My 21-year-old son and my parents are on a little road trip right now. Today they're visiting with my aunt. She's suffering from Alzheimer's and today she doesn't know them. She doesn't know her son, who's there, either.
My grandma suffered from Alzheimer's, too. There were times when we'd stop in to visit and she'd have a moment of clarity. She'd remember something about Grandpa or she'd remember something from when I was young. Those times were very rare. Most of the time, she'd ask us who we were.
Several years ago, an elderly man with Alzheimer's went missing. His family was on the news pleading for people to keep their eyes open for him. He sometimes liked to go for a walk and would lose his way and not know where he was. They finally found him, two days later and about fifteen miles from his home. I can only imagine how scary that two days and fifteen miles was.
I want to live my life in context. I want to know my family. I want to recognize the people I know and love. I want to know where my house is and how it fits into the neighborhood, the city, and beyond.
Old age has a twisted sense of humor. Slowing down. Clumsiness. Hair loss or a crazy chin hair that keeps coming back. Forgetfulness. Bad eyesight or hearing. So many things can go wrong. But the cruelest trick of all has to be losing your place in the world.