I haven't posted about Grampie in a while. But things are moving along with him at a pace. Commiserate with his disease. This afternoon Beve called me at after school, and you'd have thought I was the one with Alzheimer's. "I'm on my way home to pick you up," he said.
"Oh, shoot," I answered. I was sitting at my sewing machine in pajamas. Fortunately, Beve works about ten minutes away from our house, and I'm a low-maintenance kind of person. I threw whipped off the pjs, threw on some jeans, t-shirt and sneakers, grabbed Grampie's laundry and met Beve half way down our hill.
We got to the care-facility just in time to walk past Grampie slumped over in his wheelchair, hang up his clothes and sit down with the professionals for the tri-monthly care-meeting about how Grampie's getting along. What we find interesting about these meetings is that we aren't sure who learns more--us or the professionals--at these meetings. We know Grampie pretty well. We know he's declining. We see that he is no longer capable of carrying on telephone conversations with his wife. We recognize the symptoms of some things mean he's in sharper decline. It only takes being with him to see that he's worse. He's more confused, more agitated, more anxious, more...Alz-hammered. But also still here. Still completely here.
He still laughs with delight almost every time he sees us. He still likes to direct people like he's the chairman of the department like he was for all those years at the university. He still wants to walk me to the car every time I leave because he's a consummate host, and thinks he's picking up the tab at dinner every night because he wants to be hospitable, has given away his watch, his prized Cougar slippers and half-a-dozen sweaters that nurses and aides have to track down when when we alert them that they've gone missing again. He'd give the shirt off his back if he could because his essential self, his deep-down, organic self is that giving, that kind, that generous.
As she's said at other care meetings, the charge nurse told us again today that Grampie is unusual in that he never gets violent, even when he's the most frustrated. At his worst, he'll set his feet strongly on the ground.
That's it. Just set them off his wheelchair and on the ground. The worst thing he ever says is, "Well, I'll be damned," or, "Oh, to hell with it." Then he lets them move him any way they want to, even though he's such a large man it takes three to do it.
Imagine that. The kindness so deep in this man.
It makes me think again of being at Regent College and having a guest lecturer pick up a cup as an illustration. "What will spill out of this if it is bumped:?" He asked us.
"Whatever is in it," was the answer.
Alzheimer's is proving this in Grampie. What is spilling out of Grampie is what is in him. His brain has holes all over it, and what is left is sweet. Indeed, what is spilling through those holes is the sweetest parts of him. And I wouldn't miss it.
I'm not saying this is always true of Azheimer's. I KNOW it's more complicated than this. Trust me, I know this. But I do know that trial, pain and difficulty make spill out of us whatever is actually in us.
So what is that?
What is REALLY in you?