AT THE MOVIES WITH ALZHEIMER’S

Movie theater marquee at opening night

Frequent movie dates became part of the past when  Alzheimer’s got in the way.

January 4, 2013 — Our first date was at the movies.  Jim, who worked in the same office where I worked, dropped by my desk and asked if I would be interested in going out with one of his friends, Bud.  Perhaps, he suggested, the four of us (he was dating Jeannie who also worked in our office) could go to a movie and then have a bite to eat afterward.  Hesitating a bit I asked, “Is your friend Bud taller than I am?”  “I think so,” Jim replied, “Bud, Ken, is 6’2.”  I know my question sounded rather shallow, but wearing heels I was 5’10” and towered over many of the young men I knew, including Jim.  “Sounds okay,” I said and he filled in with all the details of my first date with the man I would eventually marry. 

MARRIAGE AND FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE NIGHT

Suffice it to say our courtship went over a few rocky roads, silly games of romance on my part, misunderstandings on his part, a separation, a period of getting reacquainted, a proposal and finally marriage.  All of our dates weren’t at the movies, but many were — especially after we  married and Ken’s return to college — which cut our budget down to tight.  Movies became our official date on Friday nights.  We didn’t mind though because we both loved the movies.

DRIVE-INS WERE GOOD

Through various periods of our life together with a growing family our movie nights were cut even more drastically. Lack of money was one reason, but paying a sitter added to the impracticality of a weekly date.  However, we did manage to eliminate that financial extra of date night.  Putting down the back seat of our station wagon we could make a perfect bed for the kids, who, dressed in their pajamas, soon fell fast asleep leaving us with the front seat to enjoy the movie.  Afterward, there was always the sweet experience of carrying the sleeping little ones into the house and tucking them into their own beds.

MOVIES ALL AROUND US

Even though TV brought us movies a few nights a week right in our own home there was something special about going to the theater and watching Bogy and Bacall on the big screen.  We were movie junkies and have continued enjoying the movies all of our married life.

Once Ken retired it didn’t take much to convince me that an afternoon spent at the movies was a lot more fun than the two of us pulling weeds in the back yard.  “Let’s go to the movies,” he suggested, and off we would go.  I suppose one could say that both of us were utterly spontaneous believing that a bit of stolen enjoyment didn’t have to be planned.  As a result we probably pulled fewer weeds than other people who managed to work their way through a whimsical temptation, but we probably had a lot more fun

THEN THERE CAME ALZHEIMER’S

It came like a pick-pocket in a crowd.  A bump, a push and something was missing without the victim even noticing, but I noticed.  Little by little Alzheimer’s was robbing me of my husband.  Yet, we continued living life as “normally” as we could.  Our social life remained intact with most of our friends being wonderful and understanding, and we continued going to the movies once a week

“That was a great movie,” Ken would say as they rolled the credits.  “Great movie,” he continued remarking as we worked our way to the lobby.  “Wait right here,” I instructed ducking into the ladies room.  Social person that he has always been I found him talking with someone in the lobby.  With great enthusiasm he was telling a stranger about the fabulous movie we had just seen.  “What was the name of that movie,” he asked as I approached.  I told the stranger which movie we had seen reassuring him that it was, indeed, a super movie, and then we went our separate ways.  By the time we got to the car Ken had usually forgotten we had even been to the movies.

THE LAST MOVIE

Little by little Ken became less than enthusiastic about going anywhere.  Not even my suggestion, “Let’s go to the movies,” seemed to spark his interest. The last movie we attended as a couple was in February 2010.  Slowly we moved into our seats, and half way there he turned to me and asked, “How long do I have to sit here?”  Interesting, though, as the movie progressed he appeared to become involved, but there were no longer comments about what a great show it was.  In the lobby and outside the theater he wondered where we were and why.

A NEW BENCH MARK

I would have continued our movie date for as long as possible except for the intervention of fate.  A week following the last movie we were involved in a horrific automobile accident being hit by a drunk driver.

Ken’s injuries were superficial, but to be on the safe side he remained in the hospital several days.  I do believe his stay, being restrained, and being hooked up to a catheter gave his Alzheimer’s a free ride into a deeper and more complex area of AD.  My injuries were more severe removing me from the scene for a few months.  That’s when Ben came into our lives, with David, Mel and then Crizaldo as Ben’s relief.  Ken lost all interest in movies of any kind even those on TV.  Nor did he or does he recognize anyone in our family home movies which were transferred long ago onto a video.

JUST ONE MORE MOVIE DATE

I seldom have time to go to the movies, but recently everyone has been raving about Les Miserables.  Ken and I saw it on stage in New York and I would love for us to be able to see it again as a movie – together – him with a clear, appreciative mind and without Alzheimer’s.  But that is not to be.  Maybe I’ll sneak away, with my pockets filled with tissues, and see it by myself —  pretending he is with me for one more date at the movies.

Originally posted 2013-01-06 13:53:52.

4 Responses to AT THE MOVIES WITH ALZHEIMER’S

  • Mabel as I read this– I see Ken’s image before me as he was before—- and I like that—–mater of fact it pushes aside the quick glimpse of him of him last Sept—- I have much admiration for you Mabel–

    • aromick says:

      Thanks Sara, Debbie posted that photo and I looked at I remember the old theaters, even on Mission Street and how truly elegant they were. How beautiful when you walked down the street and the marquees (sp?) were lighted and you could see them for blocks away. Even the less expensive theaters glowed — and downtown on Market St. What an experience to go to the movies and Market Street the cost was about$1.3 instead of the Mission St. — about .25. One thing though. Now and then was once you were seated and the movie began it did transend time. 1950s to now. Except now there are many I wouldn’t care to see. Anyway, thanks for remembering with me.

  • Clay Bryant says:

    It’s driving me nuts but trying to remember the new movie I saw in Long Beach on the guy building a final cabin for his wife with Alzheimers.Over the top movie.

  • Clay Bryant says:

    Just found out.The movie is “Still Mine”with James Cromwell and released July 12th.A Toronto Film Festival pick.

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