wings and things

Saying ‘yes’ to surreality

on November 21, 2014

Ever since I was fooled by the plum tree into thinking its blossoms belonged to the avocado tree I am much more aware of how trees that are next to each other seem to have a habit of hugging each other. Here are the photos I took of ‘the avocado blossoms’ several weeks ago. The first one shows why I was confused but the second one shows quite clearly (except to an idiot – me!) that these are two separate trees.



Anyway, the following photo shows just how tricky these trees can be; here we have a camellia tree masquerading as a fig tree (or is it the other way around?) I showed it to one of the residents in the dementia wing the other day and she said, “What a strange tree!”

photo (3)

Up close, of course, it is quite obvious that the fig tree is a fig tree and that the camellia tree doesn’t have a sense of personal space.


Last summer I stopped watering the plants in order to save electricity on the pump; hence most of the ancient rose trees have died (despite a gardeningy person telling me it was impossible to kill roses) but everything else (palms, multiple camellias, un-fruiting orange and plum trees, silver birches, the two fig trees, the two avocado trees, the two pear trees, the lemon tree, the poplars up the driveway, the flame trees, and many other wild bushy looking shrubby things, have survived. This is probably because Anthony planted many of these at around the time I was born – over 50 years ago – so their roots are deep (you see, I have now done a bit of gardening-for-dummies research).

I guess what’s surreal is that, when I took ‘the avocado blossoms’ into the nursing home and put them in a vase, Anthony didn’t correct me and say, “Those aren’t avocado blossoms, silly!” (Actually nobody corrected me until I wrote a post correcting myself and then a friend said to me, “Yeah, I thought you’d definitely lost the plot!”)

Every single person with every single kind of dementia has, I think, has an ability to accept the surreal as real. Yesterday, during a children’s concert at the nursing home, one of the residents kept asking if the woman on my right (another resident) and the man on my left in the wheelchair (Anthony) were my parents, so I explained that one was my new friend and the other was my husband. She looked at me with interest and said, with absolute certainty, “My parents will be here soon”, and I said, “Yes.” By end of the concert she had forgotten about her parents and was fine, delighted as we all were, by the children’s voices.

I’m not sure here, but it seems to me that if someone’s reality is fractured by dementia, and their reality becomes a dreamscape of surreal thoughts, memories and emotions, maybe the best way to respond is in the affirmative, and to say ‘Yes!’

And that is why I still have an avocado tree with pink blossoms!

36 responses to “Saying ‘yes’ to surreality

  1. Yes. I think the only way is to answer someone who has dementia to that degree is the affirmative.. to do anything else would I’m sure confuse them further and may even upset them… Diane

  2. My Heartsong says:

    I had to look intently to tell one from the other. Beautiful blossoms, sure appreciate them now

  3. Ha! Perception is reality Julie! 😀
    Diana xo

  4. janeslog says:

    You have exotic trees growing on your land.

  5. susanpoozan says:

    As usual, you have sorted things out very well. I liked your pictures showing the trees all muddled up.

  6. YES. Indeed. I come in to contact with SO many families who do not understand dementia or Alzheimer’s and will argue with the individual, and/or get so angry because they “just won’t remember”. Some people can accept the education on what they are dealing with, some absolutely refuse to accept it. YES is so much better.

  7. Yes, just say ‘yes’.
    And i LOVE the avocado blossoms.

  8. Beautifully said, Julie. I’ve just written a sticky note to myself, to remind myself how to handle something (and someone) I’m struggling with at the moment. The note says, simply, “Yes.”

    You’re a treasure! ❤

  9. What a lovely post, I love the thought that trees hug each other! Who knows where reality and perception intertwine/part ways? I don’t and I hope that I stay okay with that. The thing about dementia that scares me is the feeling of being afraid and alone. I hope that those who suffer from dementia have people in their life to comfort them when they are scared; like you do for Anthony. You are now his rock you amazing lady. Hugs Jules 🙂

    • jmgoyder says:

      Sometimes when I see the look of bewilderment and nervousness on the faces of the people with dementia it breaks my heart. Luckily the staff are very kind.

      • It would break my heart as well, but kindness and patience do go a very long way. Thank goodness for volunteers such as yourself and hopefully soon to be staff member and the nurses. All of you do so much for your charges. 😀

  10. bulldog says:

    Oh you are a Master at it… I award you a PhD…

  11. Judith Post says:

    Your trees are beautiful. Love it that they get cozy with each other:) Children are such wonderful visitors for nursing homes. A whole choir of them must have been mood boosters.

    • jmgoyder says:

      Apparently the kids only come once a year – if only they came weekly!

      • Judith Post says:

        Nate lives in town and drops in a couple times a week. We love it. Ty goes to college in Bloomington, so only comes home for school holidays. He stays with us instead of his mom, since she has a small apartment, and we have more room. It’s always great to see him.

  12. Lynda says:

    Who is to say that your surreal trees don’t exist on another plane? Who’s to say that they don’t show up, that is to say, break through to this existence just to cheer you up? I think “Yes” is the best answer to so many questions we have in life.


  13. tootlepedal says:

    We should all have a mixed tree in our heads at least if we can’t have one in the garden. A few mistakes here and there keep us humble….and amused.

  14. Vicki says:

    What is reality? All things are real to the person observing them, just as some things are unreal to others.
    On a sunny day, the sun is real to the observer. But where is the sun on an overcast day? It’s like saying there’s no sun today. Of course there’s a sun 24/7/365 (every day and night of the year).

    It’s just not visible to the eye in winter or cloudy days. Perhaps not the right analogy, but saying ‘yes’ could still be the correct answer.

  15. Maybe the avocado with pink blossoms is just a metaphor for 2 intertwined lives. 🙂

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