Briefly observing the world with Alzheimer’s eyes – a daughter-in-law’s journey

What do you see when you look at this picture?

What do you see when you look at this picture?

“GAW! That was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen!” exclaims my passenger

It was my first time being the driver.

We were running errands and making small talk

Overall, I’d say the time together was nearly delightful

But deep inside me, I was sweating

Try to act nonchalant and easy-going

(Two things I’m not really known for)

So when he exclaimed about the things he saw on the street

I asked him in a very comfortable fashion,

“What did you see?”

And that’s when he says,

“I just saw a house without a roof, smoke coming out of it on top of a grave.”

I gulp…

It’s August

In North Carolina

There are no Halloween decorations up yet

And there is no house without a roof with smoke coming out of it

Over a grave

My heart broke

My pulse quickened

La-dee da, dee da dee da

“Don’t freak out,” I say to myself and we go merrily along the way.

Since Friday, my mind has turned like a whole organic, antibiotic-free chicken on a rotisserie

So today I drive back to that stretch of road

And I take a walk with my camera

W7J9L7Fdbld6DBBp_gomz-GJi-iP196ZexHRe57w9EcI try to look with brain-diseased eyes

This might sound bothersome but I have to figure this out

Then I spot two structures on the street that might fit his description

I know what he saw!

And I get it

With brain-diseased eyes, these buildings look as if they don’t have roofs

I imagine this being a very scary sight.

I imagine this being a very scary sight.

The trees might look like smoke

So could the clouds billowing in the sky

And the grave,


I surmise it’s the office building sign

Strangely, I feel better

Because for a fleeting moment

I have entered his world and a piece of this horrid puzzle fits

I drive away and make a mental note


Question: Have you ever tried to unlock a brain mystery like this out before? I’d love to know!

3 thoughts on “Briefly observing the world with Alzheimer’s eyes – a daughter-in-law’s journey

  1. It’s hard isn’t it? I think one of the trickiest things I’ve had to deal with recently was when my MIL was very upset about something and kept saying she was going to ‘stay in a hotel’ and she would never speak to any of us ever again! She was so wound up and so stressed that I understood why she wanted to say this – but in reality she can’t remember beyond the past five minutes and is losing the ability to look after herself. I was praying my way through that whole conversation – it went on for about an hour – and we went round and round and round. But praise God He gave me the right words to calm her and eventually she was ok. The thing I find hardest is when an adult, whom I respect, is behaving like a wayward child and yet I can’t treat her like a wayward child. I have to maintain that level of respect. Ach! But all is grace, as Ann Voskamp says (and without that we’d be done for).

    • I like that Sandy. It’s kind of amazing when the Lord gives us the right words and we know it’s not because of any of our abilities or intelligence. Sometimes I’m shocked (in a good way) by the way I have handled things. Have you read any books about dementia/Alzheimer’s? I’m reading Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s which has been tremendously helpful. I know you are probably up to your eyeballs with tasks so I apologize if I seem to be offering some advice you just can’t handle. The Lord is able and He is using US in spite of ourselves! Sending you some fish and chips from across the pond! ❤

  2. Cindy, I wish I had known you better when my Dad was struggling with his dementia. He got quiet. Like he knew what was going on in his head wasn’t making sense or wouldn’t sound right to others. So, he just slept, or didn’t participate in what was going on around him. Your investigation to figure out what your FIL was describing was brilliant. I so many times wished I could figure out what / how Dad was thinking, how he was perceiving things. How did that mind twist reality? What was his reality and how did it square up to the reality of the rest of the world? And why did a certain caregiver at the facility he was moved to elicit a very aggressive response from my normally very passive Dad? What did that man do to Dad when no one was looking? Or was it just something in the cobwebs that reminded dad of something forever ago? I think you are doing a great job, and your writing about it is a blessing to others. Even the frustration, hurt and anger is helpful to hear about. I hope you get some down time, time away, however brief, just to step away from the illness that is trying to define you at this moment. Praying for you as the Lord brings you to mind.

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