Miles to Go

“She’s like a dead woman inside,” my dad said as he shook his head. “I don’t know who she is anymore.”

I stared at my dad, wondering what I should say. What I could say that might make him feel better. They’d traveled down, of their own accord, to visit us for a few days. In fact, Dad had called me himself. He asked me to make appointments at several senior living places in the area. He’d been uncharacteristically proactive, and now I knew why.

“It’s only going to get worse, Dad. She’s not going to get any better.”

“Well, we’re using those patches…those might help, right?”

He was talking about the Exelon patch, a transdermal medication that had been prescribed for mom. She hasn’t been on them long, and while efficacy has been shown in mild, moderate, and severe cases of Alzheimer’s disease, I hadn’t done any research on the patch itself. I didn’t have a clue how much more time it would give her, if any. Plus, she’d lived with a lifetime of depression and anxiety. Those two in and of themselves can wreak havoc on a brain. And now Alzheimer’s?

Not one to dwell so much on the negative, I tried a different approach.

“Okay, Dad. I know it’s getting tough at home. But you have to think of what is best for both of you. If you were both healthy, I’d say to stay in the house. But she’s not healthy. And at some point, she will need memory care. Moving here will give you a great place to be, plus, you’ll have me, Tim, and the kids. You need a break? You call us. We’ll be there.”

“I know, but…”

“And, we drive by that place all the time. At least four times a week because of Aaron’s soccer practice.”

Dad looked for a minute like he might be caving into the demands. Like he might say Yes, sign me up! We’re moving down!

And then, Mom stepped into the room. “We’re staying in our house. The doctor said we could for at least a year.” Her tight lips and narrow gaze stripped any more words from Dad’s mouth and shut the door on any progress I might have made.

I stood and walked from the room, shaking my own head, which only contained one thought: And miles to go before I sleep.

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Christina Consolino is a mother, dreamer, author, editor and teacher from Dayton, Ohio. She's a member of the Plot Sisters and teaches Anatomy & Physiology at Sinclair Community College. She writes women's fiction, young adult fiction, personal essays, and more.

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