Tag Archives: alzheimer’s

Four Letter Word

by Jessa, Real Housewives of NOLA

Mom stands in the bathroom while I run the water, letting it get warm.  Take your things off, I say.  Put them in laundry basket.

Okay, she says.  And stands there, watching the water run.

Mom, I say.  I point to her PJ pants.  Take those off please.

Okay, she says.  She pulls at the hem of her shirt, then stops.

Pants, I say, pointing again.  Off.

Okay, she says.  And stands there, looking at me.


Okay.  It’s become a four letter word in my house.

As her mind and memory slip away, Mom talks less and less.  She hears a voice but not the words.  She doesn’t understand – but she doesn’t say, What?  or Huh?  She says Okay.  It’s a small thing, but it’s making me crazy.

Okay.  I hear E talking on the phone – someone on the other end is asking about me, how I’m doing.  I can hear him through the bathroom door, where I’ve stopped, dropping the load of laundry I was lugging, to throw up for the millionth time, in my 25th week of morning sickness.  Yes – she’s okay.  We’re doing okay.

When the doctor called with our amnio news, it was the first word out of my mouth, my auto-pilot response.  Okay, I said.  Okay.

None of this is actually okay.  But there is a knee-jerk reaction, I think, to use this word that means so little.  It’s the “right” response to anything, self-contained and reassuring.  It’s okay – you don’t have to help me.  You don’t have to worry.  You don’t have to do anything – we’re okay.  It’s so ingrained that it’s all that Mom has left – no matter what you ask, she’s going to answer, Okay.

And really – we are okay.  By most standards, most of the time, we’re doing fine.  We’re doing okay.  But when we’re not – it would be nice to be able to say so.

Don’t you think?


Jessa is home in Louisiana, caring for her toddler and her mom, who has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. She is pregnant with a little one, due this May, who has been diagnosed with MCADD, a genetic metabolic disorder that claimed her first two babies. She writes about life (when life doesn’t get in the way of writing) on Tuesdays for the Real Housewives of NOLA blog, and sews for her Etsy shop, little pearl quilts (which has been a wonderful Oxygen Mask.)

Her post originally appeared HERE and was posted with permission.


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