Mom always had a huge garden on the farm. She grew potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, peas, onions, green beans, sweet corn, pickles, cucumbers, strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, and blackberries. There was a bed of asparagus along the fence, and rhubarb plants in another area. A peach tree and an apricot tree grew along the path to the chicken house. We used to say that if we couldn’t grow it, we didn’t eat it.
When Dad retired from farming in 1968, he and Mom moved to a house in Decatur. The house was on a quiet street, not far from a small shopping center. The property backed up to the baseball fields of a high school. The backyard was perfect for a garden. Dad trucked in a load of good, black dirt.
Mom and Dad lived in that house for many years. Then Mom’s mind began to fail. It was as if a computer in her brain had a short in it. Once she tried defrosting a frozen chicken by putting it in the bedroom closet instead of in the refrigerator. She was storing the object in an inappropriate place, an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
Another time, Dad had driven Mom to the beauty shop just a few blocks away. He told her to call him when she was finished at the beauty shop, and he would pick her up. He was sitting in his big Lazy Boy chair next to the front window when he saw Mom walking past on the sidewalk. By the time he got up to go outside to get her, she had disappeared. Vanished. Dad called the police, and they came to help search for Mom. They found her around the corner about half a block. She was sitting in a Burger King! Getting lost in familiar places is another early sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
Sometimes when they left the house to visit relatives, she would become frantic at dusk. She thought they needed to get home to put the screen in the door of the chicken house so the foxes would not eat the chickens. That was the routine we had when we lived on the farm, but that was years ago. This was another sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
Mom could still dress herself. She could still cook. Since Dad was in good health and living in the house with her, Mom was able to continue living in their house. Without Dad, she would have needed in-home care or an assisted living facility. She died suddenly at age eighty-one.
If you have a family member who needs in-home services, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the clock nursing care by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission.
For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.
—By Karen Centowski