A deconstructed Christmas

For years and years our Christmas has been more or less the same with the odd ebb and flow.  I wrote the cards and Ash stuck the labels on the envelopes; we wrapped the presents together but with him making sure that wrapping was neat and tidy; we had friends over on Christmas Eve; we went to those same friends on Christmas Day; sometimes Jake was with us and sometimes not; my mum and step dad joined us to start with and then just my mum; Ash and I bought each other surprise presents and so on.  This year it's different.  I've written the cards and stuck the labels on the envelopes all by myself; we're at home just the two of us on Christmas Day; my mum is cosily ensconced in her care home where they're having a party on Christmas Day and so things change.  Mostly things are different because Ash has dementia and, if I was inclined, I could blame all of it on that but in reality it's other changes in addition to the dementia which have meant we're on our own on…

Sense of humour still intact

Went to see my mum today for an early Christmas celebration with Jake and the 6 year old.  Bit sticky first thing when Ash decided he wasn't coming but I just agreed and then said it was a shame as he'd miss the 6 year old opening his present (Lego) from mum.  That made him prick his ears up and have a rethink so off we went.  Had a lovely time with lunch in the 'bar' at the home complete with crackers and Christmas napkins but the best part was when Ash was the first among us to notice that Bob Dylan was playing on the radio.  Not only that but he was also the first person to realise that 'Knocking on Heaven's Door' is probably the most inappropriate song ever to play in a care home full of 80 and 90 year olds.  Luckily it all went over mum's head and for a short time, as we shared a family sense of humour, it was like turning the clock back.

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Great times with friends

Yesterday morning was spent doing a three and a half hour hike (have you noticed they're getting longer by the week?) with one friend getting home in time for a shower and a quick lunch before heading back out to meet another friend for coffee, cheese scone and a catch up.  Neither of these two things were connected with dementia and instead topics of conversation over the day covered education, autism, dyslexia, 'Just William' (stories by Richmal Crompton) politics, the amazing views over the countryside, job hunting, Christmas, holidays in general, Japan in particular, travel, carrots(??), the NHS, New Year, my mum, films, children and other subjects that were equally interesting but now lost in the mists of time.   At the end of yesterday I felt completely invigorated and realised all over again how important it is to escape occasionally and find other things to think/talk about.  Am now just waiting for yet another friend to collect me so that we can go and see the Chr…

De-icing the windscreen

It was a frosty start to the morning:

Ash:  'are you going out in the car this morning'?
Me:  'yes, in about half and hour'
Ash:  'do you want the windscreen de-icing'?
Me:  'that would be brilliant.  The scraper's in your truck'.
Ash:  'do you want the car starting as well'?
Me:  'no thanks, I'll do that later'.
Ash:  'so you just want the windscreen clearing'?
Me:  'yes please, that would be great'.
Ash:  'shall I spray it and scrape it'?
Me:  'yes please, the scraper's in your truck'
Ash:  Silence followed by 'So shall I just scrape it and spray it'?
Me:  'yes please'.

Then confusion as he stares at the two sets of keys, one for my car and one for his truck.

Me:  'would you mind spraying the windscreen of my car to clear the frost'?
Ash:  'Ok' and off he went.

Really can't believe it took me so long to understand how to play that particular scenario.



Now here's a strange thing.  Yesterday I reported lying in bed in (fleeting) despair at the lack of physical contact between the two of us, how Ash hadn't responded when I reached for his hand and how the emotional connection we used to have in abundance had disappeared.  This morning I found a friend had emailed me to say that last week when she was over she noticed Ash touching the back of my neck as he walked past.  The weird thing is not just that I'd forgotten but that I hadn't even noticed and I wondered how often that has happened over the past two years while I've been feeling sorry for myself.   I think sometimes we can get so wrapped up in our difficulties that we can miss the good times, those fleeting moments that make life more manageable and by doing that we're really writing the story of our lives as we see it rather than how it actually is.

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The decline in skills continues

Yesterday morning Ash noticed the rinse aid in the dishwasher needed topping up which has always been one of his jobs.  He did at least know where to pour the liquid but had to come and ask me which liquid he needed.  He knew 'rinse aid' but couldn't equate it with the bottle displaying the words 'rinse aid' in large letters on the front.  Then I mentioned the screen wash needed topping up in my car and he immediately leapt to his feet and went to find it.  That bit was fine but when he got out to the car he had to come and find me to ask where it needed to go and whether he had to add anything to it.  This might seem a very minor thing but for 37 years he's been the person in the house with responsibility for our vehicles.  Topping up screen wash has been amongst the very least of those responsibilities and explains why the questions came as a shock.  We both recovered from these two episodes and I've now mentally added the tasks to the ever growing list o…