U.S. National Institutes of Health

Transcript of a page from Tangles: A Story about Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me

Bird Brain 73

[Top left panel]

I couldn’t do the work I’d brought with me to Fredericton.

Tweet! Too-weet! Twee! Twee! Twee!

tap tap tap tap tap

[Top center panel]

Mom wouldn’t stop making these weird noises.

[Mother] Tuh-woo! Tuwit, tuwoo! Twoo!

[Daughter] Mom!

[Top right panel]

Until all of a sudden she got very quiet.

[Daughter] Mom?

[Second row left panel]

[Daughter] Mom?

[Seconds row center panel]

I found her on the sun porch, pointing out the window and wiggling her finger. She likes to stand there and watch the birds at the feeder.

[Second row right panel]

[Mother] Aren’t they just so, so…

[Daughter] So what, Mom?

[No text on third row]

[Fourth row left panel]

Aren’t they just so what?

[Fourth row right panel]

She was pointing at the birds, but they’d flown away already. I knew that but I pretended to have no idea what she was trying to say. I was sick of trying to fill in the gaps in her speech. I was sick of helping her. I was sick of her being sick.

[Bottom row left panel]

She stared at me, her smile gone, her finger not wiggling anymore.

[Bottom row right panel]

Later, when the anger had evaporated, I as filled with guilt and then fear. I had a vision of myself as a child, trying to grasp her leg as she fluttered away to join the birds. I couldn’t hold her here on earth with me, no matter how hard I tried.

[Large panel on lower right]