort of demented Belgian lace. It’s kind of a drag because I really want to experience freedom to eat and drink and dance but that brain won’t carry out my instructions. Hmmmm, guess I’ll just have to wait this out until my body gives up and I can start on planning a new one.’ The spirit is still in there but I think it has a lot of patience.
This is the way my brain works. I am so lucky that I can still have a train of thought at all. I guess I’m glad I can remember my past and all the mistakes I made. I learned from them. They taught me how to be silent at times, how to turn down that last martini and how say you’re sorry when you told your best friend their dog was ugly.
Is the spirit of the Alzheimer’s victim still in there? Maybe. It’s waiting. It’s waiting to start again. It’s waiting till it can find a new body that can taste a kiwi fruit, smell a new baby and experience the high of laughter. It’s waiting to drink a coke, kiss a lover or tell a dirty joke. It’s waiting for a new challenge and a piece of strawberry shortcake.
I’m going to go now and sing, ‘I Saw the Light’ while making a great Chicken Marsala and giving my cat some tuna fish juice. It’s the simple things that count. Will I remember your name tomorrow? No, probably not. But the space between my thoughts is the dark matter of forever. And forever doesn’t last for animals, vegetables or left-over casseroles.