My Dad, Atrophy And Mathematics

To bring back and extend Dad’s concept of numbers, my sister, Nancy, and I have been giving him simple math problems.  My sister is giving him addition problems that require carrying. I’ve been trying to get him to relearn the multiplication table.  Both my sister and I realize that part of his brain has atrophied.  But we believe that a better knowledge of numbers will not only help him solve basic mathematics problems, but also improve his ability to reason and strengthen his confidence.   I was astounded yesterday morning to see my Dad at 95 solve all my problems in ten seconds!  He was definitely proud of his accomplishment and so was I!

My Dad at work.


“All I Have Are Memories…”

I remember the last time I spoke with Aunt Analee.  My Uncle Buddy had an advanced form of Alzheimer’s.  She told me that it was hard to see him as he was;  unable to express himself, unable to read, displaying a vacant stare.  She said that Uncle Buddy was a constant source of fun;  that he was playful, enthusiastic, worldly in business, but with a child’s innocence at heart.  “All I have are memories…”

I remember my Aunt Analee’s words as I look at my own mother, Twyla Weiss.  It is hard to believe that this thin, feeble woman, with a shrunken face, for whom every thought is a struggle, who can no longer cook, and has a confused sense of time, was once quite the opposite.  Like her Mom, Grandma Lena, she was used to giving orders, had a genius for organizing, and shared her talents with countless other women, who relied on her without questioning whatever suggestions she might make.  She was a girl scout leader, PTA President, gourmet cook, and supportive and loving companion to my father, Murray Weiss.  It must be hard for him at 91 to see how helpless Mom has become, while he still exercises and takes care of finances.  He, too, must have many wonderful memories from a 67 year marriage.

Mom is now 89 and is feeling the brunt of age.  Her world is becoming smaller and smaller.  The things she can do are dwindling.  But my mind takes me back to Mom’s many friendships, and her ability to put people at their ease.  She helped my Dad become more social, since he came from an extremely insular family.  She helped me to confront difficult circumstances, serving as a guide in troubled times.  When I was stressed, he used to tell me:  “Let your arms hang loose like a rag doll, and smile.”  Her vitality and spunk were always an inspiration.  Alas, all I have are memories…