4 December 2015

Published December 2, 2015 by rochellewisoff

Another Hightway


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Genre: Too Realistic Fiction

Word Count: 100


            When I was a little girl my mother delighted in making birthdays memorable with shiny packages, bright balloons and colorful streamers. The cakes she decorated were works of art.

            “I like red.” She looks at the birthday balloon I brought and then at me with a puzzled frown. Her eyes, once full of light, are little more than murky windows to a drifting soul.

            “The eggs rolled out of the henhouse and smashed the cupcakes…” her voice trails off and the struggle to shape the words is evident. “I’m sorry, I don’t remember you.”

            “It’s okay, Mom. I remember you.”



While my story this week is fictionalized it is based on a recent visit to my mother in law. Alzheimer’s is the cruelest of diseases for we mourn the loss of a loved one but her body still lives and breathes. 

Fields Family long time ago

Jan, Mom and Joyce Mother's Day 2015

113 comments on “4 December 2015

  • The ‘murky windows to a drifting soul’ is totally chilling. We’ve discussed this topic; you’ve reflected our mutual sadness and frustration to perfection here. Well done, Rochelle.


    • Dear Michael,

      It is so hard when that familiar face smiles at you and asks who you are. It’s very hard for my husband and his siblings, particularly his sister who has taken the role of primary caretaker.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.




  • A heart-wrenching reminder! Not Alzheimer’s – my Mom had a series of undiagnosed minor strokes, until the one that put her in a hospice, and the five-year fade began in earnest. Every questioned meal was ‘soup and a sandwich’, even if she’d had roast beef. 😦


    • Dear Archon,

      A five-year fade…good way to put it. No matter what the cause, the outcome is agony. My parents died ‘young’ and still knew me when they passed. in light of the current situation in my husband’s family, I’m grateful.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.




    • Dear Loré

      I’m truly sorry for your loss and I understand. My parents both passed by the time I was 31. I felt like an orphan…still do at times. But, as I said earlier, my parents both knew me to the end. It’s hard to see that familiar face and know that you’re no longer familiar to her. Loss is loss and I’ll not say that one is worse than the other.

      At any rate, thank you for reading and commenting. It’s much appreciated.



      Liked by 1 person

  • Well told. Alzheimers is especially cruel, since the person afflicted looks essentially the same as they did. My aunt had it for many years, each year a little less like herself. She could recount a moment from her youth in vivid detail and then forget my name. It was as though her memories were a pearl necklace whose thread had broken, loose pearls surfacing at random. A life without context, but with the emotions left intact. The suffering can be immense. I feel for you.


    • Dear J Hardy,

      A pearl necklace whose thread had broken, good analogy. The last time we visited Mom she thought we were friends from school.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments and encouragement.




  • I know what you and your husband and his family are going through, Rochelle. My mother suffered from Alzheimer’s. We had her with us for seven years until we couldn’t properly take care of her at home. Even her doctor told me I’d done all I could and she needed more. She finally left us at the age of almost 93. She seemed to know we were family, but forgot my dad had died, and wondered why he didn’t come to visit her. He had died in 1980 at the age of almost 83. She outlived him by about 14 years. We told her he was on a fishing trip so as not to disturb her all over again. —- Suzanne


    • Dear Suzanne,

      I have to admire you for your faithfulness as a daughter. My sister in law did the same thing. It was very hard for her to let go and put Mom in a care facility. The cruel irony in all of this is that Mom took care of her mother in the same situation. Grandma’s body outlived her mind by ten years.
      What can you do? You can’t really argue with the person. You just have to agree and go on. Well done, good daughter.

      Thank you for your comments and encouragement.




  • I couldn’t read this without becoming very emotional. It is very hard to watch mom try to say what she is wanting, but unable to complete it. I watch her carefully and you can tell she is frustrated. She no longer recognizes us unless we tell her who we are. Then, after a kiss, she is all smiles.

    Liked by 3 people

  • The detail with the balloon is totally heart-wrenching. My mother is at an early stage of something that might be Alzheimers but could also be something else. We had to put her up in a home, and ever visit is so confusing for me… The light leaving is such a strong metaphor for the process, and ties so well to the picture.
    C – whatever could I find to criticize except that it moved me to tears? …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Björn,

      Critique doesn’t have to be negative. I appreciate yours. Tears are the very highest compliment I could receive for this story.

      I’m sorry to hear about your mother. It’s such a hard thing to deal with. My thoughts and prayers are with you, my friend.




  • C- “murky windows to a drifting soul” was a beautiful way of capturing the sad state of such a soul.

    Great one. Sad , yet the ending shows that it’s ok as long as some remembers her.


  • There is so much love in both the last line and the title, Rochelle. I agree about dementia and its cruelty. I find myself hoping the pain is reserved more for the family than for the sufferer themself, and certainly when the family gives as much love and patience as this.

    Beautifully done, as usual.


    • Dear Jen,

      It’s hard to say how much the one with Alzheimer’s actually suffers, although Mom has fallen a few times and is in a lot of pain. And the struggle to put words together really is evident. It is very hard for the family.

      Thank you re my story itself.




