“Hello, caller. You’re on the air with Lisa Burton. What can we do for you today?”
“I don’t think I’ve met you, Lisa, this is Patrick Quinn, can you please put my daughter, Colleen, on the phone?”
“Sorry, Patrick I think you’ve got the wrong number. I’m actually a radio talk-show host, Lisa the robot girl.”
“Robot girl? What can I do for you?”
“Well, Patrick, you called me and I’m glad you did. Now that we’re on the air, what would you like to talk about?”
“If I had my druthers, I’d like to talk about and to Connie. She’s my wife. She died a few years ago. Let me tell you about her … did you say your name is Laura?”
“Close, it’s Lisa.”
“Let me tell you, Lisa, that wife of mine was a firecracker, she sure kept me on my toes but a few years ago now, she got her wish to die in her sleep. Let me tell you, that’s a wish that I’m sorry came true.”
“I’m sorry about your wife’s passing, Patrick.”
“Me too, and you see, it used to be that I felt I could communicate with her, you know, even though she’s in whatever and wherever the afterlife has to offer, but I don’t seem to be able to reach her anymore.”
“You’re saying you can’t talk to her anymore? I’m sure she’s still there somewhere, Patrick, I bet she still hears you.”
“Well, that’s good to know, thanks for saying so. Just wish I could hear her. Ya’ see, it seems my brain isn’t exactly tuned in to her anymore. Colleen, did I tell you she’s my daughter? She understands all about that, she’s a darn good caregiver for her old man as well. The last thing I ever wanted was to be a burden to her, she deserves to have a life of her own, ya’ know.”
“Wait a minute, your daughter’s your caregiver, does this mean you’re not feeling well?”
“Nice of you to ask, Miss Laura, um Miss Lisa? Anyway, other than my prostate that’s acting up something fierce, I’m feeling fine, I just can’t remember things as well as I used to because of a dementia thing I’ve got. The Doc says it’s Alzheimer’s plus something else, I can’t remember the something else…well, I guess it’s no surprise I can’t remember. So when Colleen and I met with the Doc, now he’s a real smart guy, let me tell you, he’s a brain doctor so he’s gotta be…um, what was I saying?”
“You and your daughter met with a smart doctor.”
“Right, so the Doc, he says there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s so Colleen and I knew right away that wasn’t good news at all, which, let me tell you, didn’t sit at all well with either of us. I said to the doctor, I said, “Look Doc, there must be a pill or two I can take, isn’t there?” Then I said, “They’ve got a pill that can give a man a four-hour erection, can’t they give me a pill that’ll take care of my withered brain?” Get it, withered?”
“Um, yeah, that’s kind of funny.”
“I thought so too, but the doctor didn’t laugh, I guess he was supposed to be serious and all, but I thought the erection comment would lighten the mood.––”
“Give me that Dad, who are you talking to? Hello, who is this?”
“I’m Lisa Burton, the robot girl. I was just having a pleasant conversation with Patrick. Who are you?”
“I’m his son, Jonathan, I have to apologize about my dad, he’s not exactly right in the head…”
“I don’t know, he made total sense to me.”
“He’s got Alzheimer’s so that would be a first, him making sense. It’s pretty difficult for everyone, I mean …”
“Well, Jonathan, I would imagine it must be more difficult for your wonderful, father, wouldn’t you say?”
“I know, you’re right, it’s just that Colleen, she’s my sister who I hope will be back soon from a support group meeting she attends, she’s the one who is more involved with him so I’m not used to when he asks the same question over and over again. And the other day, he was at my wife’s and my house for dinner, and even though my wife told him what type of soup we were eating several times, it was squash soup, he kept forgetting. It was pretty embarrassing, I know that sounds harsh, but I’m just being honest.
“Oh, and the other day, Dad walked to a restaurant near his house to meet up with some Korean war buddies of his and he got lost and he forgot to put his house keys in his pocket. Colleen had put a Contact list of people in his wallet, you know, her and me, so the police were able to get in touch with someone who had keys to help him get home. We thought he was still able to live on his own without getting into trouble but Colleen and I are going to have to figure something out, and soon.”
“Jonathan, do you ever attend the support meetings?”
“I don’t really need that kind of crutch, and besides, anything I need to learn about my dad’s disease I can find on the internet.”
“How’s that working out for you?”
“I only go to websites I know are professional so I get all the correct information.”
“What I meant was, how’s that working for you, not getting support from people going through the same thing as you are? Maybe hearing how others handle stuff related to their loved one’s illness would be good for you. Sometimes the textbook answers aren’t as good as the real-life ones. Maybe the medical journals don’t adequately address the person inside the diseased body, how they feel, what they need from a personal perspective. I don’t know, I guess what I’m saying is it couldn’t hurt, right?”
“I’ll think about it…just a sec, my dad’s saying something.”
“Jonathan, what happened to that nice lady who called me. Did you find out what she wanted?”
“Dad, I’m just saying goodbye now. Sorry, Lisa, I have to go, and, uh, thanks for listening.”
“How about it, listeners. Have any of you ever had to care for a family member or friend with dementia? My author, Craig lost a grandparent to this horrible disease, and while he wasn’t the caregiver, it was hard on his entire family.
“You can learn more about Patrick, Colleen, and Jonathan in the novel, Requiem for the Status Quo, by Irene Frances Olson. I’ll post all the purchase links and other pertinents on the website.
“For Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton. Please use those sharing buttons to help Irene spread the word. The book is available today for the first time, so I’m honored to be part of Irene’s and Patrick’s release day events.”
Family caregivers are oftentimes ruthlessly challenged by uninvolved family members who are quick to condemn, but reticent to offer assistance. Such is the case for Colleen Strand, a widow who recently found her own footing who takes on the task of caring for her father, Patrick Quinn, recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Her older brother, Jonathan, criticizes Colleen at every turn and verbally abuses the father when he has the gall to exhibit symptoms of his disease. In short, Jonathan travels down the road of denial, leaving Colleen to deal with all matters regarding their father’s care.
Connected tenuously to a father who barely remembers her and a brother who has become an enigma, Colleen faces the moving target that is Alzheimer’s disease, determined to clothe her father with the dignity he deserves, while struggling to squeeze every minute of time she can from him.
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Irene Frances Olson writes from passion and experience. She was her father’s caregiver during his struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, and would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Having previously worked in memory care, she was not new to the disease, nor was her family immune. Irene hopes to make a difference in the lives of others by writing novels that encourage and support those who just might need another person in their corner.
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