Laughs aren’t always funny.

Writing in the time of Covid has been tough. My mind is as scattered as the wintery mix that bounced on my windowsill all day. It has been so long since I posted here that I struggled to remember how to sign on!

The past several weeks were fraught. Calls from the facility where Peter lives rattled me. He’s become disruptive, combative, with staff and residents alike. This is not the man I married 39 years ago. No, this is a man who has lost his links to the outside world as have so many others imprisoned by both the Covid pandemic and the effects of dementia.

Prior to the March shutdown, Peter’s companion Mark took him for outings several times a week. I visited at least four afternoons. We’d play dominoes, watch sports on t.v. or walk outside. Sometimes we’d go for a drive or an easy hike and we celebrated holidays and birthdays with Leslie and Martin. Not so this year.

Is it any wonder Peter has not been the eccentric funnyman he was when he was admitted more than two years ago? He’s fed up with being locked in. Bored. All along I’ve told him about the pandemic and tried to explain why he’s even more confined than previously. He doesn’t remember what I’ve said. Well, that’s the problem, isn’t it? Remembering.

I had to laugh when I learned my husband had sneaked into a resident’s room and tried to put her clothes on. I laughed when I heard that he removed the laces from his shoes and tied them around his ankles for some reason. Not so funny is that he’d taken he laces out of other residents’ shoes. And not funny at all are other offenses that are totally out of character for my toe-the-line, proper English husband.

Combativeness is also unlike him. I’ve read that some dementia patients possess shocking physical strength. Peter is one of them. As a result he’s been prescribed a medication to calm him. It makes him so dopey—stoned, my daughters say—that he can barely talk. I realize his behavior could harm someone, but I wrote a letter to suggest alternative ways to redirect him. A cup of tea, favorite jazz on his “radio,” English football on his t.v.

Now it could be that during these nearly ten months since March that Peter has moved further along the dementia continuum, or it could be that the long isolation has had the debilitating effect that so many elderly residents suffer.

At last though, vaccinations for nursing home residents will begin soon in our area. With that, face-to-face visits might be permitted before too much longer. Maybe the “old” Peter will materialize, at least for a while, and we’ll be able to share genuine laughs once more.

Header photo: During a recent FaceTime chat, Peter wore a hat that he probably “borrowed” from someone’s closet.

16 thoughts on “Laughs aren’t always funny.

  1. Such a hard year especially for those in homes and with dementia. I hope you get to see him lots in2021 and you see his ole charming self come back.

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  2. Alas, I can relate to all of this, from how hard it is to figure out what to write, to how hard the whole business is. Thank you for writing, because it does help to hear of your experience with these challenges and sorrows.

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  3. Heartaches for each of you. Sending thoughts of shared cups of tea, laughter, a crunchy autumn walk through the leaves, a beautiful sunset and warm and loving hugs

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  4. Covid is an angry bully and no meaner than to those that need the human interaction the most. Soon Judith, the vaccine is coming…Mark will be back and you’ll be fussing over Poppy before you know it❣️

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  5. Such difficult times for so many and so unfair… my heart aches for you . Prayers for us all that “ normal” returns. Hugs to you ..Amy.

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  6. So many are going through what you are, but that doesn’t make it any easier. My sisters and I are so grateful that my Mom passed before Covid hit. She would have never understood. I feel terrible saying that, but it would have been so hard on her. She was used to one of there almost daily. I feel like these vaccines will role out fairly quickly, so hang on Judith. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. It takes me back to my Mom every time, although I don’t have any trouble thinking of her.

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