My dementia Diary 14 – Pink Nails

 

Vietnamese. Spanish. english. Put a blind guy in the middle of this language chaos and what do you get?

Pink nails, or so I’m told.

I am realizing that my wife is less and less able to care for her personal hygiene, from remembering to take showers to brushing her teeth. She has been meticulous about such things in the past, so I’m  always surprised to discover such care is not happening. the remedy is usually a nudging, a gentle reminder, and she will spring into action, smiling. Yes, I am blessed most things are still easy.

But her nails are a different matter.

Up until now, she has done her own finger and toe nail care, cutting, filing, and painting them, an activity she has much enjoyed. However, she recently held out a hand to me and asked me to touch it. Doing so, I felt her nails and realized they were quite long, much longer than she usually kept them. It had probably been weeks since they’d been trimmed. Obviously, she wasn’t doing this herself anymore.

Off we went to the local nail salon. We walk by it often and greet the workers who sit outside lunching, all friendly and all Vietnamese. Upon entering, I explained that my wife needed a manicure and pedicure and pink was the preferred color for her nail polish. There was a response in strange words which I took as affirmative. then, I sat nearby as two young women babbled to my wife in Vietnamese and she babbled back in Spanish. I was quite content to keep my English out of the conversation, trusting my wife’s needs would be met as women seem to be able to understand each other no matter the language differences.

A short time later, she waved her hands gleefully in front of me and I, sensing they must now look beautiful, told her so, feeling good that, once more, we’ve successfully adapted to life’s continuing changes.

Yes, her nails are now likely pink, but I don’t really care, she’s happy. No, I was not tempted to have my own nails done. Blindness gives me a good excuse to avoid that. Besides, I don’t look good in pink, or so I’m told.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: My Dementia Diary

My Dementia Diary 13 – This Child Who Once Was Woman

she laughs at dancing butterflies
smiles at babies passing by
clings to me when brought to cry
this child who once was woman

her zest is sparkling innocence
a love of life without a fence
a mind released from circumstance
this child who once was woman

a singing bird
a playful word
the mirth of anything absurd
she hugs
she screams
she loves 
she beams
this child who once was woman

my heart beats glad, she is such joy
reminds me when I was a boy
of times preceding plots and ploys
this child who once was woman

the change, I was slow to see
as fog crept over memories
and here is all that she can be
this child who once was woman

now, I hold her close and dear
do my best to soften fears
not to shed a single tear
make the most while she is here
my wife who once was woman

tio stib

You might also enjoy: My Dementia Diary

My Dementia Diary 9 – Adventure Buddies

She never says, “No.”

My wife has been the perfect adventure buddy. No matter what I suggest, no matter where we go, she never says, “No.” Instead, she embraces the moment, delights in new experiences, finds joy in whatever we’re doing.

Let’s go camp on top of Mt. diablo and watch the sunset.

Let’s go.

How about we take the train to Klamath falls and go fly fishing/

Let’s go.

I need a break, do you feel like a sandwich at the deli?

Let’s go.

Cars, planes, trains, new people, new places, new adventures.

Let’s go!

I often smile as those memories drift thru my mind. Blindness and dementia now limit our travel radius, but she still never says, “no.”

She always answers, “let’s go!”

tio stib

You might also enjoy My Dementia Diary 8 – Sometimes She Knows, The Joy of Adventure Buddies

My Dementia Diary 7 – The Marvelous Mind

It is estimated that the human mind processes from 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts each day, 35-50 thoughts each minute. All this happens within a mass of about 3 pounds that has over 100 billion neurons fed by 400 miles of blood vessels. No wonder the human brain demands more energy, about 20 percent, than any other body organ.

As marvelous as our brain is, we often take it for granted.

Until it stops working.

Until some neurons stop firing, and a person can’t count backwards from ten anymore.

Until something short circuits, and the brain doesn’t remember who was just on the phone.

Until someone starts stuttering, unable to find the right words they want to say.

Until reality becomes a series of fragmented stories.

Then, we stop taking the marvelous mind for granted. Then we wonder how after spending millions of dollars and countless hours researching dementia, scientists still do not have a single drug that can cure or even help with this condition.

Then we scream in frustration as we watch the person we love fall farther and farther away from us.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: My Dementia Diary 6 – A Shared Life

Taxi School-Chapter 2

Introduction

Al McGinty, “Gint” as he is known to friend and foe, does not like change. He’s driven the same cab for thirty years, eats at the same cafe every morning, can’t say a nice word about politicians or lawyers, and worships New York City. He has a unique lifestyle, one true friend, Wally, and reads the New York Times each evening with a glass of brandy and a Cuban cigar. His is the perfect world.

But that’s about to change.

Gint is the main character in my novel, “Taxi School,” and you can follow Gint’s story as his life explodes and he is forced into one of Nature’s three ultimate choices-

Adapt, migrate, or go extinct.

I’ll be publishing a new chapter each week, hope you follow along. comments, on any line, are always appreciated.

tio stib

CHAPTER 2

“Jesus, Johnny, you got nothing better to do but read “Playboy,” blurted Gint as he burst into the office of Carlutti’s Car repair, “I can see you have a demanding schedule, but I need my cab, preferably today.”

ir.

