I hadn’t seen too much of Don lately, away at a meeting – which was very interesting to me – and then down with a cold. When I show up, his joy is undeniable, even if sometimes he peers and says, who are you? For years and years, he used that question as a kind of defensive joke, to show he was cognisant. It is not a joke anymore. Worse, he is not even aware of the grim irony.
But this day was to be a bit different, and memorable. As she took us out to the garden, one of the care aides said, “We think you should know that he sometimes confuses us with you, and that means he lets us do things for him easier.” I was a bit stunned, but said, and meant it, that it was good with me if it made Don’s life a bit happier.
We went out to the garden. He was snoozy, and wandering around, talking away to himself a mile a minute, not even caring that no one was listening, or could understand. But in the midst of the endless story, the curtains parted and there was a moment of clarity.
We have always had a rather peculiar sub-verbal communication, answering the other’s questions or worries before they were voiced. Now was one of those moments.
He said in a strange fashion, “Yes if I was going to die, this is the place I would chose to come.” I kind of walked on, ignoring it, not wanting to encourage a conversation about dying.
A little later, stopping and looking at me to mark his careful words: “I don’t mind living here,” he paused, and then added a stern caveat, “SO LONG as you keep coming to visit me.”
I shall choose to remember these words, rejoicing in them as his great gift to me, no matter what the future brings.