about writing and life and God

Dementia Diary 25: A door closing

on November 30, 2012

Tomorrow is the first day of December. What are you doing for Christmas?

It all takes planning. If you’re going to eat out, it will need to be booked well in advance.

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So today, having got him settled at one of our favourite restaurants with a glass of his favourite red wine, I broached the subject.

‘What would you like to do for Christmas?’

I’d asked him last Friday but got no reply. He’d gone off onto a tangent and I hadn’t pursued it.

But in the light of time pressing and places needing to be booked if we were going to go out, I needed an answer. I had managed to get myself to a place of calm and quiet where I was willing to accept his answer and run with it. Even if it meant him coming home. (Fingers in ears here to drown out my friends’ protests!)


So I asked. I made it completely clear that he was free to choose. And to make it easy, started off with the first decision: would he prefer to spend Christmas Day at the residential home where he is living, or somewhere else? I wrote it down, algorithm style. (He used to always do algorithms for decision-making.)

He looked at it. But there was no answer.

I expanded: if somewhere else, then that could be at our home or some place else, for example one of our favourite restaurants.

What he said floored me: ‘I’m finding making any sort of decision difficult these days.’

‘So this is too difficult?’ I asked gently.

‘Yes,’ he said.

So I took away the sheets of paper with the algorithms on and asked, ‘So what would you really like to do on Christmas Day?’

He told me that the chef at the home was first-rate. But he’d like me to be there.

‘So,’ I interpreted, ‘what you’d like best is to have your Christmas Day there, Christmas lunch there, but you’d like me to be there?’

‘Yes,’ he said. That’s what he’d really like.

So that’s what we shall do.

I come away knowing that the door is steadily closing. That the man that he was is disappearing behind that door, more and more. That this Christmas may well be the last precious one where he still knows who I am.

And I’m determined we’ll make the most of it.

Text: ‘Be careful that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling-block to the weak.’ 1 Corinthians 8:9

Prayer: You have given us our health, Lord, and our freedom. At this time, help us to remember those who have neither and enable us to celebrate your coming in a way that does not trample over their needs or distress them.

Self-care suggestion: You may have to make some tough, extra-sacrificial decisions this Christmas. Plan to give yourself respite/recovery time. Buy yourself that one special present that you’d love to receive. Be prepared, and try to let others do as much as possible!


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