There is a 5 digit code to get into “ The neighborhood.” The key pad is lit by a red light, and when the numbers are added correctly, the light turns green, and I can enter or exit, depending on my direction.. or possible misdirection.
This door is kept locked, and protected because these inhabitants/residents living behind these doors would very likely exit, and escape, and possibly would become quickly disoriented in a world outside that they may not recognize any longer.
Every time I enter , I am reminded that I must remember this series of numbers…remembering… that’s what dementia takes.. your memories…
Amy, my Mum’s attentive care-worker brought Mum over for a visit the other day at the house where I’m staying.
The sun was warm, the sky was blue, and the scattered white clouds hung like bits of cotton in the sky. The patio umbrella was up, and even though one of the spindles was broken , leaving the fabric not quite taught, and looking as pretty as it once did, it was a welcome Spring scene.
My Mum ventured out onto the patio, and I placed her beloved Westie dog, Brody , on her lap. Her face lit up.
I noticed that she was wearing someone else’s pants. She did not seem bothered by this, so why was I?
She used to care very much about what she wore.. not so much anymore.
It’s not the big and glaring things that you notice, but the little simple things that gradually cave in around you.
She seemed tired the other day. I brought her upstairs to lay down on the leather sectional. The window was open, and her beautiful blue eyes looked out towards the sound of birds chirping..
“ I think those are the Orioles,” she said
I covered her up with a polka dot pink and blue satin coverlet, and Brody jumped up, and snuggled in immediately beside her. Both were content..this was a priceless moment.
I sat on the other end of the sofa, and talked to her. This felt normal, and comforting, and simple, and restful. It was a moment, but even just there, I knew I needed to really be present and value it, because it will be gone too quickly.
My friend’s daughter, Brooke, and I made dinner that night for “ The Seniors,” which were Don and Joyce and Mum.
Seeing all three of them seated together on the white sofa was so cute. Mum sat on the red blanket, and Joyce was with the white one, while Don sat on the grey electric blanket.
Kathy and I brought them beverages, and I offered them bruschetta bread, and a selection of olives for appetizers. They visited on the couch until supper was served.
At dinner we reseated them up at the counter bar. We served them tossed mixed green salad with a mango cream dressing, and pear and walnut ravioli, with a white wine/lime drizzle, and topped with parmesan cheese and cracked pepper.
There were yummy sounds that could be heard while they were eating, and seeing them enjoying their meals was a delight to behold.
These moments of clarity, and friendship are precious. This is what it’s all about to me.
I don’t need to know what comes next. Tomorrow will occur whether I’m here to enjoy it or not, only the right now is guaranteed.
After coconut cream pie, with a cup of coffee, all three wandered back to the sofa to visit some more.
As the evening moved forward, it was maybe 5:00, and I could sense my Mum beginning to grow somewhat emotional, and she began looking down at her hands quite a bit.
It was almost like a switch was being utilized to dim the lights… yes.. like a dimmer switch.
I could sense that her mood was changing.. she was not wanting this time to end… but somehow now anticipating it’s finale, was causing such sorrow in her.
My Friend Kathy, who was also observing this sent me a text that said,
“have your Mum sleep over.. NP.. at all.”
Kathy is kind and generous.
I asked Mum, if she wanted to stay, and she began to cry, and she nodded slowly..
I know that Joyce and Don were also observing this, and they seemed visibly relieved after this decision was made, and the anticipation of the having to leave was settled.
It’s these seemingly still moments that make the biggest impression. Snapshots on loved ones that are aging right before your eyes.
Amy had thoughtfully brought an extra set of clothes for Mum. Amy is a trooper, and is great in thinking ahead and securing the details, which is such an excellent quality in a care giver.
I walked Mum upstairs, and lent her a pair of my blue and green flannel checkered pajamas, and we tightened the drawstrings around her tiny frame, and then got her into the bathroom before getting her nestled into the double bed that we would share that night.
It was difficult for her to crawl in. She seemed stiffer, and her foot got a cramp in it at the same time. I notice she is moving a lot more slowly now, and needs lots of direction.
I lifted Brody up on the bed, and she got him all covered up with blankets, like a little baby.
They call the area at the Memory Living area where Mum resides, “ The neighborhood,” which does give it a more appealing feel.
This night, this meal shared with these people is also the neighborhood… the community. It is a sense of belonging that we all crave. We want to be with our people.. the familiar.. How truly frightening it must be to forget these times… This hurts to see.. it wounds my heart. I love this neighborhood, these loved ones.
The night was not uneventful. There was sporadic sleep, but I could tell that my Mum didn’t know where she was. At one point during the night, after our second “ potty call,” not to be confused with a “ booty call, “ I put in “ Gilmore Girls,” on Net flicks, on my phone., and we both watched it from the comfort of our pillows.. Mum always sings along with the theme song, and this makes her and me happy..
” If your out on the road, feeling lonely and oh so cold, all you need to do is call my name, and I’ll be there on the next train.. where you lead I will follow, anywhere that you want me to, if you need , you need me to be with you, I will follow where you lead.”… song by Carol King.
We both love this show. It is our show, and connects us.
It was 1:30 am, we were both wide awake, so it seemed like a perfectly normal thing to do.
The “ new normal.” This phrase kinda cracks me up… because it’s a continually ebbing away, and accepting of those things that you can’t change. This quote comes to mind..
“ give me the courage to change the things I can, accept the things I can’t, and the courage to know the difference.”
My friend Esther shared this with me the other day, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since then. It was about the “ still small voice,” that Elijah the prophet heard. The story is found in 1 Kings in the Bible. The still small voice that Elijah heard told him to go away, into the desert, and be still. Food and water would be provided for him. He stayed in a cave. When rocks fell down around him, and great winds came up, he didn’t hear the voice of God in the intenseness of that dramatic weather.. no.. he heard him in the quietness.. in the simple. He was comforted because he was told there would be food and water. He believed it, and it occurred.
This was a gentle reminder to me, to be still, and listen..
I have been amazed over the last few days, at encounters that I’ve had with people whom I have just met. There are no accidents.. just appointments.
I sat next to someone at dinner who is a real estate broker, who gave me great words of wisdom about moving forward with my house flooding situation.
I was out at a birthday get together the other night, and sat directly across from a gal who had lost her home through a fire. She gave me some excellent tips too about dealing with the insurance company.
Some other friends, Jeff and Karen drove me out to my house, and walked around my property with me, toured through my house, and helped me to decide what to do next, because their basement had flooded before, and they spoke encouraging that I would get through this, that the property was beautiful, and my basement would be dry once again.
These words of encouragement, and support, has been invaluable . These are the “still small voices,” that have been sent especially to guide me. Out of this crazy situation in my home has come blessings that I could not have imagined.. “ more than I could ask or think.”