Tears are a normal, daily part of life now. No fun.
But I’m learning that even tears have much to teach us. This is sort of the reason that I’ve taken a couple of extra days to compose this. Well, actually to compose myself, so that I could begin to write this.
What may surprise you (certainly shocked me this time) is that there are some magnificent revelations masked in tears.
When preparing Jacquelynn’s meals, there are many things I need to ensure she gets sufficient quantities of. One of these is something she used to just adore but now finds just plain distasteful. That thing is the dark leafy greens. Spring greens, mescaline mix, chard, spinach, kale, etc. She used to just love her salads with all the myriad greens mixed in, but today, the textures of the darker greens really put her off now. She’ll she stops eating, fishes around in her mouth with her fingers, and pulls the offending “stringy/tough” leafy greens out, depositing them on her plate with a disgusted look on her face.
Knowing how distasteful she finds them, I’ve tried to be sneaky and mixing them up in some of her smoothies, and even chopping them as finely as I can to cook them into other dishes.
What I never did was simply ask her to buck up and eat the damned things.
That deep, untrusting mistake came to light when I stressed to her how important it was that she finish the salad I had brought home for her.
I found a local organic restaurant called Balance Café and Smoothies that does a fantastic grilled salmon (wild caught!) salad.
She devoured the salmon, sucked down her smoothie, and was done. When I insisted she needed to eat at least some of the greens. “Why?” “No one ever told me it was important.”
And she was right.
It had initially been very necessary to tip-toe around such things. I had to pretty much treat her meal prep as if I was trying to get a stubborn kid to eat his broccoli. First rule is to not let them know it’s in there.
I’ve since learned that, as she progresses in her healing, I need no longer treat her like a child. In fact, can no longer afford to do so. She needs to know that I trust her strength and her judgment. That I will be up front and honest with her at every turn.
She needs to be able to trust me, and that isn’t possible if I’m deceiving her about what I’m feeding her (or about anything else).
That wasn’t a tear-free conversation. Not by a long damn shot. What it was is more undeniable evidence how far she’s come. Trust has been re-established, and new determination has been forged.
Furthermore, she has asked for my help in sharpening the tools she’s beginning to use again. I noticed last week that while we were watching “Jeopardy” (our favorite show to watch together), on several occasions, she casually spat out a correct answer. While that may not sound significant on its surface, consider that it wasn’t preceded by several minutes of working and sweating to access the neural pathway which would allow her access to the answer; it didn’t require gnashing of teeth and muttered profanity before finding the word. The answer just popped forth from her lips like they used to.
We used to play each other quite competitively as we watched. I won occasionally, but only when either sports or pop culture were featured categories. If the “answers” were academic in nature, I didn’t stand a prayer. I’m a pretty sharp fella, but as bright as I may sometimes feel, I’m like a candle in a fireplace compared to her.
She also used to LOVE her logic puzzles. You could ask my sister; Cheryl used to send her a box of logic puzzle books every Christmas. Ten, maybe twenty books, every year. By Valentine’s Day, they were all done. Spines broken from being folded back and creased, pages dog-eared and frayed, but (and this is telling) there were never any notes scratched in the margins. She took the notes in her head, retained them completely, and worked the solutions before ever putting pen to paper. Yes, pen. She worked logic puzzles, crosswords, and sudoku puzzles in ink.
So, we’ve developed a plan. I’m going out tomorrow and purchasing some basic, easy-level logic puzzle books, some kid’s flash card learning games, and a few small jigsaw puzzles. I’ll be helping, of course. She still hasn’t sufficient fine motor control to write or draw, so I’ll be her hands. But she’ll do as much of the work as she can. We’re going to dedicate one hour at a minimum each day to working on filing the rust off and sharpening the blades of her incredible intellect and help her begin to get back what Type Three Alzheimer’s Dementia stole from her.
Lots of tears. And lots of very, very good progress being made.
And Lots of work to do. We can handle that, though. After all, read the headline: Khalil Gibran said: “Work Is Love Made Visible”.