Who’s Following Me?


“Where am I”? Darla reached up and grabbed a hold of the man’s shirt. “What are you doing? Where are you taking me?” Darla was laying on a portable bed. She was getting ready to be rolled out the waiting EMS.

Darla lived in the home that she and her husband had made. She had made many friends. She partook in many activities. She played bingo, went on car rides, visited friends in nursing homes. She made crafts and sent out cards to grandchildren.

For the last few months visible changes had started to produce. Darla would forget to take her medications.Sometimes she even forgot to eat. Family started to notice a weight loss. The kids started to visit more at meal times, sometimes bringing treats.

Darla came from a big family. She had nine brothers and sisters. She and her husband had six children. Ed, her partner in life  worked in one of the many tomato fields. Darla was a teacher. Their children were brought up with strict rules. The love flowed like streams throughout the home. Their children were raised without many issues.

When Darla and Ed retired their children hosted a wonderful party for them. Darla bought a new violet-blue dress and Ed wore his familiar black suit. So many friends came that the house was weak at the seams. From speaking to Darla, I believe that this was the third biggest memory of her life. The first highlight was her marriage. Second came the children and now this.

These two did everything together after retirement. They worked on crossword puzzles, watched the same television programs. He helped while she prepared their meals. They went to church together and every Sunday they were invited to one of the kid’s house for dinner.

Life was great. Ed and Darla could want for nothing more. At each meal they gave thanks for their many blessings they had received over the years. Every Wednesday Ed paid visits to the local Senior Center while Darla went to the church for her euchre games.

While sitting at the card table she felt a strange feeling running down her arm. She became dizzy and light-headed. The color drained from her face. One of her friends took notice and let the director know. With the call to the EMS, Darla was rushed to the ER. She had suffered a stroke. It devastated the kids and her husband. Ed only left her side when it was time to retire for bed.

The routine of visits, therapy and well wishes turned into six months. Eventually she was able to walk again with the aid of a cane. She returned to their home, and with the help of her husband they enjoyed life for another year.

One chilly morning Darla rose from her bed. She went to the bathroom and then back to see if Ed was up yet. He was not, so she called out to him. The only return she received was silence. She walked to the other side of the bed where he laid so peacefully and saw his lips were a deep blue.

She went to the phone and called the paramedics and the sad news was that he had passed peacefully through the night. Darla mourned along with her children. Three months later she was still mourning and was losing touch with reality. Upon examination she was pronounced with depression and the loss of will to live.

Her body became weak in fighting illness. It was not long after that, Alzheimer’s paid her a visit. It appeared with no invitation and usually over stayed its welcome. As the doctor and the children gathered more evidence, a caregiver was hired.

The caregiver assisted with bathing, meals and medications. Darla had many good days, but the balance became equal with bad days mixing in. It was a routine Monday morning when the caregiver arrived. She was beginning the preparation for the breakfast meal.

Darla walked out to the kitchen and when she took notice of the caregiver she immediately walked over to her and started yelling. “Get out of here! Get out of my kitchen! I am going to call the police! You are breaking into my house”.

The caregiver was taken aback for a moment and then called the eldest child explaining the situation at hand. It was clear as ice that mom’s mind was being taken over by the disease.

The kids and the caregiver had a family meeting. They took a vote on getting mom in a nursing facility if this behavior happened again. Weeks went by and no more episodes or outbursts happened. As the sun lowers and the moon rises it happened again.

Darla didn’t know where she was. She didn’t know her name. It was the worst episode so far. A phone call was made. The children were present. The EMS was there. A room had been provided in a skilled facility and Darla was being taken there at this very moment.

A life full of memories. Big families, years full of love. A constant companion by her side. All buried in her mind. Only specks of reality surfaced now and then. With tears in her son’s eyes, he answered his mom. ” I love you mom. With the help of these two men we are going to take you to a new place. It’s going to be alright. I will be right by your side. Please don’t cry mom, you’re making me cry”.

“Where am I? Where are we going? Where are you taking  me”?……..

Behind the Sun