Many years ago I read and reread Ram Das's book, Be Here Now, about living in the present, that is really all we have. Well, such is the gift of Alzheimer's and sometimes I'm jealous. All there is is what is right in front of you...no future, no past. This doesn't make it always easy for the caregiver, the one in charge of keeping life together.
Today was a great illustration. He-Who and I had an 11:00 am appointment with our dentist for tomorrow. We have a long-time relationship with our dentist so continue to drive an hour, sometimes more depending on traffic, to his office near our previous home. About 9:10 this morning the dentist office called and asked if we could come in today at 11:00 as the weather prediction for tomorrow is for severe storms and flooding. I agreed whole heartedly as I was already concerned about traveling in such conditions.
But He-Who was still asleep meaning I had to get everything going in high gear. High gear is almost impossible with an Alz patient but I got him up, explained the circumstances and laid out his clothes while urging him to get into the shower ASAP. Gratefully he complied while I raced to get showered and dressed as well. I ran back in the bedroom to check and he was progressing. Then I got out his medication and a breakfast drink. He came out and was puzzled about what we were doing. I explained again about the call from the dentist and wasn't it great that they were squeezing us in today to avoid the drive in the weather tomorrow. By now it is 9:45 and he's checking his hearing aids...one is dead, of course, and needs a new battery. He goes through batteries quickly because he forgets to open them when he takes them off. So okay I change the battery, he grabs a newspaper to read and we are finally out the door and on the freeway. Again he asks where we are going. Again I explain. He is perfectly relaxed and I am white-knuckled on the steering wheel negotiating the traffic. Note to self: BE HERE NOW!
The dentist discovered an abcessed tooth in He-Who, consulted me in the other room about it being removed and I agreed. In a few minutes He-Who comes into see me wondering what I thought about it. I assured him it was the correct thing to do because of the infection amazed that he was present enough to be concerned about whether to go ahead. Nice gift here.
There is a lesson in all of this and a gift. I'm the one who gets her panties all in a wad when confronted with an urgent change of plans. I'm the one who was worried about being late for the appointment when looking at bumper-to-bumper traffic. He-Who was fine and just along for the ride. I need to breathe deep and let be what will be and at the same time remind him to brush his teeth. I, too, am just along for the ride.