― Anne Lamott,
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Yesterday, July 22, 2015. My visit to a very good old friend was very difficult. It was so hard to see how far she has declined in the last few years regarding some kind of brain robbing disease. The robber comes armed with so many tools, it attacks our family and friends brains in so many forms and we all want answers we cannot have, so it seems? The magical, mystical organ we take for granted each day works in amazing wonder, ways we don’t even think about most of the time, we just muddle through our life, enjoying or not, the life we have received. That breath of life, it allows us to wake each day, plant our feet firmly on the ground and begin our daily task. Some [days] more fun than others. We waste too much time dwelling on past mistakes, worrying about future encounters and so much time we miss out in the present moment. I am as guilty as anyone and more than many. Today, I want to spend a few minutes in celebration of this beautiful woman who used to be my sidekick for many years. We did almost everything together. We laughed, partied, worried, cried, traveled, shared secrets, hopes and dreams. It was a time in my life when this lifestyle was about parties, bars, and liquor. None of which I do any of today. Caroline, married a good man, she and her husband have 23 years in union together, they are still married today, but she is in a nursing home. Her life made a drastic change. I wish I could say I have I been there for her in the last years, but after my divorce from Fat Jack in the mid-nineties, I moved away. I also had my own dragons to fight and eventually became an active member of AA and continued to struggle emotionally and financially. Then after things leveled off for me, I ended up living on the East Coast, which was a good place for me, and during the last 9 years, Caroline, slowly at first, began her downward spiral. First it was a minor glitch, after a major brain surgery, which left her with some memory issues, but the doctors told her, ‘in a couple years things would begin to improve’, which is not what happened. Matter of fact, in the most unimaginable way, this robber of the brain attacked her with vengeance. At first, as I mentioned, it was just a minor memory glitch, and slowly the memory began to loose it’s hold, names, places, dates, anything new, it would not be able to hold, she was in her 50’s. By the time she reached her late 50’s, it was beginning to take control, that robber was running the show. I spoke with her on her 57th birthday, she could barely converse, the words did not come -simple words, conversation was almost impossible. Today, she is 61, and has little cognitive ability going on, or that is what I saw, I am not a medical person. But, I know what I saw, verbiage that sounded like someone with a stutter that never got the word, ever. Endless stutters, which made me think she might have been trying to speak to me? I gave her my all, but eventually the communication gets too tedious even for her, “if” that is what I was hearing her try. The sounds were not close to words, it was a didididididididiididd and it did not end. Finally, after about a long 8 or 10 minutes she got up and walked out of her room, which was really good, because I don’t know what she knows, but it was time for me and Potter to leave. It was going no where. I had hugged her, loved on her, told her I was glad to see her, and tried to “hear” her. It was futile.
Here are our photos Charlie took..
I wasn’t just leaning away from her, somehow her hand was under my leg and I was afraid I would crush her tiny bones, but she wasn’t helping me move it. It was almost a struggle to get her hand to move.
We tried (bad lighting) to get her to look at Potter so we could get the photo, she was having nothing to do with looking at him? She seemed to know me, but I really think she might have thought I was someone else. She sure did not know Potter.
She did give me a smile, but not look up, she refused. My hand under her chin trying to get her to smile at camera without pushing or prodding.
Not sure if this smile/laugh was just to humor me or she actually recognizes me, but seeing a bit of life pop was good enough for me. I hope and pray I gave her something to smile about, it would be nice. I miss that sweet woman.
My time here in South Arkansas is filled with nursing home encounters, my mother is also in one, here is photo [below] I took last Monday, she is having dinner. I know she looks pretty bad, this is a woman who kept her hair fixed all the time, always wore makeup and dressed in nice clothing, the robber has arrived here as well. Do we all have this robber whirling out there somewhere? Is this inevitable?
My heart breaks…..