This Comes With A Warning – Staying Up on the Down Side


You are welcome to just skip this one and wait for something better, something pretty, something fun. This may not be your cup of tea.

I am holed up in the office downstairs. This Leunig cartoon showed up on my facebook page this morning. It came on the heels of long distance kindness. Saturday a note came from two old neighbors that were part of our kids childhood. Tears flowed down my face as I read such nice words that they think of me often and hope I am hanging in there. They read my blog just to catch up on Lee and I.

Sunday morning we are at the diner for breakfast. Lee is not in a particularly pleasant mood….which is rare nowadays. He says that he doesn’t want to be there. Without warning again tears drip down as I think, “Is this one more thing I am losing?”

The day before I was talking with my daughter and told her that I honestly think I have lost myself. Now I was thinking that those years of Sunday breakfasts were coming to a close….those silly napkin wrapper things that were something to smile about might be over. I used my napkin to wipe tears away when Lee said I looked sad. He told me his omelette was good to make me feel better. And I told him that I would not count on us always having to go to breakfast on Sunday mornings, that I would ask him first if he wanted to go. We left it there.

And this morning an email from a friend in St. Louis catching me up on her husbands illness as she cares for him. She has in home care assisting, she has relatives that check in daily along with her friends, and her art group has set up a meals delivery service to help her out.

We picked the wrong place to live. I only have the paid for friends of home care. Someone stays with Lee for four hours three times a week so I can come downstairs and do something on my own. Work in the studio on something that I have no idea what to do with afterwards, write on my blog about times when it all seems too much.

I know there are people out there who are in similar situations and they read my words that sometimes help, but not today. Today is a letting-it-out day.

Today is not the time for a once a week call to tell me all the fun things you are doing and the great places you are going. Not today.

It took a couple of months for an out of town friend who regularly visits the folk school to let me know that she could not interest anyone she knew here to come by and check on us…check on me. The only surprise there was she remembered to tell me after two months of, “I am going to get someone to come over.”

I will not take Lee away from the only place he knows. Our doctors are here. We both need that security right now. But I will leave eventually with few regrets….and find a new home closer to those who send the type of kindness that brings tears to my eyes.

On a lighter note for those of you looking after someone with dementia. This morning Lee was thrashing around in the bathroom. He couldn’t get his pants open. On inspection, he had put on two pairs of shorts…one frontwards and one backwards. I told him to pull the whole bunch of clothes down and just sit. I told him,”I’ve been doing it for years and it works just as well.” We both laughed at that.

And lately he knows his arms are supposed to go in the sleeves of his shirt but he has been going up the sleeves from the wrist end and comes to find me with no idea what comes next. When we get the shirt worked off and I remind him to climb up through the bottom he says, “Boy am I stupid.” And I tell him that with two arms things are just twice as hard to figure out….and he is satisfied with that and we move on.

Now he is upstairs with his care giver. The care this one gives is to just sit with him and talk or watch TV. The other one has him doing exercises for his range of motion and memory. He laughs more with the one who makes him move.

I am going to go over to the studio and pick up the papers and cloth that I dyed with Eucalyptus. I am going to bury my nose in them and think of my long distance friends in Australia who are getting ready to head to the Grampians and take workshops, and have flat whites, and try not to buy too much cloth and paper and thread……and….

And I am going to pull myself together. Suck it up.

And as soon as five o’clock comes and the caregiver leaves, I am having a good full bodied single malt and pouring Lee a Southern Comfort….and we will go on the porch and remember better times…..and smile.

Til later.