This is the first post I’ve been nervous to write. I knew posts like this were going to happen because I want to tell my whole experience. Not just the funny old people stories, but the truth of this time in my life. There have been many days that I have wished that I wasn’t exposed to these things. I know it is a part of my wacky journey and I am encouraged when I talk to people about my dad and this little blog, and it seems to touch them. I see that these stories are like stones I’m throwing into a big body of water. I may never know the reach the ripples have but I have to believe there is some good coming from the sadness.
The severe dementia makes it hard for her to communicate and she is often doing socially unacceptable things. She wheels herself into other people’s rooms and she takes things. She eats food that people leave behind. Some residents yell at her, some roll their eyes about her and laugh, but most often she is ignored. She is receiving medical care. I do believe her basic physical needs are being met. I take issue with her how her spirit is being neglected. I haven’t witnessed much loving kindness toward her and it is heartbreaking and infuriating.
I am writing only from my experience and my experience has been that people with dementia operate at a higher level of consciousness. It feels to me that they are living in a space outside of form or time. It feels like a pure place, maybe where we come from. It is a place of enlightenment. It is so unfortunate that our culture doesn’t see it like that. I think people without dementia become frustrated trying to communicate with people with it because the conversation doesn’t go in a straight line or fit in a fast paced world. I’m sure it’s extremely difficult when it’s your loved one. Or when you knew the person before dementia. I have had the amazing opportunity to love and communicate with people that have dementia and it has been life changing. The present moment is all that truly exists but we don’t act like that’s true. We are so caught up in the future or the past or this or that. I could go on about how we all do do do and we take very little time, if any, to just be. Be still. Be present. Be grateful. There are many ways and spiritual teachers trying to show us how to slow down and become present. Yoga, meditation, chanting, etc. I’m suggesting another way is through communicating with someone with dementia. They have astounding gifts and are full of love and pure consciousness.
I was standing outside of the dining room, when she wheeled herself straight into a closed door. She grabbed onto the door handle and violently started pulling and pushing it, slamming the door in the frame and yelling at the top of her lungs. In that moment, I had a supernatural instinct to calm her. It came over me with total certainty and a clarity that I cannot describe. I went to her and rolled her away from the door. I put my face very close to her face and looked in her eyes. I just looked in her eyes until she stopped yelling. I didn’t say anything but I was thinking and feeling, “Are you ok? How can I help you?” She looked at me and in a very calm clear voice she said, “Don’t worry. I am ok. Everything is ok. I am safe.” And then she rolled down the hall. This all took place in a matter of seconds and I was utterly shocked. All I could think was WTF just happened?
The next time I saw her, she seemed very out of it, her eyes were not focusing and she was scratching at the wall. It had worked before so I thought I would try it again. I crouched down and put my face right in front of her face. I focused my breathing, looked at her and spoke to her only with my heart. I silently asked, “How can I help you? What do you need?” After about a minute of staring at her with our faces close together, she seemed to calm down and focus her eyes on my eyes. She took a long deep breath and said,”I get happy when I see you. I know you can help me. I know you can hear me.”