Monthly Archives: March 2019

Figured it out yet?

When I got there just at the end of lunch he was in the dining room, scraping and scraping away at his tiny dessert bowl. The menu said cheesecake but it looked to me like he, being on a mush diet, got jelly.

Anyway I guess it was good because he didn’t want to give it up.

“So,” he said, “Have you figured it out yet?”

“What?” I asked carefully, keeping an eye on the clock

I had an important meeting in 20 minutes and I didn’t want to trigger any reactions the staff would have to deal with when I scurried off.

“Where we are going to stay together,” he explained as if we had been working on this problem for months. “You’ll get it, I know you will sometime.”


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I bounce into the ward, feeling pretty good because I had free time. He is standing in the middle of the area between the lounge and the dining area.

The look in his eye is vague and I weave up.and down in front of him, beaming energetically, until.he focuses.

“Hello,” he says, “I’m afraid I don’t know who I am.” I am a bit stunned but take a chance that what he doesn’t know is his nouns and pronouns.

“Oh well hi, I’m Delores.”

Instantly the reply comes, although a bit reflexive, “I’m Don,” but I can see he is wondering, so what?

I gulp mentally and smile and stroke his arms, “I’m your wife, …your woman.”

He relaxes and a bit of light comes into his eyes and he says, “well that’s smart, that’s good.” He strokes my fleecy and is amazed, “you are soft.”

Whereupon we wander up and down.the halls, him talking a mile a minute until, 15 minutes later I collapse upon the couch, exhausted. There ensues a lot more discussion with several other residents, none of which would work as conversation outside the ward.

Fortunately the wonderful rec people come in to sing “Irish songs” and I once again escape, head twisted, but I think intact. One more time surviving,  and remembering how it felt to live down the rabbit hole 24/7

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I want to go home

” I want to go home. I want to take you home with me.”

Two days ago he was saying, “I could go with you ” when I left after a 2 hour visit.

Yesterday in the middle of grocery shopping I was wiping away tears remembering that is what he always said when I went off to a meeting  whether next door or far away.

And many times he did join in. He always joked that, amid all the causes, his tshirt would say, I lift heavy objects, and so he did, over and over, for our work.

I smile and laugh, and cry, inside, silent until now, when I can tell you, my blog companions and friends, tell you words i could never say if and when we meet.

Outside of my skin, acting for him, I hug and cuddle and reassure.

It has been a very long time since he verbalized so clearly, and even longer since he talked of home.

He who trekked across the land of Canada every year, loving every mosquito-infested  endless mile of it – dragging his family with him- hasn’t mentioned for a couple of years his Madawaska Valley home farm, his home river, his brothers and sisters whose names he recited, counting on his fingers lest he forget,  every morning for years as the disease progressed: “Dearl, Dalt, Eleanor, Don, Faye, Gary, Garth, Dean, Carl,  Dwight, Sharon.” They were his anchor to home.

Now as the care aides change and clean him, he holds on to me whimpering, then looks strongly into my eyes and repeats, “I want to go home.”

He has probably been thinking a long long time to formulate this – through the month-long norovirus closure that killed 2 out of 17 in his ward from resulting pneumonia, through the pending death of his best buddy on the ward, who got the virus and has now stopped eating.

Who can argue? this place is clearly unsafe and he is right to want out. The staff are trying so hard but the management- public or private –  is non-existent to support them.

I entertain wild thoughts of a health care caravan to bring him home, but that is fantasy of the worst kind. He barely recognized where we were 6 years ago, the last time we made the pilgrimage to Ontario. And so many of his generation who he loved deeply– Faye, Bert, Mac – have died.

But fantasy aside here and now, for the sake of my own life – and then thus his – I just cannot bring him home with me to “our” house. I wish with all my heart it was different and I could see another way forward to bring him home,  but I can’t.


Thank you for listening and witnessing. Namaste.




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