SORRY TO SOUND LIKE A BROKEN RECORD, BUT….

broken record

 

“Perhaps machines or vehicles are the common thread,” my reader/friend Joared commented to me last week, a point so obvious I wonder that I had never considered it. So I have been thinking it over ever since.

Of course, Ralph obsesses about machines and vehicles. The same way he obsesses about money.

Machines, vehicles and money—they are the most potent examples of his former prowess, now lost.

When we met he was buying, refurbishing and selling old telephone trucks to fellow hippies. He was also at the tail end of renovating an old house he’d bought for a whopping $7,000, doing all the work himself from the electrical to the plumbing to sheetrock finishing to laying tile countertops. A few years later (with my younger brother as his assistant), he turned three wrecked Triumph sports cars into two immaculate ones. His work was immaculate, and the profits he made grew and grew.

Ralph was one of those annoying men who could fix anything. He had an innate understanding of both how things worked and how to make money.

Now I have to cajole him to change a light bulb, and if he actually does, I heap praise on him the way I would a kid. He has not paid a bill in years and can no longer figure a tip in a restaurant.

But he asks me repeatedly to go over the details of our finances although the figures immediately get jumbled. I get resentful because I am the one keeping track, but I see that he wants to maintain hid identity as a man with business sense—and in fact he does still have business sense. Today we were discussing our will, the same details I have gone over with him too many times to count, and he made a small suggestion that made complete sense and would avoid possible hurt feelings down the road. I made praised him with the same fuss I praise him when he changes that light bulb. He was thrilled and then forgot what the suggestion as well as the problem it addressed.

Two hours later we were faced with tractor crises part three. It came back to us looking fixed and shiny yesterday. I paid our new tractor guy his whopping bill. Today when our friend/bushhogger tried to cut the field, the darn machine would not do the job. Our new tractor guy was called back. A new leak was found along with possible but not certain other problems. Our new tractor guy loaded the machine back on a trailer off they went. I have a sinking feeling that instead of taking responsibility for more effort, our new tractor guy is going to blame the problem at least partially on Ralph’s years of neglecting the tractor. I am partly furious at Ralph, but how can I be furious at Ralph for MCI induced inattention to a machine any more than I can be furious at him for MCI induced inattention to our business in the last years before his diagnosis.

And how can I be furious at him when I sense he is probably aware that he has messed up in the very areas where he once excelled.

 

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8 thoughts on “SORRY TO SOUND LIKE A BROKEN RECORD, BUT….

  1. It’s so tough. I found it hard always to remember it wasn’t Dad who was to blame but the dementia. I should re-phrase that more honestly – I found it impossible at times. I hope you can get the tractor fixed properly this time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To be honest, hearing you found it “impossible at times” is reassuring to those of us still in the process because if anyone had a great attitude dealing with a loved one’s dementia it is you. As for the tractor, we are still in process as I write this….

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  2. Well, you connected the dots from the current events to his past history of activities and interests. But you’ve been doing just that for some time, I’ve gathered from reading here. I’ve often found with cognitive issues impinging on language that seems to make no sense, there is an element of truth or reality hidden among the words — though not always — if only I can find that thread which may or may not help in deciphering the persons communication. All too often I never knew if I truly had hit a dead end, or had I missed something. Can be an exhausting constantly challenging process with which you do a remarkable job.

    Your dilemma……similarly faced by so many………your understanding described so well:

    “I am partly furious at Ralph, but how can I be furious at Ralph for MCI induced inattention to a machine any more than I can be furious at him for MCI induced inattention to our business in the last years before his diagnosis.

    “And how can I be furious at him when I sense he is probably aware that he has messed up in the very areas where he once excelled.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you don’t mind that I quoted you. You did spur me to think through the situation. The truth is that it is necessary as a caregiver spouse to revisit the same issues many times and re-think about those issues. I so appreciate you input and your support.

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  3. i’m finding it hard to manage the growing heap of things my spouse used to manage, but even harder to cope with the shrinking of her awareness about this fact, and its impact on me/us. There’s the occasional flash of understanding, but then it’s gone, and the pile grows bigger, the awareness dimmer.
    You have a lot of company in this dilemma, Alice – hang in there. Keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the growing heap. I am lucky that Ralph is as aware as he is in so many ways. But I feel the weight of both managing and letting him feel more involved than he really can be in the managing, if that makes any sense. Thanks so much for writing.

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