  • I think Alzheimer’s is one of the cruelest diseases. I have watched other friends lose loved ones and parents to it. I’m sorry it is a current reality in your world. May the Hanukkah season be a peaceful one for you and your family Rochelle!🙂


  • Querida Rochelle,
    You’ve written a sensitive story on a heart wrenching illness. You’ve written it in a very delicate manner. Your compassate response to your current experience shows great emotional strength.
    Your words tell the real story of what this illness does to the person. I’m sure a longer write would have shown what it does to the family. My tears have flowed today.
    Abrazos y carino,


  • Beautifully written, and heartbreaking content. Like so many here, I’ve experienced a similar situation. My mum had a severe stroke, and completely changed her personality. Murky windows to a drifting soul describes this precisely.
    C-(trying to be constructive here😉 ): I admire how you structured the story in a gradient, from the bright and shiny memory how she was in the past, to gradually moving from the balloon–still bright and red–to the murky windows. Then the heart-wrenching last line. Perfect.


  • This is beautiful, Rochelle. I especially liked this line, “…little more than murky windows to a drifting soul.” I think that describes Alzheimer’s exactly. So sad to lose a loved one in this way. This story, still has a sweet aspect. The final line is beautiful and touching.


  • My heart goes out to you and family members. You story so captures the pain, loss, and sorrow.
    My mother’s descent into dementia, by the time of her death, had created my “other” mother. Seven months later, her old sister died of complications from Alzheimer’s.


  • Dear Soprano Dianna,
    My dad didn’t remember me either, but love gets you through it. I don’t know many families who haven’t been through this. And the ones that haven’t, will be some day.

    Future loony bin resident,


  • Dear Rochelle,

    I was sorry to read that you lost your parents at a young age.

    I was fortunate to have mine well into their mid-to-late 80s.

    However, my father, like your rmother-in-law, suffered through Alzheimer’s for about five years or so. It was heartbreaking. The best moments for me, and I hope for him, after he lost his ability to form words, was when I had recorded old Yiddish tunes as well as songs from the 1930s to 1950s – and, God bless, he was able to recall and string the words together to sing along.

    That part of his faculties remained somewhat intact – and it was a blessing. It still brings a smile to my face – and I can still remember his smiling face and bright eyes, recalling words and being able to verbalize. He didn’t necessarily know me, but he was happy to sing along with me – and I loved being with him.



  • I can’t imagine, Rochelle. I’m sorry your mother-in-law is suffering this awful disease. I love the “murky windows to a drifting soul.” It says it all. So well done. Such a difficult prompt this week, too.


  • The “murky windows” line is so descriptive here. Have you seen the documentary movie about Glenn Campbell? It’s quite well done.
    This is an insidious disease and with the aging population, one that is increasing in its touch upon families. I recently went to a workshop at Mass General on Alzheimers — the panel was composed of doctors in research, doctors who treat patients, and the woman who wrote the book about Alice (adapted I think last year to a movie — woman won the academy award for her portrayal of Alice). In the Q & A portion, a man stood up and said he had just been diagnosed that day with early onset Alzheimers. He asked, quite emotionally, what was he supposed to tell his children? It as an amazing discussion. The woman who wrote the book about Alice had been a fellow at Mass General, with a medical background I believe in Neurophysiology? Her degree and background had opened the doors for her first-person research for the book.
    My heart goes out to you….and to all who are touched by this disease. It’s as if a spider crawls inside the head and weaves a web that slowly covers the synapses of the brain.
    Someone at the discussion asked, how can you tell if you have Alzheimers? I forget things and that’s the first thing that pops into my mind. The Dr. said….many of you here (200+ in audience) probably misplaced your keys this morning. Most of you found them, stuck them in the ignition and drove away. But, if you found them, and then held them in your hands and looked and stared at them and then said, “What are these for?” — then that’s the cause for alarm.
    Thank you for this story, Rochelle. Hits home for too many.


  • Sigh .. how so very sad and touching … this is one of the illnesses that seems to be growing ever more common, perhaps because we remain alive so much longer than just a century or so ago .. well told Rochelle ..


  • I’m taking a class after xmas on the aging brain, hoping for more understanding and knowledge. My partner’s uncle has dementia/Alzheimers. He has good and bad days. It was such a treat for me he remembered me when we visited in Sept. He gave me not only a hug but also a kiss on my lips and said my name. It brought tears to my eyes. Any my mom’s long time friend is in a home. She did not know my mom at the restaurant, but when she came back to mom’s house she remembered. Also more tears for me.



  • Rochelle, I finally made it here before Monday or Tuesday, so I guess things are looking up. I’m hoping to come back to posting on Wednesdays before too long.

    This is such a poignant story, and reminds me of my grandmother, who didn’t know me when I saw her last. I think your line “I like red” was very effective as an early warning in the story, because it’s so out of place. In that way, it parallels the disease, where there are tiny warning signs first, before the symptoms become unmistakable. Very well done, as always.


    • Dear David,

      Here it’s Monday and I’m getting around to replying to your comment.😉

      Thank you for your affirming words for my story and family situation. Both are appreciated. This seems to be a subject that has left no one in the group untouched.



      Liked by 1 person

  • As Huntington’s continues to ravage my family, it’s hard not to anticipate more sadness, more loss, more struggle. Your story is very moving and powerful, Rochelle. The red balloon really impactful. That she only recognizes the color is particularly heartbreaking. Wonderful story, as always!


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