Ch.4. Good Days.
Coping with LB has made me (and Pat, I’m sure) more appreciative of the natural beauty in our Western Wisconsin homestead. Almost every day lately we’ve driven through the Autumn hills, watching leaves turn color and then fall in the breeze, looking with our two dogs (Levi, a collie mix, and Franklin, our three-legged chow chow mix) for deer, foxes, and eagles. One day we even came across a flock of turkey vultures settling in to roost on several trees near the road. Ugly as ever, of course, but still a family with kids, “teens,” and parents. Pat remarked that one of the more adolescent birds was helping to rearrange the family nesting spots, stating that was good “family-oriented” behavior. As mentioned previously, LB is a very unpredictable disease. Pat has good hours and bad hours, good days and bad days. My stress level parallels her experience. On good days I relax some, only to tense up and become more watchful on the bad ones.
Here’s what a typical good day looks like:
7:00 A.M. – 9:00 A.M. Wake up, read in bed, breakfast, shower together. Morning medications.
9:00 A.M. – 10:30 A.M. A long ride in the country on roads where I can drive as slowly as I want, and Pat can tell me to stop so she can take pictures.
10:30 A.M. – noon: working on a jig saw puzzle. Pat frets that she can’t put the pieces together as quickly as before. True, but she’s still faster than me and sees patterns I miss.
12:00 P.M. – 1:00 P.M.: A light lunch, maybe grilled cheese sandwiches and mandarin oranges.
1:00 P.M – 3:00 P.M. Pat may take an afternoon nap while I conduct telephone supervision sessions with people seeking certification as domestic violence specialists through the National Anger Management Association with which I am affiliated.
3:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M. Pat and I work around the house cleaning, sorting clothes, or doing dishes.
4:00 P.M. – 5:30 P.M. We read together in our downstairs cubby area, a quiet place that broadcasts a sense of calmness.
5:30 P.M. - 6:00 P.M. Time for the national news.
6:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M. Pat watches television (usually political news) while I make supper and then we dine.
7:00 P.M. – 10:00 P.M. Puzzles, nature shows, photographing our mineral collection, crafts. A variety of options depending on Pat and my energy levels.
10:00 P.M. – Night time medications and bed.
Life has certainly become more simplified for the two of us. No more professional trips around the country. No more hectic therapy schedules, helping people to the point of exhaustion. Fewer forays into the world for social events, symphonies and shows, even visits with friends. And, frankly, I’m happy with what’s left – much more time together to talk, make love, drive around, play with the cat and dogs, bake pies and cook dinners. Time enough in the present to enjoy the sunshine.
Each good hour is a joy. Each good day is a treasure.
I’ve just run across a passage by the mystery write Louise Penney* in which she describes her life with her husband Michael as he weakens from dementia. She says: “It’s not all bad. Far from it. There’s clarity, simplicity and knowing what really matters.” That’s exactly true for us as well.
*Louise Penney, “A Great Reckoning.” 2016. St. Martin’s Press, p. 499.
Good Days from Pat’s Perspective.
Ron’s off doing his things—getting groceries, sand, animal food for the horse, birds, etc.—paying bills, writing checks, etc. I have a fair amount of quiet time at home, sorting more of the stuff that seems to have fallen out of control., reading, puzzling, etc.
Ron comes back regularly, usually takes the dogs for a ride, we work outside or inside, I chunk rocks, meditate on them, carry them from one place to another to see them differently. He and the dogs take me for travels in fields, snows in hills, lanes, curves, hills, wildlife areas. Colors lotsa places…whatever is there. l like the countryside long travels.
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