Monday, April 5, 2010

The Distance/Dementia

The Distance
A Work of Fiction

The newly married couple sat across the table from each other, holding hands and smiling, looking into each others eyes with adoration. Nora had just prepared breakfast for her new mate, and as they sat there, he looked down at the plate she had just set before him. He eyed the hard fried eggs, burnt toast and limp fatty looking bacon and asked, "What happened here? Have you ever cooked breakfast before?"

"Well, no", she replied. "But, I'm willing to learn if you have the patience. I will practice and do better tomorrow."

"I know you will," Lucas said. "I believe in you. You are a mighty determined girl and can do anything you set your mind to. I'll just pick up breakfast on my way to work."

He kissed her, and putting on his suit coat and picking up his briefcase, he left, leaving Nora feeling a little down and angry because he had made no attempt to eat what she had prepared so lovingly for him.

Thus began the building up of emotional distance between Lucas and Nora.

After Lucas left, Nora busied herself with straightening up their little apartment, and then got out the cookbook that her mom had given her at the housekeeping shower. Nora decided she would make a really good supper for the two of them, a fancy one that would impress Lucas. Surely she could follow a recipe, she thought. The afternoon passed quickly, and by the time Lucas came home from work, the kitchen looked like it had been hit by a small tornado. The supper she was preparing sat on the stove waiting to be served, just cooking a little bit longer and being kept warm.

Lucas came in and said, "Hi, honey, I'm home. I am good and hungry, too. I'll bet you've been busy today. Come here and give your old man some sugar." Nora ran to him and gave him a big hug and a smoochy kiss. "Oh, I'm so glad to see you," she said, her arms twining about his neck."

Lucas looked over her shoulder towards the kitchen. "What's that I smell? Is something burning? I think I smell smoke! Get the fire extinguisher!" yelled Lucas.

After the small fire was extinguished, Nora stood sobbing, "I was trying to make you a really good supper after that horrible breakfast I made. Now it is all ruined."

"That's okay, honey. I know you tried. I tell you what! I'll ask my mom to come over and show you how to cook. She knows just what I like and will be delighted to instruct you," stated Lucas.

(Oops, big mistake, Lucas!)

This eventually created more distance between Lucas and Nora. She began to think of things to do that would annoy him as much as having her mother-in-law coming over to give cooking lessons irritated her.

Nora began making remarks about his appearance and annoying habits, like his tapping a pen against his teeth when he was thinking. Pretty soon, they were snapping at each other like sworn enemies. The distance between them continued to grow. He began staying later at work until she never knew when to expect him to be home. Her cooking did improve, but her temperament continued to erode until they were hardly speaking to each other.

Then one day, Nora was at the grocery store, and she found herself in line behind an elderly couple. She had noticed them several times before when she was doing her weekly shopping. They were in threadbare coats, and did not have a lot of food in her buggy. She imagined they were on a very low fixed income, but they always looked happy. She noticed how kindly they spoke to each other. The man was very solicitous of the frail looking little lady, who smiled up at him and asked, "When do the children say they are coming in for a visit?"

"Now, Mother," he smiled, "You know they live so very far away from us and are busy with their jobs. But they do call us every weekend, and give us all the news. They will be coming in when they get their vacation time."

Nora leaned over and spoke to the couple. "I have been noticing how kind you are to each other. How do you do that? Don't you ever get mad at each other? Do you always get along so well?"

The man looked at Nora and said, "Oh, yes, we have our differences and sometimes have a few words, but we decided a long time ago to believe what the Bible says about not letting the sun go down on your anger. We always make up before going to sleep. It has helped us through a lot of rough times. We use the Bible as our guidebook. It keeps us close to one another and forgiving each others faults. Do you know Jesus, young lady?"

Nora was taken aback by the elderly man's statements and his question. "I don't know what you mean by that question," replied Nora.

The elderly gentleman asked her, "Do you have a Bible at home?"

"Well, yes, but I don't think I have ever sat down and read it. It is too hard for me to understand and has all that old language in it that doesn't sound like anybody I know talking."

"Turn to the book of John in the New Testament and read that. It will help you understand, I think," he told her.

Nora thought of the many times she and Lucas had gone to bed angry with one another, and of the great distance that anger puts between people. She decided then and there that she wanted to be close again to Lucas. Nora determined to go home and have a long talk with him, so that once again they could become a loving couple. She would also investigate reading the Bible. Her mother had taken her to church a long time ago, but she had gotten away from it when she was in her teens.

