Ch.67 “This is My House”
Pat makes this remark and then points out several items on our fireplace mantle that are familiar: two paint by number pictures I completed; a picture of her father C. Stanley Potter; a needlepoint celebrating our 35th anniversary created by our daughter Cindy, etc. This is her house, and at this moment it feels like home to Pat.
Two members of my Lewy Body caregivers support group have described how their spouses (one husband, one wife) keep packing up clothes, tools, and other belongings as they get ready to travel from a place that no longer feels like home to their “real” home. Now it’s Pat’s turn. She has insisted over the previous two days that this place might look like our house, but it isn’t her home. She described her real home as near the river, which implied she might have been mixing up her family homestead on the St. Croix River with our current home of over 30 years in rural Wisconsin. But when I mentioned that possibility, she told me she knew the difference quite clearly.
My fellow caregivers say this confusing situation tends to get worse over time. What bothers them the most is the emotional pain it causes their partners, a terrible sense that nothing is as it should be; these persons they love no longer experience the stable place of safety and security we call home.
What does a caregiver do in this difficult situation? 1) Try to convince your partner that here is home? 2) Ignore your partner and hope he or she will let it go or become distracted? 3) Tell your partner that the moving vans have been delayed and won’t get here until tomorrow? Group members have tried all these approaches.
So far, I’ve only attempted the first two tactics above because of an aversion to deception. After all, my wife deserves the truth. But what if she cannot accept it? How much value is there in truth that cannot be assimilated and only increases pain? I’m certain my fellow caregivers are just as uncomfortable with deceit as I am. Should the fact they’ve used manipulation be judged negatively when they report telling a lie is the only way they can calm the person they love? I think not because I put truth in the service of love and not vice-versa. Love is greater than truth and sometimes truth must be sacrificed in the name of love for your partner.
Pat’s comments on “This is My House.”
Well, I don’t know what to say about this. It’s confusing. I don’t really remember any of this. What most people around me say is that this is where we live now. This is home. I’ve heard that in a lot of places – here, with you, and I’ve heard it at times when I’ve been living down south. This is our house now. We bought this house. I’ve heard a lot of things like that.
All the people say “this is your home” so I’ve learned that that my house tends to be where I’m living right now with the person I’m living with. Sometimes this feels right and sometimes it doesn’t.