Monthly Archives: June 2017

Therapeutic Fibbing

We were talking at work yesterday about lying, that being pretty topical in BC politics right now. I said glibly that I didn’t lie, but then admitted that i had gotten darn good at therapeutic fibbing while i looked after my anxious husband at home.

In fact after a few years of practice  i could spin a fib without batting an eye, anything to calm his lost and frightened nerves.

Now i have discovered another useful fib. Or maybe more a way of living alternative reality.

Instead of his old forceful and awful refrain of “Let’s go Babe,” he now says calmly, “Well I’m going to leave soon but I sure don’t want to leave without you.”

“I’ll go with you,” i say happily. His face clears and relaxes. “Well that will be wonderful.”

I elaborate and embroider: “I’ll always go with you….We will always be together.”

“Oh boy! Really?… I’d be surprised.” He searches my face and I cast my thoughts to how close we are, and how he is always in my heart, talking, warning me to look after myself, cracking jokes. I hope that reality shows in my face.

“Yes,” I take a chance and push it. “We will be together forever. You know it. You in my heart and me in yours.”

He relaxes even more and kisses my hand. He shows no anxiety as i walk away.

What were we really talking about? A trip to Ontario was part of the context, something we have done by plane, by train, and probably two dozen times by car.

But more than that, it was about passing. So many times he has said, “I’m not afraid to die but I don’t want to leave you.” I have always responded with unconvincing assurances that I would be ok. Sad,(devastated actually) but ok.

It is common – or was in the older generations – for widows to have their name engraved on the husband’s gravestone, with the date of death left to be filled in later. The practice gives me the creeps, but he has always considered the custom both beautiful and natural.

After his loved cousin Bert’s funeral, wife Frances came home, insisted on showing her girls the dress for her funeral, laid down on the bed for a rest before dinner, and died. This story always brought my love to tears at the beauty of their love. I was very impressed but not so enamoured.

But now I have ditched the bs, the personal insecurities, and gone straight to the heart, telling the truth by fibbing, and we are both better for it.


Filed under Uncategorized

Another day, another bath?

I am pretty sure many people – friends and family – have given up on my beautiful man, and some of them think i should just move on too. Get a life, hey.  (Some of the family are probably bloody glad i don’t because they don’t have to cope, but that will be a discussion on another day, sometime soon.)

He speaks almost no english although the meaning is sometimes clear from context and inflection. I don’t think he knows any longer how stricken he is… he is just trying to survive, and often with that joyous boyish spirit which he used to adventure through the rest of his life, and with which he revered The Female.

I didn’t really want to go visit today – thought it would be good for my mental health to stay away in my own space. But at the end of the day I went.

“I think he’s in the bath,” a staffer said.

“Oh. It’s Saturday.” (Don’s bath is scheduled for Tuesdays)

“I know but he resisted all week.”

So i hang around, chat with patients and hug a crying one, because I felt it was right and on the principle that love can’t do any harm at this stage, or any other.

Then i see him coming down the hall, semi-holding hands with the care aide, semi-leaning. Alarmingly frail, although one has to remember a bath is an enormous overwhelming experience, every time new.

“Hey!” He sees me and opens his arms joyeously. The aide says, “See i told you a pretty woman was here to see you.” Her words are lost in our loving reunion (he doesn’t know my name but he knows me still most of the time ) and she is able to move on, gliding smoothly away, to her next care.

We find two chairs and sit, holding hands.

“This is a wonderful place to live,” he burbles amid the word salad. “I am so happy,” he sighs. He nods at the aide who gave him the bath and says, “Haven’t we seen her before?”

Later she tells me she decided to try for a bath (must have been a ward priority because it was a new shift) and, after he had been given some extra calming drugs, he waved happily at her. She asked if he would come with her and he said, “oh yes, I’ll follow you!” The bath without incident, no fear and anger, an event ending happily all around. Need to know: staff are a bit cautious of my mostly gentle man, because his fear of the bath can lead to big-time unpleasant melt downs.

The point? Not only the extreme diligence the staff show in caring for their wards, but how skill- and labour-intensive it is to provide good care.

When it is well done, the patient and we the relatives, as well as the new temporary staff-family, all benefit. We have a guy who is lacking a lot of old skills but still exhibits his basic joy in living and his humanity.

As do we when we provide that care to these lost travellers. 

And I rest easier tonight.

Comments Off on Another day, another bath?

Filed under Uncategorized


So much to think about, to contemplate, as summer comes to its height.

The other day he began his usual “Let’s go Babe!” The phrase still sends shivers down my spine from all the times I endured these restless fits of discomfort, sometimes backed by anger, over the years. But now the sentiment gives me a sense of pity too, as I look at him and he explains (the words slowly assembled in between generous garbled helpings of word salad), “There’s nothing happening here, just the people dying. Let’s go.”

This shortly after my doctor haltingly suggested that perhaps i didn’t need to visit so often, or perhaps I should consider looking for new companionship. That was part of the response when I blurted out, “Don’s gone!” and was somewhat appalled at my words spoken aloud, although I know I must accept this bizarre fate and get my head around it.

A few days later it was a good day, and he was happy to see me, cupping my face in his hands, asking, “Who is this?” Not recognising, or being able to pronounce, my name anymore. I remember how a dear caregiver friend at Seniors Peer Counselling shocked us when she reported that it gets easier in some ways when the loved one doesn’t know you anymore. And  I accept the wisdom of her words. It does get easier, because you have truly done all you can, you have lost the battle against this disease stealing away your person, and there is nothing left to do but wait. And bear witness.

He did really seem to like the fidget toy I got him, asking for it at lunch — “where’s the thing with holes?” and making a circular motion. As for lunch, it was carefully mashed and mashed and mashed into one big mess, which, when finally tasted, didn’t please at all.


Filed under Uncategorized