Ralph enjoyed his Christmas from what I can tell. He was not excited about going to my daughter’s house on Chrismas Eve, but he was totally involved in “surprise present” game in which Ralph opened a big cardboard box inside which LittleBoyRalph popped up pretending to be a mechanical toy with an off and on button—both Ralphs had no problem repeating the game over and over to everone else’s delight. Nor was he excited about Christmas dinner but then was charming. I was told by several at the dinner how “good Ralph seemed, better than I expected.”
I always hate those comments, well meaning as I know they are. And KG’s recent response to my last post definitely came to mind. What he wrote—“Others don’t see what I see”—really hit home. I am struck that there are elements of daily life with Alzheimer’s that don’t get discussed because they seems so trivial in the scope of things (the weather and certain small fixations like Ralph’s daily Nutty Buddy) or slightly embarrassing (issues of hygiene come to mind and my allowing Ralph nightly beers). I see the hitches in his most basic problem solving, his passivity (often a godsend frankly, like this afternoon when I had to drive our neighborhood streets aimlessly for an hour because I had a napping child in the backseat and Ralph was perfectly happy in the passenger seat), his social disconnect when he wanders back to his bedroom despite having guests in the room talking to us.
At the same time, I don’t think I pay the same degree of attention as I used to in the early days. I’m afraid I don’t note as carefully as I used to every small Alzheimer’s wrinkle as it crops up. I don’t worry so much about whatever new normal has arrived. Everything is normal.
I think I see Ralph as clearly as I need to. But then he still can surprise me. Ralph used to be something of an artist. After his diagnosis of MCI I found him an undemanding art class he attended weekly with great devotion for years, but then the teacher had to stop teaching and although I set up a studio-office for him behind our house here, he has not picked up a paint brush or pencil since we moved in. Until yesterday.He had found a blank artist pad I’d bought at the drugstore for LittleBoyRalph and sketched from memory our old dog house on the farm as well as some kind of fighter jet. He also wrote his name on the sketch pad to make clear it was his. It now sits between the cushion and arm of his chair. I am amazed at his initiative and his spark of pride, like a sudden blip on a flat graph line. I also wonder whether he remembers that the sketch pad, which he didn’t touch today, exists.
3 thoughts on “Do You See What I See-the Alzheimer’s spouse refrain”
I’m so thankful for your honest journal of this painful journey. In particular, I’m glad you shared how you feel when well-meaning friends comment on how normal he seems at any given time. It’s true that we are not walking in”your shoes”. Thank you for letting us in…
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Thanks for writing. And if this is the Rod I think it is, you are not simply a well meaning friend, but one who is deeply thoughtful. Best wishes in the new year…..
This is so very true. You don’t (can’t?) write about every little thing that occurs because you’d be chained to the keyboard 24/7. Suffice to say that the comment is true for all caregivers of people with dementia, no matter the source of the disease. It does indeed wear on you. Hang tough… Ralph’s sudden attachment to the sketch pad makes me think of the jig saw puzzle I bought online for Robert, thinking he would enjoy putting WWII airplanes together. Nope. Did not appeal to him, even though he will sit and watch WWII movies and identify the airplanes immediately. Glad Ralph took some enjoyment from the artwork. Perhaps he’ll pick it up again. I hope so. I’m back to the drawing board for something to keep Robert occupied and content.
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