It took me forty-five seconds to walk speedily from the dining room to the kitchen, open the cupboard, select a wide but short glass, and return to Pat’s table.
Simultaneously, it took Pat 30 seconds to reach for a tall, thin glass of “drink,” tilt it, and pour most of the liquid onto the table.
“Damn,” I muttered, as I pulled the glass from Pat’s resisting hands before she could finish the job. I was angry, partly at Pat for spilling the drink and more at myself for forgetting to have that second glass ready beforehand. If it had been there when needed I would have helped Pat pour the drink from the tall, thin glass into the short, wide glass, repeating the classic children’s lesson that the same volume of liquid could fill two completely different containers. I never did believe that lesson when I was a kid; I still think someone, probably my dad, is trying to trick me.
Pat couldn’t care less about my disbelief. But she has let me pour her drink from one glass to the other rather than onto the table on several occasions. I’ve been trying to have an extra glass ready preventively at every meal. Unfortunately, this time I had forgotten.
A minute went by. I tried to make peace, telling Pat I loved her. “I love you too, sometimes,” she replied.
I asked Pat if she was angry with me for taking her glass away. She certainly was, she affirmed. Belatedly, I realized Pat was expressing her autonomy, her sense of control over the environment, when she poured her drink from the glass. I also recognized supporting Pat’s autonomy is more important than preventing a few spills, given the damage Lewy Body has done to Pat’s control over her world. However, doing so didn’t mean I should stand by and let her make a huge mess that I or the staff would have to clean up. The two-glass maneuver was a good way to honor her power while keeping the dining room sanitary.
I apologized for acting hastily and for being upset with her. I offered to help her pour the rest of her drink into the second glass. Pat agreed to the compromise. We poured liquid back and forth a couple times. The argument was over, and I was forgiven (I hope).