It’s a good day when my wife is whistling. Whistling means she’s happy, focused on coloring, and I have time to write.
I’ve learned to play music with words and melodies that spark her mind into activity. One fascinating aspect of her dementia, often reported by others, is that she remembers tunes from years back, but not a word of what I said five minutes ago. Besides her marvelous musical memory, she also demonstrates a talent for mimicry.
When birds sing out on our daily walks, she sings back, chirping and whistling whatever she hears. Although there has yet to be an answer to her calls, she doesn’t stop trying.
I’m fortunate that my wife’s mind still allows her to find delight in life. I’ve been around others with dementia whose confusion and anger made it difficult to care for them. I’ve learned there are buttons I don’t push with her because they will lead to a death spiral of emotions that is difficult to recover from. When such situations happen, as they inevitably do, I tell myself to remember that I’m dealing with a beautiful child who only wants to love and be loved.
And I play music that gets her whistling.