Johnny, a good looking guy with a tanned face and a full head of slightly grayed black hair, was not the least bit moved by his surprise visitor. He remained seated in his swivel chair, boots up on the desk. and raised his magazine for Gint to view.

the title read, “World Traveler.”

“Lulu wants to get out of town,” said Johnny, “and what Lulu wants, Lulu gets.”

“As well she should,” replied Gint, remembering that  Lulu had been the hottest chick in the old neighborhood. She still turned heads. Lulu and Johnny had been lifelong sweethearts.

“As for my demanding schedule, hell, Gint, your Checker cab is about the only automobile I can work on anymore. These days, car repair is all about computers, and I’m not going there. J3 loves that crap and he can have it.”

J3  was John Carlutti  the third, the youngest of the male Carlutti line to work at the repair shop, and the kid Johnny yelled at as he opened the door to the shop, over the noise of air wrenches and occasional curses, “J3, move your sorry ass and pull Mr. McGinty’s cab out front!”

Gint saw a kid with a mop of black hair and grease on his face look up from under a car hood, smile, then dash outside. then Gint saw something familiar.

“Hey, Johnny, isn’t that Joey’s cab?”

Yep, he left it here last week. Asked me to sell it.”

“What?” Gint cried out, turning to Johnny in disbelief, “he can’t do that!”

“Well, he sure as hell did,” said Johnny, “came by, said he was hanging it up, asked me to send the sale money to an address in California.”

Stunned, Gint sat in a chair beside Johnny, speaking softly, “we’ve been in the business together for thirty years, bought our cabs together. We’re partners, a team, the last two Checker cabs in New York City.”

“Not any more, Gint, now you’re a team of one.”

The office street door opened, and J3 stuck his head in, “here you go Mr. McGinty, thanks for using Carlutti’s Car Repair.”

Gint mindlessly shook the kid’s hand and walked out.

On the sidewalk, gint whistled once and Wally came bounding down the street. Gint opened the driver’s door and the two climbed in to the last Checker cab in New York City.

-to be continued-

You might also enjoy: Taxi School – Chapter 1

Taxi School- Chapter One

introduction

Al McGinty, “Gint” as he is known to friend and foe, does not like change. He’s driven the same cab for thirty years, eats at the same cafe every morning, can’t say a nice word about politicians or lawyers, and worships New York City. He has a unique lifestyle, one true friend, Wally, and reads the New York Times each evening with a glass of brandy and a Cuban cigar. His is the perfect world.

But that’s about to change.

Gint is the main character in my novel, “Taxi School,” and you can follow Gint’s story as his life explodes and he is forced into one of Nature’s three ultimate choices-

Adapt, migrate, or go extinct.

I’ll be publishing a new chapter each week, hope you follow along. comments, on any line, are always appreciated.

tio stib

chapter one

It was a dark Bronx morning, still more winter than spring, patches of mist swirling about glowing streetlights. The night’s rain glistened atop the line of vacant cars. With the exception of two figures ambling down the sidewalk, nothing moved. The four legged one lifted his leg on the chrome spoke wheel of a black SUV.  The two legged guy unzipped and pissed on the passenger door.

“Damn yuppies!” he cursed, zipping up.

The two strolled towards the corner and a flashing pink neon sign. The M & M Cafe beckoned.

Slamming the door behind him, Al McGinty announced himself. Gint, as he was known to friend and foe, removed his worn driving cap, smoothed his thinning hair, and hung cap and  jacket on a wall hook. Surveying the empty restaurant his eyes stopped at a lone man hunched over a counter stool.

Smiling, Gint spoke “what’s got the cops up before sunrise, O’Malley?”

The big man in the rumpled suit spun slowly on his stool, sipping his coffee before a grin appeared on his weathered face.

“Most crooks aren’t as lazy as you are, Gint, some of them even work night shift.”

“I’ll never forgive you for that parking ticket, Lieutenant,” replied Gint plopping down on the stool next to the officer.

“Mother Mary, that was thirty years ago.”

“And you were so proud of yourself.”

“Hell, yes, my first big bust.”

The kitchen door burst open and a full figured  woman in a spotless uniform swept in with a steaming plate balanced on one hand. Embroidered above the left breast of her snug fitting blouse was the name “Midge.”

“Wally, baby!” Midge exclaimed, bending down to stroke the furry head of the mid size mutt sitting patiently at Gint’s side.

She continued, “how ya doing, kid?” scratching him behind the ears.

Wally bared his gleaming teeth in appreciation.

“God,” Midge said, “I wish I had those pearly whites.”

“I wish I had my breakfast,” said O’Malley.

The waitress arose and dropped O’Malley’s plate in front of him.

“Anything else?” she snapped.

“Coffee would be swell.”

Midge turned abruptly and headed for the coffee pot.

Gint, exasperated, let go, “and what about me, Midge dear?”

“Yeah,” replied Midge, not bothering to turn her curly blond head as she picked up the coffee pot, “what about you?”

“Now what are you mad about?”

“Gint, I’m always mad about you.”