Nora turned to the old gentleman and thanked him for talking with her. She hurried home then with her purchases and after putting them away, she got out the Bible that was stuck into a bookcase, forgotten.

How many times we talk about the shortest distance between two points being a straight line. We can sit across the table from someone and yet be miles apart in our hearts and minds. We can also be miles apart from loved ones and still have them near to us in our hearts. I hope you have no distance between you and your loved ones, either near or far away.


Dementia is a disease that destroys or distorts memories. It can also put distance between people. The person loses touch with reality at times. My husband, Walter, (Gramps to our great grandchildren) is afflicted with dementia. It has become a huge factor in our lives. Fortunately, his personality is such that he is not difficult to live with. We have some really interesting conversations sometimes. Many times he is not sure where he is, and asks if we are back home. Just this morning, he was asking me do I have a maid who comes in and helps me.

I told him, no, just me. I asked him about his family and he proceeded to tell me about his brother, his sisters, his mom and dad, and his aunts and uncles. I asked him if he is married and he said, no, he never even got close to getting married. I said, "Do you have a girl friend?" He said, "Yes, her name is Ruby Irene". He spends a lot of time in the past, bless his heart.

He asked me where we live and I told him. Oh yeah, he said. I know where that is. We talked about this house and the rooms in it, and about other houses on this road. Well, you get the idea. Sometimes I am his wife and other times I am an aunt of his. It is sad, but we spend a lot of time just being peaceful with one another. We go on his time frame and not mine anymore. Life has slowed down quite a bit over the last couple of years. But that is okay, too. Don't feel sorry for us. We are doing just fine.

This is Blabbin' Grammy signing off for today. Things to do today, and looking forward to a new day with my sweetie. Bye for now. Much love to each of you, my friends. More later.



Hello again Ruby, Thanks for those two compelling subjects. Dementia can and does happen to any one person at any time. I know you cope very well and I raise my hat to you. I have Epilepsy which came on suddenly many years ago, it don't bother me as much as it bothers other people. I always say Epilepsy lives with me and not me with it.
Thank you again for your write it was quite humbling to read.
Take care.

Anonymous said...

That was a wonderful post. I enjoyed it very much. You and Gramps are such a wonderful couple, too. I never think of you all as separate. When I come over here I think I am visiting with Ruby and Dub and I know that is the way it is with you two. I love the way you handle your Dub's dementia. I am sure you do have some interesting conversations.

Anonymous said...

I loved your first piece... and needed the reminder of how each person in a relationship makes choices that bring us closer to or further from the other person. Thanks. As for dementia... it is tough to deal with. My grandfather had dementia and though I was away at college at the time I know it was so hard on my grandmother and so hard to see when I was home. It sounds like you and your husband are doing well with it right now and I am so glad you have such good conversations.

Grammy said...

Hi, y'all,
Thanks to each of you for your comments and encouraging words and thoughts sent our way. Yvonne, I know epilepsy is a difficult disease to deal with. I am so glad that they have medications that can help.
Love to each of you,

Jan said...

Loved your post. My sweetheart and I decided a long time ago that our relationship with each other was more important than any disagreement.
Laughing at our foolishness has kept us going!

Patricia Stoltey said...

This is the most poignant post I've ever read. God bless you and Gramps.

Mary McDonald said...

Great insight to what makes a marriage work. My husband and I will be celebrating 25 years. I can't say ours has always been smooth, but we try.

Dementia is such a hard thing to deal with. I commend you for doing it with such a great spirit.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The message of the first story is so true!

Anonymous said...

may the blessing be always with you!! ........................................

Marjorie said...

This post is just beautiful.

I don't mean to say dementia is beautiful. How you look at life is beautiful. I think I wanna go call my own grandmother and have a nice chat.

Lisa said...

The Bible is truly a great guide to life if we would only recognize that and immerse ourselves in the goodness and truth of it!

I loved this line in your first story, "Come here and give your old man some sugar". Took me back to my step-dad saying that. :)


Anonymous said...

Beautiful post, Grammy. I'm so glad I found your blog. It is lovely :o)

Grammy said...

Hey, Y'all,
Thanks for the sweet comments! Glad you liked the post.

Sugar said...

Thank you for sharing that little story..sound alot like me and my hubby..*sigh* but thanks for sharing it :)