My Dementia Diary 37 – Does She Dream?

I feel her sleeping next to me
her softness, warmth, and peace
What thoughts are dancing in her mind
what memories live from distant times
in a life that soon forgets today
what has dementia swept away

does she dream of long lost roads
when skies screamed blue and aspens glowed
when all our moments turned to gold

of dancing barefoot in the waves
running, laughing, in the rain
gathered round the Christmas tree
celebrating family
holding hands on sunset walks
listening as the other talks
smiling babies
hummingbirds
fragrant roses
loving words

I hold her gently in the night
shielding her from nightmare’s fright

tio stib

You might also enjoy: My Dementia Diary 30Fragility, My Dementia Diary

My Dementia Diary 36 – A Picnic in the Park

Sitting close beside me in the open train car, my wife chattered excitedly as the little steam engine pulled its load of families through the shaded redwood forest. It was a rare day for us, a trip away from home. 

We are blessed with good neighbors, adventurous folks who’d taken us for a picnic in the park, miles away from our small town routine. We’d hiked along a boardwalk to a pond where my wife excitedly pointed me at a row of turtles basking on a sun baked log. She’d squealed with baby pigs at the animal farm and gasped in surprise when a goat yanked the celery stalk from her hand. She chattered gleefully when the music started and her painted zebra moved up and down as the carousel whirled round.

Then, tightly packed, all sat together around our picnic table, sharing sandwiches, treats, and past summer stories in the warm afternoon sun.

The whistle blew , the train slowed, the ride and day would soon end. But I will be forever grateful for the kindness of our special friends.

image7.jpeg

tio stib

You might also enjoy: My Dementia Diary 30 – Fragility, My Dementia Diary

My Dementia Diary 35 – A One Act Play

Each day, every day, the curtain goes up on their one act play. 

The early morning hush is broken by her voice, “are you coming to walk with me?”

He rubs sleep from his eyes and answers, “yes, I’m coming.”

The blind man and his demented wife have said these lines well over one thousand times. The play, a new day, begins again.

They make the bed, dress, go out for their morning walk. She babbles on about family and friends who no longer come to see her. His mind drifts about, from birdsongs to the sunshine’s warmth, affirming as needed-

“Yes, I love you.”

“Yes, everyone is well.”

“Yes, it is a beautiful day.”

They stop to sit on a bench, inhaling fresh sea air, soaking up tranquility. He hears a distant train, a nearby bird. 

She asks again, “do you love me?”

“I will always love you.”

Inseparable, they walk on, greeting passersby. She coos to babies, stoops to pet dogs, fills the world with smiles. They shop, bank, deal with life’s necessities, then climb the hill for home.

There are meals to make, chores to do. These done, they sit at their desks, soft music playing. She whistles happily, coloring simple designs, her way of making beauty. Content in this peaceful bubble, he writes, seeking beauty with words.

“Look!” she pleads, confronting him with her finished pages.

“Wow!” he exclaims, blind to her colors but seeing her needs.

Later, she gets bored, and they go back out into the larger world, stop for coffee or ice cream, chat with neighbors, then climb the hill again.

Sometimes there are cameo appearances, short lived visits from family or friends. The script changes little. The show has even gone on the road, played for months in other towns, but the actors returned to the stage they loved best.

Day darkens and, holding hands, they wander down to the overlook,. She  surveys  their community, their town, and describes the people scurrying about on Main Street, the sailboats flying by on the distant water, the colors of the clouds above.

 They hug and kiss and head home.

The curtain falls. No ovations, no encores, no flowers tossed upon the stage.

***

As I lie in bed, waiting for the bliss of sleep, the day’s scenes play again, the smells, the sounds, the precious moments when she was happy.

She is the only audience I care about.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: My Dementia Diary 30 – Fragility, My Dementia Diary

My Dementia Diary 27 – What’s Your Name?

Some mornings I wake up and wonder if it’s just a bad dream, everything’s fine, My wife’s mind is not slipping away. Then, something happens that reminds me that the bad dream is true.

“What’s your name?” I heard her asking.

I looked around and found her standing in front of a mirror mounted on the bathroom door.

“What’s your name” she asked the image in the mirror.

Then, she looked behind the door, wondering where the image was.

No, it’s happening. My wife has dementia and her mind is slowly deteriorating. She puts the electric toothbrush in her mouth but doesn’t remember to turn it on, trying to brush her teeth manually. She sprays herself with air freshener rather than perfume. She puts clothes on and takes them off and puts them on again, and again, until I help her sort out what to wear. She is more and more needy, immediately fearful if she cannot find me.

But, in the midst of this downward spiral, she keeps smiling, keeps loving, keeps reminding me of why she is so precious to me.

