There’s not much good that can be said about dementia. In fact, there is nothing, unless it could be called on selectively to remove those things not worth storing or that hurt.
This journey with Patti (that would be Mom) has taught many lessons on the wonders of the body and the mind.
She has said as far back as I can recall, “Always have something to look forward to.” In this curious case of visiting her while an ICU and telemetry patient, dementia has a bit of twisted benefit.
It’s the short term effected the most. Questions asked and answered over and over—some with less patience than others. Names and even faces that leave almost as soon as they arrived.
If there is silver lining to the loss of fragments of memory in this case, it is that each visit becomes new. An unexpected and positive surprise. A big smile breaks through the tubes and the vapor of the breathing treatments and past the blinding lights of a room occupied by precious life and inanimate machines keeping the precious life precious for a little longer.
Memory has its blend for evil and for good. There is a neurological yin and yang about it. The recall can allow grudges to never die; for pain or sorrow or anger or all manner of negative emotion to be reignited. Whole wars have happened because of a collective or individual memory. It can haunt and stay, even if begged to leave. It can also remind us of the best parts of life. The births and the dates and the songs and the quiet moments and the celebrations and more. It can fill the mind’s canvas like a colorful and beautiful montage.
Mom’s memories are vivid. They are offered in headlines repeated over and over and with the same enthusiasm as if delivered for the first time. They are mixed with pride and melancholy. They are the best of what she wants to remember, and that is good enough. Some have become a little exaggerated over the lifetime. So what? What’s the harm in refreshing or adding a hue here and there to a life recalled?
We walked into the semi-private room tonight. Her eyes moved from the window the to the door as she could sense our approach. “Ohhhhhhhhh, it’s youuuu,” she exclaims with a smile. It had been only an hour or so, but it was new now…and so appreciated.
Using this time to reflect (as I always seem to do when trials present) leads me to consider changes or reinforce the best of my current path –which is so strong and hopeful. I am more determined to design and create and fulfill those moments that will become the memories of good. Equally determined to fight harder against those memories that intermittently plot a coup to create the dark moods and times quiet neglect.
Always have something to look forward to (and back on)!
Love you, Mom.