August 17, 2009 at 3:33 pm (By Amba)

In the middle stages of dementia, J plays with his food in unpleasant and poignant ways.  He mixes things together that don’t belong together:  pours my wine in his milk, tries to put his ice cream in my salad, his fried rice into his drink.  The categories and containers are breached just as they are in his thoughts, and it occurred to me a while ago that he’s trying wordlessly to show me what his mind is like.

Today I saw that I had left a good but inconsistently sharpened knife in the sink, unwashed, with a pan on top of the blade — a crime, I’m well aware, because a good knife is a thing of beauty.  It then occurred to me that I treat myself like that knife.


  1. realpc said,

    It’s really sad to watch someone you love and have known for decades progress in dementia. Sometimes you wonder to what extent this is the same person. And you think of them as a non-adult, maybe as a child. My mother is this child who is always waiting for me to visit her — at least that’s how my guilty conscience describes it. Until recently, I could never feel happy because I would instantly feel guilty, because I was ignoring my mother.

    But then I decided I will not have any more days ruined by something that is not my fault. I saw my sister refusing to feel guilty all the time and living her life, so that’s what I do now, most of the time.

    Amba I hope you are still considering getting some help. You should not always be doing everything for someone else, never for yourself.

  2. wj said,

    Allow me to note that it says something about the quality of a knife if it can be hard used for years, given minimal maintenance, and still be razor sharp. Impressive.

    And that said, I definitely second what real wrote. Even when helping someone you love dearly, you have to remember to budget some time and energy for yourself. And in big enough chunks that you can come back really refreshed, not just less exhausted.

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