Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Magic of Music

It's been ages since Nana's played the piano. Since her fall in March, she's slowed down more than ever in both mind and body. I compensate by helping her with all the little things she used to do by herself. She no longer walks alone, even for short distances. She needs prompting to get ready in the morning once she's up, and Monday to Friday her trusty Personal Support Worker, Glenda happily helps her. She finds it more and more difficult to get all of her pills down, or even to take them all some days. It's nothing major as long as she has help.

Nana's advancing dementia means she's having more and more trouble remembering what day it is, how to read her watch and whether we've had lunch or not already. She's still pretty good with many of the faces in the photographs she loves to look at with Glenda and remembers most people's birthday's, especially those who've passed away already. The pictures we've taken more recently don't seem as familiar, which isn't unusual with dementia.

When Glenda stopped in front of the piano during her daily 'in-house' walks with Nana I had the urge to step in front of it to hide it from view. Glenda happily listened to Nana talk about how she used to play and even teach when she was younger. When Glenda urged Nana to sit down and play something, I cringed, afraid Nana might not be able to anymore.

I was impressed and relieved when the glorious sounds of Nana's familiar favorites rang out miraculously loud and clear. Nana's gift of music has not faded one little bit. She might not remember that she's played the same tune a few times over, but she still plays beautifully. Glenda has helped her rediscover something I'd almost assumed she'd lost. What a wonderful thing!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Curse of the Pink Blob

There are all kinds of brands, types, flavours and miraculous claims to fame about the variety of dental adhesives available now. Grampa George calls his dental glue, and will use whatever's on sale. Nana insists upon her tried and true favorite brand that barely keeps her teeth in while she's talking. I marvel over how much of it goes down the drain every day.

Grampa George probably swallows most of the dental adhesive he applies to his dentures since over the course of a day he re-applies at least once per meal and again after his afternoon coffee. While others at the table keep their 'eyes on their fries' he won't hesitate to slip out his lower plate to demonstrate that, once again, there's nothing holding it to his gums. He's taken to carrying a tube of 'glue' in his pocket, but I've managed to convince him to apply it to his dentures in the privacy of his bathroom.

Nana could stretch a tube out to last her nearly six months. Once proud of this accomplishment, it opened my eyes to the fact that she'd been applying it so sparingly that it's no wonder her teeth wander around her mouth all day. Now that I'm the one preparing her teeth for adhesion I use a more reasonable amount. The downside of this is the mess of pink refuse that ends up going down the drain. We haven't had a clog yet, but the little knob that lets the sink stopper go down hasn't moved in months. I can't watch most evenings when Nana uses the end of her toothbrush to stab at the globules of pink goo that gather around her sink drain until they've gone down. I can only imagine the millions of sinks swallowing mounds of the stuff every day the way ours does.

Then again, this stuff has been around for decades. And more importantly it plays an absolutely vital role in day to day life at our house. Grampa George and Nana can still enjoy a nice meal because of it. A good set of teeth and some paste to hold them in place make this possible. Meals are events at our house. They are an opportunity to sit, eat and spend some time together marveling over the weather, good or bad, comparing aches and pains or just chewing. Meanwhile, Guten Apetit!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

B is for beautiful burden ...

Some days, especially right after being washed, rinsed and dried in the shower, helped into a fresh change of clothes and settled back into her recliner, Nana asks is she's a burden. The answer of course is always a resounding 'No!' Actually, it's having to hear that particular question that 'burdens' me.

I'm ready, willing and able to take care of Nana's needs, no matter what they are. I do my best to handle every task, big or small, with a smile and without resentment. I try not to ask too many favours from the family if I can take care of it myself so as not to infringe on their time whenever possible. We'll always burden one another on occasion. It's part of life.

Being given an opportunity to help someone with some tiny, everyday thing feels good. It means doing unto others, freely, giving back with nothing except a warm feeling inside in return. It's a beautiful burden to bear. One that needs no return on investment. It's a sweet feeling of having done something useful for another, without being asked to do so.

Caring for each other is no burden. It's being asked if it's a bother that bothers me, because naturally, it is not.