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  • Writer's pictureLeigh Gerstenberger

Early Shuttle Bus Ride Turns In To A Wake-Up Call

Updated: Mar 18, 2019

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Earlier this month my wife and I returned from San Diego, CA where we had spent a long weekend. As our flight was to depart at 7:00 AM we were up early in order to catch the 5:30 AM hotel shuttle bus to the airport.

In addition to the two of us and the driver, we were joined on the bus by another couple, a husband and wife and an elderly woman who we learned was the wife’s mother.

The trip to the airport took less than 10 minutes. But in the pitch darkness of the shuttle bus, my wife and I were reminded in the most poignant way of one of the great perils of the aging process as we overheard the following conversation.

Mother: Where are we?

Daughter: We’re in San Diego Mom.

Mother: Where are we going?

Daughter: We’re going to Boston Mom.

Mother: But I live in San Diego.

Daughter: Not any more Mom, we’re moving you to Boston.

Mother: (Turning to daughter) Who are you?

Daughter: I’m your daughter Mom, Denise.

Mother: (Turning to her daughter’s husband) And who are you?

Son-in-law: I’m Denise’s husband, your son-on-law, John

Daughter: (Turns around and explains to us that her mother has dementia.)

Mother: Where are my things?

Daughter: Most of your things are gone Mom, we couldn’t take them to Boston.

Mother: What are we going to Boston for?

Daughter: You're going to live with us.

Mother: What about Dad?

Daughter: Mom, Dad died.

Mother: Oh really, that's sad. Were you there?

Daughter: Yes, and you were there too Mom.

Mother: What happened to him?

Daughter: His heart gave out.

Mother: Where are my things?

Daughter: We're bringing the things you need with us.

Mother: Where am I going to live? I live in San Diego.

Daughter: Well you're moving to Boston.

Mother: Why Boston?

Daughter: Because that's where we live.

Mother: Why do you live there?

Son-in-law: Because that's where our jobs are.

Mother: What are your jobs?

Son-in-law: I'm an engineer and Denise is a doctor, an epidemiologist.

Mother: Whatever that is.

(For a brief moment the conversation stops as the daughter implores her mother to observe some quiet time as they have a long day ahead of them.)

Mother: Who am I going to live with?

Daughter: Mom, you’re going to live with us.

Mother: Who are you?

Daughter: I'm your daughter, Mom.

Mother: (Turning to her daughter’s husband) And who are you?

Son-in-law: I'm John, Denise’s husband.

(As the three disembarked the shuttle bus, to begin the next leg of their journey, I remarked…)

Leigh: Denise, your mother is a very lucky woman to have you and your husband in her life!

Mother: I am?

Leigh: Yes, you are. And you need to try and remember that.

Can Alzheimer’s be Prevented?

According to Dr. Lisa Genova, one in three individuals at age 85 will have Alzheimer’s. As frightening as that sounds, what’s even more sobering is that fact that if we don’t pull the short straw and succumb to the disease, we are very likely to be a caregiver to someone who has done so.

The brief glimpse into a family whose matriarch is struggling with dementia overheard on a recent shuttle bus ride created a profound awareness in my mind of the long journey that the daughter and her husband were embarking on with their mother which would continue well after they arrived in Boston.

If you are not acquainted with Dr. Genova who has authored numerous works of fiction that portray individuals and families impacted by brain disorders, I think you’ll find her TED Talk most interesting.

This thirteen-minute narrative will give you tremendous insight about the disease and some thoughts on what can be done to prevent it. Hopefully you or someone you know who’s dealing with a friend or family member will be encouraged by what she shares from her study and research.

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