Today, the nurse asked Papaw during a regular check up if he had any pain. He said, “Yes”. The nurse asked him where. He pointed to his neck. The nurse then asked, “Where in the neck?” He pointed at my husband and said, “He is a pain in the neck.” The nurse finally laughed. He thought Papaw was actually in pain.
My daughter was in town over the weekend and once again Papaw got up early. I mentioned a few weeks ago when someone is here out of the ordinary he often gets up early. We were just getting ready to leave for a Wedding Shower out of town and had to say good-bye right away. He looked sad. He asked my daughter if she really had to go and she said yes but she would be back that night. After we got home and had supper we decided to play some cards. This is always an experience because we often start with one game and end with another. Papaw doesn’t remember what we are playing and starts laying down for another card game so we just go with the flow.
We decided to play Rummy because that is what he remembers best. As you can tell, he was having a good time. He always says he would love to play if we don’t beat him to bad. Today he doesn’t remember that Bethany was here or that we played cards but once again, we lived in the moment.
Mom is enjoying her new found freedom. She is definitely not sitting at home mourning. She is mourning but she is not letting that stop her. Last week she left for 4 days. Tomorrow she is leaving for the day. I told her she had a curfew and had to be home before dark. She just laughed at me. She doesn’t drive in the dark and I want her to be safe. Next week she is taking off for a week in Florida. We are so glad she is spreading her wings and traveling again. She is really enjoying the time away. She is reconnecting. With some of this comes fond memories of her and Dad traveling and I’m sure this makes her happy. But for now, she is off again.
One of Papaws sons has been visiting this past week. Papaw has loved having him here but it has been a little confusing. We have been here, lots of company, lots of activity. All of this adds to confusion for his already confused mind. I often wonder how dementia makes you feel. Do you know that you don’t know? Do you care? Does it matter? All I know is that it is one of the saddest things to watch. Papaw is in the out of sight out of mind stage. That means if you are not in the room and he isn’t looking at you, you don’t exist. Every morning was a great surprise for Papaw. His son had come to visit. A new found joy every day.
We live in the moment here. We enjoy the moment, we laugh and then it is over. In an hour Papaw doesn’t remember, let alone next week. We have to enjoy the moments as they come. We have to put aside the work, the phone, the task at hand and enjoy. Dementia isn’t always convenient but we will never regret the time we spend with Papaw. I do not have one single regret over the passing of my father. We lived in the moment with him also.
Papaws son went back home. We had told Papaw that he would leave today and he was up at 8:30 am. He hasn’t seen 8:30 am in at least a year. I joked that he got up to hang the sun but he got up to tell his son good-bye. How can a man who can’t remember hardly anything remember that his son is leaving today. Is it something he can hold on to? A sad moment? A moment he dreads? Does Papaw think this might be the last time he sees his son? Is he afraid he won’t remember him tomorrow, next week, next month? Papaw can’t tell us that. I think a lot of what he knows he feels from inside. A feeling that just won’t go away but not necessarily a feeling he can express. Is it something he could have expressed when he was younger? Or maybe it is a feeling that never happened until the dementia started taking over.
As Papaw continues to get quieter and quieter, as he turns into himself, I’m just glad he is here and not with strangers. So far we are not strangers but we did become strangers to Dad. Is that a scary feeling? Did he know? Did he recognize us at all? Were we just strangers with faces and no names? Was that comforting? I don’t know that these questions will ever be answered for those of us who have family with dementia and Alzheimers but does it really matter? As long as they know they are loved I think they are comforted.
Call a loved one of yours today and tell them that you love them. Who knows they might find comfort in those words that you will never know. In fact, tell them God loves them. He is the only one that truly knows how to love!
Yesterday my husband and I needed to go to southern Indiana and we asked Mom to go with us. She said yes. The day was beautiful. We went to visit Open Arms Children’s Home. It is a home for girls who have been taken away from families because of abuse and neglect or the girls are placed there for running away. They do an awesome ministry to these girls giving them a safe place to live. We talk about them at home all the time and Mom wanted to see what we were talking about. It was a great day. The sun was shinning. The drive was fun. The home had an open house and mom could see where we keep going. I think the part she liked best was the Sunday Drive.
When we were kids we didn’t have air conditioning and often on a Sunday afternoon we went for a drive. Mom and Dad still often took those drives even after Dad couldn’t drive anymore. Mom hated to do the driving. Dad could drive and look. Mom can drive OR look but not both. She said she loved yesterday because she could just look. I was afraid the day might have been to much. She had a very busy week and hadn’t had time to unwind but she didn’t think so. She is really enjoying getting out again. She is starting a new life without Dad. I know it is hard but she is stretching herself and enjoying her new found freedom.