I had just finished a three hour lunch with a young woman I once tutored, helped get into a community college, and have kept in touch with since both grandparents who raised her have developed Alzheimer's. Her situation is far more complex than mine and I'm trying to help her navigate through the murkiness and strength that comes with being responsible. She is twenty two years old. Her father died before her birth; she was found with her mother's dead body at age four under suspicious circumstances. Drugs and alcohol. It took a full year with me before she even talked about her mother...and then I was shown her photograph. Dead ringer, down to the blouse color I was wearing.
So, we keep in touch, meeting at the same restaurant every time after I told the owner some of our story. We get our pick of tables; we get to try new dishes for free. He even offered us both jobs, although neither of us can speak Chinese. This man, who explains that his children won't help him better his English has turned to us although we are never quite sure what he wants us to do. We laugh about staying-in-pajamas-days, other people not understanding, family not helping or making matters worse. Alzheimer's is difficult enough for me and she is far too young for such a burden.
I brought her copies of resources and reading materials from the Caregiver Support Group and a website where people can share their experiences with loved ones diagnosed with dementia, memory loss, or Alzheimer's. I tell her most days it's hard enough living in the Alzheimer's world to read or write about it, but it can be helpful. I tell her she can call me at any time, if she needs help, knowing she won't.
I'd had a Very Difficult Month and was looking forward to being with this young woman. She texted she had been through A LOT OF BAD THINGS, so we ate, talked and listened to each others' lives. The restaurant is, ironically, a dead zone. After leaving, I checked my cell phone and there was a message from one of my sons regarding grocery shopping. I called him and said, "The last thing on Earth I want to do is grocery shop, but what did you want and...can you please check on Dad?"
Yesterday was blue sky gorgeous, breezy and in the 60's. I wanted to go home and dig holes, plant things, cry and cry. Instead I went grocery shopping since we were totally out of milk, toothpaste, some tea my son really likes, meat and fresh fruit. I decided going in, I would leave after 45 minutes no matter what because my son said he wasn't sure if my husband had lunch and had locked himself in his library. Probably sleeping, but I cannot relax, knowing on some level he's not okay. We'd had a talk the night before about visiting a respite day center and he wasn't too happy with me.
After getting two gallons of milk, I turned and saw stacks of Entenmann's classic rich frosted donuts, half-price. On the box it said, "Celebrate NATIONAL DONUT DAY", which seemed like a perfect solution at that moment. When I arrived home, I read that NATIONAL DONUT DAY was "Started in 1938 to honor The Salvation Army 'Lassies' of World War I who served these treats to the soldiers. This occasion established the donut as a long standing symbol of the services The Salvation Army continues to provide." You can visit them on Facebook, and for every "like" Entenmann's will donate $1 up to $30,000. or you can scan the QR code to win FREE DONUTS FOR A YEAR.
Arriving home, my husband is just waking up and says it feels like his voice is coming out of his ear. He sees the donuts and I tell him he can have one after he has a sandwich. I run upstairs to get him a generic Claritin. Our sons are outside since it is still gorgeous discussing computer gaming problems they are designing. I wave the box of chocolate donuts at them. They give me THE look so I head back inside. "MOMMMMM, don't be mad; we're working." I answer, "I'm not mad, just thought you might like some donuts." Of course, they cave and I hand them the box, going back inside for two big glasses of milk. Comfort food.
Unpacking groceries, I water a Boston fern that I managed not to kill during the winter in my woodstove room. My husband asks how the donuts and milk went over "with the boys", at least that's what I think he meant when he said, "ferns for milk". Just another day in my life. I make BLTs for everyone but myself, fruit salad, and heat up leftover soup. Our sons retreat to the back of the house; my husband says he wants to be with me. It's Tuesday night and I have three TV shows I watch. He eats, then falls asleep and I cry and laugh at the smallest things.