Tuesday, April 25, 2017

There are those days and times when reality comes unglued.

by Viola Larson

There are those days and times when reality comes unglued. The shattered reality then gets scattered all over my sense of security. We are watching, at home, a movie, sitting side by side. He keeps looking behind him for something. “What is it I say?” “I am looking for you, I want to sit by you he says.” I am stunned but it doesn’t happen again. Not yet.

We put the groceries away in the back of the car and, as he always has, he takes the cart to put it away.  I wait and then I see him return with the cart, open the back of the car and start to reach for the groceries. I ask him what he is doing and he says he is putting the groceries away.

We are having tacos for dinner. He actually makes the salad, while I cook the tacos and grate the cheese. And then he dumps his very hot, hot sauce all over the salad instead of putting it into his taco. I yell, “Stop” grab a large serving spoon and remove the top part of the salad with the hot sauce and put it on a separate plate.

It isn’t, as some think, just memory loss. It is confusion, loss in many ways. This is mild cognitive impairment which we were told may get better, stay the same or progress into some type of dementia such as Alzheimer’s, a disease his father died with—probably his grandfather also. The grandfather’s death certificate says died of insanity. When we obtained it, almost thirty years ago, we had no idea what that meant.

My husband’s younger sister has now been diagnosed with early dementia.   

But here is something good. He loves to read. He loves to visit and will start a conversation with strangers, well, just because they smiled at him. He does, after all, look like Mark Twain. Just a week ago a lady stopped us in the grocery store. She asked me, “Has anyone ever told you your husband looks like Mark Twain?” Both my husband and I laughed. Strangers have walked up to him on the street to tell him they know who he is.

And he looks for an opening, to tell the stranger, about Jesus.

Brad is so sweet now—will yes—sometimes when I can’t understand him, or he can’t understand me, he gets loud. (And I have gotten loud, thinking he can’t hear me when actually he isn’t comprehending what I am saying.) But this is my time for learning patience. I am not a patient person and I too often forget that something is wrong. I have spent too many years enjoying the fun (yes, fun) of sparring with him over intellectual ideas. Our two ideal games, scrabble and cribbage, we can no longer play.

God is giving me his grace and insistently pulling away, here and there, my very rough edges. And he is teaching me to trust in ways and places I have-not experienced before.  Everything, is now my responsibility and so I am learning to hand it all back to the Lord I have walked with for so many years. Without the Lord Jesus Christ, ... But now, instead, while there is grief there is a great deal of joy, even fun. Yes, again, fun.

I will use this blog to write about our journey through this awful disease. Many do not understand it or think of it as only memory loss. Too many caregivers have been deserted by both friends and family (Not me!). I want to share what this journey means from a Christian point of view. It is an exploration for me as well as others.
Here is a book I recommend: Second Forgetting: Remembering the Power of the Gospel During Alzheimer's Disease by Dr. Benjamin Mast

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