Nobby didn’t do it!

Peter went with me to get my springtime supply of potting soil. I had to ask a Lowe’s employee to help us get it off the stack and onto a flat cart. Together, we managed to heft it into the car ourselves, but at home Peter insisted he wrestle the monster bag to the backyard himself.

Then, Friday, with only a few more plants to pot, I set myself up under the maple tree with trowel, pots, scoop and…where the heck was the potting soil? I looked in the gardening cupboard, the shed, the basement. Arrgh-h, was it that bag that made the garbage bin so heavy that morning? It had been very difficult to roll to the street and Peter was concerned the weight would be too much for the lifting mechanism on the truck.

“Do you know where the potting soil is?” I asked Peter, knowing he wouldn’t know what I was talking about.

“Potting soil? What’s that?”

“Big green bag, heavy, you lugged it around back for me couple weeks ago. Come help me, I’m probably looking right at it and can’t see it.”

We went to the shed and looked under and behind things. Nope. Storage cupboard? Nope. Basement? Nope. “If it was as heavy as you say I don’t think I could’ve carried it down here,” he said.

I groaned, sure it had been put into the blue bin that had already been collected. Peter often sneaks things into the garbage. We really couldn’t blame that, even jokingly, on Nobby.

I plonked down on the terrace steps, frustrated. In order to finish, I’d have to go get another bag of the stuff. But oh, wait, something bright green beside the steps caught my eye. OH!

“Peter, I found it,” I yelled. I pointed to the bag leaning against the wall. I’d practically stepped on it when I began my search.

He laughed. He hooted. His face turned red.

“I’m sorry! It’s my fault, not yours!” I said, laughing almost as much as he was.

Leslie arrived just then. What’s going on, she wanted to know.  Peter, still laughing, pointed to the very big, very green bag. “Mum tried to blame me…said I threw that away…I can’t even lift it….”

She laughed too, as only she can. Later, she suggested the episode was a post waiting to be written. I, like Peter, always do what Leslie says.

At least Nobby didn’t get the blame.

2016 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ contest finalist. screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-10-14-53-am

 

Header: Peter weeds the herb garden.

Wrinkles in time, smoothed.

Peter has been sleeping much later in the mornings, sometimes until ten or after. On the one hand, that gives me time to write or go for my morning walk, but on the other hand, I wait for him to get up so I can do laundry, tidy the bedroom, or maybe run an errand. While I’m glad to have extra time to myself, I’m also testy with him because he sleeps undisturbed while I wait to get my chores done.

Ironing, for instance.

Peter wears long-sleeved dress shirts every day and they need, if not ironing, then at least touch-ups. True, I’m the one who nags him to put his shirts into the hamper, while he insists they’re clean even when they’re so stiff they could walk to the laundry room. If he hasn’t spilled soup on the front, he says they’re fine.

I seldom have time, or more correctly, seldom have the inclination, to iron his shirts, or anything else, anymore. Recently, when he asked if he could help me, as he does several times a day, I suggested he iron shirts. And he did! He does a better job than I do, although he thought eight shirts were too many to do in one afternoon. Humph.

The next time he asked if he could help, I again suggested he iron shirts. Those shirts still hang, wrinkled, in the guest room closet. He doesn’t want to do them and I’ve decided to go on strike. He can no longer do most things around the house, but he can still use an iron and, well, he’s the one who wears the shirts. If he chooses not to iron them, then wrinkled they’ll be.

It isn’t really about the ironing, of course, it’s about all the other tasks that pile up like unmated socks. Another iceberg lurking.

If it were possible to smooth the “wrinkles in time” to squeeze more hours into a day, I’d get the iron out…or ask my husband to do it.

2016 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ contest finalist. screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-10-14-53-am

Mow and mow and mow the grass.

Keep him doing chores that he can still do is my motto. Gives him a sense of purpose and helps me. My husband can still empty the dishwasher, clear up after dinner, sweep the terrace, mow the grass. He no longer hauls the garbage bins out to the street because he forgets which way they face. Easier for me to do it than to explain.

Each  of his chores has become problematic for both of us. When he empties the dishwasher I put away the odd things he doesn’t recognize — juicer, salad spinner, flour sifter — and after we eat I must put leftovers away or he’ll throw them out.

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Cotton-tailed trimmer.

Mowing the yard has become an all-day event. If I remind him that the grass needs cutting, and if he’s in the mood to do it, he’ll mow front and back, come in complaining how hot he is, take a shower, then go back outside and start to mow all over again. When I catch him to tell him he already mowed, he argues. I point out the freshly manicured lawn, but he doesn’t believe me. He is hot though, so he showers again, and tries to mow a third time.

Or not.

A week ago I couldn’t get him to cut the lawn at all. When the grass was nearly at mid-calf, I threatened. He mowed the outer edges of each section, but left the middles. He put the mower away. I asked him to finish mowing. He would not. Suddenly, he went out and started the mower. He was going round and round the front when it started raining. Blinding sheets of rain. He would not stop. He kept going and going and going, an Energizer bunny. He was drenched. “No reason to quit once I got so wet,” he said with a silly smile when he came in the back door.

He headed upstairs to take another shower.

 

 

National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ contest winner, 2016.

 

Tail of a dog.

