Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Send in the Clowns

My grandmother has fallen victim to a vicious predator of the aged. Is it Alzheimer's? Dementia? We may never know. For more than a decade, she's been afraid that her doctor is conspiring against her. Sometimes she thinks he is trying to steal her land, at other times she believes he is trying to kill her by prescribing "rat poison." (It was actually coumadin--a blood thinner.) She refuses to go to the doctor anymore.

The problem is, her deteriorating memory is leading to a myriad of dilemmas. She is becoming more and more unstable.

She puts Metamucil in the coffee pot. She questions who the "old man" in her bed is (Poppo, her husband of 45 years). She puts dirty dishes away instead of washing them. She is convinced the government took her driver's license away because she turned eleven.

This is a woman whose memory was longer than the Willamette River. She worked as hard as any draft horse. And she cooked well enough to--well, she cooked well enough. She plowed, and hoed, and raised a field of roses.

Soon my dad and uncle will have to place her in a care facility. What a terrible decision to have to make! The good news; Poppo has finally realized it is time, and he is ready to go with her. Even through all the pain...through the lapses in her memories...through the hateful things she says and does in her diminished state, he loves her.

In an earlier post ("Marriage First--Part III," published March 15, 2007) I asked the following question:

"If a husband is not meant to be our strength, if he will never love and accept us perfectly, what is he good for?"

Poppo is a wonderful example...

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