My Dementia Diary 12 – My Grandfather’s Clock

There is a clock sitting on the shelf near our bed. It belonged to my mom’s dad and was passed on to me, making it my grandfather’s clock. Over a hundred years old, this timepiece is relatively small, meant to be set on a fireplace mantle, but it has a surprisingly vibrant chime. There are no batteries within, its mechanism driven by a coiled brass spring, which I wind weekly with a dozen turns of a key. For this effort, I am rewarded with a melodious chime counting out each and every hour.

I take comfort from these chimes, from the tick-tock of the ever swinging pendulum, an aroused awareness that time is now. I wonder if my grandfather, my mother, other family members, felt a similar connection.

I’ve lived more than 600,000 hours so far, a surprising number when I attempt to remember the breadth of my life experience. what happened to all those hours? The more important question, what will I do with the hours I have left?

Each tick of that clock is a moment I will never have again.

How many more chimes are left in my life?

How blessed I am to have had so many hours of being.

As my wife sleeps peacefully beside me, I again find comfort in the tick-tock of time, past, present, and future, and I drift away in hopes of hearing the morning chimes once more.

There’s an old folk song that beautifully expresses my sentiments, perfectly named, “My Grandfather’s Clock.” Here’s a link to a Johnny cash rendition

tio stib

You might also enjoy My Dementia Diary 11 – Morning Bliss

My Dementia Diary 11 – Morning Bliss

After several weeks of blustery cool and wet weather, today dawned warm with azure skies. We started out on our daily walk with one less layer of clothes. I’d even gone so far as abandoning my jeans for shorts. The Spring air, the melodies of newly arrived songbirds, my wife’s constant flow of delighted descriptions of happenings around us, was blissful.

I was suddenly struck with how fortunate we are to have the life we live, a peaceful and safe town closely connected to Nature, nearby friends and convenient walking access to all our daily needs, a comfortable and affordable home.

Given the challenges dementia and blindness present us, it’s hard to imagine how we could have a better living situation.

On top of these blessings, is the gift of still being able to share the simple joys of living in such a perfect place with my wife. True, we no longer have any sort of deep intellectual conversations, yet we can enjoy the little things. Ice cream cones and hot dogs. Tea and cookies. Hummingbirds at the feeder. the honks of Canada geese flying overhead. The smell of the beach at low tide. The laughs of children at the playground. “Hllos” and “How are yous” with neighbors and passersby.

My wife has become my eyes. through her childlike curiosity and delight, I am able to enjoy the world around us.

For this, I am deeply grateful.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: My Dementia Diary 10 – Where’s the Spatula?

My Dementia Diary 10 – Where’s the Spatula?

Blindness has changed how I operate in the kitchen. Spontaneity has been replaced with disciplined order. When preparing a meal, I first seek and lay out all I will need on the counter. This avoids frantic searches at critical moments, like where the heck is the pasta as the water is boiling over.

My wife’s dementia has added a wrinkle to this process. In her desire to help out, she follows behind and cleans up after me. I’ll be cooking hot cereal on the stove, turn to pour it into bowls I’d previously placed on the counter, only to find the counter empty. She has put everything I’d laid out away.

I certainly can’t fault her intentions. She wants to feel like she’s helping out, an important part of our life. The first time this happened, I was puzzled, wondering if I was losing it. Then, I was frustrated when I realized what she’d done. Finally, I started laughing, hit by the comical nature of what was going on.

There is another twist that is happening more and more. She has begun putting things in what I first thought are strange places.

Based on the afore mentioned cooking process, I was making pancakes. As you likely know, this process involves pouring the batter into a frying pan and then, at the appropriate moment, flipping the pancake over to cook the other side. To do this, you need a flipper, commonly called a spatula. the moment came when I needed to flip the pancake and I turned to grab the spatula. My hand searched the empty countertop.

It wasn’t there.

“Where’s the spatula?”

I often forget that asking a person with short term memory loss where something is will not result in a helpful answer. this time was no exception.

