“Love was changin’ the minds of pretenders.” – Earth, Wind, & Fire
I don’t think I ever realized that lead singer Maurice White was singing “the 21st night of September” in Earth, Wind, & Fire’s iconic song “September.” Apparently he is, and now I know. And now you know if you didn’t already.
I started this post three days prior on September 18th – my mom’s 74th birthday. I started writing this just hours after visiting her and my dad at their assisted living facility in Rogers, Arkansas. I brought her some birthday cake and flowers and a card and some funny stories to lighten the mood for 30 minutes. If you’ve read any past posts then you know my dad is 80 and not in great shape physically and not quite 100% mentally sharp either. On the other hand, my mom is in good physical shape, but she’s suffering from dementia and that. is. the. worst.
“The bell was ringing, aha. Our souls were singing. Do you remember? Never a cloudy day.“
She doesn’t remember. Well, maybe she remembers some, but all of her days are cloudy now. It’s a brain cloud that refuses to let go its’ ugly grip and let the sun in. Whatever is stuck in there from the past remains in there for the time being. Names and faces of family and some longtime friends still reside in her brain. There are a few stories in there as well. She tries to hide her memory shortcomings by not saying much. I bet she remembers very little of these past three years since I moved them here from Norman, Oklahoma, and it’s sad. It’s heartbreaking. It’s frustrating. Dementia is fucking awful.
And my poor dad who has to witness the fits of anger, the uncontrollable crying, and the repetitive questions minute after minute, hour after hour, twenty-four hours a day. It must be exhausting, and I know from my conversations with him that it is. I can hear it in his voice every time we speak on the phone. I can see it in his eyes the few times we’ve actually been together since the pandemic starting shutting things down.
COVID prevents me from going over whenever I want, which just adds to the hardship. It was only recently that I was even allowed to visit which helps a little, but I can’t really do anything. I can schedule a 45 minute appointment to visit them in a common area within the facility on one of three days every week. I have to tell my mom five or ten times that ‘yes, I’ve seen their apartment, and no, I can’t go up and see it until it’s safer.’ I can see the confusion on her face. I think masks and COVID are a new thing everyday. I can also travel and meet them at doctor appointments, but the point is that it has been a hard time on all of us since everything went crazy in mid-March.
“Ba de ya – say do you remember
Ba de ya – dancing in September
Ba de ya – golden dreams were shiny days”
I know this isn’t an 80’s song, but it’s upbeat and fun, and hell this would be the most depressing post of all-time if I decided on Simply Red’s “Holding Back the Years,” or Echo and the Bunnymen with “The Killing Moon,” or how about Chicago’s “Look Away.” My goal is not to make you think about dementia and then want to kill yourself. My only goal is to release some of the pent up pain within which maybe some of you can relate to. I can put a pretty, happy bow at the end of a post. I can’t do the same thing in real life.
My sympathies to those of you that have already travelled my road, are just starting the journey, or are somewhere in between like me. There cannot be many worse things I can think of than slowly losing your mind, but on the list is definitely those caretakers that have to helplessly watch it occur.
So free your mind for the next three minutes and thirty-five seconds. Enjoy the funky 70’s clothing, the late 70’s psychedelic graphics and a song that features some nonsensical lyrics like “Ba de ya” and “ba duda, ba duda, ba duda ba duda.” Enjoy the cooler temps if you’re in a part of the world like I am where fall is starting to show its’ loveliness, and just reflect on some golden dreams and shiny days of past Septembers as you groove to this November 1978 release that made it to #1 on the R&B charts and #8 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 – “September.”
Thanks for reading and let’s find a cure for Alzheimer’s.