Third Person Narratives

Aunt with Alzheimer's Alright Beyond

This experience is about the death of a beloved aunt and her message.

My aunt was a gifted vocalist and musician as well as being a junior high instrumental music teacher until her retirement around 1990. She was bright and gifted. At 50, already having an M.A., she went back to school obtaining her school administrator's license in hope of becoming a principal. She even did the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle each week in pen.

So it was sad to learn when my aunt was in her 60s that she was suffering mental decline due to Alzheimer's disease. At the time she was living with my mother in another state. Due to my aunt's decline she was placed in a nursing home eventually losing the power to move, to eat and even to speak.

Learning that my aunt may not have much longer to live, my family and I drove to the state where she and my mother resided. I got there in time to spend a few hours with her. My mother and I took turns singing her favorite songs to her as hearing is the most preserved sense. She seemed to enjoy it. The nurse came in to give her "comfort meds" and asked us to leave. When we returned, she opened her eyes and then her mouth as if to speak just before she passed. We wondered if she was trying to tell us something before parting.

After arrangements were settled at the hospital, we went back to my mother's apartment. All of us were exhausted and grief stricken. No one had eaten that day so my mother and I went to her small galley kitchen to prepare a meal. We talked about memories of my aunt as we worked.

Then, I turned toward the kitchen entrance as I was reaching for something, and I saw my aunt standing there in a recognizable polyester knit top and pant set. She looked hazy but I saw her smile. She just stood there. I was confused and unsure of what was happening. Had I just imagined the events of the day? How could she be here? So, I called her name, "Ruth?" She disappeared.

My mother turned toward me and asked why I had called Ruth. I explained what I had just experienced. My mother broke down in sobs. She said, "She must be telling us she is alright because when she had Alzheimer's disease she could not remember her way home. She found her way home today."

We both held each other and cried. It was a welcoming thought. I stuck with that as the reason for Ruth's visit. She wanted to let us know she was alright and that she could now remember once more.

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