Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The shadows of evening

Like grey wolves lurking in the shadows of evening, just out of sight you sense them, but they wait quietly. There is no rush. They will get the chickens no matter what fences you build with love and and planning and determination. The chickens are toast. Night after night they will come for more, the wolves. The hen house will persevere for years sometimes, the squawking alerting passersby of the angst. But those grey beasts, they have cunning. Into the darkness they will vanish their prey, the few remaining of the roost ever more timid to crow their glory. We may shelter the chickens in homes of benevolence, but the spirit of the wolf knows no walls thick enough to deter it's hunger. The last of the flock will be taken. Only then will the wolf den move on to a another conquest.

That is one flitting perception of dementia. As my wife smiles the biggest heart felt smile imaginable at the littlest wee bit of attention, I bring her a morning tea, my heart breaks. I wish to run away, to hide from the knowledge that she will never again put down my idiotic rantings with one small word of wisdom. She will only smile, the introspection of her soul growing ever deeper as her eyes concentrate on that inner world, her place of refuge it seems, till I break the spell once more with that wee bit of attention, “Madam, would you mind some scrambled eggs and toast for your breakfast?” And she smiles, somewhere deep inside knowing that I jest, and answers with a soft “Yes,” and I wish to cry.

This morning she brought to her place where she sits near by me, three pairs of 'dry' jeans we purchased at the 'Valued Village' just yesterday. I had hung them on the line in our cats bedroom to air a bit, the smells of used clothing, even though new looking, being overpowering. The meds for dementia have helped her memory, but the facilities to make cognizant sense of those memories often need a helping hand. We will launder those jeans later, and she will be so proud of them. It is for those meaningful episodes in our routine for which we live. The outside world has lost it's significance. She asked me for the longest time what day and month it was, and we would find it on the calender, and five minutes latter she would ask again, a compulsion of sorts. But no longer. The day of the week is irrelevant. The season is noted by the amount of sweaters and jackets she puts on when she gets outdoors, since it is not 'cold' enough inside the house to dress. I'm not an arguer, I just put lots of stuff in a bag and let her adjust her temperature as she sees fit. So far it works. Tomorrow probably not.

The need to think for two people, my dilemma. I spent my whole life avoiding my own better judgment, and now I'm thrown into this awesome duty our civilization imposes on caregivers not to screw up. “Did you go #2 today my deary?” “I know you don't like bathing, but it's been two weeks my deary!” “Just one spoonful of peas my deary, please, no not in the garbage!” “Did you take all your meds?” as we rummage through her purse to find the ones she doesn't like which she sneaked there when I turned away one second. One second! And as I sit for a moment to try to remember what the agenda is for today, I look up and meet her eyes which break into the great big smile which makes all worthwhile. “How did you know my name was Vicky?” she quietly asks. “Well my deary, we've been married for over thirty years, I'm guessing you let it slip once upon a time,” and she gives me that look of incomprehension, thirty years being a time frame much to vast to fathom.

I used to walk the neighbourhood every evening, that masochistic adventure of an arthritic sojourner exercising those squeaky painful joints. She would watch the tele, lost in her world of déjà vu. That was ok for several years with only minor problems to face when I returned. But then I started to come home to destruction, my desk and bookshelf contents on the floor. She did not wish to be left alone so I began taking her with me wherever I went. We took the car because she can't walk very far. My exercising dwindled as I used to walk everywhere putting in miles a day. So now we play 'a game' as she puts it. She sits in her chair and I walk back and forth, wearing a path in the flooring from the far bedroom window to the kitchen window at the other end of our abode. She meditates upon this adventure, uttering a single quiet word as I pass by. Sticks out her tongue at me, she does, in her more lively moments, so she shyly tells me, us laughing at the treachery. When the lack of attention from my introspective thoughts overwhelms her she quietly says “Holler,” and I know it is time to sit her up straight and give her a big hug and some much needed attention before I continue on my journey.

The wolves will come for yet more chickens. They just wait in the shadows biding their time. Makes an old fool mature a tad. But an old fool can dream. Bicycles built for two, riding off into adventures in reckless irresponsibility, her spirit riding in glory on the seat in front. Perhaps I will someday have that freedom once more. I will take her with me on journeys to the far ends of our country and laugh at the wolves lurking in the bushes. Old fool I am.
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