Regular readers of our prattle may have noticed a drop off in the amount of offerings being posted of late, or possibly detected a slight air of distraction.
The truth is that the Homestead has been working to adjust to an external, fundamental, familial change; a shift in roles that has left us floundering for direction and struggling to do “right”.
It’s been nearly a year since our suspicions of Nana’s early Alzheimers disease were confirmed by a CT scan. A year… twelve months… one time round the sun…during which The Bean Counter, his siblings, all their hangers-on – our extended family – have undertaken this crazy dance of trying to help out without disempowering this private, capable, faithful, honest, fun-loving lady. We’ve twitched and wrung our hands – should we intervene or are we over reacting – countless times, during numerous telephone calls, and freight-train length, reply-all emails. We’ve gently prompted groped-for words and phrases, undertaken the mental gymnastics of a retold anecdote, and found ourselves parenting the same lady who bustled into our flu-ridden home a quarter of a century ago, taking charge of the squalling baby, the mountain of washing, the housework, shopping, and all the trappings of our adulthood so we could just sleep, safe in the knowledge that everything would be okay now. We’ve loathed ourselves when we’ve ignored her looks of bewilderment at the uproar of a joke cracked, or sighed when we’ve had to stop and re-explain things, or hurried her, bustled her, assumed rather than asked, shoved rather than guided and, worst of all, excluded her…because it was just easier.
Nana’s dementia is an ever-shifting beastie; one moment foggy and confused, leaving her sitting vacant and silent on the sidelines, the next filling her to the brim with life so she recalls telephone numbers, addresses and, in one case, furniture dimensions with such clarity, precision and pertinence that you catch yourself wondering if those in the know have got it all wrong. But they haven’t…
Then, a fortnight ago, another CT scan, another doctor, and another dementia diagnosis: Grandad. Utilizing the oven as a clothes drier, inviting Real Estate agents and cold callers in for tea and cake, the countless, trivial, repeated, never ending, relentless deluge of telephone calls ensured it wasn’t a huge surprise but gregarious, obstinate, opinionated, Geordie Grandad isn’t at all convinced there’s a scrap of truth in the diagnosis at all! Suddenly, we find ourselves growling at him in the same tone he used on the eight year old Bean Counter, when he spied him riding his bike against the traffic on a banned major arterial road. He even responded with the same catch-cry: “but I know what I’m doing!”
So, here on the Homestead we’re feeling a bit lost and useless and inept. With the diagnoses comes access to a plethora of wonderful, caring, knowledgeable organisations and folk who are only too pleased to help us out and buoy us up. They’ve seen it all before and have all kinds of wonderful ideas.
But, this is different. You see, this couple are the people that saw The Bean Counter through the mumps, chicken pox, and countless bouts of tonsillitis. They doled out punishments when he overstepped the mark and cheered on the sideline of every football game, whatever the weather. They handled the pierced ear, Sid Vicious sneer, obnoxious teenage viewpoints, and 1970’s Kiwi-punk; they adjusted to adult children, became caring, trustworthy grandparents, and quietly observed their children parented…mostly. They’re not everyone else.