A Caregiver Learns to Understand the Incomprehensible

I have developed a plan to deal with the 98% of the time that I don’t understand what my wife is saying. If she asks a question, I try to intuit what she is asking and respond with answers that may be close. If she asks a question in mid air essentially, that could be about anything from toilet tissue to nuclear war (actually that end is unlikely) I smile and say I don’t know. If it seems that she is asking about something that has been done, I just say I didn’t do it.

I wish I had learned that strategy 20 years ago.

On a darker note, tired from a week of heavy chores, I wanted to skip cooking for once and asked that we go out to a local restaurant we like. She said no, that she didn’t want to go to restaurants any more. That sounded so momentous to me; no shopping, no movies, no walks, no trips, now no restaurants, no anything. And she won’t be jollied into a change of mind.

My life has been getting smaller and smaller, constricted by her needs and her shrinking willingness. My wife has always been quite private and we led a very quiet, if not secluded life. Her best friend has moved far away and has stopped calling since Jackie can’t have a conversation any more.

I have a caregiver who will come in, but this is not any issue of care for her. It is that narrowing of the future for me. I am fighting against it but the very need to do it is depressing. I expect to go to NYC next week for a 2 day excursion, although I am holding off telling her to keep the peace as long as possible. I will be going to Cuba for a scant week in February and, while I look forward to it, it doesn’t seem like much compared to the 4 and 5 week trips I was used to.

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