My mom used to love puzzles. She would sit for hours at a card table, putting 500 pieces together to make a picture. She got tremendous joy out of completing a puzzle.
But Alzheimer’s took that away from her. It got so she could no longer finish a puzzle because she’d force pieces where they didn’t belong and then wonder why the remaining pieces didn’t fit. All of her puzzles had holes on them.
“This puzzle doesn’t work,” she’d say.
Soon she could barely fit five pieces together after emptying an entire box onto the table.
So she stopped opening the boxes and she gave up on puzzles.
“I can’t do them anymore, ” she said.
But I’m realizing that puzzles are still a big part of her life, whether she realizes it or not.
Every time I talk to my mom, Alzheimer’s turns whatever I say into a puzzle and spreads the pieces onto her brain like it’s a card table. And I watch her pick up the pieces, struggling to fit them together into something that makes sense. But she never seems to get the full picture.
“Who is your father? Did you say his name was Bill? Isn’t he my brother? Did I marry my brother? Didn’t he die? Who is Bill? I thought he was my brother? He’s married to someone else? But I thought my brother died? I’m so confused….”
No matter how hard she tries, she can’t put the pieces together.
No wonder my mom stopped opening the boxes. She must be damn sick of puzzles.
You say in so few words so much.
Thank you, Nancy.
My mom has dementia and loved to knit. She made sweaters for all of us and her grandchildren. Then one day she stopped, said it was her hands that hurt, but I think was too hard to track the stitches, count the rows and create the patterns. She misses it.
I’m sorry to hear that, Barbara. It must be really sad to watch her lose something she loves.
So sad and touching, Beth…so heartbreaking.
Thanks, Belle. I think the saddest part for me was when she was still trying to put the puzzles together and getting them wrong.