A Low Voltage Covid Christmas Feels Just About Right For Ralph

It’s been over six weeks since I last reported on Ralph and me—the longest I’ve ever gone—not because so much is happening or so little, but because I have not been sure what there is to say. We are treading water though in separate pools. I find myself living increasingly my own life. The few friends I’ve made despite covid are single women. I care for my grandkids at their house. He’s not lost more ability

Ralph, now adjusted to his new meds and his docile covid self, spends most of his time sitting in a chair reading by the window in our sunroom. He seldom uses the phone and the conversations are shorter and shorter. He likes quiet, his diminished interest in listening to radio logical since he really hasn’t listened to what he hears for a while. Getting him to take walks is harder and harder. He rarely bothers to walk the extra steps to his “office.” Ralph still likes the almost-four-year-old’s almost daily visits, but pays him barely a moment’s attention before he’s back to his dogs and his books. He reads voraciously, anything I hand him, the longer the better. He says he truly enjoys the reading although he acknowledges that he retains nothing the moment he puts the book down. And he reads quickly—funny, since pre-diagnosis he was a slow reader who retained ever single word and nuance—so it is hard to keep him in books especially since going to the library is not something I’m doing during Covid.

So for Christmas Ralph received from me a mixed box set: War and Peace and The Brothers Karamazov. Should keep him until at least February. For Christmas I received from Ralph whatever I felt like buying myself, and I didn’t stint. I am wearing new pants, shirt, and sweater as I type.

The thing is, Christmas more or less brushed by Ralph this year. In the past, even and maybe especially since his diagnosis, he looked forward to our blow out Christmas celebrations with a childlike anticipation. But this year he was oblivious, which was just as well since there was no blow out happening anyway. I debated whether to bother decorating our not fully furnished house, but ended up pulling out my boxes of Santas. I bought a tree already on a stand so Ralph didn’t have to mess with it. He said it looked nice, once, and never glanced at the tree again. Which was fine with me. The almost-four-year-old grandson loved my Santas and also could stand for ages in front of the tree deciding which ornaments were his favorites. I spent evenings sipping tea in front of the tree alone with David Sedaris.

Xmas eve morning Ralph looked up from his reading to ask why I was carrying a pile of presents out to the car.

“Christmas”

“I thought we did Christmas.

“No we did Thanksgiving last month. Now it’s Christmas.”

He nodded and returned to his book, no further questions asked. But he came along that afternoon to eat Chinese take out with our daughter’s family, our watered down version of our usual Xmas eve blowout. He was patient but bored and missing his dogs so I drove him home as soon as he finished eating, then returned alone to hang out finishing preparing for Santa’s visit.

The next morning I brought Ralph coffee early because I was dying to see the grandson’s reaction to receiving the present Santa was bringing, bright yellow digger.”

“Anything on our schedule today?”

“It’s Christmas morning.”

“I thought we did Christmas already.”

“Last night was Christmas Eve. We’re going over to open presents.”

The three-year-old’s Christmas joy was so infectious that it even perked up Ralph who parked in a chair where we brought him food and gifts to open.

The next morning, it was chilly when he got up. I suggested he wear his new flannel shirt and vest.

“What vest?

“The one you got for Christmas.”

 “When was Christmas?”

 I know someone reading this is thinking, how sad. But the thing is, Ralph is very content from moment to moment. And frankly, thanks to an increasing ability to compartmentalize and ignore, so am I. At least for now.

10 thoughts on “A Low Voltage Covid Christmas Feels Just About Right For Ralph

  1. Thank you for your story. I love listening to you. Life is only what we make it. You make me smile. And how about grandkids, they can fix anything!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for writing. I’m glad you were able to enjoy Christmas with your grandson. My son and his wife don’t live too far away and are in our “bubble.” When we visit them is when things feel more normal and positive.
    My husband listens to the news rather than read. Sometimes when I come into the room and comment on the current story he responds in a way that makes me realize he wasn’t actively listening.
    I agree with you and the other reader that it can create a feeling of loneliness at times.
    I too am reading David Sedaris! A nice escape when there is time for it

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I smiled about the news since I have that experience with Ralph a lot. I hope knowing others share your situation make you a bit less lonely. Thanks for writing and take care.

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  3. I totally agree with you — being with my husband yet unable to hold a conversation with him like we used to is disheartening. Evenings are the worst. We do have to ignore a lot, and it does get difficult at times. Do take care and stay safe! Blessings to you…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My husband reads car and motorcycle magazines. I don’t think he remembers anything but it occupies his time. He doesn’t remember Christmas Eve with our daughter. New events disappear almost as soon as they occur. He is able to make his own lunch because he has made the same thing for years – peanut butter and jam. I threw a wrench in the works today by buying jam in a plastic container. He had to put his finger into a cut out area on the lid in order to pry it up but absolutely could not remember how to do it even though I showed him at least 5 times in a row. I put the jam in Tupperware so we will see how that goes. Note to self – don’t change anything. He sounds a lot like Ralph in that he is contented with his life. It takes him a long time to make the bed each day and then breakfast takes time. His day fills up with only a few things. He still goes for walks by himself each day and I dread when I have to walk with him. I value my time alone. Do you find that if you are alone you don’t feel lonely but when he is with you but unable to have a conversation it is very lonely?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh Karen, our husbands do sound similar. They even eat the same lunch–Ralph will not use a plate and
      leaves the counter sticky and full of crumbs. And yes, it is often lonelier to be with him than by myself. Thanks so much for writing.

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  5. Love your Santa collection 🙂 I can’t help feel glad Ralph still enjoys reading. Dad was an avid reader all his life and it was so sad when he stopped. He was frustrated when he found himself reading the same paragraph over and over and forgetting it immediately. Not only was it a sad loss for him, it meant I had to provide other things to stimulate and entertain him. Lavishly illustrated countryside books helped for a while then books of nostalgia – but they required input from me. Make the most of Ralph’s enjoyment of books for as long as it lasts. I’m pleased he still enjoys visits from his grandson. And David Sedaris is excellent company 🙂
    Wishing you all the best for 2021.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to hear from you Mary and I hope you are having a happy holiday despite Covid, Brexit and the rest. You are so right about reading. I think Ralph may be going through the motions to some extent but doing so keeps him happy. As for his grandparenting, that’s a bit more complicated. But over all his contentment at this moment, so at odds with what most people are feeling at the moment, is definitely a positive in our lives….

      Liked by 1 person

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