I’ve had a lot going on lately. My mom’s health got so bad that I had to put her in a nursing home, after taking care of her by myself for many years. It’s a unique kind of heartbreak, when you watch someone you love so much become more and more dependent on you and then the realization comes that you can no longer provide the level of care that they need. I’m still adjusting and accepting the new reality we both face, and will probably write more about all that eventually. Right now I want to tell you about the way things that I thought of as separate merged recently. It’s been one of those times when life gets eerie and surreal.

Many years ago I started experimenting with flash fiction. A couple are deep in the archives here. There’s one in particular that I’ve been thinking about. I wrote it after an aunt I loved very much was stricken with Alzheimer’s. I never saw her when she had it, because she lived several states away. I spoke with her on the phone once, just as she was getting it. She was still herself, but very vague and forgetful. I’m glad that conversation became my last memory of her. This story isn’t about her. It was only vaguely inspired by her fate. And of course it’s certainly not about my mother, who was only recently diagnosed. That’s the thing. I had never been in constant contact with anyone suffering from Alzheimer’s, until my mother’s slow undiagnosed journey, then rapid decline. The story was my impression of what it might be like to live with a mother with Alzheimer’s. The eerie thing is that I got it so right. The mother isn’t my own mother and Caroline is not me, but they are too in a way. I think it turns out that they may be anybody’s mother and anybody’s daughter, bound by love and the past and the present. So my own fiction resonates with me, as if someone else wrote it. Perhaps someone else did. The person I was before my life made me more like Caroline than I could have ever imagined. Here’s a link, if you want to read it: To Smell the Roses Again

The movies part of the title of this post comes in after the nursing home became necessary. The need for distraction from stress and an unfamiliar kind of grief finds me watching TV and movies in the middle of the night, even more than usual. I picked a movie one night several days after my mom went to the nursing home. A random choice, I thought. Random choices can be tricky. What I watched was Rise of the Planet of the Apes. What could be more distracting? Science fiction, about sentient apes? Cool! It was cool all right. I had no clue, until I was watching it, that a subplot was that the lead scientist’s father had Alzheimer’s. I almost stopped watching it, when I realized where the plot was going, but stuck with it. By the time it was over I was glad I did. I really enjoyed the movie I’d gone so long without watching, in case it would somehow ruin my love of the original. No fear of that. It was such a drastic reboot that it was practically a whole new movie. And it handled its Alzheimer’s story so beautifully that it managed to be a bittersweet comfort to me that it made me feel better instead of worse over my own situation with my mom. Of course it also made me long for a real life cure. But that’s the stuff of science fiction and fantasy, until hopefully someday it moves into the realm of reality. Soon.

I really don’t understand how my real life experience with my beloved mother got bracketed so by my love of writing and movies. I also don’t understand at all why life has to be so hard sometimes. Or how such a difficult time finds comfort in moments when writing and real life and movies merge.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes Official Trailer HD