“Mom, your lunch is ready”
From her slumber she replies groggily
“Lunch? I thought it was dinner time”
Moms sits at the head of the table which faces the outside through the sliders and to her left is a picture window. It is a fairly wooded backyard with lots of birds. The view outback is beautiful in every season.
“Pretty blue sky”
“Yes, it is”
a minute passes, maybe…
”pretty blue sky today”
Mom will fixate on a word or a phrase, occasionally I can predict what the phrase will be for the day. Her thoughts are elementary these days. Anything slightly complex is too confusing for her, she gets frustrated. The frustration shows in her eyes and it is incredibly difficult to watch. “Eyes are the window to the (soul) heart” they say, it’s true, I swear that I can see her heart through her eyes.
It is hard for us to think in simple terms once complexity becomes our norm. In moms case she no longer has a choice. Her brain just wont let her get to the right stuff.
It still amazes me to think of what she would accomplish in a day or a week and the organization and drive it took for her to do it. The complexity in which she lived, I believe she was happy for the most part. She is one to be admired, life was not at all simple for her, she could made it look that way though.
Kids always keep things simple, for them I believe it is because they don’t know anything else yet. For mom it is because she can no longer manage the complex thoughts. She connects with young children quite easily.
Mom will lean forward in her seat and put her hands out in front of her and wait (patience is one of her older traits), sooner or later someone may arrive to her outstretched hands and when they do her eyes change and they soften.
Paxton held moms hands today and just looked at her for the longest time (I couldn’t take a picture because I was so involved in watching and admiring their simple intensity) and mom was smiling, then all of a sudden Paxton launched herself up on mom and gave her the best hug ever. As I was watching Paxton, (my 2 year old granddaughter) with mom, I realized that their relationship is quite simple , with an overflowing amount of love. Mom truly lights up when my grandchildren (some of her great grandchildren) are around her. She interacts with them on their level. Even when she doesn’t understand what they are saying she is happy with them around. They color, they sing, they chat, they smile and hug. Accepting and uncomplicated love.
Over for an afternoon visit, Timmy, (my 2 1/2 year old grandson) insists on coming outside with me to help get mom off of the day care bus. He will start chattering to her right away, before she even has her foot on the ground, he chatters about, I’m really not sure what its about, but he goes on and on. Once off the bus , mom will acknowledge that he is talking to her.
“you don’t say, well you have a lot to talk about”
as she leans in to me
“What is he saying? I have no idea what he is talking about”
she is smiling the whole time and often reaches for his hand.
Timmy will run in and up the stairs, talking to mom the whole time.
He will wait at the top of the stairs still chattering away as she forces her knees to bend enough to get up the stairs. Timmy connects with mom wholeheartedly and it is obviously special for them both. He points to her chair and takes her cane or gets the other cane in the corner. He will walk around with her cane for a bit, he always returns it to her. Timmy and mom might roll the ball, and chat, they eat cookies, go outside and sometimes watch Mick. (Mickey Mouse) Most days, when he is leaving, he will run over to her and give her the best good bye hug, sometimes he just blows her a kiss. She smiles a big smile (again her eyes soften) and blows a kiss back. Accepting and uncomplicated love.
The kids keep things simple, most adults unconsciously ignore or think they have outgrown the simple.
The kids will do the same thing over and over and over and each time they will find humor, fun and entertainment in that same action. We enjoy watching them.
Paxton: “momma do it again”
Megan: “ready set go”
Megan: “ready, set go”
We have all been part of the repeated actions/sayings of kids and know how cute/funny/sometimes annoying it is. Yet we will continue that repetition for a very long time because it is obviously making them happy.
After a visit to Megan’s, when mom and I were riding home in the car, is when I truly realized the connections with children and old people. The 10 times Paxton wanted Megan to repeat the game actions, and the 27 times mom mentioned the color of the sky are as different as they are similar. Similar because it is what their capabilities happen to be.
“Pretty Blue Sky today”
the traffic starts to pick up the closer I get to Fall River and I focus on my driving
“pretty blue sky, not a cloud in it”
“I know, huh”
my mind wanders and a minute or two passes
“pretty blue sky today”
… I didn’t respond, I just thought. I thought about Paxton “again momma” and I thought I need to acknowledge moms comment, ( commenting on the sky). I halfheartedly converse with her about the sky, (of course) but as unimportant and repetitious as I feel it is, it is probably the most uncomplicated topic for us to share and for her to think about as we travel back home. I don’t need complicated conversation that minute. Mom and I can no longer converse with any complexity. Just hearing a loved ones voice can be reassuring and comforting.
Frustrating, it is, to try to vary a response to her repetition and do I even need to?
We are willing to play and repeat the same game or song or activity over and over again with a 2 year old, while we smile and giggle with them. Yet we will become frustrated when it is an 89 1/2 year old that repeats the same few words, sayings or ideas over and over again. Why would our expectations be greater for someone who is no longer capable of the same cognitive function as they once were? This cognitive deterioration is the realization that the conversation needs to adapt to the individual going through the process. Just as we adapt to the 2 year old. The frustration, at least for me, is sadness for the loss that I already feel.
“Pretty blue sky today”
“It really has a variety of blue shades and as you look straight out it is white, did you notice that mom”
“I do now, and the clouds are gray on the bottom”
“funny, that the sun is shining at the same time as gray clouds are here”
“maybe it will rain later”
then we were quiet
The innocent qualities of children are very similar in some ways and drastically opposite in other ways to an adult with dementia/Alzheimer’s. The appreciation for the simpler things leave our minds for what we perceive as more important things and we really don’t ever welcome simple thoughts back.
Until a circumstance jolts you back.
We arrive home and saunter our way into the house. Mom shakes her coat off into my hands and shuffles to her chair.
“be it ever so humble”
For Your Information;
I was researching it a bit and found that there are places that have a combined day care situation . What a fantastic idea. The preschool inside of a nursing home. Just read these articles and think…. why wouldn’t we do this?
Caregivers most definitely get frustrated, but so do the individuals we are being cared for. There are many resources available. What frustration must she be going through.
3 thoughts on “Uncomplicated Relationships”
Deborah I love your writing. I always knew you to be a wonderful kind person but the feelings and thoughts in your writing I truly believe you have found your next niche in life. Please don’t ever stop. Cannot thank you enough for sharing this journey of your Family. Love to you all.
Thank you so much Shari. You are always so kind with your words.