For years and years, long before dementia took control of our lives, if I asked Peter to take the garbage out Thursday evening he nearly always refused. His argument was, no one else had theirs out. Only one other house on our block has front curb pick-up, so it isn’t a contest. Finally, I started doing it . It certainly isn’t difficult, and my nagging was nagging at me.
Before daylight one Friday I noticed the blue bin was in the carport. I was positive I’d taken it out. Did the truck go by already? Did our neighbor bring it back? I went out and peeked inside — full. Blast!
Peter must’ve rolled it back the evening before thinking it was empty. He didn’t notice that “empty” was very heavy — the week before we’d had a lot of snow so there’d been no garbage collection at all.
Whether garbage is in or out isn’t a big problem, but it’s a worrisome symptom.
A few days later I was in the pantry when I heard Peter and Nobby come back from their walk. “Knock, knock?” he said, peeking around the door. “Oh! I didn’t think you were here.”
I’d been pouring kibble into Nobby’s metal bowl. “Didn’t you hear the racket?” I asked.
Peter shook his head and pointed toward the carport. “Your car isn’t there.”
This was a Sunday. My car had been gone since Thursday evening. Leslie traded cars with me so she and Martin could take mine to a family ski weekend in West Virginia. “You haven’t noticed my car was gone? We ran errands today in Leslie’s car, remember?”
Of course he didn’t remember. But he’d laughed at me trying to adjust her seat and mirrors while complaining I felt like I was sitting on the road in her much lower car. Even after all this time I can’t seem to remember that he really can’t remember.
Peter no longer fixes meals. He used to make Indian dinners, bubble and squeak, and he always cooked fish. He still makes the best fried eggs. He does them, with supervision. I get out the skillet, eggs, oil, spatula, and put the frozen chips in the oven. I tell him when to start the eggs.
I watched him a few nights ago so “I could see how he did it,” I said. When they were just right, he slid the skillet off the burner, then reached through the grate. “NO-O,” I yelled when I realized what he was doing. He singed his fingers before my yell penetrated. He said he thought he had to twist the “thing” (burner cap) to put out the flame. He wasn’t burned badly, thankfully.
Days like these, “Keep your sunny side up” are words to live by.
Header photo: Eggs over easy
2016 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ contest finalist.