As the storm quiets

November 2, 2016

"If you learn to listen for clues as to how I feel instead of what I say, you will be able to understand me much better."

As the storm quiets

The anger lingered in the air even days after she left, a cold silence that slowly enveloped the room like a dying flower casting wilted memories of exasperation that I could not erase.

It was our first gathering since she was placed in the nursing home and while I busied myself making lists of things we could do she continued unraveling, coming apart in ways I had not anticipated, but now I am ahead of the story.

As I enter the home a glow of recognition wraps around her and her eyes swell with joyful tears. Slowly she approaches and after a long embrace we are walking out the door each of us excitedly oblivious of the others perception on the day ahead.

Her excitement echoes as we make the drive to our house, she is happy, and watching her elation fills me with joy as I waft in this contrast to our previous visits, while mentally reviewing our time together.

As the hours unfold I begin noticing a shift in her attitude, a daze of anger grows into a scowl, which I attempt to shake off with distractions but before long I recognize the signs as her mood curdles before me like the spoiled milk I desperately wanted to avoid.

We are alone as the eruption shaped in our voices echoes through the kitchen. I stand ready to absorb the debris of contention she flings aimlessly in the air. Words punctuated with disgust as she icily speaks them. “Why did you do this to me?” and “I want my mother, MY mother,” she screams as I startle in shocked silence.

Pacing the rooms she glides from the window to the door seeking her escape, slowly opening the door like a disobedient child while ignoring my plea to stop as she hurriedly rushes away.

Her escape happens quickly considering her body was not robbed by her minds decay as she stomps angrily across the lawn. Unable to console her I call for help, dispatching them towards the street while I slowly dissolve on the sidelines watching, as they attempt to calm her rage.

This infuriation previously cast upon me is now exposed to anyone who alters her path, anger that erupts rapidly as she moves her arms to deflect capture while shrieking words that spoil the once tranquil scene.

Helpless to decipher when the tangles in her memory dimmed the life before her I search for where it all began, longing to understand this cruel disease and its next phase I shove the heartbreak into the background and busy myself with books on how to navigate through dementia.

In the early stages it was easy to minimize the forgotten dates, confusion, and loss for words, but quickly those errors grew into larger frustrations she could no longer hide and I presented my concerns to her doctor as we unveiled the diagnosis several years ago that she would never acknowledge.

Now a mere three months after her last spell of anger and less than six months in the nursing home, she is quiet, fading away into the silence of her mind. Gone are the outbursts of before as the words evaporate into the expanse of dementia, and even though she still brightens when we enter the room, her communication has stalled from the world she knew to a course of gibberish nonsense we grapple to understand.

The story of dementia unravels into broken memories and the scattered pieces are distributed within these tiny moments of recognition when sharing a story or photograph ignites a flame of awareness that lingers within the spaces we once called familiar.

As the tears slide gently down my face she remains unaware, smiling at the blue skies before us, echoing how beautiful the day is again and again. I agree with her and begin sharing stories of our life and she smiles contentedly.

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  • November 3, 2016 @ 7:28 AM EDT
    By Tina   (Unraveling My Heart the Write Way)
    It is such a heartbreaking disease. I keep trying to remember the person she was before this...
  • November 2, 2016 @ 6:27 PM EDT
    By Ashley sargent
    My grandfather had recently been diagnosed with dimentia. The last time I saw him he lashed out at me without making any sense. He threw his chair and screamed curse words at me. I haven't seen him since, about a month. I struggle to believe that this is the same man that helped raise me and my sister. My children will never know who he really was.
  • November 2, 2016 @ 11:59 AM EDT
    By Chuck Tantlinger
    Beautiful Tina
  • November 2, 2016 @ 11:58 AM EDT
    By Beverly McComb-Davies
    "Not mindless of the growing years
    Of care and loss and pain;
    My eyes are wet with thankful tears
    For blessings that remain." - J. G. Whittier (1807-1885)

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