wings and things

An ‘aha’ realisation

on October 27, 2016

Today I did some volunteering at another nursing home before going to see Anthony. I told him I had just come from work (I call the volunteering ‘work’ because Anthony’s lifelong concerns about money are still a big part of his psyche).

Anthony: So how much money is in the bank?

Me: Thousands!

Anthony: How many?

Me: (pulling a fictitious figure out of the air) $35,000!

Anthony: That’s not bad.

Me: What do you mean ‘not bad’? My job is making us rich! You should be proud of me!

Anthony: I am, Jules.

Me: Ants, the reason we are so wealthy is due to all of your shares and your hard work. We don’t ever have to worry about money again because you are such a good provider!

Anthony: But did you turn the pump off?

Me: Ming does all of that now.

Anthony: What about the calves?

Me: All safe, tethered and beautiful. You should be proud!

Anthony: I fixed that fence this morning.

Me: I know – thank you. Everything is fine now.

Anthony: But what about Mum?

Me: Ming is with her – she’s fine.

Anthony: Okay.

Me: I have to go back to work now – will you be alright?

This was our conversation at about 4pm today and I used ‘work’ as a way to leave him with the assurance that I would be back soon. As I’ve said before on this blog, telling Anthony that I am going home often distresses him because he wants to come home too – of course!

I have been naming the above such conversations as “Dementia dialogues” and I sometimes worry that this title may be construed as demeaning or patronising to Ants and other people with Dementia. This is certainly not my intention.

As I was leaving, we had this conversation:

Anthony: You don’t have much of a life do you.

Me: What are you talking about, Ants? I have you and Ming – what more do I need?

Anthony: But we’re all split apart.

I was so shocked by the lucid poignancy of this statement that my heart felt like it did a somersault. Anthony said this without a flicker of unhappiness and I remembered how factual he used to be – how pragmatic.

And then, just now, before I began to write this post, I realised that Dementia might affect, and sometimes kill, physical and cognitive memory, but it doesn’t necessarily affect emotional memory.

I told Ming what Anthony said today and he punched his heart softly.

19 responses to “An ‘aha’ realisation

  1. Punching my heart softly over here too.

  2. mimijk says:

    I place my fist against my heart too, Julie…I feel these conversations throughout my being..

  3. Anonymous says:

    Me too. Love my son in law so much, and you and Ming to the moon and back.

  4. Judy says:

    You might be physically separated, but you, Ming and Ants are more “together” than many families I know. The love that binds all of you will be there forever.

  5. judyrutrider says:

    Emotional memory seems almost to be a chemical state in the brain. My friend’s husband, who had Alzheimer’s, would remain subdued long after he had forgotten the incident that had precipitated his unhappiness. What a blessing that Ants remains himself even in this diminished capacity. My mom remains true to her self in her penury (which is exaggerated beyond all reason) but has lost her confidence. I suppose that’s the pragmatic part of her; she understands that she is no longer the formidable matriarch of our family.

  6. susanpoozan says:

    Ahhhhhhhhhh, so touching.

  7. letstalkaboutfamily says:

    Brought tears to my eyes. I admire how you have made the adjustment to responding in ways that don’t upset Anthony.

  8. tootlepedal says:

    Keep up that good ‘work’.

  9. Ann Koplow says:

    Placing my fist over my heart with gratitude for you, Julie.

  10. Judi Lynn says:

    Your Anthony is always so CARING. Your whole three-person unit is. That’s so wonderful.

  11. Jane Chesebrough says:

    Wow. So poignant.

  12. Hell yeah, a punch the heart softly moment, indeed, life can be a punch in the gut at times but you still love each other and you are still there for each other things are different but different doesn’t have to mean bad.

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