That being said, I have noticed that Etta has seemed a bit more disconnected or distant at times. While she has always had moments like this due to Alzheimer’s, those moments seem to be increasing. I have noticed a vacancy in her eyes and a sadness about her more frequently than in the past. Though she may present this way upon my initial arrival, she usually perks up during a visit. I rarely have a visit that doesn’t include a smile or something to laugh about.
She continues to talk about missing James and enjoys reminiscing about their early years together. While she welcomes the change to talk about these “happy days”, they also bring forth feelings of loneliness for her. She is able to articulate these feelings and I encourage her to talk to me about those thoughts.
If you visit Etta, you will likely hear her Patsy Cline CD (I call them records so as not to confuse her) playing from the hallway. I guarantee she will invite you to watch the birds outside her window. She will most likely tell you the same joke about a chicken that she repeats often. Every time she tells the joke, she laughs as though it’s the first time she’s heard it. You will likely be asked to spell your name because she doesn’t really remember who you are and is embarrassed to ask. She’ll tell you how disgusted she is by the “foul language” of some of the other guests though she is known to spout off some of the very same verbiage. She’ll want to know what you drove and where you parked. She’ll likely ask you to stand in front of her so she can see your entire outfit from head to toe. Ladies, she’ll want to see your finger nails and toe nails. Also, girls, don’t dare enter her room without a nice colorful coat of lipstick or you will be forced to use hers. Men, know that Etta loves to flirt. Nothing lifts her spirits more than a good looking man walking into her presence. If you offer her a compliment, she is on cloud nine! After a visitor leaves, she will always tell me the same thing…”I think (name of visitor) really enjoyed themselves…I think it did him/her a lot of good to visit me!” She’s right! I can’t think of anyone who has visited that didn’t walk away with a smile on their face.