And so he came home.
Life sometimes puts you places where you need to go to learn about yourself. I find it strange that after all I know about him now, from his family and my own experience, that he was placed in a situation where all he had to do, all he could do, was think, all day. He had to learn humility, and feel helpless, and had all the time in the world to contemplate and look back on his life, remembering all of those times when someone depended on him but he was not there. He did not go to the hospital when his wife died. He would not stay with his mother although she begged him to on the day that she passed. He has lived a very self serving life, telling me one time that it was the responsibility of the wife to spend time with the kids. He was too busy with his own.
In the nursing rehab center there was nothing to do but watch TV which he is completely uninterested in. So all of his time was spent in reflection and thought. Suddenly, he had to depend on others for care. He had to completely submit to their will and none of his own. He had to hope that someone would care enough to come and see him in the hospital and his dementia made him forget that people had come. This must have made it so much worse because a day seems like many when you can’t remember how many have passed and how long it has been.
I think it has really changed him. He had to face it all because there was nothing there for him to use to ignore it in the past, like the hours he would spend reading emails or shopping on the computer or reading newspapers, or even reading boxes, or printing things which he will never read again because he is addicted to print and thinks it will make him remember. The things he says, the feelings he expresses, all show me the change that has happened in him.
I try to encourage him as much as possible. It it strange for me, too. I haven’t ever taken care of a family or kids and now I am caring for 2 kids, one 87 and one 92. I find myself acting motherly, making sure the dishes are done and put away each night or morning. I make sure they are fed. I make sure he has a bath and brushes his teeth. Sometimes, I realize that I am talking to him as a child, explaining something step by step, encouraging him, praising him. I thought it would be uncomfortable bathing him, but because he is so small and the ways he acts, he is like a child in many ways and that makes me more comfortable with the tasks I have to carry out.
He is petulant sometimes, he closes his eyes so he doesn’t have to listen. I have to get down on his level and tell him to look at me to get him to listen to what I am saying. He sometimes holds on to my arm the way a child does their mother’s leg. Small things can make him very happy like sitting outside in the sun or being pushed down the street in his wheelchair like a cooing baby in a carriage. I think of Shakespeare. From newborns we come and to newborn we shall return if we live long enough.
It it strange the effect on our family. The last few days have been the most harmonious in years. We have something to focus on and we have to work together. I wonder how long it will last. I am sure it is bound to break down at some point. I have seen a kinder gentler side to my brother. He is patient with him and he has never had any patience for anything. He once told me that he did better when he had someone who depended on him. Maybe it is true. Now, he actually has conversations with me where we discuss things where it isn’t a one sided monologue telling me what HE thinks because he is, of course, right, and he doesn’t need to hear any other sides, especially from a weak, helpless woman. My brother lives in some kind of time warp where women are ignorant, soft creatures only good for working in the kitchen and cleaning house.
But for now there is calm. There is harmony, although, today she said that I don’t baby her anymore that he had taken her place. I baby her more now than I ever have, but I think she is scared I will become too busy and ignore her. It reminds me of a child when a new baby brother or sister is born. Sometimes they act out because they don’t want to be forgotten. It’s funny how we forget our manners and pout more the older we get. We want our way. We have grown stiff and cannot bend. We are afraid we might break, I guess and then what is left but to die.