The Dementia Diary

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The ‘Dry’ day

on May 13, 2012

Husband and I visited F i L yesterday afternoon.  It was the first dry day in three weeks.  I had already mown our lawn (twice because the grass was so long) and we had promised to mow F i L’s too.  We had promised this to stop him trying to do it himself.  The last time he did he couldn’t get the mower to cut the grass so proceeded to use a strimmer on his tiny lawn, running the cutting blade over his feet and the electric cable which was patched together with sticky tape.  We had found him doing this on one of our visits,

‘But’, he said, ‘it’s fine.  I’m wearing my good shoes.’

His shoes, like so many other objects, are imbued with magical powers that stop him from becoming injured!

So we arrived with our lawn mower.  We don’t clean his properly (!) so we don’t use it.  We found him in the garage.  The usual welcome went out.

“Thank heavens you’re here!”

*sigh [what now?]

“This is my second time of looking and I just can’t find my saw!”

We worry about him using scissors, so the thought of him with a saw sends a shiver down my spine.

“What do you want a saw for?” asks husband.

“I need to cut the tree in the front garden.”

He has an evergreen shrub there which is a definite, dead, shade of brown.  He has been trying to rescue it by watering it despite the daily deluge it has been recieving for the past three weeks courtesey of the English weather.

“You don’t need a saw dad.  You need your loppers.  Where are they?”

He shrugs.

I spot them behind a little free standing shelf unit, on which also lays his saw.

“They’re over there,” I point them out, “and I can see the saw too.”

Husband’s gaze meets mine and we silently agree, by that meeting of eyes, not to tell F i L where his saw is.

“Oh good.  Where is it?”

“You don’t need it Dad.”

“But I’ve been looking for hours.”

“You need the loppers”

“But where’s my saw?”

He is looking at me pleading.

“Oh [daughter in law]” he says over-prounouncing every syllable of my name “tell me where it is?”

I repeat the question.

“What do you need it for?”

“I just want to know where it is”

“You don’t need it”

“I might need it later. I want to know where it is. Tell me where it is.”

“No.”

I feel mean.  Husband has told me that I always ‘tell Dad off’.  It’s a bad habit I’ve got in to.  By doing it what I say sticks in his memory but it is making our relationship antagonistic, and we’re getting sucked into that again.  I walk away and we change the subject by asking him to make us a cup of tea.

His postage stamp lawn is mown within five minutes and we drink our tea.  I suggest to husband that we cut down the dry tree so that F i L doesn’t do anything to injure himself or his house.

We take the loppers to the front of the house and cut the branches off of the shrub.  F i L comes out a few minutes later to see what we’re doing.

“Oh…..oh….oh!  I wanted to keep that tree.”

I showed him that the branches have no moisture in them and the shrub is beyond saving.  He agrees it’s dead and we carry on taking it down.

Husband is trying to get the trunk and roots out of the ground.  Being an evergreen it’s a shallow rooted plant and won’t take much to pull up, but one of the roots is close to the brickwork of the house.  I have found a spade and a pickaxe in the garage and husband is attacking the roots with these to loosen them so that we can cut them with the loppers and remove the trunk.  F i L is practically hopping foot to foot, like a (forgive the pun) demented lephrechaun saying

“You’re damaging the brickwork!  I’m going to be in more trouble if you do that! Stop it!”

We ignore him and he keeps up the insistence that we are damaging the bricks which, for clarity, we never touched.  The trunk comes out soon after.  We send him to find a broom, which he never does because he is looking for it in completely the wrong place despite having moved it just a few minutes before.  In the meantime we load the trunk into our car to take to the dump.

When we return he is trying to sort out some washing.  When we arrived earlier he had a load drying in the tumble dryer. He also had a wet load of washing waiting to go into the drier. His tumble dryer is in his garage.

“Oh good! Can you take a look at this please [daughter in law]” he calls from the garage.

I suspect he is trying to lure me into telling him where his saw is.

“What?”  I am being curt again 😦

“Here please dear.  I need some help.”

I go into the garage and he is staring forlornly at a basket of wet clothes.

“What do I do with this?”

He can’t figure out how to get the dry clothes out of the machine and the wet clothes in.

“Take the wet clothes out of the basket and put them on top of the drier.  Take the dry clothes out of the drier and put them in the basket.  Then put the wet clothes in the drier.”

He puts the wet clothes on top of the drier and immediately becomes sidetracked by emptying the water tank and cleaning the filter.  The filter doesn’t really need to be cleaned.  It has a tiny bit of fluff on it but he insists on removing the fluff then washing and drying the filter.  Likewise the water tank has virtually nothing in it.  In the meantime, fed up with waiting to supervise, I empty the water tank, take out the dry clothes and put the wet clothes in.  He is still messing about cleaning the filter when I have finished doing this so we tell him what I have done, make our excuses and leave.

On the drive home husband tells me that his dad has always been like this, wandering off, sidetracked, in the middle of something.  It’s not new.  It’s the way it’s always been.  I know husband is telling the truth.  I have been a part of this family for 24 years now and have seen F i L doing this for myself.  I have described his pre-alzheimers behaviour as being   Aspergers/Autistic like; he has always been so pedantic, set in his ways and unable to think a process through step by step.  He has never had forethought.  Is this the problem with No.1 and No.3 sons?  They are so used to seeing their dad with odd logical processes that they can’t, now, see the other failures of his brain?

We saw this book this afternoon.  I suggested, jokingly, that we buy it ready for F i L’s birthday.

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