I opened the one drawer in our kitchen that serves as home for silverware and utensils and frantically rummaged around to find the spatula.

It wasn’t there.

At this point, my nose told me that there had been a death in the frying pan, my dreamed of pancake was now charcoal. Resigned to temporary defeat, I tossed the crispy breakfast failure into the garbage and resumed the hunt for the spatula.

I eventually found it, and its location was logical in a functional way. My wife’s mind had chosen to put the spatula down with the frying pans instead of in the utensil drawer. That makes some sense, although in the immediate moment, I was not so broad minded. Since that episode, I’ve come to expect such things. Bowls no longer end up on the shelf with other dishware, but in the cupboard beside the cereal. Dish clothes end up hanging on the dining room chairs. No, I have yet to come up with any logic here.

Fortunately, our studio apartment is quite compact and when I’m unable to find something, I’m comforted by the knowledge that it’s somewhere close. The other blessing is that as my hands search for missing things, they often discover other misplaced items. Finding stuff has become a treasure hunt.

I’ve also learned to put the spatula on the stove when it’s going to be needed, knowing my kitchen helper will be less tempted to hide it from me.

The adventure continues!

tio stib

You might also enjoy My Dementia  Diary 9 – Adventure Buddies

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

Adapt, Migrate, or Don’t Be Happy

A wise friend of mine often reminds me of what his grandaddy said when facing tough circumstances.

“Boy, in life you’ve only got three choices in any dire situation. It’s the basic law of Nature. When facing any threat of impending doom, you can either adapt, migrate, or go extinct. Period.”

Seems like a rather simplistic pronouncement, but as I’ve studied how these words measured up against my own unending perils, I think old granddad summed it up quite well, although I’d modify his thought thus:

“In any perilous situation, man has three choices: adapt, migrate, or don’t be happy.”

How might this apply to man’s’ daily encounters with the arguably most dangerous of species, women? Consider the following example:

He is sitting in front of the television, beer and chips in hand, watching the championship football game. He’s been looking forward to this all week. She marches in, stands defiantly in front of the television and blurts, “The sun’s shining and you’ve promised to cut the grass for weeks. It’s time!”

Adapt, migrate, or don’t be happy.

Consider the options:

Adapt: You could negotiate, promise to cut the grass immediately after the game, never mind that it’s already 4 p.m., and darkness will engulf the yard at 6, not to mention this is a double header day. Or, you could offer to do the yard tomorrow, hoping she doesn’t remember that you’ve already promised to take the family to the Wonderland Theme Park. Yes, you can adapt by trying to negotiate. In this case you’re options are limited as this is the tactic you used the past two weeks in avoiding the task. Next-

Migrate. You could arrange for your buddy Harry to call and then tell your wife he urgently needs your help in fixing his broken hot water heater, you’ll be back as soon as possible. Of course, Harry’s hot water heater is fine, but now you and he can watch the games in the safety of his garage undisturbed by domestic trivia. The downside of this is that Your wife and his wife are also friends and it’s more than likely that they will talk and your wife will soon discover that she’s been scammed, reducing your options to the final

Or don’t be happy. Yes, it may come to this. After reviewing all your other options and their consequences, you may just have to get out and mow the yard or face the continued wrath of your wife. But, wait, perhaps there are other  possibilities. Let’s go back to adapt.

Man’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances has been the single most important means of his survival on planet Earth. What are other ways he can adapt to this crisis? He could call Billy, the teenage kid next door, and offer him $20 to cut the yard, plus a free beer on the side. For an extra $10 he could probably get Billy to wash the wife’s car too. Now, we’re talking bonus points in the Love Game, getting out of the hole and back on top of her graces, (see previous post on The Love Game). Yes, it’s always wise to consider all options for adapting to crisis situations.

Looking for more ideas for how to survive and win the Love Game? Check out my new book, Remedies for Reluctant Romantics, 100 Ways To Sweep Love Its Feet. It’s available on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Remedies-Reluctant-Romantics-Tio-Stib-ebook/dp/B00HM9CN7A

I’m in your corner.

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