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Two directional care
MrToad
Posted: Tuesday, December 5, 2017 10:28 AM
Joined: 7/13/2017
Posts: 444


Our daughter who lives just down the road asked us to take care of our infant granddaughter for the day; the baby was too sniffly for the day care center. So by the time DW awoke, Grampa was already feeding the baby (well, at least some of the applesauce got into her mouth). DW is always pleased to see the baby, though she is never quite clear that she is her granddaughter. We have a great time with the baby, though I have to be vigilant that DW does not try to pick up the baby on her own. She is no longer steady and coordinated enough to do it safely. When she wants to hold the baby in her lap I manage to sidle up to her and just happen to get a piece of the action in also holding the baby. The seven month old is just beginning to make non-word experimental babbling noises—more than enough to spur DW to recount to me all the conversations she has had with the child, about all her siblings and the other kids at the day care. They’re both happy; I just go along with the nonsense from both sides.

As part of the day’s cultural enrichment program, I cranked up some Martha and the Vandellas and other Motown classics and treated the child to Gramma and Grampa’s ridiculous gyrations all around the kitchen. (No video available, thank goodness.) I note with sadness that DW has lost a good deal of the dancing ability she had until very recently; nonetheless, she enjoyed herself. The baby looked skeptical. Is it possible to embarrass a 7 month old?

Yes, there was a little stress during the day, since I was responsible for two very needy sweethearts. On more than one occasion, I had to wipe a tiny, and a somewhat larger, backside, while making sure the other was safe and comfortable. I also had to manage the interactions of my two charges. While baby napped in the spare bedroom, DW kept opening the door and peering in. I kept gently telling her, “The baby is trying to nap in there.” Of course, I know that DW is not intentionally failing to pay attention to me any more than the ball point pen is intentionally failing to write on greasy paper. The information is just not getting recorded. I know this. And I did not lose my temper. But…the umpteenth time DW opened the door to see what was in the darkened room, her supersensitive emotion detector heard a wee bit of tension in my voice when I said, “the baby is trying to nap in there”. DW was immediately upset. I took a deep breath and tried very hard to exhale that tension. I went to her side, held her hand gently, told her that I loved her more than ever, and changed the subject. Restoring cheerfulness only took about fifteen minutes.

Later, after we’d brought the baby to her home and had eaten our dinner, DW resorted to her 8-year old mode. “Where’s my daddy? I need to find my daddy.”

I have had good success with, “He’s not here. Y’know, we moved to Michigan, but he never left New York” (leaving unspoken the fact that he died there many years ago). This time I tried an additional gambit:

“I know he took good care of you, so I promise I will always take good care of you now. But I also know you miss him. Tell me about him.”

We talked for about half an hour about what a good daddy he was, how he would take her to the beach, and teach her that she could do anything she wanted, and so on. Her face was bright as she spoke in the voice of an 8 year old. From what I know from better times, many of the fond memories she recounted are fictional, but that is irrelevant here. I actively aided and abetted her cheerful storytelling.

At least this day we skipped our common sundowning episode that often manifests as “Nobody likes me” and “You don’t like me”. The evening proceeded with streaming some oldies TV programs like All In The Family, I love Lucy and Dick Van Dyke. As I turned the lights and TV off, she snugged up next to me in bed and told me she loved me. In a few moments, she was sound asleep.

“Thank you, Lord, for this day” I prayed.

That’s as far as I got before the waterworks opened up and I was weeping as I have not ever done since this terrible trip began. I am so sad to see my highly intelligent, highly accomplished wife reduced to needing help in the bathroom; but I am glad that I am able to provide that loving help. “Lord, I will be expecting an explanation for why you make good people suffer things like dementia. But until then, I thank you for letting me help my wife.”

 

 


w/e
Posted: Tuesday, December 5, 2017 1:09 PM
Joined: 3/7/2012
Posts: 1751


Mr Toad, you are a man after my own heart.

Music. And Dance! 

O what a sacred dance it is the last waltz! With his last breath on earth, my immortal beloved and I danced for and with the gods. My beloved entered the realm of the beyond-beyond full of grace... Our last waltz. Comrades. Lovers. Arm in arm. In rhythmic harmony. Floating. Entwined. Breathing together. For all eternity.

O I miss him, terribly! I must confess. Oftentimes, I stand at the pier. Gazing. Contemplating the seven seas. I am waiting for him to come back for me. Some-when. Some-where. Some-how.

