The Homicidal Advocate.
Oh, you thought I meant that’s me in the pic right there?
That’s Grampa right there.
Doing a puzzle with me, actually.
Looking all nice and grandfatherly.
I don’t know how many times I’ve actually written, ‘I love him even when I want to kill him’ about Grampa.
Now I’ve put the actual word ‘homicidal’ into my self-imposed title.
Because there is a lot of sadness attached to what is going on, but I would be remiss and dishonest in my writing if I did not mention that there are a lot of murderous impulses too, and no I am not talking about inside the patients who are actually in the hospital to deal with dementia-y rage.
Yesterday… all day…
Grampa: “What does my blood sugar have to do with anger management?” (The first time Grampa said ‘anger management’, we all almost fell over. ‘Anger management’ is not a term in the Old Yankee Man dictionary. ‘Horseshit’, yes. ‘Anger management’, no.)
Me: “Nothing.” (I have learned to give short answers to avoid, you know, rage).
Grampa: “Then why do they keep checking my blood sugar if I’m here for anger management?”
Me: “They are just checking it because you are in the hospital, just like when they check your blood pressure. You know these hospitals…” (I am a conspiratorial ally of Grampa when it comes to hospitals, though the one he is in is wonderful).
Grampa: “Well my blood sugar is stable!” (It isn’t, but….)
Me: “Yep, that’s good!”
Grampa: “So I’m fine!” (begins to yell) “Take me home!”
Me: (calm because of a little something we like to call ‘behavioral management’, which I am getting rather excellent at) “I can’t figure out this puzzle. Maybe I am not a puzzle person…”
Grampa: “My blood sugar is stable and they keep taking it anyway. Why?!”
Me: (still calm): “Because you are in the hosp-“
Grampa: “Answer me one question! What does blood sugar HAVE TO DO WITH ANGER MANAGEMENT?!”
And then a nurse sticks her head in and asks if we are okay and Grampa pretty much growls at her TO GO AWAY BECAUSE HE HAS A GUEST!
aaaaaaand, in my brain, I remove the sickle that somehow fits in my camera bag – like a clown car – and off us both.
Which, I just realized makes me a potential homicidal and suicidal advocate, which I cannot say out loud, or I will end up in a bed beside Grampa.
The other day, after about seven hours of talks like this (Grampa perseverates, which means his brain gets locked into and onto certain subjects and he just can’t break free of a (computer science major here) if-then-but loop on the subject. It doesn’t have to make sense to me, but it makes sense to him and I don’t even know if he knows he is stuck)…
Anyway, after about seven hours of mental gymnastics on my part, trying to find a way to get information – that I know would make him feel better if he knew it – into his fitful brain, I was absolutely exhausted.
We left on a great note (I will not confirm or deny the presence of a jelly donut placed out of sight, deep in the recesses of his bedside table).
But then, without warning when I was half way down the hall, my body stopped moving, backed up against one wall, and just let sadness fly.
So much change, so quickly. New people and places and terms and medications to learn, consider, and investigate. So many things to check and understand and advocate for, or against, so that Grampa is safe and as okay as possible.
I just sobbed. And strangely, my reaction was to hold the bridge of my nose as if I was trying to stop a nosebleed. I cannot explain my actions when I lose it. I don’t know if I was really trying to stop the flow of blood from an imaginary nosebleed…
Or stop the flow of reality to my brain.
My Old Yankee Man’s mind is so broken.
I calmed down.
I allowed myself to open up, and absorb.
Yes. My Old Yankee Man’s mind is so broken.
I now have New Old Yankee Man.
And then I searched my own brain.
Was there any evidence, in my big cranial chunk of cauliflower, that I did not love this man, still, and just as much?
Not in any mental files, synapse-y things, lobes, nor neuron-ic activity could I find evidence of that.
It is hard?
Am I tired?
Do I need to amp up my mental speed, agility, strength, and endurance capabilities?
So now I’m telling myself that the brainiac-ical pain I have been feeling these past few days is the good kind of pain, the type of pain you feel after you just started exercising and say things like “Oh man, my legs are killing me after that run!”
Only I’m saying things like, “Oh man, my brain is killing me after that visit!”
I am still hoping that, one day soon, my ‘visits’ will be with him at home though, just down the hall, where they’ve been going on since we moved in together in 1993.
And, until then, I will happily (and/or homicidally) talk in circles, distract, evade, and conspire with my New Old Yankee Man, wherever he is. For as long as he is here, on this planet, in this life.
And when the day comes that it becomes clear that he is tired, and done with this life… what then?
Then I will remember…
Him giving me a home when I needed it.
Showing me how to change a tire.
Pushing a two year old Gabe in his little green John Deere tractor, complete with lemon-yellow pedals.
Lifting a four year old Mac high above his head, smiling at her, smiling at him.
Showing Sam how to sort the mail at the kitchen table.
And I will listen, and honor, and respect him enough to advocate for his decision. I’ll call hospice. I’ll open my heart even more, even if it cracks (or gets another wrinkle).
I owe him that.
I love him.
Thanks for readin’.
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