“So Alice, are you excited about moving?” Ralph asked last night striding into the kitchen as I was dropping corn into a pot for dinner.
“Yes, sure.” I said carefully keeping my eyes on the pot, not daring to ask him the same question back, afraid what he might answer. (Also, to tell the truth, my own eagerness to move is mixed with plenty of anxiety I don’t share with him about the practical details and emotional upheaval involved.)
“Well, I think it’s going to be great. I’m over the farm. I’m ready for something new.”
What? Did I hear him right? Going to be great? Over the farm? Something new? I listened as he went on to say how much he was looking forward to spending more time with BabyRalph and his big half-sister and looking forward to doing things in Nola.
Was this enthusiastic guy Ralph? My Ralph who greets every suggestion of an activity, whether dinner at a favorite or a visit with his oldest friends or a call to his children, with resistance? Whose most positive response afterwards is usually “It was okay“?
Yep, that Ralph. He actually is showing a new energized interest. He is choosing to be happy not scared.
I admit I am patting myself on the back a little for handling this major change better than I thought I could. For waiting until the time was right, for slowly readying Ralph for the idea, for involving him in the decision-making even if I might have chosen differently, for spending time each day showing him pictures until he actually remembered and got the mental reality of the move locked in place.
I may be premature in my self-congratulations; so much might still go wrong, like Ralph getting there and being miserable. But I want to share this moment because none of us—carers and carees both— congratulate ourselves enough for all the hurdles we manage each day. I am/we are busy worrying, second guessing and struggling to maintain against the tide of Alzheimer’s, whether it is coming as a slow undertow or massive waves. But facing incapacity, managing meds, making a quick or deliberate decision, swallowing impatience, struggling with frustration, facing grief—it’s hard to remember these are efforts that deserve to be applauded.
So here’s to all we do right despite ourselves! (And tomorrow when I am back on the dark side, annoyed and impatient, you can remind me what a happy Pollyanna I was today.)