wings and things

Parallel universe

on September 18, 2015

I think one of the things that is most bewildering, if you are caring for someone with dementia, is the fine line between present-tense lucidity and remembered lucidity.

For example, when I visited Anthony the other day, he was eager to tell me the latest news:

Anthony: Have you seen the news, Jules? We have a new prime minister.

Me: Yes, I saw that too.

Okay, so the above shows how absolutely ‘on the ball’ Anthony can be especially when it comes to current events. I always leave the news channel on his television before I come home because he has always loved watching the news.

But the very next thing Anthony said amazed me ….

Anthony: Mum will be shocked!

This is the kind of conversation that always gives me pause as I try to process the fact that Anthony has, within less than a minute, conflated the reality of now with the reality of over three decades ago. It sometimes seems extraordinary to me that Anthony can so expertly move between eras in the space of a couple of sentences.

Perhaps this is why what used to seem tragic to me has now become fascinating, and sometimes even comforting. After all, I loved Anthony’s mother, who we younger ones called ‘Gar’ so I was catapulted into nostalgia-land briefly, remembering her canny opinions on politics.

Me: Do you think she approves of the leadership change?

Anthony: Yes, but is she all right?

Me: She’s fine, Ants.

One of the last things Gar said to me as she lay in the hospital bed, dying, and I held her hand, was, “You will look after Anthony won’t you”, and I promised her I would. When I made that promise, Ants and I were still eons away from having a romantic relationship, let alone a marriage! So, in retrospect, it was a bit of a far-fetched promise, but I meant it.

Of course, as a teenager, I had no idea how things would all unfold. It is uncanny now to be reassuring Anthony (who is approaching the age Gar was when she died) that she is all right.

‘Parallel universe’ seems to be the phrase that best describes the strange but wonderful space in which Anthony and I connect, cognitively and emotionally.

13 responses to “Parallel universe

  1. Vicki says:

    So glad you are clever enough to comprehend and articulate this concept in a post. I guess there are many carers and family who get confused with the way Dementia patients move around their mind space.

    Great post.

  2. Judy says:

    Within the word parallel are many metaphors. You and Anthony are a pair. Like a pair of lines you face each other – but you cannot touch his line. And you live with the knowledge that at some point – your line will move forward without him. But all of those memories are there with him and will stay with you, too. They are and will continue to be your comfort.

  3. Luanne says:

    Julie, I posted a poem I wrote and dedicated to caregivers yesterday. If I hadn’t been asked to write it by a friend I would have dedicated it to you. I love your concept of parallel universe.

  4. Barb says:

    I’m not sure how you captured so beautifully such an abstract concept of perceived reality meeting time, but you said it in such a comforting way that others, experiencing something similar will have hope.

  5. susanpoozan says:

    The perfect phrase for where Anthony is.

  6. misifusa says:

    Beautiful post. I understand as my loved ones drift through present tenses with alarming parallel time zones sometimes within the blink of an eye. It’s hard to comprehend. Ants is blessed to have you ~ and you are blessed to have him…and we are grateful that you share your story with us all. xo

  7. ksbeth says:

    yes, it’s a mix of time lines, information, and whimsy.

  8. Beautiful post Jules, hugs đŸ™‚

  9. These thoughts make sense to me. So much love, too.

  10. Terry says:

    I think it would be awesome if marriages came with instructions and insights about our future

  11. Beautiful post on the memory of your mother-in-law.

  12. Maybe his mother had insight of what would come, and yeah I think parallel universe sounds about right

  13. I think I understand the fascination Julie. One of the things that fascinates me about your world (from reading about it) is definitely the parallel. I love the past tying in with the present. And I can’t help but feel like Anthony, existing in both places, is kind of reassuring to Gar as well. It’s like he has a strong connection to her….and to you. So that keeps the 2 of you still connected. Sorry, just some rambling feelings from reading this. đŸ™‚

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