Cheryl Hughes posted this article in her blog which made me think about the helpful folks around us.
Last evening we had dinner with Cheryl’s sister Nancy. We have been doing this more and more. It is helpful to me in a couple ways that Nancy might not think about. Nancy, firstly, is not dealing with any dementia. Her conversation seems to go in a straight line. That fact by itself often provides relief to me. Over the course of my working career I traveled to other countries and many of these did not have english as their base language. It was always a great relief to hear American english from the people around you waiting for an airplane back to the states. Cheryl’s mingled conversation is much like trying to make sense of a foreign language with little preparation.
The second thing is that when Nancy talks to Cheryl she is accepting of whatever Cheryl might say. Cheryl tells her about the children in our house, their sister Janice and other thoughts as they occur. Nancy does not correct or suggest anything different. Sometimes she will ask for clarification if Cheryl has mixed up names or dates. Cheryl recognizes that she does mix things up but she does not have the stress of keeping the story straight. That is stressful to her, saying the right thing; giving the right answer; not offending anyone. She learned those from her mother and they are deeply ingrained in her personality. When talking to Nancy she relaxes. (Thanks, Nancy.)
Cheryl’s cousin’s wife Cindy began coming over to sit with Cheryl or take her to one of her exercise classes once a week for a couple hours. I am free to do whatever. (Thanks, Cindy.) These days in the warm summer Ohio air, I often go ride my bike somewhere. Cindy surprised me last Fall by asking me what I did for exercise after a discussion about Cheryl’s exercise classes. One of Cheryl’s instructors was a friend of Cindy’s. Cindy spontaneously offered to come and be with Cheryl while I did something else other than care give. It took me several weeks to figure out what to do with my new found freedom and now I look forward to it.
My son David and his wife Melissa have a wonderful patio and a big green backyard. Many times with little warning I have asked to come visit for a bit with Cheryl. Cheryl likes to visit her children and see how they are doing. Sitting on their patio in the sun brightens her mood. It gets us out of our little condo and does not require a lot of preparation by me. It is a sort of little day trip for her and I can chat with my son who is a fellow engineer. (smiley face)
They have always responded with yes. (One time they were out of town on a spontaneous getaway weekend.) Thanks, David and Melissa.
My son Scott sits with his mom while I go to my stock-club meeting once a month. (Thanks, Scott.) In 1984 several of us engineers decided to make ourselves rich by speculating in the stock market. We started meeting in March of that year. The markets have soared and ebbed. We languished through “black Friday”. We bought gold mining companies. We sold gold mining companies. We drank a lot of beer discussing and criticizing corporate management. We have won big (ABBV) and lost big (F). Good friends and lots of beer with dinner in the back room of the bar makes for a fun evening. (Thanks again, Scott.)
I have also parked Cheryl at Scott and Mavis’s house near us so that I could ride my new ebike around our old neighborhood. Cheryl could see Zachary – the newest grandchild – run around while I was riding. (Thanks, Zachary.)
My daughter Anna visit’s with her mom and in the summertime when her high school is on break takes her mom to exercise class. Last summer Anna stayed with her mom for a week while I went to visit my sister on the west coast and we attended my nephew’s wedding. Jeff and Stephanie have a new baby girl. (Thanks, Anna.)
Our next door neighbor, Jane, comes on Mondays typically to sit with Cheryl for a bit while I go ride my bike around somewhere. Cheryl sometimes walks across the hallway to visit with Jane. She is a good friend and close. Often Jane goes with us on “anything goes pizza Tuesday”. She reacts to Cheryl’s discussion much like Nancy does. Over the years Jane has had issues with her health and Cheryl’s first thought is to see how Jane is doing. Jane has pointed out things to me that she notices about Cheryl and has suggested solutions for those without any judgement. (Thanks, Jane.)
My cousin’s widow, Linda sits with Cheryl while I go do something else. Most recently I signed myself up for a caregiver’s class to find out about other services that were available. Linda came over fairly early in the morning so that I could attend this class. I found the class itself very useful. It was primarily oriented towards care partner health and well-being. (Thanks, Linda.)
I appreciate everyone’s help whether it is a small thing or a big thing. Sometimes it is a phone call. Sometimes it is merely joining us for dinner after church. Sometimes it is taking the roll of care partner for a couple hours. Sometimes it is staying with mom while dad goes somewhere for an hour or a week. I love you all. Thanks so much for helping.