Time slips by and we stagger, sometimes literally, on. Don remains on his feet but is sleeping much more and both allowed and encouraged to do so.
Fatigue makes him wobbly. A few days ago I was there just as he woke from an afternoon nap. He was sort of in shock, a bit desperate, shaking, and said, “I’ve got to get out of here.”
Then he started The Moaning. ‘Tis a dreadful fearsome thing. He gets into a kind of evolving moan which takes over his whole being. And nothing breaks through the rhythm into his consciousness.
Even in the face of its piteousness, I cannot help but recall the time at home when he was going on and on… and on.
No diversion worked. Finally I snapped, “Oh Stop that ridiculous moaning.”
In the sudden silence I bit my tongue.., too late, and waiting for the explosion.
“Oh!” he said, “Well, okay.”
And that was that. Silence.
I still laugh. Just one of thousands of delicious memories.
This time however we went out to the nurses station where it was quieter and I got a flannel sheet from the warmer where there is always comfort waiting.
I wrapped him and cuddled him and we sat together until he quieted, then cheered up and agreed he surely was ready for supper.
But what never seems to change, no matter how hard I try, is a secret hidden hope each time I go through those locked doors. Hope that is dashed each day when I see him, tall and skinny, often dressed most peculiarly, as he gets more and more frail and less able to understand this daily world.
“Who are you?” was his affectionate private joke to me for 25 years, but now he really doesn’t know. And the answer makes no sense.
This grief must surely bring some strength, some bonus, some tempering in the fire, but for now all that remains, all that is evident, are the many broken hearts who visit the dementia ward.