As the days get shorter, so does my husband’s ability to remember anything — anything — for longer than a few seconds. My ability to laugh through tears has faded with the waning year. Peter’s downward skid is out-of-control, a luge slider run amok.
Even though my journalistic conscience has prodded me to write a post, I’ve been too tired, exhausted really, to come up with anything that would fit my charter: to search out laughs to ease the dementia-clouded days.
Last week, finally, some blog-worthy chuckles presented themselves. I’d combined a trip to Roanoke for our annual Christmas lunch with having my car serviced at the dealership. Turned out to be a very long day. We did a little shopping, had a lovely lunch at Montano’s and even shared a slice of carrot cake for dessert. Afterwards, we headed to the dealer for a recommended oil change and a quick tweak to my car’s “Eyesight” feature.
“Quick” it was not. What I thought would be an hour’s wait turned into more than three. It was a comfortable enough, pleasant room with free snacks and a TV. I’d taken a book. Peter huffed and wiggled and made endless cups of coffee. After some time, he asked, “What are you here for?”
“Just service,” I said.
“When will they call you in?”
“What do you mean?”
“When will you see the doctor?” he asked, waving his arms at the other people waiting.
“I’m not waiting for a doctor,” I laughed, “my car is getting checked!”
“Well I didn’t know,” he mumbled, adding, “then why are we waiting?”
“Because we need the car to get home,” I said. “Long walk from here.”
He went back to the old magazine he’d looked at several times. Before long, he asked, “What are you here for?”
I laughed again, explained again, and then again.
Shave and a haircut.
The next day I ginned up a “therapeutic fib” to get my reluctant husband to a barber for a much needed beard trim and shave, plus attention to anything else that needed doing from his neck up. (The day before, I’d tried to lure him into a barber near Montano’s, but he dug in his heels at the door like a five-year-old going for his first haircut. He would not budge.)
This day I made an appointment.
I faked a note from Leslie to encourage Peter to cooperate and asked his Thursday helper, Mark, to give the card to Peter and say Leslie wanted him to get spruced up — he’ll do whatever she tells him to do. Mark endured the barber shop trip in my stead and took photos for me.
Afterwards Peter looked quite spiffy with his beard trimmed neatly, neck shaved, eyebrows tamed. I praised him lavishly, but he was confused. “What are you on about?” he asked, irritated.
“Your hair! Your beard! You look terrific,” I said.
He had no clue why I was gushing — he hates gushing. For all his grumbling, he’d dozed right off in the chair and awakened well groomed, without even knowing anything had happened.
Header: Peter sleeps in barber’s chair.
2016 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ contest finalist.
He did indeed look super spiffy!
Ahhh always a good day when we get well groomed. Sorry you are missing the ho ho ho’s , glad you found a moment to share.
I wish we coujd get down there and help you with your ho ho ho’s…baby steps = victories! How smart are you to enlist Doc D and Mark!! ❤️😘
Ho ho ho’s are needed now and then as we know.. wish you could have a few more.
Me too. Thanks, Amy.
It makes me sad to think of Peter in this downward spiral with you holding onto him every step of the way. I wish I could say something besides, I care from afar.
Thanks, Shirley. You know first hand what it’s like, don’t you?
Expert caregiving seems to run in your family, Judith. I’m always impressed by the smart strategies you employ.