Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Miracle of Christmas!

Merry Christmas Eve!

I woke up feeling sorry for myself.  Home alone except for my beloved Beagle Diva Gerl.  She rolled over and let me scratch her belly and ears before needing to go out.  She never lets me down.

Don't get me wrong.  I had choices this holiday season.  I could have flown to Virginia to be with family or gone to the Central Valley with my step daughter Heather and her extended family.  However, I have been married to Gary for 31 years and we have never spent a Christmas apart and I don't want to start now.  So, I chose to stay home and visit him on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

On the way to his "Happy Place", I stopped and bought Gary one of his favorite drinks.  A Caramel Frappacino. 
He loved it. For over an hour, he sipped, slurped and gulped.  I was happy that I could give him something different than his daily routine.

While he was enjoying his coffee, some of the other residents were sitting in a circle playing flyswatter balloons.  They were laughing, giggling and having the best Christmas eve!  When they finished with flyswatters, they switched to "Noodles", like children use in a swimming pool.  One of the caregiver/angels stood in the middle of the circle and dueled with each of them.  The differences in their beating approach was as different as their personalities.  "The Mayor" who used to work for J. Edgar Hoover had clearly had some sword training.  Even his stance in the wheelchair included advance maneuvers to take out his opponent.

Karl was obsessed with hitting her as much as he could and wearing her down.  The angel giggled the whole time.  What an amazing activity.  It was more like pre-school than memory care.  Even though Gary cannot participate, just having the laughter in the room is therapeutic.

Soon after, the head "angel" handed out donuts.  Gary chose a half iced, maple donut.  He ate it in between drinking his drink.  As all enjoyed their respective Christmas treats, the mail arrived.  Some of the residents had Christmas cards to open and enjoy.  Then Victoria, the head angel, read aloud Christmas stories.  What a pleasant morning. 

I realized that this is my home now even though I do not sleep here.  This is my new family.  I love all of them.  I watched at lunch as one of the ladies leaned over to what she thinks is her long time lover/friend/husband.  She looked at him full of love and touched his arm.  He looked at her and saw a stranger.  She said to him, " We went to school together and have five children."   The look on her face was tortured that he was not responding.  The moments before the reaction were painful.  Now, keep in mind, they have known each other only since they moved in to memory care.  THey both have children and grandchildren and histories that do not include each other.  The miracle of Dementia took over and gave him the proper words...." Oh yes, I remember now.  I love you, too."

I took a deep breath as her smiled covered her face.  She looked at him longingly as I find myself looking at the man who is now Gary.

Immediately following this heartfelt situation, they served Gary his soup. As usual, I started feeding him.  One of the angels, Becky was sitting at the table feeding Nancy.  We were chatting and I lost focus on feeding Gary.  I realized that he had scooped up some lentil soup and was slowly, carefully putting it to his mouth.  I stopped myself from interfering and said quietly, "Becky look!"  As the soup went into his mouth without a drop being spilled, I started crying.  It was so beautiful.  She also realized how moved I was and could only respond with a "wow".  The rest of the meal, he held his own water glass and picked up his cornbread on his own.

Yes, to the common reader, "So what?"  To those who follow FTD and its effects on the body and mind, this is amazing.

He ate barbequed chicken, vegetables, sweet potatoes (with his hands) and apple pie.  He was almost defiant.  He ate by himself. 

I was hungry and knew that he would be going to sleep soon so I went to the local Chilis and had chicken wings.  I went home to check on Diva and had a magnificent nap.  4:00 found me back with Gary.  Hermione, one of the angels, met me at the door wearing an elf costume,Mickey Mouse ears and a huge smile.  What magical people have been assigned to take care of my husband.

She said, "Ada, the room smells really bad.  We just cleaned him up from a bad episode of diarrhea.  We called Hospice regarding his issues. " I laughed and said that his problem was not sickness but Frappancino, lunch, donuts and apple pie.  She laughed and agreed. 

He was still in his room sleeping and I moved a chair close to him and put my feet up on the bed and waited for either him to awaken or for an angel to come and get him ready for dinner.
He quietly grabbed my foot and held on tight.  His brow was furled and I asked him to unfurl his brow and stroked his forehead.  He relaxed and went to sleep while holding my foot.  We sat there for about half an hour and I realized the importance of quiet time.  I loved this precious moment.

Finally, one of the angels came to change him and put him in his chair.  Facility rules say that I cannot help.  How odd.  Married 31 years and I have to leave the room.  I guess this is good because I do not need to witness the feebleness that is my husband.  He never gets to leave the body that is riddled with Dementia.  I get to walk away and sit in the weird is the fairness of life?

We had dinner and I fed him.  There was no sign of the independent guy from lunch time who was feeding himself.  He ate and we cleaned up.  I left to go home and enjoy my private Christmas time alone.  I wrote this blog, ate a steak and lobster dinner and had "Home Alone in New York" on in the background.  The bourbon and coke is a nice companion.

Merry Christmas to all those in blog land who follow the times of Gary and Ada.  Your support is appreciated.  Please share this blog with anyone who may be dealing with Dementia, FTD, Alzheimers or any other brain injury.  You may not know it, but knowing that you are not alone in this hell of a disease may save a soul.

God Bless us Everyone.

I just started watching "Its a Wonderful Life". 

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