Ch.121 Taste and Touch Connect Us
I usually come to The Refuge twice a day to “visit” Pat, once from about 11 a.m.–2 p.m. and again from 6-8 at night. That word “visit” is a weak word, though. I come to be with my wife, my care partner. I’m not visiting Pat. I’m reconnecting with her, reaffirming our love. We belong together.
These two loving times are quite different. Pat eats lunch in the dining area during the daytime session. I sit beside her, mask on, listening to the staff members chat with each other while they feed a few of the neediest residents. Lately, Pat has been eating faster and better, especially since she no longer takes opioid medication. Fortunately, the food quality is excellent here. Meals are tasty, lightly herbed and spiced, and the menu is nicely varied with a strong Mid-Western preference.
The residents don’t talk much during meals. There are few side conversations. Instead, people concentrate upon the challenging task of eating. Forks are lifted slowly to mouths. Spoons are carefully inserted into soups and puddings, occasionally spilling their contents before reaching their destination. There are no knives at the table.
Meanwhile, Pat does well. She has developed a wonderful habit of saying “hmmm” when she enjoys a bite, which occurs frequently. I love listening and watching Pat enjoy her dinner.
The evening session takes place in Pat’s room, where she has just been helped into bed after finishing supper. Her low-rise mechanical bed is lowered almost to the floor (Pat has fallen out a few times) and a 4” protective cushion is laid next to the bed. That’s where our collie Levi and I sit so we can be as close as possible to Pat.
While taste is central to the daytime session, touch rules in the evening. Pat and I hold hands, kiss, caress, and cuddle. We also tell each other how much we love each other, repeatedly, but those words simply embellish our touches. These nights are when we truly feel our love.
Then, usually around 7 p.m., we return to taste. I offer Pat a “midnight” snack, something like a cup of yogurt with berries. I raise the head of her bed so she can consume her treat. “Hmmm,” Pat says as she takes the first spoonful. “Hmmm” I feel in my heart.
Finally, it’s time to separate. That’s the hard part. I cannot stay indefinitely, so out I go, promising to return tomorrow. Promising to belong, together, again.
Pat’s comments on Taste and Touch Connect Us
I like it that I know I’m caring about and being cared about [when Ron is here].