“I knew it!” You’ve been in love with me since I first walked in here.”

Returning with the coffee pot, Midge retorted, “fat chance, the best offer you ever made me was a trip to Paradise, which turned out to be the Paradise Motel in Jersey.”

“You’d be better off running away with me, Gint, the lady can’t even boil an egg,” said the big bald guy who suddenly appeared besides Midge. “Mick” was written in black marker at the top of his apron, although this was hard to make out through a collage of stains and food fragments.

“Mick and me, together in paradise, that’s disgusting,” said Gint.

“It’s an oxymoron,” added O’Malley wiping up the last of his fried egg with a piece of toast.

“Too late now, boys,” said Midge, refilling O’Malley’s coffee.

“That’s right, guys,” continued Mick, wrapping a tattooed arm around his wife, “we’re selling out and going home.”

“Home? what do you call Brooklyn?” gasped Gint.

“You forget I was born in Vermont.”

“Yeah, and the smartest thing you ever did, besides marrying Midge, was leave. There’s nothing but winter and trees up there. Besides, it’s a foreign country and you don’t speak the language.”

“The kids don’t want this place, but the developers do,” said Mick, “we’re going to take the money and run.”

Midge poured a mug of coffee for Gint, adding, “besides, Gint, it’s getting old serving deadbeats like you.”

Midge winked at O”Malley, then bent down to Wally, “what’s it going to be, boy, the usual?”

Wally barked and showed his pearly whites.

Mick and Midge returned to the kitchen. Gint turned to O’Malley who had demolished his steak and eggs and was finishing off the hash browns.

“Can you believe it? What are we going to do without the M & M Cafe?”

O’Malley swallowed and took a sip of coffee, “not we, Gint, you. What are You going to do. In three months and twelve days, I’m retiring. Amy already has us a cute place in Florida near the grandkids.”

The cop  got up, put a ten spot on the counter, and slapped Gint on the back. “Remember that little job you’re doing for me today.”

Gint, still stunned by the M & M’s upcoming demise, answered, “yeah, got it covered.”

“Keep him out of trouble, Wally,” the cop said to the dog, then laughed to himself, “another oxymoron.”

O’Malley picked his overcoat from a wall hook and pulled it on as Midge reappeared with two steaming plates.

“Take it easy, O’Malley,” she said, putting one plate in front of Gint, then stooping to put the other at Wally’s feet.

“You, too, Midge” and O’Malley was out the door.

Gint looked down at his breakfast and groaned, “why is it Wally gets all the love around here?”

Wally, eagerly scarfing up his bacon and eggs, did not reply, but Midge answered, “he’s cuter than you and he never makes passes at me.”

Gint, still staring at his plate of soy eggs, plain toast, and a bowl of prunes, said”couldn’t you just forget my cholesterol problem and serve me some real food for old time’s sake?”

“What are friends for?” answered Midge, watching Wally lick his plate clean, “besides, those old times have finally caught up with you.”

Yeah, thought Gint, they certainly had.

-to be continued-

My Dementia Diary 4 – Simplicity

My wife and I have a common need.

Simplicity.

Her dementia makes chaos confusing. My blindness makes disarray frustrating. Fortunately, our small apartment limits the possibilities for disorder.

However, Order for my wife’s mind is putting all the silverware in one drawer. For me, order is putting the forks with the forks, spoons with spoons, etc.. I’ve accepted the daily task of doing this sorting by touch, relieved that I’m not searching for cutlery in the bathroom.

We have our own desks, sitting across the room from each other. I sit and write on my computer as she sits and works on her many coloring books. I make no attempt to organize any of her materials, although I sometimes try to help find her reading glasses. It amazes me how one moment five pairs of reading glasses have vanished and an hour later all are strewn across her desk. The saving grace in such situations is the knowledge that nothing can get too lost in our small home space. I say that knowing how distraught I’ve been frantically searching for a spatula only to finally find it in the refrigerator.

Simplicity also governs our activity schedule. We typically get up and go walking around town, varying our route depending on weather and mood. We return to eat breakfast and then head to our work zones. At some point, we’ll stop and exercise, break for lunch, and often take another walk before sunset. Interspersed between these daily events are a occasional visits by friends, trips to the library, shopping, or eating out.

compared to life before blindness, when a sudden impulse would propel us into a car and off to the mountains or ocean or some other getaway destination, life now is quite uneventful. Does this bother me?

Yes. One of my most difficult challenges is not being able to just take off when the mood strikes me. I’ve found no consoling rationale that comforts me here but eating my heart out for what can no longer be won’t do us any good. It is what it is.

I’ve always liked order and simplicity, but I’ve also enjoyed chaos and complexity. In the past, I loved the process of working through chaos to restore order, through creative effort and physical work. Sure, I can still do some of that with my writing projects but I’ve yet to find this as rewarding, as satisfying, as taking a plot of empty land and turning it into a vibrant garden.

In truth, as much as my wife and I need simplicity in order to have a functional life that minimizes frustration, there is one nagging trade off. Simplicity, however helpful it may be, can also be extremely boring.

Perhaps this is why the sudden desire to walk downtown for an ice cream cone has become a life changing event.

tio stib