By Charles Towne
The following is a chapter from my forthcoming book, “LOVE CARES!”
I wrote LOVE CARES! because, as a long term caregiver of 21 years, I wanted to help other caregivers, professionals and especially family members realize that they - you - are not alone. Your efforts to render loving care to those afflicted with dementia, and especially the victims of Alzheimer’s disease, are not in vain, and you are not alone in your journey.
No! You are not alone in your endeavors to care for these loved ones who are so afflicted, be they father, mother, husband or wife.
Read on, and may you be greatly blessed by my sharing this story of my dear wife and I, realizing that I am but a fellow traveler with you, from here to there!
My darling Nancy likes to hold onto my arm as we are walking. In fact, sometimes she clings so tightly that after awhile my arm will cramp. And while I love her, I have to stop and change sides so I can feel my appendages again. It is alright though, for after all, she is my lady!
Yes, we enjoy the closeness and intimacy that is communicated by touch, but there is more to her holding on tight than that. Sidewalks are a special challenge for my sweetie, and I didn’t realize just how much of a challenge until one recent experience.
We were walking not far from our home, and we came to a series of broad yellow stripes that were painted on the road to designate a crosswalk. I had no idea the challenge those simple stripes might present to Nancy; after all, they weren’t any sort of obstacle, just paint, placed there to guide and protect not obstruct.
But Nanny suddenly held back, stopped, and stared intently at the stripes. And then, oh so carefully, she stepped over each painted stripe, lifting her feet almost as if she were stepping up onto a curb.
As I watched my wife I couldn’t help but think of Jack Nicholson’s character in the movie, As Good As It Gets. If you remember, in the movie - due to his psychosis - he found it impossible to step on a crack in a sidewalk!
How can the human mind perceive painted stripes, or cracks in a sidewalk, as obstacles?
I don’t understand it, but that it is real to her is enough.
Now when I see something that might be perceived as an obstacle or impediment, I explain it to her, preparing her so there is no surprise. And because she trusts me, she can relax.
Some time ago we went to visit some friends. They had just moved into a new home and as we approached their front door, Nanny again pulled back and stopped.
I looked at her and asked, “What's the matter, honey?”
To which she answered, “I don’t want to fall in the hole!”
When she said this, I looked down at the black welcome mat and immediately realized what the problem was. She was perceiving that welcome mat, not as what it was, but as an ominous threat - a hole she might fall into!
I smiled, reached out one foot, and stepped on the hole / doormat, and told her what it was.
With that, she sighed, and still holding onto my arm, she smiled, then laughed, and completely surprised me by stamping on the doormat!
Thank God that, even though I have not always been so patient, I am learning!
A CAREGIVER’S PRAYER
Dear God, thank you for being so very patient with me. Thank you for guiding me over and through the obstacles of life where, without your guidance, I would have failed. I realize I have a long way to go, but there is still time. Help me to be what you want me to be, Father. Kiss me with divinity. In Jesus’ wonderful name I ask it, Amen
Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.
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