by Jeff Ingram on February 22nd, 2014


Butter Fork!
​It was probably Christmas or Thanksgiving, when I was young, and company was coming.

Mom was always a freak before guests arrived, primping the house. We always used the fancy dishes and a bronzeware cutlery set that Dad found in Asia somewhere.

I never understood all the fuss. If they were our friends, they shouldn't care if I had dirty clothes on my bedroom floor and they should certainly be happy with paper plates and plastic. I think it was Mom's commitment to relationship, the need to make others feel welcomed and honored, that drove her.

This particular morning, as she was scurrying around the kitchen, she asked me to go retrieve the butter fork from the bronzeware set. "The what?" I asked.
"The butter fork."
I looked then returned to the kitchen empty handed explaining I couldn't find it. I'm sure this exasperated her since I couldn't find my shoes on any given day. "What was it, again?"
"The butter fork."
After another baffling search, I returned to the kitchen. "It's in the box with the bronzeware," Mom said, "You know, the butter knife. You use it to cut the butter."
"OH! You said, 'butter fork!'" I laughed.
"No I didn't."

Fortunately, I had my sister’s testimony to rescue me. We all laughed pretty hard about it and we told the story for years; Mom's blunder, my search and the silliness of a butter fork.
The story's not funny anymore.

It was probably 20 years later when Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. So now the story provokes a haunting question, "When did it begin?" But the one that's much more frightening is, "Is it happening to me?"

Yesterday, I told a friend about cucumbers and dip someone left to share in the kitchen. As we picked them up and stuck them in dip I said, "It's been forever since I've eaten a cucumber."
"It's celery," she corrected.
We laughed at the mistake, but in my head all I could hear was, "BUTTER FORK!"
I understand that I may have an irrational fear. And I’ll admit the thought of losing my mind is scary. But it’s not where the real fear lies. 

It lies in the impact on family. I’ve seen the punishment on caregivers, the stress, the emotional drain, the physical exhaustion, the frustration, the bewilderment, the anger, the strain put on relationships, the conflict, the mourning, the mourning, the mourning. 

That scares the hell out of me. 

For 12 years my dad and sister have cared for her, protected her, cleaned her, fed her, advocated for her, fought for her and loved her.

The wickedness of the disease contrasted with their loving response is the most beautiful thing I've ever witnessed. 

And I pray my family is never that beautiful. 

Posted by Jeff Ingram at 10:14 AM 

Posted in not categorized    Tagged with Alzheimer's, Fear, Advocate, Mom


Mildred - October 6th, 2014 at 8:31 PM
Very heart heavy but extremely well said. John, I know you are very proud of your family.

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