....

The dementia Alzheimer's odyssey... During the many years of being a care-taker, care-giver, care-partner to my immortal beloved, I learned that it was essential to maximize the senses. My beloved's communal engagement with me and with the world around him, it went beyond feeding him, and keeping him clean and physically comfortable. I learned that I had to move from loss to gain. Maximizing the senses was one of the many routes I chose to take.

And yes! there were many times when I stepped on his foot. Perfectly imperfect dancer I am!

 


MrToad
Posted: Tuesday, December 5, 2017 8:12 PM
Joined: 7/13/2017
Posts: 444


w/e:

Indeed, music is sooo important to DW. In her time, she was a singer in a Sweet Adelines chorus that travelled nationwide. She loved it.   

I was reminiscing with DW today about when our daughter was young. She’d be in the back seat on long auto trips while Mom and I sang our hearts out accompanying CDs of  Smokey Robinson, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and others. Daughter would be mortified. What a chuckle it is that Gramma and Grampa now get to instruct daughter’s child in the finer points of the Motown Sound!  DW loves daughter of course, but she's always had a a sly sense of humor and still loves to tease all of us.

 

 


Jim Broede
Posted: Wednesday, December 6, 2017 12:15 AM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


You set a fine example for the rest of us, Mr. Toad. By making the most and best of life. No matter the circumstance. --Jim


ToadDaughter
Posted: Monday, January 8, 2018 1:01 PM
Joined: 10/14/2017
Posts: 1


I know baby girl benefits too, from all the time she gets to spend with both grandparents, no matter how silly the dancing. She is very skeptical of my dancing too.
chrisp1653
Posted: Tuesday, January 9, 2018 12:38 AM
Joined: 1/23/2017
Posts: 1281


ToadDaughter, I hope you know that everyone here who gets to read your dad's stories , comes away a better person for having been exposed to such a wonderful man. Were it not for the ugliness of dementia, none of us would know of your precious daughter, your beautiful mom, or your dad. I am blessed every time he posts. I believe others are too.

Chris



BlueSkies
Posted: Tuesday, January 9, 2018 7:14 PM
Joined: 2/24/2016
Posts: 1096


Ditto what Chris said!!!
obrien4j
Posted: Wednesday, January 10, 2018 9:46 PM
Joined: 11/18/2016
Posts: 451


Mr. Toad,

You are nothing short of an Earth Angel, Mr. Toad. May you both continue to make memories and share in the love you have, while being at peace. 


Angel_Wolf
Posted: Monday, January 15, 2018 9:21 AM
Joined: 7/8/2017
Posts: 143


This post is so "packed full of goodness" that it can rise to the top again!  The thought occurred that I have come back to this message several times and never said Thank YOU to this family for sharing their love and care.  After the "Christmas" we had, this message is a balm to my heart!
sharon11daugherty
Posted: Monday, January 15, 2018 4:22 PM
Joined: 8/6/2015
Posts: 1736


You are such a sweet example to so many. Thank you for sharing.

Your memories will applaud these days in days to come. We each are so thankful we got to be caregivers. As you see, you are able to see a side of yourself you haven't seen before. A mix of sadness, grief, loneliness, feeling sorry for mate and me, a little fear of the unknown timing......these are allot to take in...then top it off with a dance...and a granddaughter!     .....that was a great day!

Blessings, sharon


ladyzetta
Posted: Monday, January 15, 2018 9:50 PM
Joined: 2/16/2017
Posts: 1307


Sharon,

You said a lot of very sweet things to Mr. Toad. I believe a lot of us caregivers who have to place a LO have the same feelings, the feelings of  (sadness, grief, loneliness, feeling sorry for my LO and myself and the fear of the unknown), everything you said is so true. It helps me to see I am not the only one who thinks this way.  I had to place my DH a year ago, and I am still working on all of these things. Thanks & Hugs Zetta


MrToad
Posted: Saturday, January 20, 2018 10:33 PM
Joined: 7/13/2017
Posts: 444


Folks:

 I have been off this board for awhile, posting on the Spouse/Partners board my experiences in transitioning my DW to a Memory Center. I have been honored by the support I have received over there, and I apologize that I have not noticed the recent traffic on this thread, for which I am equally appreciative.

And yes, I am quite proud of Toad Daughter.