Things That Come Into Focus

This is a Cooper’s hawk outside the apartment window. I could not get it zoomed in closer. Beautiful bird. Sometimes it takes awhile for things to come into focus.  A different point of view can help.  Putting some distance certainly has helped during Covid times.

The other day I was talking to a friend who comes to eat lunch with us once a week. She, the cleaning lady and caregivers are the only ones to come into the house. We talk a long time about whatever needs discussing. She listened attentively to my poetry about living with dementia and received a copy of a prototype for the book. We share similar views on politics and rage equally at our pathetic excuse for leaders of the free world here in the United States. We share books even though I have little time to read.

She gave me this one months ago and I had no time to give it the attention it deserves. I loaned it to a neighbor. This is how it came back.

The neighbor asked if she could cut the back because she was having a hard time opening it to read. I thought she just meant splitting the paper spine in the middle. No, she obviously meant cutting all the pages loose from the point she stopped making the effort. It came back to me with a flimsy rubber band holding it all together. It would be near impossible for me to share it with someone else.  My daughter’s partner had a new one sent as soon as he saw the damage and said, “Never, ever loan this person another book.”   I won’t.

I know we are all different. But one thing I have learned this past year of isolation with Covid and the past few years living with dementia is just how different and how little I want to be bothered with being understanding. Today is an “Enough” day!

Lee is having teeth problems. Sometime in the past year or so he has not brushed the back ones so well. Brushes what he sees and I was not watching closely enough. I thought, “body memory” would be enough. Now he is losing a bridge on one side and needs surgery to remove another bad tooth. Of course, the surgeon can not even give a consultation until 9 March. Covid issues again. So today Lee complained of loose teeth. I asked if he was in pain. No. Is something broken off? No. So I called the dentist on his private cell on a Sunday. He called back and will check his book as soon as he gets into the office tomorrow. “How early are you and Lee up?” 5:30 am without fail. “Oh.” I will call when I get to the office and check the book.”

And here is the part I will prepare myself to hear from that dentist tomorrow. “Sandy, I told you when Lee was in here a few weeks ago, no more sugars, carbohydrates and  bread!” “These things will ruin what he has left.”  Well, what else is there! For someone with dementia now is not the best time to totally alter his eating routine.

And you know what? This morning I found two dozen uncooked molasses cookies our daughter left in our freezer. I baked them and had Lee sit in front of the oven so he could feel the heat and smell them cooking. Then we shared one! I am sure to hear about it as the dentist is most likely going to sniff it out tomorrow when he looks in there.

Earlier this week we looked in every drawer and cupboard to find where Lee has hidden two pairs of gloves and his sunglasses. These are precious to him and he wants to make sure they are with him when he goes “home”. They may well have taken the trip by themselves as we simply cannot find them anywhere. I gave him a new pair of work gloves from my hidden stash and he is happy. Don’t know what I will do when the sun comes out and he gets obsessed with finding his glasses. I only have one pair of those on hold because they are expensive. Maybe he will locate his hiding place.

It is a scotch night for sure today. Too bad it takes me an hour to drink one good scotch or I’d have a couple. By the time I get through all the interruptions it takes an hour and a half to two hours to get that one scotch doing me any good. But holding that glass in my hand…one Lee made from a sauvignon blanc wine bottle with another to match for my friend from Canada to drink scotch with….brings back such good memories of her so that all other issues seem to pale in that particular glow of good times.

I keep going in the marks book

Neurotic marks during the impeachment trial.

I think the little girl should just stay on the rock and not get tangled up with other kids today.

So far I have sent twenty books to Australia

.Here is the introduction:

Introduction to Trusting the Tether Line

We have shared a life of over fifty years with the last few in the company of dementia.

The diagnosis brought shock, grief, anger and fear of how we were going to make it through all the changes that had to be made. Our lives were not just interrupted but irrevocably altered to meet the needs of the one afflicted and the other left coping.

I needed to find ways to help me deal with all the new responsibilities. At first I stitched endlessly into a rotting linen shawl trying to make it whole again. Holding onto that cloth and being covered by it at the same time was comforting.  Next I traced the outline of my hands six times in a sketchbook and slowly filled the space inside with drawings of the things he could no longer do. By doing this I could actually see how much I was needed and how much I was taking care of.  After that I began to write poetry that was a short glimpse into our lives.

Friends encouraged me to write about living with dementia because it might be helpful to others. The best I have to offer is the sharing of those poems.


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