Alzheimer’s at Lunch: Jack and Mrs. Spratt


“…And let thy gifts to us be blessed.  Amen.” 

The aroma of a big German hug of bratwurst and sauerkraut welcomes us to lunch.

Dad stands up and slips from the sun room to the kitchen. He has recently taken on host duties.  As he gains experience setting tables, he gets a lot of exercise during meals fetching missing things..

In Dad’s absence, a bowl of coleslaw is passed around the table.  Next, the sauerkraut. Then the salt and vinegar potato chips, Mom’s favorite.  I notice the first round of dishes pass by Dad’s empty plate. As he returns brandishing the brown mustard, I serve him a brat. 

Dad cuts and spears his first bite.  As he brings it to his lips, Mom says, “Please pass the brats, and the coleslaw.”

I lay down my fork and eye Mom’s plate. Yes indeed, it is already empty.  Randy passes the plate of brats to me, and I pass them to Mom.  Mom happily takes another.  Same thing for the coleslaw. I eat a few bites, and ask Dad about his neighbor’s health.

Dad barely gets to the neighbor’s diagnosis, when Mom interrupts his story, “Please pass the sauerkraut.”

I glance over.  Mom’s plate is spotless again.  I pass the sauerkraut.  This time when Mom accepts the bowl, she empties it directly onto her plate.  A quick glance at Dad’s full plate confirms that Mom is far ahead of all of us in lunching speed.

“Please pass the coleslaw,” Mom asks.

Dad passes the bowl and Mom accepts it.  To our surprise, Mom picks up her fork and begins to eat direct from the serving bowl.  When the bowl next meets the tablecloth, it is empty and sparkling clean. I blink my eyes in amazement.

Dad remembers something suddenly.  He jumps up and slips into the kitchen again. Quick as a flash Mom rises from her chair, reaches across the table, and stabs the brat on Dad’s plate.  With a swift and practiced hand, she drops it on her plate. In the time it takes Dad to grab a handful of napkins and return to the table, Mom has eaten every morsel of his entire brat.

Dad returns,  looks at his plate, and then at Mom.  Mom is busy searching the table for something else to eat.  Resigned, Dad picks up his fork and starts in on the remnants of coleslaw, kraut and chips that survive on his plate.

I catch Randy’s eye.  I think we’ve uncovered the secret behind Mom’s weight gain … and Dad’s weight loss.  

Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that is different in every person it touches.  What unusual behaviors has Alzheimer’s brought out in your loved one?   How are you doing in your acceptance that this behavior is simply part of the disease?   How are you handling the reality that behavior changes due to Alzheimer’s are beyond your control?



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