Celebration Amid Stress

flowers                                              my bouquet from Ralph (with help from our daughter)

 

For most of this autumn all I could think about/write about was the tractor (back in the shop for yet more repairs due to user-error I suspect), which became the symbol of the stresses of life with a spouse on the Alzheimer’s spectrum. Now I find myself writing yet a happy description of our life for the second time in a row! Perhaps we have reached another plateau or perhaps I have adjusted to whatever plateau we have been on for a while…

The dangerous temptation to think Ralph is somehow getting “better” also pops into my mind, especially because as always happens, visitors over Thanksgiving commented that Ralph seemed better than they expected. He was better that usual because as also often happens, he is more alert and less passive around others—if he’s comfortable with them–than when alone with me. Since he was also the more genial, gentler post-diagnosis Ralph, he was a generally entertaining presence.

Not that rough patches didn’t abound in an eight-day week with a houseful of guests on the farm. But the stress caused by the tensions and physical ailments of other family members and friends had nothing to do with Ralph. If anything, he helped smooth some of the week’s rougher patches.

He also began to enjoy his grandfather role more, both with his older grandkids and with his namesake grandbaby whom he began to hold and cuddle even without being asked. In fact this morning, in our suddenly quiet house, he said he missed BabyRalph—who though exhausting was certainly not a cause of stress.

And Ralph really got into the small-scale festivities surrounding our 40th wedding anniversary. Actually so did our kids, who did a kind of countdown to midnight (and made us stay up way past our bedtimes) on anniversary eve, then opened a bottle of bubbly that we all shared while listening to the John Prine/ Iris Dement duet of “In Spite of Ourselves” that is considered by some to be “our song.” As we all shared that moment of silliness and laughing, a moment of euphoria, part of me couldn’t help observing in a kind of awe that I was having an experience with Ralph that I haven’t for a long, long time—the sense of being on equal footing, of standing together on the same ground, of being a wife more than a caregiver, of being loved not simply needed.

 

 

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Celebration Amid Stress

  1. Oh, how wonderful! So happy you’ve had this celebration creating a treasured memory. I thiink of a relative who some how buoyed up when others were around, then let down when just his spouse present. Unfortunately some family who saw him infrequently never fully appreciated the challenges his spouse experienced with him because he seemed so much better whenever they saw him.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, which is all too true. I never know what to say when friends say he seems to be getting better. I hate sounding grouchy and negative but I know the retreat will come-as it did after I posted this story….

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  2. A lovely post. Congratulations on your anniversary. I love the idea of “In Spite of Ourselves” being “your’ song. I’m also very pleased Ralph is taking to giving BabyRalph cuddles. In fact I feel quite vindicated in my belief he’d love the baby!
    I understand the temptation to think Ralph may get better. Occasionally, Dad would give me the same fleeting hope. Hope the tractor doesn’t need major surgery!

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    1. Thanks Mary. Unfortunately the temptation to think he’s getting better has been set right by further events down that the adrenalin rush of company and celebration has subsided. The tractor saga continues unabated.

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      1. I’m afraid that’s the way of it – you just have to hang on to the memories of the ‘up’ times whenevr the ‘down’ times threaten to engulf you. The tractor saga is probably much more amusing to those of us who read your blog than it is to you.
        No, I didn’t know your son earned his living as a kilt maker. I knew he played the pipes and you mentioned having to search out specific items for him when you were in Scotland but I didn’t know he was a professional kilt maker.

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