November 4, 2007

Mayhem in Caregiverville

Did you ever have a day when you had to wear your Christmas sweater three days after Halloween because you forgot to do the laundry? Okay, so I fail at housewifey things but can anyone explain why a 60-something year old woman can't avoid stepping in dog do-do? We have a dog. Wouldn't you think by now I'd know enough to look where I'm walking when I go through his pen? I had gone outside to check the solar lights that the fertilizer guy broke and I was busy thinking I should just go back to bed and start over. Unfortunately, I didn't notice that the treads on my tennis shoe was embedded with poop until we were sipping our breakfast coffee in a restaurant at lunchtime. Oops.

Obviously, my morning was not going well but Don was in his Aphasiac-WonderBoy mode singing made-up words to a polka beat. "Oupa, oupa, I, eeee, oh, goombya, goomdya, la, la, la." Sometimes you just want to verbally smack the happiness right off his face. That impulse was almost too strong to resist when we were at the restaurant and he rolled over to the cookie case to make out his mentally wish list. I opened my mouth to snap out the words, "You're still diabetic, you know" but instead of the words coming out it hit me, then, that I hadn't taken my blood pressure medicine when I got up. Crap.

Having recognized the primary reason I felt bitchy I worked on keeping my mouth shut lest I unleash my inner Shrew Lady and get us banned from our favorite restaurant. So I sat there quietly waiting for our food to arrive while eavesdropping on the conservation going on behind me. It was coming from a man---looked divorced---and his 8-9 year old son. The son had gotten into some trouble at school and after telling his dad about it he asked if his dad had ever done anything like that. His father then launches into a monologue cataloging all his high school pranks, talking and laughing as if they were two buddies sitting on bar stools. God, Shrew Lady was getting hard to contain! I glanced back over my shoulder at the guy and that glance must have looked more like a schoolmarm glare because he sat up straight in his chair, and said, "I'm telling you all this, Mike, because I want you to be better than I was." Shrew Lady wanted to throw her hands in the air and say, "It's about time you remembered who you're talking to." But she didn't. Good.

We had to go to the grocery store that afternoon but first we stopped back home to take the pills I'd forgotten earlier. As I walked past my EZ DOES IT cart that I'd broken the day before Shrew Lady really needed the old Don to talk her down from the ledge. But, of course, his language disorders makes it impossible for the new Don to do that. "Oupa, E, I, oh, goombya, goombya, oh, bridge, " he sang instead. Bridge! A real word in his song! Things were looking up. I knew exactly what he meant. Coming home from vacation years ago, we had the radio on to a Wisconsin station when they played a polka sung by a local band and the lyrics went: "Why don't you jump off the bridge polka" repeated over and over through out the entire song. Over the years, any time either of us would sing that line it would make us laugh. Don was trying to cheer me up. Sigh.

Later I was bringing groceries in the house without my EZ DOES IT cart and Don was in the kitchen waiting for me to clean the wheelchair's wheels off so that he could go into the carpeted rooms. "Seven years," he said, shaking his head, meaning how long it's been since his stroke.

"Yup," I replied as I always do when he says this, "But we're doing good considering the alternates."

"Thank you," Don said, hugging me with deep emotion in his eyes. Sometimes it doesn't take many words to speak volumes.

With that hug Shrew Lady was out the door and Nice Nancy came in. "I love you," Nancy said, deeply grateful that he is still in her life.

Jean Riva ©

Painting by Sisley Alfred, 1885


Anonymous said...

Aaaawwwwwww, I just love a good stroke love story, don't you?
I could write a few good ones about Bill and I and title it"It's a Wonderful Life"
At least Jean, you understand how our stroke survivors still hand out those wonderfully warm fuzzy romantic moments, that make everything else worth it.
If I had to do it all over again, I'd still choose marrying Bill over anyone else out there, no one compares to my soulmate, love of my life.
Pam Braidt

Anonymous said...


your love story made me all teary and made me thankful to have great hubby who will not say love yous as often I like but shows his love for me in all his actions, man I love my hubby to death.

I am so happy for you two. speech or no speech , you both are lucky to have each other in their life.