"Its a work of mercy for me to be with you right now."
I've been on an upbeat because the last two days with her have been the greatest days. Complete encouragement & great joy. It's not always like this, Not every day is a good day. Three days ago she said I was "so stupid", five days ago she was "extremely angry" with me, wondering "whats wrong with you?! You're such a snot. I've never seen you like this in all my life." That day I laughed her dramatics off, I thought it was hilarious. But, some days its hard and I get discouraged and I wonder why I even ever do things with her. Dementia is rough. She can be/get very harsh. Things can get burdensome. frustrations. I want to scream, "this is so miserable!" So I wanted to write a letter of encouragement for myself, to emphasize the good (its better to mostly forget the bad), the next time we have a bad day, and I hope not soon, I'll read back on this and remember some things for some comedic relief...
"I hate sheds. I hate the word shed."
"my gimpy arm is in the way." (8/21/18)
"I don't have time for frolicking."
"Those cars were snazzy."
"I can't talk. I'm too tired." (7/23/18)
"I should get a Porsche." (7/23/18)
"We can be blood sisters now."
"Is that thumb too big for you? Because I'm wondering if a smaller one would be better for you?" (7/8/18)
"I hope you choke on a scapular in your sleep and die." (7/4/18)
These quotes should give you a small insight, a very small one, on life with her. Most things she says don't mean anything to me, and some days she is actually hilarious. Sometimes she is mean and you have to say "We don't talk to me like that." Other times, most of the times, she acts like she is my best friend (lets be honest, I am pretty sure she is.) We met on February 25th 2018. we didn't have the greatest start..."get this strange women out of my house." she said on the morning of Holy Saturday. Most days back then she couldn't remember her kids names, she thought her husband was still alive and she was confused about just about everything. But constant repetition on my part paid off as the month of April came to a close, she would be excited to see me every time we saw each other, she'd hug me when I went & tell me to come back soon. Then, my family and I went to Italy for 2 weeks in May. Every morning I'd wake up in a panic completely worried that she'd forget about me and every night I worried that I would have to do all that work again. I agonized and stressed and was anxious the whole trip. We come home late on a Saturday night-sadly too late to visit her. I saw to it that all my affairs were in order and went to bed. That morning I had the surprise of going to Mass where she goes. When we got to mass, I raced over before mass even started, hugged her and looked at her so she could look me over. "You're back." she said and she beamed. My heart nearly burst and I cried. She remembered me! Nothing mattered after that! That was the happiest Sunday mass ever!
Our outings are generally great fun for the both of us, but sometimes I get yelled at and a "You're-so-terrible" speech the whole half hour ride home. We had a streak where we saw each other 22 days in a row. We've seen each other twice in one day lots of times. Sometimes I'm there for hours. Sometimes she sleeps the whole time I'm there. We've had plenty of mishaps and all kinds of adventures together. I've become a master at steering her wheelchair.
I've learned that an average day IS a good day. Our current routine, but also mostly consistent over the last 6 months is: a rosary, blessing ourselves with her reliquaries, watching TV or looking through family picture albums, and doing some reading. We've read through the 40 dreams of st John Bosco twice this summer and two nights ago, we started the Introduction to the Devout life. we are currently on page 9. I have the same missal as her for when we go to mass. Sometimes we read saints stories. Other times we just talk or watch the world go by outside. One week she couldn't remember her name, yet, later that day I was mixing things up on the Apostles Creed and she was able to correct me. Average/ good days, bad days or even great days are not something that we can plan, and they just happen. the joy of doing things with her and achieving experiences with her...I can't really explain it. I try to write about it, but the words don't seem to come. Like high tide and low tide are my days with her. I want to remember the good days, the funny things she's said and all the many lessons I've learn from her-life lessons; lessons in patience, kindness, and in charity; practical lessons too. Its exhausting but oh so satisfying.
I have lots of things I still want to do with her, places I want to take her and a million questions that I want to ask her. I will take as many average/good days as I can, and the great days are just magnificently encouraging. but, really, I try to take things one day at a time with her.