He snuck in quietly, unseen. No one in the house was aware of his presence. He hid behind familiar things, in plain sight, and stole from us. He took art and music, stories. He stole a little everyday, yet we didn’t notice.
We were all so busy with our own lives, seldom taking time to stop by the familiar white house. So busy. When we managed to find time… Christmas, Thanksgiving…. we were in the holiday hustle, and didn’t notice what was missing. We didn’t see the thief, even while he sat down at the table, and ate Christmas cake. We didn’t see him.

But she…. she had become aware of the thief. She tried to hide him, cover his tracks. She hoped he would leave, without taking more, for his sake…for hers. Ours. She didn’t want us to know he was there. She wanted him to go away, the thief. But he refused to leave. He stayed. He has moved in.
And it’s heartbreaking.

My brain doesn’t work right anymore “, he told her.
It’s as close as he’s come to acknowledging the thief.

Alzheimer’s, dementia…. may be the cruelest of all diseases. The body can remain healthy, muscle memory still remembers how to mow the lawn and split firewood. Drive a car. The face looks the same, but the brain has changed, memories shifted. The person no longer fully there. He has been stolen. Both people in the house… robbed of their golden years.

My dad had not played his guitar for many years. But on Thanksgiving, this year, he agreed to play and sing for us. And in a short span of time, mere minutes, he began to resemble the music man I grew up with. I was amazed at the transformation made by music, and I want to share the video here for you to see. I want to preserve it, so I can watch again, and remember.

NannyPoppy
Cindy Harter Sims took this photo of my parents a few years ago, as The Thief was moving in. At the time, my dad told Cindy, speaking of my mom, “I just feel better when I’m with her”. She is his comfort zone.

NP4
Photo taken by Garrett Able, Thanksgiving 2017

NP2
Photo courtesy of Garrett Able, Thanksgiving 2017