It must seem to my readers that I do nothing but complain about Charlie and his dementia and other physical problems.
I, like most caregivers, need a sounding board to let off steam. It's either sound off to some anonymous computer screen or sound off to our loved ones. I choose the computer, and you, as the lesser of two evils.
But today I am going to talk about the good qualities that Charlie has retained, so far, through this trip down the lane to never-never-land.
Charlie had a career as a fighter pilot, and a second career as a U.S. Customs Officer. Those careers demanded that he be focused, precise and in complete control of his surroundings.These traits are things that he tries desperately to hang on to—thus his obsession with his calendar. This sometimes drives me crazy, but it means his mind is still trying to perform as required.
From the time he was a young boy, Charlie was engaged in hunting, fishing and wildlife conservation. These are habits that have continued into his receding years. He sits in his recliner, near a window overlooking a large open field surrounded by trees. He never fails to alert me to a passing herd of deer, a fox with its pup, a mother bear and two or three cubs, or the darting presence of numerous birds, most of which he can no longer identify. He would be devastated if he had to move to a place where wildlife observation could not be a part of his daily entertainment.
Charlie is a good eater. He never complains about the meals I prepare, even though, on occasion, he probably should. Even the worst meal brings the comment, "Another gourmet meal," from him. It is a pleasure to cook for him. There are times when I wish he would tell me what he would like for dinner, but his Swiss cheese brain is no longer able to think of something different to eat, so when the question is raised, he is likely to tell me to, "Just order a pizza."
The only problem is that his appetite is no longer as robust as it used to be. This means that we often eat leftovers for several days until a casserole or roast is gone. But I'm not complaining—especially when I read about caregivers who have meals thrown at them.
Charlie has always been a helpmate, doing any chore that I set out for him with no complaints.He still tries to help me with chores. It's just that he is no longer physically or mentally able to carry out many of the things he used to routinely perform. I have had to get used to lugging out the trash, learn to put air in the tires and deal with other "man chores" on a regular basis.I grumble about it, but I know it's one more step towards getting used to not having a man around, when the day comes.
I'm grateful Charlie is still able to enjoy reading. His days are consumed with reading up on health issues. He is certain everything he reads in health magazines and flyers is gospel and suggests we look into the latest fad. I have to use my wiles to convince him that every vitamin or natural herb recommended by some "doctor" who has only his own bank account in mind, may not be in his/our best interest. At times I even agree to order something he insists will help him, and then forget about it, as will he.
Until the day comes when Charlie no longer knows I am his wife, recognizes the children, or is able to enjoy the few things left to him in his limited physical and mental state, I will continue to love him and care for him. I may grumble and wail about his frailties, but I will carry on and thank all of you for listening and commiserating.