I’ll call him “Jim”, both because that’s his name and because there are so many Jims in the world that I can protect his privacy even if I post his real name. Jim is an old college friend. We were good friends – doing all the good things college buddies do, such as finding places in the next county where we could do our under-aged drinking, double dating, and generally screwing around. As is usually the case, we drifted apart – I went into the Army and he joined the Coast Guard. Towards the end of time the Mystery Guest Blogger and I lived in Việt Nam, Jim found me. After finding this blog, and putting a few other facts together, he emailed me to be sure he had truly found me.
We still haven’t seen each other face-to face since my return from Huê, but we swap many an email and the occasional phone call. You see, Jim is a blessing.
I have written about my mother’s Alzheimer’s on this blog on numerous occasions. Jim has been a very real and true help in all this – because he has a lot of experience with dementia. I mean a lot of experience. Jim’s mother suffers from dementia, but also Jim’s wife has early onset Alzheimer’s.
Each week, I send out something called “The Mommy Report” to family and friends. I detail what I’ve observed in my mother during the past week. Last week, I wrote this:
“For some reason, all his week she has been really pounding me with the same question: “When am I going to get out of here?” On one hand, I know there is no reasoning with her, yet I find I cannot resist asking “Where would you go, Mom?” She only mumbles some variation of “I don’t know – anywhere but here.” I realize this is her emotions asking the question, not logic. It is tied in with the statement she often makes that “nobody comes to see me here.” She means that none of her old friends come to see her. Something in her inner self still wants to connect to the memories, yet she now lacks the threads in her mind to do that.”
Its one thing to read what experts on the disease say, but it has far more impact when somebody you know who is also going through trials writes about it. Jim’s reply:
This paragraph is very a very accurate description of people suffering from dementia and I have seen it in my wife and mother. My wife will sometimes ask me "when am I going to take her home" when she is sitting in her own living room that has been her own living room for twenty years. I too believe it has more to do with disconnected memories than physical location. Its sad to watch but a classic symptom. Gets worse at the end of the day when she is "sundowning" (the actual name of a symptom). And you are right that it is the emotions asking the question not logic.
At the other end of the friendship spectrum is the wisdom of someone I have just gotten to know. He’s a regular reader of this silly blog. Though he lives in the western United States, he is Vietnamese. We had a chance to meet face to face in April during our trip to Huê. I’ll call him Sam.
Back on July 1st, as part of a post about my mother, I wrote:
But - - true confessions - - - I do find myself a bit depressed on occasion . . .
Maybe – just maybe – its because I have seen my own future, and I don’t like it.
Sam wrote back to me:
The last sentence could be as well as mine and billion of others’ confession too, since it’s the utmost truth of our being as a human. For some reason, I’ve felt long time ago, that it’s God’s call for me to console and comfort the living, especially the elderly, to prepare for them the next journey of their spiritual eternal life. Of course, you’re just a few years older than I am, so anh Doug is not the “elderly” yet, that title is belongs to our parents, but as anh Doug’ve said “have seen my own future” and so do I. Even Jesus was shaken in the garden before his death and prayed to our Father to take the bitter cup (of death) away, but still - he carried out the Father’s will. Each time I read this, it gave me more strength and full of love.
Finally, there is this blessing – from my mother. In the past few weeks, I have discovered she likes to “rough house.” You know what I mean – the kind of things kids do when they’re bored. They poke at each other, swatting away just to break the monotony. From what I understand, as the mind dwindles, the soul likes physical touching.
And so this blessing – my mother in unreserved laughter as we rough house.
Thanx to the MGB for the photo.