A barometer of change
Yesterday was grocery shopping day which is something Ash always gets excited about and it's something, I've realised, that's a barometer for how our life together is developing. Once a week we do exactly the same activity in the same place, at the same time and in the same order so what better way to chart the changes than this.
I thought yesterday about the part I used to play in stocking the kitchen cupboards, not so much in the early days when it was a joint enterprise but in the years between Ash's retirement and dementia coming to call.
In those days I played almost no part whatsoever. I had nothing to think about because Ash did it all. He scoured the cupboards and made the list, he went to the supermarket, he bought everything, brought it home, put it away and then, throughout the week, took it all out again and cooked our meals. He loved cooking, liked to experiment and never followed a recipe. Sometimes it made for interesting combinations.
Now I'm repaying all that and more. What do I have to think about now? Now it's a carefully constructed morning to make sure Ash isn't anxious or confused and to make sure he knows he's an important part of the whole.
I've talked on here before about going to the same shops in the same order, of Ash having the list and crossing things off as we buy them but recently I've realised there are other things to take into account.
I have be careful where I park because he always fetches the trolley and I need to be in his line of vision at all times; The first time I realised this was when a van drove in and parked between my car and the trolleys. Ash couldn't see me and wandered around in the rain, lost.
We have to use the self checkout because the cashiers are too quick and efficient and Ash get's flustered as he tries to pack the bags. The first time I realised this was when the items were piling up and he picked them up, put them down, picked them up and then stood looking at everything in silent panic.
I have to make sure he knows where to stand at the check out so that I can hand him the items to put in the bags. The first time I realised this was when I took the first item out of the trolley and saw he was still holding the handle and looking at me with a puzzled expression.
I have to make sure he puts the full shopping bags into the car so that, as the last bag is going in, I can seamlessly wheel the empty trolley away and return it to the park. The first time I realised this was when I noticed a queue forming behind him as he struggled to work out how to attach his trolley to the one in front and retrieve the coin. I raced across the car park and got there just as a lady had stepped in to help him.
So those are all the strategies which have crept up on me over time but yesterday I realised there's something new. Ash is always excited when he sees I've started writing the list and he loves getting in the car to go but now, once we get there, he very quickly gets anxious about it all. He gets quieter and quieter until we're back home and even then it seems to take until after lunch for him to get back on track.
I haven't quite worked out what the problem is but I'm fairly sure a new strategy that I haven't yet thought of will help sort it all out.
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