David Lauderdale

Lauderdale: Alzheimer's caregivers share rays of hope in new book

The book jacket to "Meet Where I Am: An uplifting collection of creative expressions" is a collection of essays and photographs of caregivers of those who have or were afflicted by Alzheimer's and dementia.
The book jacket to "Meet Where I Am: An uplifting collection of creative expressions" is a collection of essays and photographs of caregivers of those who have or were afflicted by Alzheimer's and dementia.

The journey continues for Lindy Lindenbaum.

It's not as much of a slog as it once was, when his wife, the beautiful pianist, got dementia.

"It's a one-way

flight that

takes off, but

never lands."

That's part of a poem Lindy wrote to get the frustrations of an unprepared caregiver off his chest. He called it "The Journey."

We printed the poem in the newspaper. He hoped it would give other Beaufort County retirees a feeling that they're not alone when the madness steals their carefully-planned lives, when "happily ever after" turns into a cruel joke.

Before we printed the poem, Lindy and I talked. He was the first person to graphically describe to me what it's like dealing with Alzheimer's disease.

Irvin "Lindy" Lindenbaum and Laura owned clothing stores in New York. She loved to go into New York City for the music. She studied piano and after they moved to Hilton Head Island, she took up cello and played in the orchestra. She played piano to special education classes at the elementary school. Somehow, hearing "Let It Snow" unlocked a new world for the students.

Her children and grandchildren looked up to her.

That was before Lindy had to put special locks on the doors because the person who used to be Laura would leave, sometimes unclothed, to wander. But he would still get calls at 4 a.m. from security guards in their gated community when they would find Laura.

After "The Journey" was published in the paper, Lindy found out about Memory Matters, a Hilton Head nonprofit offering support, education and respite for families dealing with dementia.

Memory Matters was a big help as long as Laura lived.

But Lindy's journey has not ended.

He still goes to the Memory Matters building at the corner of William Hilton Parkway and Squire Pope Road.

He goes four mornings a week as a volunteer. He helps with the clients who stay several hours while their caregiver gets a break to take care of business or even play golf.

He does what they used to do with Laura. He plays dominoes, or sings, or does artwork with the clients. He doesn't say he's a volunteer. He's just there.

"It's part of my life now," Lindy said this week. "It's very rewarding to me."

And now "The Journey" also is opening a new chapter of its life.

The poem is included in a book to be launched next week, with proceeds going to Memory Matters. "Meet Me Where I Am" edited by Lynne Cope Hummell is called "an uplifting collection of creative expressions" from the often sad swirl of dementia care.

It's full of Lowcountry photographs, poems and brief prose by caregivers, as well as artwork by clients. The book was created to be an outlet for caregivers to share what joy, humor and wisdom they gathered in their long journeys.

The book includes a column about my father, who has dementia, and my mother as his caregiver. "Daddy doesn't play the organ any more," it begins. Laura Lindenbaum's granddaughter, Holli Selman, reflects in the book about when the music left her grandmother.

The journey continues for Lindy, but now he knows he's not alone.

IF YOU GO

The public is invited to the "Meet Me Where I Am" book launch party to be held at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 27 at Memory Matters, 117 William Hilton Parkway on Hilton Head Island.

For more information, call 843-842-6688 or email info@memory-matters.org.

Books will be available for purchase at the Memory Matters office for $29.95 each during weekday operating hours and online at www.memory-matters.org.

Follow columnist and senior editor David Lauderdale at twitter.com/ThatsLauderdale and facebook.com/david.lauderdale.16.

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