Back from a great and satisfying working weekend with friends and colleagues, and a little disjointed from conversation and travel removed from the daily routines, I trucked off to the care home to see my love.
The last couple of times I had visited, he had wandered off several times to engage with the other patients. Not too sure anyone can follow these social interactions but the other people don’t seem to mind and frequently respond.
Our caregiver friend had reported that on the weekend Don had been busy pushing a friendly little lady’s wheelchair. Although pleasant and cheerful with her, (must be be a great relief to my friend after the days of miserable abuse he had heaped on her during our less happy times), he soon left to continue the wheelchair journeys.
When I got there today his face lit up, he seized my hands and talked about how pretty I was and how much he loved me. Soon, though, I could clearly see the effort he was putting out to try to figure out about the car and arrangements — what, i have no idea, although he relaxed when i assured him there was lots of money.
I am beginning to wonder (duh?) if i am associated in his mind with obligations to look after me and us, and if that is what was stressing him so much at home. It could be that kind of unresolved responsibility was part of the horrendous stress, especially since he never did believe i could look after myself. To be honest i have been much better off until recently in almost every way – although not all – since he came into my life, so this is not entirely sexist delusion on his part.
In any event, the (other) lady sitting beside him asked for help and he jumped up to give her a hand – two rather affectionate hands – to pull her to her feet.
He wandered off with her for a moment and then came back. “Did that bite you?” he asked seriously.
“Not at all,” I smiled, trying not to chortle.
Soon he was off again, talking to a guy who was seated for dinner, and wiping off his table for him, over and over. When you have no short-term memory, you remember planning to do something, but don’t remember doing it.
(First really clued into this about 4 years ago when don was reading something from the paper and read the first two sentences over and over. At first i thought the paper had really messed up, but as he started the fourth repetition, i took a look and realized what was happening. Just another memorable moment. I have no idea how many weeks or months he had been struggling like that with his reading, a skill we are far beyond now.)
Today, the last i saw, he was peering out the window at me as i slipped away, but i am pretty sure he quickly got re-involved in his new world of social relations.
I have heard about this from other caregivers: their partners dismissing them because the here and now of life on the ward is more important. If this is starting to happen for my love, I rejoice, thankful for him and for me. But i admit i do pause to wipe away a few tears at the bitter blessing of this next coming stage of loss and separation.