In the world of gardens, I’m a shade plant. I’ve always been that way; the hot summer sun makes me miserable because I don’t handle the heat very well. As true as that was when we lived in the hot and dry climate of northern California, it is especially the case now that we live in the hot and humid climate of the south. Even with all the misery of wilting in the damp heat, that is not the only reason that I’m a shade plant.
“I’m ahead!” announced my sister Peggy as I answered the phone, “I just set two bags of junk out for the garbage man.”
I smiled at the phone, “Game’s on!”
Now that we’ve reached one of the milestones of sheltering in place, I know that some restrictions are beginning to be lifted, others are still under stay-at-home orders. None of this is easy, but I’d like to share some of the strategies we employed in the days that my Mama could not get out and about as much due to dementia.
As I begin packing for another trip to California, (of course, that was before the world shut down due to the Coronavirus), I am reminded that this is becoming all too familiar. Not the trip, but the reason for it. Loss. After a certain age, the expectation that we will experience loss becomes more likely, not that it cannot happen to anyone of any age. My experience has been that loss is becoming a more recognizable part of the landscape along the way. We can’t escape it. It is part of humanity; every person in our life carries the risk of loss. The risk is worth it though – how joyless and lonely would we be if we shunned companionship in order to shield ourselves from the sadness connected to losing someone.
When Wayne and I were first married, I found myself doing a lot of baking, gardening, canning, and even sewing. It was an enjoyable necessity grown from our reality of having more time than money. Eventually, many of my domestic endeavors fell away as life and responsibilities shifted and changed. We refer to the activities done back then as things Wayne’s ‘first wife’ did.
Caring Makes a Difference
When a person has dementia, it means they are losing memories, not feelings. One of my favorite quotes from Maya Angelou is,
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
The old question about trees falling in forests, and whether or not they make a sound may still be up for debate. But I do know that a person would have to connect the sound heard to the tree falling in order to understand what happened. I discovered that my Mama also benefited more from our time together when I followed a few simple rules of engagement.
Gift giving may become a bit difficult once friends or loved-ones begin their journey down the path of dementia. Desires diminish, the ability to focus fades, and attention spans shorten as senses dull. Previous interests change or may even fall away.
“Two kinds of gratitude: The sudden kind we feel for what we take; the larger kind we feel for what we give.” Edwin Arlington Robinson Several years ago, I came across a book titled: “One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are” By Ann Voskamp. It is a compelling narrative that…
Not too long after we retired to North Carolina, my husband and I made a trip down to Florida to visit my father-in-law, Wayne Sr., as well as meet Sandy, his new lady-friend. We refer to him as ‘Pops’.
It was a lovely drive and we anticipated a nice, quiet weekend hanging out with the ‘old folks’. We were in for a surprise.