Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Still in Cleveland

Well folks, Gerdy and I are still in Cleveland (and it's really smelling like onions from my mom's kitchen for some reason! Ack!) We're staying longer b/c I found a $53 flight back to New York from Akron on Wednesday, and with David stranding me to visit his family in Columbus (kidding!), I was left without car. Work was nice enough to alow me to work from home/Cleveland on these days, so here I sit. The new website for work launches January 9th, so I'm all tangled up in my to-do list for it, as different priorities pull me in different directions.

As for my katie james website, I've taken my Nana's Christmas money and bought me some ecommerce! Bless the indie community that likes to work with creative people to get their visions up and running for reasonable prices. I'll tell you who is setting it up once it's live, which also should be in the new year. This means that you'll be able to buy jewelry pouches and checkbook covers with just a little mista click!

On the home front, my other grandmother, who's mother Gerdy is named after (Gertrude Dean), is in a very neat home for Alzheimer’s victims. The home is designed to let them wander the hallways, but the doors to the outsid are locked. There are park benches, a beauty parlor, a restaruant and a few other little things to make it feel like a real home. Pets are aloud, so there is my grandmother's black cat, a beagle and a black chow chow. I say victims because that is exactly what they are. Bodies walking around as ghosts of themselves. This disease is the most terrible anyone could ever get, as it takes your life while you are living it. Unlike cancer, which is a terrible disease, Alzheimer’s wipes out your memories and your ability to talk. You may say: "I want the potato" when you really want the wine glass during Thanksgiving dinner. And although alcohol is very bad for you at this stage, you don't even really want it. You just want what you somehow know is supposed to be there. Wine glasses are always to the right of a dinner plate, and they are to be drunk from. Too bad for my Grandy that we didn't fill it with water or iced tea first. Once she saw what should be there, she stuck with it and drank it like water.

The best thing, I think, you can ever do for a person inflicted with Alzheimer’s is to listen to them. And they won't make any sense at face value. They may say: "Shut off the light" when they really mean: "Please close the door." Or: "My kitty, bring her here...she gets so hot" when she really means: "Please feed the cat." Sometimes there are moments of perfect speech, like when she's talking to my mom and is a little agitated, the same old commands will come out of her mouth. And those should be celebrated! Because not only did she just speak perfectly, but she spoke! Right now, she's grappling, we think, with getting her daughter, my mom, through the fourth grade because a man down the hall used to teach fourth grade, so that's what they talk about. We'll see how long she lingers there. But I implore you: listen to people, not just with your ears but with your brain. Think like a dyslexic person, because that's basically what Alzheimer’s does, as far as I've seen. It creates a moth eaten brain, the synapses for which flit around and try to use the remaining parts. A husband will become a father, brother, son and sweatheart all within the course of the day. And all you can do is smile and agree with whatever she says. A person afflicted with Alzheimer’s is trying to communicate with you, and even if you don't understand, you can smile and nod, and even be a little engaging about something, and the conversation will go on just swimmingly. If you're lucky, you might catch a word or two that mean that what they are. But try to listen and appear to understand, and you may ease their frustration. If you're lucky, sometimes you will understand/decode! And that is just glorious.

In the words of my Grandy: "And I don't mean MAYBE!"


No comments: