Palaver from Persimmon Crossingwith Warren Faulk
LOSING YOUR MINDI believe the terms arrived in the following order:
Losing ones mind
The differences don't matter much when you are caught up in the middle of taking care of a loved one that is changing gears mentally. I don't know yet what it is like on the other side of that wall. I have seen three relatives approach it and go through it. Some of my most bittersweet memories involve these three.
One of my Grandfathers slipped over the edge rather suddenly it seemed. Daddy came home from a visit one day and said "when Pop said I saw two squirrels going up three trees, I knew he was in trouble". Shortly,another visit produced a disagreement over a hatchet being kept in the house. Grandpa thought he needed it to "keep Marthie (his pet name for grandma) in line."
And then there was the incident with the highway patrol. It seems that Grandpa had driven twelve miles from his house to ours on the wrong side of the road, running a patrolman and several others off the road. The solution to this was that Daddy took the keys and the patrolman took Grandpa on patrol with him about once a week until he finally went to the nursing home. Those really were the good old days. When Daddy took his Pop to the nursing home just for a look around, instead of balking as many do, he just said I believe I'll just stay here for awhile. He still had enough of his wits about him to know that this was the thing to do. He never came home.
My Mother came next. She reached a point where she appeared to be living in two time zones at the same time, these zones being about 45 years apart. On one occasion she asked me to go upstairs and stop those kids from rolling marbles. Those kids being my sister, my brother and myself. When I told her who I was she said "I know". When I explained to her that I couldn't be both places, she politely explained that it was in fact me and that I should go upstairs and make myself stop playing with the marbles. There was a little pause and then she said "you caught me didn't you?"
It turned out that her thoughts had been running along two tracks, with her children being both children and adults simultaneously, sound effects included, for quite some time. And she had determined to enjoy it, thank you very much. We talked openly about this several times. She was not distressed by it in the least. My mother and I became quite good friends during this period of about three years. I came to love her very much, not in the obligatory way, but I finally, really loved her. This was one more of God's gifts to me and I hope to her.
Then it was Daddy's turn. He began to prepare for it many years in advance. He laid the legal groundwork, briefed me on how he wanted things done and deferred to me at every point when I cautioned him about things he was doing. And when I decided to take over everything as a precautionary measure he...let me. It finally got to the point where something had to be done about his living arrangements. We tried a couple nursing arrangements which didn't pan out, then moved him in with my family.
This wasn't a perfect solution either but it was the best we could do. He really needed full time care. I mean 24 hours per day. There was no way you could trust him to be still even for a minute. We set up an alarm system to alert us when he got up. In spite of that he got up one morning before I could get to him and made it into a narrow passage and fell, knocking himself unconscious. He was face down in a growing pool of blood when I found him. He was breathing so I took the time to check him over for broken bones. He awoke singing "Up From The Grave He Arose" and laughing at me. He began to have all kinds of trouble with accuracy in the bathroom. I tried to convince him to sit down to solve the problem. His response, "I've been standing up to pee for a long time boy".
There's no telling how many times he woke up calling for "Margie" (my mother). Usually a brief explanation that Mama wasn't here would suffice, but one day he got real huffy about it. I undertook to explain that Mama had died three years before. "Why wasn't I told?" "You were." "Why didn't I go to the funeral?" "You did. you are just confused." And then came the funniest/ unfunniest statement he ever made, "well if you think I'm confused...look at Margie. She's been dead three years and she doesn't even know it!" For my money she may have been with him right to the end. I know he thought she was.
And then there was prayer. The last family gathering where he was involved came near the end. We sat down for a meal. At that point he could barely feed himself and more often than not sat for long periods just looking at his plate. This was his situation when it came time for the blessing. As a courtesy he was asked if he would like to say the blessing. He continued to stare for a long enough time that I started to step in...and then in a clear strong voice he prayed a prayer of thanks for our food and our general wellbeing, naming names, very specific and when he stopped he lapsed back into his quiet state. This few minutes was another of God's great gifts to us all.
And then he hurt his leg. I took him to the doctor to have it checked. When the doctor came in he was in a rush as most good ones are. He greeted my Dad and said I haven't seen you in awhile. Daddy said " you looked like you needed a break. I was trying to give you a chance to catch up." That was that. His last coherent remarks. He went directly into the hospital and died a few hours later. The eyes went first. They were the last things to move but the first to die. The light in those glorious blue eyes just stopped burning and I knew he was gone.
If I live long enough it will be my turn. I hope I handle it half as well as these three did. They taught me some good lessons. And I have learned one useful thing on my own. At around age 40, assuming you have read some good books during your life, write down the titles of about 30 of them. When you forget that you have read them or what they contain, read them again. You will enjoy them again, just as before, and this time you won't have to hold your breath for the first chapter, wondering if you are going to like the book. Or just read anything by James Michener..............
-- Warren Faulk
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