Saturday, November 11, 2006


My father and I would sit on the back patio to get some fresh air, we’d watch the world go by. Cars, people running, walking, pushing strollers. Life was so normal “out there” and so crazy with Alzheimer’s inside our house. My father would wave at someone. They wouldn’t wave back. He’d wave harder. They wouldn’t wave back. He’d get up out of his chair and wave, this time yelling Hey YOU! They’d look at him, get a little frightened and move faster down the sidewalk. He’d head for the edge of the patio, ready to take on the world. It would take all the cajoling I could come up with to calm him down, return him to his seat. The next person would go by, and we’d start the entire process all over again. I figured we’d just have to keep him inside from now on, he was too unmanageable, surrendering still more ground to Alzheimer’s.

One day I went to the house. My mother had made a large sign, with letters made of red tape. It said “PLEASE WAVE”. She would hold it up behind him when he’d spot a passerby, they’d see her sign and wave, he would be happy, and life would be tricked into “normalcy” again. I keep that sign on my bookcase to remind me of how pathetic our resources are to cope with Alzheimer’s yet how creative my mother was in beating it back. Alzheimer’s doesn’t win every round.

She fought for my father’s quality of life for eleven long years. She was strong, she was determined, and she never gave up. He smiled because of her. He waved because of her. And he enjoyed the sunshine of his back porch for years.

He died in January of this year, and we STILL have nothing more capable of stopping Alzheimer’s than a half-empty roll of heartbreakingly red tape. We can do better than that. You can help. If you read this and understand what it’s like to live with this disease, if you have a few dollars, donate them to The Unforgettable Fund and we’ll see that it gets into the lab for Alzheimer’s research. PLEASE HELP.


  1. thanks for telling that story, Patty. i am waving back at you and will send a donation. Barbara

  2. Patty, you and I have talked about how Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers are invisible. Your story proves they can be invisible even when everyone can see them.

  3. Wow, Patty! These anecdotes are sp powerful. Funny, tragic, inspiring....

  4. Patty, you have managed once again to honor your dad in a truly "unforgettable" way. You honored him in life by fighting tirelessly for his rights as a helpless patient. NMow you honor him in death by continuing to fight the disease that took him so slowly from you all. Good work!
    Liz Best

  5. Patty, this is a precious memory, and as you indicate, your mother won that round. As frustrating and sad as it was helping my mom and aunt cope with Alzheimer's, I found these valiant ladies enriched my life during their journey through these misty years. In their memories, I go on writing and speaking about Alzheimer's, hoping to promote awareness and knowledge.