Unexpectedly, everything unraveled.
On April 1st, Tim complained we wouldn’t let him leave the house–and he wasn’t joking. I assured him he was welcome to go anywhere he wanted to. So he went out for a walk around the neighborhood–and found his way back without help.
That night he wanted to walk to a new AA meeting by himself about a mile from our house–requiring six turns, crossing four streets, two of them major. He insisted, “I know how to get there. It’s just across the street.” Discreetly, Jerry tailed him, staying way back, circling blocks to be able to get glimpses of him and make sure he was headed right. He came back saying, “I followed him until he was only two minutes’ from the door.”
Tim walked back on his own, after dark. We heaved secret sighs of relief. He was functioning better than we had expected.
But something had changed while he was gone. As soon as he walked in, Tim said, “I need to talk to Ted.” He had me help him dial our brother in Michigan and as I went upstairs, I heard Tim tell him, “Things are getting spooky here. I’ll stay tonight but then I want to leave.”
He came upstairs after the phone call–I knew he was in the doorway because Sudoku suddenly turned her head in that direction, startled. He leaned against the door jamb, apparently light-headed, and said, “Things are getting spooky again.”
He looked as if he was trying to summon the words, the effort, to say a lot–but couldn’t. He let it all out as air. “You know,” he said. “Like they did before.”
I had a sinking feeling. Years ago Tim thought we were stealing from him. He had doggedly held to that theory, saying we had to give back a painting–a piece of wood with the word SEX on it which he had given my son for his birthday ten years earlier–because the artist might need it for an exhibit. My son couldn’t find it, had probably tossed it (as a single male teenager trying to stay pure in a sex-saturated society). I called the artist, a friend of Tim’s, and he couldn’t care less what we did with it. But Tim would have nothing to do with us for an entire year until I pinned down exactly what he wanted from me to fix things. I paid him the $500 he felt I owed him for that accursed piece of “art.” I thought it a small price to pay to buy back his friendship, which it did.
Until now. “Getting spooky again.” It’s a funny thing about people with Alzheimer’s. There are things they are incapable of remembering and other things, imaginary conspiracies and sinister motivations, they are incapable of forgetting.
Now Tim tottered into our bedroom, disturbed. “The computers here don’t work for me. They work for you but not for me. The keys have been moved. They aren’t the same as they were in the 20th century.”
Then he said, “We’ll call Ted tomorrow and you can explain to him how I’m being kidnapped.”