Transitioning from Alzheimer’s to Autism…

Part I…. The “A” word… *Alzheimer’s*

She holds her first and only great grandchild, Gavin. Yet she has no comprehension of whose sweet baby this is. Nor does she recognize her only granddaughter, the mother of the child she holds. She tries her best at pretending she does.

Alzheimer’s had robbed her of her memory like a thief in the night.

Mother (“Mutti” in German) as she was known to us, delighted everyone she met with her unrelenting charm, bright smile and twinkling eyes. Her laughter was contagious. Mercifully, this was the one thing Alzheimer’s was unable to steal from her.

And for this I shall be eternally grateful.

At the time the photo above was taken, I was becoming uncomfortably familiar with Alzheimer’s, as I watched the slow regression of a strong and vibrant woman who loved life to the fullest.

Schooled in opera, voice, and music.. both at the University of Vienna in her homeland Austria as well as as in Italy, Mutti was an accomplished soprano and cellist. She possessed the voice of an angel.. and music was her life.

World traveled and fluent in several languages, this engaging woman now struggled visibly with a body and mental faculties which were failing her miserably. To say this was painful to watch on a daily basis is truly the greatest understatement.

Yet to the end, she retained her love of life and delightful sense of humor.

And nobody loved the camera

better than she!

Mutti passed away July 3rd, 2009.

It’s not been two years yet, and her presence here in my home where she passed remains painfully palpable. For nearly four years my sister and I had taken turns sharing her care between us after it became undeniably clear that Alzheimer’s had taken yet another hostage. For 6 month intervals my sis Pati and I would take her in to live with us respectively. Arizona with Pati and “Roo” for the cooler winter months, then here with hubby and me in Virginia for the summer months, to escape the AZ. heat.

It was on my last watch here with me that she passed. And true to her style, she would not easily relinquish this life she so loved. She fought death for 30 hours as I held vigil by her bedside. She held on to the last fragile thread of life as long as she was able, as I nursed her and wiped her brow… and played my entire library of classical music softly in the background to smooth her transition from this life to the next.

Hearing being the last of the senses to go, I know she heard that music.

Mutti now adds her voice to those of the multitude hosts of angels above..

…and I can hear her singing.


4 thoughts on “Transitioning from Alzheimer’s to Autism…

  1. Oh thank you for sharing. I lost one of my grandfathers a few years ago and remember watching the same process with him. It was heart breaking to carry on full conversations with him like he was meeting us for the first time. Then towards the end it just got so bad. My favorite memory is my tiny grandpa being helped across the street by my sweet husband who is 6’4″ tall. The image is forever imbedded in my memory.

    -Bobbie (Deeds Mommy)

    1. (((Bobby))) Bittersweet indeed.

      Thanx for reading. Blogging is a new experience for me. As in just now trying my hand at it. As I learn the ropes, I’m sure it will provide a sweet release. 🙂

  2. Oh Jeanette – she’s beautiful! Always with a smile in these photos. This is a very lovely start for blogging and a wonderful tribute to Mutti. Now I can see how difficult my posts recently have been for you.

    I know you mother is still smiling from heaven knowing what you did for her and have done for her writing these words. Love the picture of her holding Gavin. I note in each recent photo how her surroundings were full of vibrance & color befitting her life. I will remember the music.

    Keep it up Jeanette! This post is just the beginning! ((hugs)).

    1. She was truly a character. I could write volumes about her Alzheimer antics. She was a special lady, and I miss her dearly. April 1st is when she always was delivered to our doorstep for our 6 month gig. Guess that’s why she’s been on my mind so much lately. But I know she’s singing and laughing and enjoying to the fullest right now, so I’m happy for her, even though I miss her so.

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