Rikki, Don’t Lose That Number

“Rikki don’t lose that number
You don’t want to call nobody else
Send it off in a letter to yourself
Rikki don’t lose that number
It’s the only one you own
You might use it if you feel better
When you get home”
– (1974) “Rikki, Don’t Lose That Number” Recorded By: Steely Dan Composers: Walter Becker and Donald Fagen

On my Facebook page I decided to have a little fun with an age old question for old rock consumers. The question was: “Did Rikki ever lose that number?” Considering the song was recorded in 1973, along with the reveal that Rikki was an old college girlfriend of Donald Fagen from Steely Dan, it could be Rikki is in her early 70’s now. If Rikki has already experienced cognitive issues, maybe Rikki no longer has knowledge of where that number may be.

Rikki Don't Lose That Number - Steely Dan.jpg
Photo: Wikipedia

While counting down the hours to Thanksgiving this year, I watched a news feature on the growth of Dementia and Alzheimer’s in our country. Because Alzheimer’s runs through the maternal side of my family, I was glued to the report. Contrary to popular belief, Dementia and Alzheimer’s are not one and the same. The “plaque” which appears in the brain seems to be the main monkey wrench in the gears of the mind. Also, there can be shrinkage of the brain matter itself. Dementia is a general term for a slip in mental abilities which gets in the way of everyday life. Dementia is NOT a disease, but considered a brain disorder. There are various kinds of Dementia, as well. Trust me, it’s complicated and a bit over my lay-person’s head. However, if one has Dementia, the symptoms can mean troubles in connecting names of loved ones, or others. One can find it more difficult to follow driving directions, communication skills and focus, the spelling of words, and losing items like…(wait for it)…phone numbers. In the days of yesteryear, it often was referred to as “senior moments.”

Not long ago I mentioned on this platform the fact that my 76 year old mom is now wrestling with a minor form of Dementia. It does appear to be a fading of figuring out how to use her cell phone, remembering names and places on the fly, and losing train of thought in conversation. It’s difficult for me in that she has always been a sharp person with an incredible skill of trouble-shooting and memory. Before spellcheck software, she was my spellcheck. Now, she’s almost given up on texting words. And yes, she’s very much aware of the cognitive decline. It is very concerning.

Photo: My mom, Carolyn Atherton-Brown

It was a bittersweet privilege to watch her be a selfless 24/7 caregiver for my grandparents. My granddad had Dementia issues, and my grandmother had full-blown Alzheimer’s Disease. There was a great deal I learned from her just observing how she handled the frustration of seeing her parents traveling downhill with this issue. The main lesson i gleaned from her was how to speak to an Alzheimer’s victim. I learned to never correct the victim when they speak inaccuracies. Gently agree, or placate on a subject. Never show anger if the victim made a mess in the kitchen, or bathroom, or soiled their clothing. It’s best to approach them as you would a toddler. (In many cases, the victim almost “youthens” in their reasoning.) Most of all, we must treat them with compassion, and deliver the highest respect, even when at wits end. Remember, your Dementia or Alzheimer’s victim once was a doctor, a pastor, a teacher, a cop, or a quality control inspector, etc. Most of all, they were once loving parents in the majority of cases.

Remember, someday, it could be you needing the comfort of a champion caregiver.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

It would be a crime to suddenly think less of a loved one, suffering from this disorder or disease, who once knew how to care and love you without compromise. Certainly there are exceptions in every relationship. It could be you were a child of an abusive parent who now needs your love and care in the dark years of cognitive failure. It would be a treasure to know Jesus spoke about you…

“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” – Jesus (Matthew 5:7) KJV

An accurate Greek translation from the original text reads like this…

“Happy are the kind – – because they shall find kindness.” – Jesus (Matthew 5:7) YLT

So, Rikki, if you did lose that number, it’s okay. Maybe you ‘sent it off in a letter to yourself’. Come on, I’ll help you find it.

I am full, due to the fact God remembers the count of the hairs on my head. I found out while topping my tank with fuel for the race.

Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.” – GOD From Isaiah 49:15 (NAS)

34 Replies to “Rikki, Don’t Lose That Number”

  1. Oh, I love your mom! We’re the same age. In the middle of fibromyalgia I was worried about Alzheimers and read everything I could about it. Now I make sure to get a “good fat” with every meal (grass fed butter, olive oil, avocado, coconut oil) and no corn oil (etc.) Wow, has that helped! My mother loved butter and I suspect that’s why she lived to age 97, mentally with it until the last few months. Worth a try! (I finally got a cpap I tolerate well, and that’s sure helped with apnea.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are a beautiful man, Alan. Addiction and dementia do not discriminate. Beautiful pic of your mom. This isn’t easy for either of you. I know you will enjoy the good days together. I will pray for God to give you a spirit of grace and patience. Love, hugs and blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One of the people at the facility told me the difference between regular dementia and Alzheimer’s is that sometimes with Alzheimer’s there can be hallucinations. “So, if you have dementia, you can’t remember the name of the person you’re talking to, but if you have Alzheimer’s you might be talking to someone who isn’t there.” :/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One day as I was talking to my recently passed Aunt with dementia, I was explaining (through a window, mind you) that we were moving her to a new and better facility. It was obvious rehab was not going to offer the help we hoped. I told her there would be a few days she would be alone while they got her settled, but to remember, I was still there and working for her behalf and I would see her soon. She said, “Oh Cissy, I’m not alone, Daddy and [her husband] have been with me for days.” I simply told her I was so glad and to please tell them I love them and thank you for caring for her while we had to be apart. Was it real? I pray it was and if it wasn’t…, well the comfort was just as much mine hearing that, whether it was or not. Dementia is a hard task master and due to her fear, it brought out a very dark side of her personality, so I cherished moments like this that were so so sweet and comforting for both of us.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi Cecilia. That’s remarkable. I’ve heard stories, from very credible people, just like yours. It very well could be this is a special comfort the Lord sends to His sheep in this condition. His loving kindness knows no bounds, not here or in heaven. Because He is God, and all souls belong to Him, He can do whatever His divine heart issues to caress His children. Lovely to think about, isn’t it?

        Liked by 2 people

      2. It CAN be dark. It can also be comforting, as it was with your aunt. A man I know was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s – early enough that he knew what was happening, and he could have been very upset about it. But he told a friend, “It’s not that terrible, you just forget all the bad stuff.” I guess that’s why we should always focus on God, His Word, His promises, and His blessings. I have a feeling that once the mind starts to go, what we think about the most is what will remain the longest.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Wow, that’s really something I hadn’t thought of much, but with Covid and so many people TRAGICALLY dying alone, I hope that God is sending visons of loved ones (or the loved ones themselves) to comfort those who are alone and afraid. ❤

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Truly it was my prayer. She constantly begged her daughter and me to come in through the window. We told her we couldn’t because of Covid and she said she would gladly accept Covid if she could have hugs from her girls again. Still haunts me; but what could we do? We simply could not put her or the other patients or the staff at risk. But how do you explain that to a patient with dementia who never felt so alone. 😢 At her last facility, a young lady who was a believer, would hold her hand and read stories from Chicken Soup for the Soul. She was a blessing from God. Truly.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I never fully understood the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia. Thanks for explaining it. I’m so sorry about your mother, as I can imagine how hard that must be for both of you. But she showed you through her example how she needs to be treated, and that’s a huge blessing. Your faith is also a tremendous source of strength!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. My dad passed in early March of this year. He, too, suffered from dementia. It was difficult to watch the decline, but it probably hardest on my mom, who lived with it every day. My dad is now in his right mind with Jesus and for that, I’m thankful. Alan, thank you for the reminder to show love to those who loved us!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Love the wisdom you shared here, Alan. Absolutely spot on. My husband’s dear Grandma Max most definitely “youthened”. My mother-in-law was her greatest caretaker. She definitely confided her frustrations with me but with Grandma, she never let it show. This last year was a grand adventure to them and I was glad to witness it. Your mother is lovely! I’m glad she has you! Blessings to you both!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am praying for you and for your mom! Great picture of her! I think it is a beautiful thought to treat the elderly who have cognitive issues with the same kindnesses that we would to a toddler.Jesus loves us no matter what our state. And we are called to love and serve as He did. Thank you for giving such a good explanation on this topic; I think there are many misunderstandings.In this regard, knowledge is power. It is easier to cope with something if we have a better understanding of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. We lost my husband’s mother to dementia. It was hard and sad to watch her fade. My mother received the same diagnosis, but passed on to heaven due to a stroke before she had to be put in a nursing home. That was a huge blessing, because she loved her own home dearly. We are with you, Alan, very much aware that dementia is a presence on both sides of our families. But we also come from parents of great faith and believe as they did: God will see us through whatever this world might cast in our direction!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ahhh very good lesson indeed!!
    I was singing the song as I started reading your post and by the middle I was captivated as I felt encouragement through your words. My grandma has dementia and although it’s a lot different spending time with her I have to remember that she’s still the same grandma to me as she was twenty years ago..she’s still sweet, caring, and fun…just sometimes forgetful and requires extra patience…but I’m thoroughly blessed in helping her “find that number” and I know she enjoys the company, even if she has no clue what we’re searching for.❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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