We have a routine. Except for the rare appointment or when things go sideways, we do the same things everyday. This stability of sameness comforts my wife. It is easy to fulfill her simple expectations. We get up, we walk, we visit the grocery store, perhaps the library. Then, return home and eat breakfast. In the afternoon, she colors and I write. Often, our kids will call via video conferencing from one of the three different continents they live on. Then, time for late lunch, which serves as our dinner. Another walk, maybe an ice cream cone stop. By then, the sun is dropping and we head for bed.
However, with increasing frequency, our days don’t go that way. Something happens which sets off my wife’s fragile mind and she has a meltdown. She’ll get anxious, thinking something is wrong with someone in the family. We need to call, but no one answers. Or, I’ll get upset with something I can’t do and mutter some angry words. Her response will be, “why are you angry with me?” I’m not, but that’s whaat her mind grabs onto. The past week, she’s been arguing with the images in the mirror, no longer able to realize they are reflections.
There’s a long list of little things that can upset our daily pattern. When this happens, I’ve learned to drop whatever I’m doing and make a radical change.
It’s time to reset, do something different that takes her mind in a different direction.
Go for another walk, visit the taco truck for a burrito or the coffee shop for hot chocolate, anything that provides a radical change in environment which gives her mind something else to focus on.
Fortunately, she never resists. As long as we’re doing something together, she’s happy. Moments after we’ve left home for a new experience, she’s a different person, whatever was bothering her has been forgotten.
Lying in bed at night, I play back the day’s memories. If I recall smiles and happiness, we’ve done well.
And I go to sleep knowing tomorrow will be a new adventure.