Monday, February 20, 2012

embracing dementia

The new Jack.





Jack is my beloved StepDad. His 82 years are settling in. We are also learning how to gracefully settle with the new challenges and confusion of simple everyday tasks. You know the ones we automatically perform on auto pilot? Jack might spend 15 minutes with a folded ladder in his hands, leaning on it in the yard, trying to remember where it came from. My Mom approaches him with a soft, gentle voice, asking if she can help him. Together they store the ladder just a few feet from where he fetched it from. Thank God we were there when he decided to climb it and chop down an unnecessary tree. He watches me like a hawk, as I try to repair the front door. Of course I did it all wrong, and that's OK. He was there to hold my screwdriver, and it would have been an impossible job without him. The next day he washed the glass with Bug Repellant and fixed the squeaky hinge with his (very expensive) ear drops!



In following photo he is looking at my iPhone picture I took of him. He asked if he should place it in the sunshine to recharge the battery! Brilliant idea, yet another sign of inability to connect all the dots.


Handsome fella, huh?

My Mom is a Rock Star. She lovingly offers him direction to the bathroom when he is rubbing his fuzzy chin, asking where his tools are to "remove this stuff" She kindly, patiently answers the same question every 5 minutes like it was the first time he asked. She holds his hand, he shuffles his feet. He is hurrying, she is slowing.



Every time she is in sight, he says to her "Hello Beautiful. 
How's my Lovely Wife?  Do you know how much I love you?"

and of course it is followed up with a huge body hug



Sometimes we miss the Old Jack and feel a little sad.
But the New Jack makes us glad.
And we embrace the fact that dinner time will be a rerun from last night, as he lights up and tells the same story of when he ate worms as a child or joined the service at 14 years of age or how much he hates raw oysters and eggplant! We laugh and listen and love.
For right now, this is all we have...and it is enough.





21 comments:

Sea Dream Studio said...

Beautiful post , Deb.♥

beth said...

dementia can be so sad and hard....thank you for reminding us to be more patient and understanding regarding a disease that doesn't get enough attention....or when it does, you only hear the bad....xo

Kim Mailhot said...

Your mom is definitely a rock star, loving Jack through these changes so beautifully. A rock star and a great teacher. Sending love and light to all of you by the seaside.

d smith kaich jones said...

Thank you for this. Michael is dealing with the same thing with his mom, who sometimes remembers his dad is dead, and sometimes thinks he's in the next room, taking a nap. Her good days still outnumber the bad, and laughter proves to be the best medicine. That, and love. As you show so beautifully here.

Give Jack a hug for me. And your mom. And while you're at it, give yourself one also.

xoxo

Michelle V. Alkerton said...

thank you - ((hugs))

Stay inspired!

Nikki Lee Anne Ghilain said...

Thank you for sharing....... brought back some beautiful memories of my Dad....tears are a flowing.....and I don't choke up easily. Gracias amiga bonita!

Sher said...

So very well put. Your sweet thoughts were embraced in my heart just now, in the land of sand 9 hours later than you are right now on a Monday.
It is time for us to embrace this change in our parents as well.
Thanks for keeping it in perspective.
I love your attitude.
Wished I had met your mom, but wait, maybe I did?
CRS Can't Remember Shit, the signs right before Dementia!!!

Stephanie said...

Sending love and light to you, your mom and Jack.

How wonderful for Jack to have your mom in his life...I hope we are all so fortunate.
x...x

Serena Lewis said...

What a touching post, Deb. I only wish my Mum were as patient with my Dad who is showing strong signs of forgetfulness and confusion which we think may be signs of Alzheimers setting in. I love that Jack is so loving towards your Mum. All the best to this beautiful couple.

windrock studio said...

Hey Deb, you did a wonderful job in sharing the love you all have for each other. Everyone should be so lucky to have a couple of great ladies on their side as they go thru a life experience like this.
Bless Jack's heart and you and your Mama's, too.

Teresa said...

What a beautiful story!

Tracy said...

Bless his dear heart ....
Reminds me of my grandfather, he's 86. We hear lots of childhood and WW II stories.

Brenda said...

Thank you for sharing these words and pictures. I'm always touched by what you do here.

Cherie said...

Beautiful post Deb. So poignant.

Liz Thomas said...

This was a wonderful and touching post. My 86 year old mother lives with my husband and I. She is slowly sliding into the realms of dementia so I can truly appreciate this post! Wonderfully written. So compassionate!

Spadoman said...

What we do is learn from our Elders. They have taught us how to do so many things throughout our lives. Now, near the end, they teach us how to leave this world. We owe them this gentleness that your Mom exhibits.I send all the positive energy I can your way. Use what you need.

Peace

K8 said...

oh dear. lovely post. sending you love

Anna Gradl Files said...

This is beautiful, hugs to you all.

michellegd.com said...

this touches me deeply.
xo

michellegd.com said...

this touches me deeply.
xo

michellegd.com said...

this touches me deeply.
xo