CAREGIVING, Stories from a Caregiver
What Day is This?
“This series of short stories and the accompanying original art were created to document and share my journey as a dementia caregiver. If you are caring for a loved one who is challenged by Alzheimer’s or another dementia, may they resonate with you while seeking meaning in your caregiving work and a better, brighter and healthier future. If this is your first time stopping by, I recommend starting from the beginning with Story #1: A Few Things I’ve Learned.”
Stories from a Caregiver: Love, Resiliency, and Renewal
Story #17: What Day is This?
By: Gerald Lloyd Wood
First light and creature sounds in the desert are unlike any other place we’ve ever lived. It is heaven for early risers. Recently, my wife awakened and entered the room where I was reading. As usual, we greeted each other with “Good morning” and an affectionate hug. She then asked, “Is this November?” Not over-reacting, I answered, “No, Honey, this is April.” Then she asked, “What time is it?” I answered, “6:45.” She responded, “I thought it was about 11:00.” Her next question was, “What day is it?” I answered, “Thursday.” This innocuous dialogue had become our typical morning routine for several months so I already knew what came next. Sure enough, she got a cup of coffee and repeated, “What time is it?” By now, she had entered the family room from the kitchen to join me.
Settling into her favorite chair, with her feet on the ottoman; she asked again, “What day is it?” Our conversations just go in circles like this in her present state of confusion. Her lapses into aphasia make little sense and are most upsetting. With patience, I’ve come to accept increasing difficulty in our ability to communicate. Nonetheless, simply being together is good and has always been a wonderful way to start our days with coffee and conversation. Sometimes we like soft music turned way down low. There is no one on this earth I would rather be with than her. She would say the same.
Adding to our pleasure, Sam, a black Labrador Retriever we raised from a litter is always at our feet. As he moves back and forth between us, we laughingly say, “He’s sharing the love.” If you haven’t noticed, dogs are incredible creatures with unwavering loyalty to their people and sense of their world. Humans should be so gifted.
Sam reads us like a book and knows something is wrong as he has started spending an inordinate amount of time with Linda, day and night. He dutifully lies on his doggie palette by her bedside at night and at her feet during the day as if on sentry duty. This bond undoubtedly began when she took him for obedience training as a puppy. They were a team proof positive as he won the blue ribbon at graduation. Now when she cries in her illness, he goes immediately to her. How amazing is that?
Clearly, I’ve lost my position as top dog around here but, that’s OK. She needs all the love and support she can get from both of us because she has Alzheimer’s disease.
© 2022 Gerald Lloyd Wood. All rights reserved. This story and accompanying art are used with permission of the author.
Musings of a Purposeful Mind. Research Manuscript. All rights reserved © 2014.
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Ready to Find Meaning and Hope?
Finding Meaning and Hope is a free program for family caregivers based on the book, Loving Someone Who Has Dementia: How to Find Hope while Coping with Stress and Grief by Dr. Pauline Boss. This which features videos with caregivers like Gerald and facilitator guided discussions.