Thief of souls

Alzheimers – my mother-in-law has recently been diagnosed with the disease. A bitter and twisted woman on a good day has now transformed into a forgetful, paranoid, bitter and twisted woman – it’s a dreadful situation. My 80 something father in law remains stubborn about accepting help and continues to deteriorate on a daily basis with stress and exhaustion. DH’s siblings are all out of the country and continue to proffer thoroughly useless advice. DH is at a loss as to what else to do and we have settled on providing moral and logistical support to his father as best we can.

My best friend lent me a dvd to watch the other day called The Notebook and despite my initial misgivings (romantic love stories are not really my thing) it turned out to be a wonderfully warm and loving film with huge relevance to the current mental health issues in our immediate circle. Watching the inconsistencies and uncertainties manifest themselves in the lead character was like an obscene snapshot of life in DH’s family home – it brought me to tears, often!

And walking a familiar route, when disgruntled and discombobulated, I must populate a bit of paper with a whirlpool of unco-ordinated thoughts ……………………………

“The plate lay shattered on the floor, food scattered everywhere

Silence

The silence surrounded them, a cloud of confusion swept through her eyes

She was afraid,

He could see that, her lip starting to tremble as she turned to flee

My love, he said, dont leave me

She started at the sound of his voice,

Who are you, she said, her voice rising hysterically with the coming storm.

Where am I, her head twisted from side to side, eyes wide with terror

Jen, he groaned, its me we’re at home my darling

And then, she was gone

The girl with the honey brown eyes and generous laugh,

His lifetime companion,

Stared through him and she started to scream.”

~ xxx ~

“If tomorrow never comes”

In the dulcet tones of Ronan Keating.

Have you had a good long look at the concept of “what if tomorrow never comes” – will those that are nearest and dearest to you know “how much you love them”? With the latest onslaught of in-law issues – my FIL’s pneumonia and my MIL’s now officially diagnosed Alzheimer’s (big surprise – not!) there was a delegation at their house on Saturday night. My SIL has come haring out from New Zealand, my BIL was down from White River and us of course (being only 5 minutes up the road). Our phone has been going non-stop with the other two overseas siblings – questions, answers, “advice”, and instruction … ad nauseum!

They are normally not a close family (no humungous reason that I’m aware of) and the most poignant part of Saturday night was this sudden outpouring of care and concern because of the current situation. In a way, if blame were being apportioned, my in-laws would have to shoulder a large chunk thereof. As parents, the most uncaring and unconcerned people I’ve come across in a long time – you know the kind where “I’m the parent, you’re the child so you owe me”. It has, as expected, bitten them hard with most visits (from all the children) being a duty thing and not a genuine desire. You could argue and say that any concern is good concern whatever the spark is. I would argue that and say envisage a scenario where there was no long term illness and they both passed without warning (for example a car accident) – would DH’s siblings have been overwhelmed with the what if scenario and I could’ve, should’ve, would’ve? Guilt, in my opinion, is the most destructive of emotions – if you’re distant that’s ok if you’ve made your peace with it but if you’re distant because you can’t be bothered then you’ve taken the lid of Pandora’s box and be prepared to deal with the consequences.

The point of this rambling is this – tell your spouse, tell your children, tell your family, tell your friends (if it’s the way you feel) that you love them / care for them / wish them only well. Tell them today – it may feel a little weird, they’re may think you’re a little off but let their most recent memory of you be positive. If you’re having a fight and you don’t want any more verbal exchange, tell them electronically! DH and I are very close with my parents who are both in their late 70’s/early 80’s and chatting to a friend of mine the other day about loss and that sort of thing she remarked on how devastating it would be for me when my parents pass away. She was, I think, somewhat taken aback when my answer was contradictory. Obviously I’ll be sad but I’m so very grateful to have had a steadfast, reliable, nurturing relationship with people who tell me they love me every time we communicate.

“If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say?  And why are you waiting? ” ~Stephen Levine

PS. A quick confession – trolling through my blog looking for something else I came across a very similar post that I wrote in April last year – identical title, different circumstances and slightly different content :O Deja vu of epic proportions – so apologies to anyone who may have thought – hey, she’s already done that!