Monday, January 24, 2011
Last night at 10 pm Bompa asked me to help him take a shower (which I am happy to do but not at 10 pm on a Sunday without a really good reason), because he was sweaty from the baseball game he just finished pitching. I asked "was a good game? and he said "it was a no hitter and that I scored the only run." I kinda laughed at that and said "wow that was some dream you had." He said he wasn't dreaming but I reminded him about the foot of snow still on the ground and he scratched his head and said "well I might have been dreaming." Then he held out his hand to me and asked "did you read the note?" I said "no I haven't read the note." He said "well you have to fold it up like this and he made the motions, then you cut it into small pieces, but while you are cutting you have to put a $ 5 bill in your mouth and chew on it until it's good and wet. Then you have to soak it in goats milk. Then you get a cake pan or a pie plate and hold it under your chin while you pour the goat's milk onto your head. Whatever runs down into the pan you have to drink. " I said "ok, but what does that have to do with the note?" He says "what note?"
Friday, January 7, 2011
So I have been thinking recently about the word "caregiver." Caregiver makes me think of nursing home workers, aides, nurses, dr's, etc. These are professional people who get paid to do this job. What about family members who do it? We don't get paid. We do it because we love them. Over the years I've thought a lot about the cycle of life, how we raise our babies up to be adults. We feed them and clothe them and do for them what they can't do for themselves. Then they go out into the world and do that too. What is the opposite of raise in terms of what I have done for Gramma and what I'm doing now for Bompa? It's like you get to a point in life where, although your age keeps going forward, what you can do goes backwards. With our kids we are "parent" but what am I to Bompa. Caregiver just seems so generalized, so minimal. It's more like backwards parenting. It should have it's own word. A better word. A word that describes the love, respect, hard work, weary mind and sad heart that go along with what we do all day for our loved ones. A word that describes the strength it takes to watch the person who helped raise you and teach you about the world slowly forget all those things. A word that describes the courage it takes to accept the huge responsibility of their care. Someone I met online, who cares for Alzheimer's patients, uses the words "earth angel" . I kinda like that one! A long time ago, I picked a song that reminded me of my Gramma. It was our favorite song. It's "Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler. I played it for her at my wedding, and I had it sung in church at her funeral. It's funny how it seems to fit perfectly with being an earth angel. My whole life, Gramma was getting me ready for these challenges just like her Gramma did for her. Destiny? Divine Plan? Coincidence??? I don't know! Just something I think about once in a while...
So as is the norm in our crazy life, Sunday is chore day. Grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, cooking, and other various errands. I try to head out and do the running around earlie rin the day and leave the cleaning and stuff for last so I'm all set for work on Monday. Of course, this is also the day that Bompa's sister and brother in law decide to visit. I am at walmart, and jim calls my cell to say they are here and hurry home. I am thinking to myself, omg the house is a mess and there are 6 baskets of wet laundry waiting to go through the dryer from the laundromat since our washer is broken, and I'm sure Bompa has fallen asleep in some random place in his wheelchair because he does that now. He heads somewhere and falls asleep on the way, his teeth fall out, he slumps to the left and it's a little off putting to see him like that if you're not used to it. Jim tells me that he is telling his sister that he is in jail here and that I don't feed him or take him to the Dr or let him use the phone. OMG, then he asks her if he can go to her house. Jim is mortified! I, on the other hand am thinking, uhhh the man has dementia and it's pretty obvious by his deeper conversations. But everyday pleasantries he can fake it with the best of them. I could tell that she was concerned. And I was starting to think to myself, omg, she thinks what he is saying is true...until the last story he tells. It's about a man who kills somebody and fights with the police and then goes to prison. When she asks him who he is talking about he says Stan. (Stan is their brother and has never to my knowledge committed any murders or done any prison time) That was the moment I think that she realized he was a just a few fries short of a happy meal. She said her goodbyes and I walked her out. My close friends and family know everything that goes on daily, weekly, monthly... They know the stresses, the laughs, the love and the committment it takes to deal with this. I can't imagine what a 10 minute visit snapshot must look like from the outside looking in. I wish I had time to worry about that, but I don't because there's so much more to do today.