Tag Archives: Laughter and Dementia

The Larry David Cure for Dementia

LARRY david

It was just turning 8:30 pm. As usual, Ralph was already in bed with the lights out. He goes to bed by eight most nights and will sleep past eight in the morning if I let him. He is genuinely tired, but I also suspect that he doesn’t know how else to fill the time. Neither books nor television hold his interest for very long. Neither does music or the kind lengthy conversation he used to be famous for.

I was in another room half reading the newspaper, flipping TV channels, thinking a little guiltily about a recent comment from Going Gently into That Good Night about the way those with dementia suffer.

Mostly, though. I was feeling sorry for myself over having another long night alone—no need to remember that in my thirties and forties, a night to myself without family would have seemed a gift; that’s another story. Suddenly I stopped clicking.

Because there on some random cable channel was The Larry David Show. Actually an hour and half of Larry David episodes was listed on the schedule. I rushed into the bedroom and turned on our set in front of our bed.

Ralph grumbled when I woke him, but he sat up. After all,

“I am nothing like Larry David,” Ralph said when I reminded him how the kids used to tease him that he was Larry’s spiritual twin,  (Of course they teased me that I was the spiritual twin of George’s mother on Seinfeld) but soon he was sucked in. Ralph began to chuckle. I began to chuckle. Sometimes I had to explain a character who had been introduced earlier, but Ralph had no trouble following the complexity of the wit. We laughed out loud at the same jokes.

The three episodes flew by. It was ten o’clock and Larry was over. Some lame movie started, but  I wasn’t  ready to go to sleep. Miraculously, neither was Ralph.

I switched channels. Another miracle: there was Seinfeld.

seinfeld

And one of the classic episodes. Jerry’s car is stolen by his mechanic; Newman and Kramer try to make their fortune with a mail truck full of recyclables; and George, after being sent briefly to a mental hospital, can’t get a tune from Les Miz out of his head.

“This was fun, wasn’t it,” I asked and Ralph agreed. As he rolled over to sleep, I turned off the television plotting what other comedies we might watch.

Then I tried to sleep, but George’s damn song was in my head.

“Master of the house,” I sang softly.

Ralph hooted. I repeated the line. Soon we were whooping it up like five-year-olds.

God it felt nice. I honestly cannot remember when we last shared such a genuinely good time. No soft-pedaling or covering for memory lapses, no manipulating behavior, no compromising my needs for his, no resenting the limitations of our life.

Just Ralph and me laughing away on the same joyful wavelength.