Almost every Wednesday for the past four years, Peter and Nobby have visited area nursing homes with Bill, Peter’s faithful companion.  Nobby is the star of the weekly events, of course, and he luxuriates in the cuddles.

Last week, Bill arrived on time, as he always does, and Peter was ready, though he usually is not. As they headed out the door, I yelled, “Haven’t you forgotten something?”

Peter turned. “I don’t think so…,” he said.

I pointed to Nobby. “What about him?”

“Oh, is he going?” he asked, as if this were something new.

Well, yes,” I said. “It’s Wednesday.” Peter shook his head, disgusted with his drifting memory. Bill and I couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of Peter walking into the nursing home, red leash in hand and no dog attached.

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More and more often these days I have to remind Peter — make that nag — that it’s time for Nobby’s walk. This morning, Nobby waited patiently by the basement door. When I called to Peter, he said, “Yes, yes, I’m coming.” Nobby flip-flopped his tail hopefully.

Finally Peter came up from the basement. I heard him fiddling with the leash. After a spate of muttering from Peter and a few yelps from Nobby, I went to investigate. They were in the laundry room. Peter was laughing so hard tears were streaming down his face. “Helped when I put the leash on the right end,” he said, sputtering.

“What, you mean you put it on his back end?”

“Yes, and he didn’t like it.”

“Poor dog! I’m sure he didn’t!” I said. “How would you like a harness around your nether region?”

Peter grimaced. Nobby got two treats.DSC00224_2

 

Oh, IOU!

Funny, the things Peter can remember. He has always had a vast repertoire of quips and come-backs, but recently he’s even added one or two. Several  months ago I was mad at him about something, then later realized I was in the wrong. “I owe you an apology,” I said.

He came right back at me. “That’ll be ten cents, please,” he said.

I laughed because he was so quick and so funny, and he laughed because he was pleased with himself.

Happened again this week. Even though I should never blame him for anything because he can’t remember what’s gone before, I was furious that he’d pulled up a fulsome Black-Eyed Susan that had been flourishing in the corner of my herb garden. “You pulled those tendrils off after I asked you to leave them alone,” I fussed.

“What did I do?” He had no idea what I was talking about. I showed him the plant, withered, literally, on the vine.  “Sorry,” he said, and I knew he meant it, though he still didn’t understand.

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 3.02.08 PMYesterday, after days of pounding rain, I noticed that the plant had revived. Peter hadn’t destroyed it, Mother Nature had. She’d withheld rain for several weeks, then flooded us with it. My Black-Eyed Susan slurped at the puddles .

“I owe you an apology,” I said, pointing at the yellow flowers beaming by the fence.

“That’ll be ten cents,” he said, still clueless, but quick-quipped as always.

Laughter, always the best medicine.

This caregiving business is a series of lessons on the run. I have an “ah ha” moment almost every day.

Take today.

Every morning, I put our prescription meds into two shot glasses — Peter’s on the left of the coffeemaker, mine on the right. He takes an 81 mg aspirin, Losarten for blood pressure, Wellbutrin for mood, Livolo for cholesterol, and Vitamin D3 because dementia patients are thought to be lacking in the D vitamin. Oh, and Namenda, the well advertised medicScreen Shot 2015-08-09 at 5.49.32 PMation thought to slow the effects of dementia-related diseases. How could I forget that one?

After dinner, I dole out Glucophage, the supposed answer to leveling his blood sugar levels since he won’t leave sweets and carbs alone no matter how often the doctor explains nor how often I nag. Just before bed, he takes Donepezil (Aricept), to treat confusion, possibly improve memory, awareness and the ability to function.

How well do these meds, particularly Nameda and Donepezil, perform? I have no idea. I do know that his taking pills from the wrong shot glass was an important lesson-in-waiting for me this morning.

I discovered the mistake when I poured my second cup of coffee. Peter was already watching West Ham beat Arsenal. “You haven’t taken your pills yet, Peter. No, wait! Mine are gone and I never take them until after my coffee!”

He had no idea what I was talking about. So much for awareness.

“Did you take my pills?” I asked, showing him the little empty glass. “Yes, you took mine.” I answered my own question.

“I don’t know…probably,” he said. “What will happen to me?”

“Hm, well, my super prescription vitamin may give you a boost. Maybe you’ll have the energy to mow the grass…” I laughed at my own joke as he made a face that said, “Not bloody likely…I’m watching soccer.”

I didn’t expect that he’d cut the grass, and he didn’t. But, lesson learned, from now on I’ll keep my medications in a secure container in my pocket.

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Ah ha! A beer-on-a-stick might work.

 

Yesterday was not a good day.

Peter could not remember how to do the simplest of jobs, he was grumpy because I was “telling him what to do,” and I was grumpier because I had to repeat myself endlessly. Meanwhile nothing got done.

Besides, it was an ugly windy day, completely unlike what the weather forecaster predicted.

Late in the afternoon, Peter came to me and asked, “Is there anything else I can do wrong?”

He had a plaintive smile, and of course I melted. “I’m sorry I’ve been so grouchy,” I said.

“No, you haven’t, don’t even say that,” he said. He wrapped me in one of his increasingly rare hugs.

“But you didn’t do anything ‘wrong,'” I said, “you just didn’t do anything.” He loves it when I jab him.

He laughed and danced around the kitchen like an elf. “Ya got me!” he said, and everything was alright again.