Holding on to my pets, as Alzheimer's takes my memories

One morning, not that long ago, I emerged from my bedroom to be greeted by Max, an orange tabby cat who spends much of his time outdoors, prowling our woods. I was happy to see him home, patted him and said hello. I went back to my room, and, as Tim tells it, I re-emerged a few minutes later looking for the cat, asking Tim, “Have you seen Max yet?”

On another afternoon, I was on the hiking trail near my office and stopped to pet a dog enjoying the sun with its owner. The owner told me the dog’s name was Sadie. In the fog of my brain, all I could remember was that I once had a dog named Sadie, but I couldn’t remember when. It wasn’t until many minutes later that I remembered that Tim and I currently have a lab/pit bull rescue named Sadie.

When you live with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, you learn to live in the moment and appreciate what you still have rather than what you may lose. I have my sister, nieces and nephew and extended family. And, of course, Tim, the man who I’ve been with for 13 years and who agreed last fall to marry me even though we do not know how much longer I will be me.

And I have a turtle creatively named Turtle and a bearded dragon who goes by the name Leo.