As I write this, I find myself on the verge of tears. I want to cry, but I know I can’t. she is watching me and any sign that I’m upset, sad, disturbed, sets off a flurry of questions,

“What’s the matter?? Why are you sad? Do you love me?”

I smile and assure her, “yes, I love you dearly.”

And I wonder if the woman who used to be here is hiding behind the mirror.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: My Dementia Diary 26 – Over the Rainbow, My Dementia Diary

My Dementia Diary 22 – I’m Taking a Shower!

“I’m taking a shower,” she squealed with delight as my wife scampered past and into the bathroom. 

Her joy in anticipation, the sheer radiance of her being left me speechless.

I was filled with the exuberant thrill of being alive that only children can experience. I was overwhelmed by the knowing that the woman who I had married was no longer here. She would never be here again, replaced now by a beautiful child being led to bathe because she no longer remembered to do so herself.

I heard music playing in the background, John Denver singing-

“Sweet, sweet surrender, live, live without care. Like a fish in the water, like a bird in the air.” ”

I cried.

There are times when I am absolutely certain there is a power, a force of being, a love beyond understanding that binds all life in Oneness.

Namaste’

tio stib

You might also enjoy: My Dementia Diary 21-As Good As It Gets, My dementia Diary

My dementia Diary 21 – As Good As It Gets

We’ve just come back from a month in Mexico, a time of surviving myriad family dilemmas rather than any sort of vacation. Upon returning to what we call “home” in our little town at the mouth of the Sacramento River, I’d collapsed, exhausted, into bed, and it was twelve hours later before I pushed myself up to greet a new day. We went for a morning walk.

I was immediately struck by how simple and pleasant life was in this Small American town. There were no buses honking at us, no train horns blaring, no threat of being kidnapped or robbed, no foul smells from open sewers, no garbage to sort through in an endless Mexican obstacle course for the disabled. Instead, there were sidewalks without potholes, stoplights where cars halted for pedestrians, singing birds and plants and flowers everywhere. And I could smell the sea air.

We sat on a favorite bench on the waterfront and felt the sea breeze caress our faces, hearing the lap of small waves on the rocky shore. The fronds of a palm tree swished the air above us. I thought back on the past month, the turmoil and seemingly endless days and nights, the world where I felt so alone and lost.

We went so that my wife could spend time with family. we went because I’m not sure we’ll ever go back again. They all noticed how her mind had deteriorated. They all heard her babbling, understood that she is less and less able to connect with reality. And that was good. There is no more hiding from the truth. Someone they all love dearly is slipping away.

And so that time was good. And so, my wife and I found ourselves sitting on a bench in the warm sun, surrounded by tranquility, and she put her hand in mine and said,

“I love you.”

I squeezed her hand and thought, this is as good as it gets.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: My Dementia Diary 20-Surrendering, My Dementia Diary

My Dementia Diary 18 – The last Posole’ Party

this past weekend, my wife and I had a posole’ party for friends and neighbors. Posole’ is a traditional Mexican soup served for special occasions and we’ve hosted such gatherings many times. When we first started doing this, my wife would prepare the posole’ from a recipe she’d learned from her mom. As her mind has deteriorated, I’ve picked up more and more of the process until, now, I’m the cook, and my wife the assistant.

Part of the challenge is procuring groceries, a process requiring us to walk downhill to the store and lug the needed items back up the hill. There is always a second trip because I always forget something. I put these efforts down to healthy exercise. The larger difficulty is emotional and mental, staying patient and caring as my wife becomes more and more anxious about the coming event, asking the same questions again and again. Who’s coming? When are they coming? Why are they coming? Who’s coming?…

As much as she enjoys the thought of company, she is also fearful that someone is going to take her things, so she begins to hide and cover them up. Still, we got through this and by mid afternoon the posole’ is simmering on the stove, our home filled with the sumptuous aroma of good things cooking. My wife is excited but needs hugs and assurance that all is well. 

Guests eventually arrive amidst smiles and laughter and all gather around to share a delicious meal and the opportunity to connect with each other again. My wife is happy, basking in all the love of the moment. Yet, I notice that she is not able to enter into conversation, most topics are too confusing for her. She retreats to the kitchen to do dishes, babbling joyfully to herself.

The evening winds down, friends depart, my wife and I hug, feeling good for the party’s success, but too tired to clean up after it. 

As I sat sipping tea the following morning while my wife engaged in her favorite pastime, adult coloring books, I reflected. yes, the previous night’s event had gone wonderfully well and it had been a great gathering. My wife had enjoyed it. Yet, I was beat. Certainly, the effort had been worth it, but would I ever want to do it again? perhaps it’s time to quit on a high note.

Time will tell.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: My Dementia Diary 17 – Hiding the Cookies, My Dementia Diary