“The moon in her chariot of pearl”
― Oscar Wilde
“What really matters is:—
1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.
2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.
3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”
4. In writing. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers “Please will you do my job for me.”
5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.”
― C.S. Lewis
(The blue moon of July / Julie Cook / 2015)
This is a tale about dementia, directions, hair and unbelievable clarity.
My dad has never had, in my opinion, a full head of hair.
It was receding and thinning from the day they brought me home from the adoption agency.
I remember when I was young when he’d proudly ask if I liked his hair cut. I’d respond with a big grin that that’s exactly what it was— a, as in single, hair cut.
Somehow he didn’t find the humor in my observation. . .
The past couple of weeks I’ve noted that dad has desperately needed a hair cut.
What hair he has, which mind you isn’t a gracious plenty, has become almost transparent, wispy and strand-like—a bit of an unkept look–as in derelict. It wasn’t helping his appearance that he’d not shaved.
Time and time again Dad has refused to allow me to take him for a hair cut as he simply refuses to leave the house.
Today, that was going to change. . .
The minute I walked in the house yesterday, I told him that we were going for a hair cut, no ifs, ands or buts. . . as in now.
I asked Gloria where the barber was located, thinking I had a vague idea.
As Dad, my aunt and I headed out in search of the barber, I made a left at the red light thinking I knew where were going. . .my first mistake.
“NO,DON’T GO THIS WAY, Dad shouts as if I was driving off a cliff scaring me to death.
“It’s the other way.”
“Dad, where exactly is this barber. . . I thought it was in the shopping center with the Fresh Market.”
“You go up at the light and turn left and then drive up that parallel road.”
First of all, we’re on Roswell Rd–one of the busiest main thoroughfares in Atlanta running north and south through the city, there are millions of lights and intersections and what in the world is running parallel—
“Do you mean Long Island?”
“I don’t know.
Don’t ask me.
I don’t know anything.”
“Turn at that light.”
“Just go up this road.”
Ugh. . .
Now you need to know that it’s been 30 years or longer since I’ve traversed most of these back roads.
Progress, which I believe is what they call all of this drastic growth and change to the city, all of which now has me painfully scanning for any sort of remembered landmark.
Alarmingly it dawns on me that all my landmarks have been bulldozed.
It is now officially a blind leading the blind sort of quest for the barber.
“Keep going straight, then turn right at the light.”
“Oh I remember that park, that’s where mom played tennis.”
“Go down this road then turn into that shopping center on the right.”
“No, the NEXT entrance”
“Now turn left”
“I SAID LEFT!”
“Okay dad, my God, you’re scared me to death. It’s just the parking lot.”
“It’s up in the little building on the left. . .”
About 20 minutes later we’re back at the house with my very thin, frail, wispy, 87 year old dad looking rather dapper with his fresh cut hair. . .now if only he’d shave. . .
The mind is an amazing thing.
A deeply cavernous 3 pound mass.
The synapsis fire or they don’t.
Memories mix with current events, confusing past with present.
Sequences flow or jumble, starting and stopping.
Faces are recognized or more often than not–there is frustratingly no recognition.
There may be silence or a profession of irrelevant chatter. . .
With what happened 5 minutes prior suddenly forgotten and gone forever
and yet. . .
a backroad path to an obscure little old fashioned barber shop is clear as a bell. . .
Go figure. . .
Wow, Cookie. With me approaching (let’s see, now, I believe it will be 83) this is, perhaps, TMI! It’s fortunate I stopped driving (for lack of distance perception in 2004…or was it ’03?) I’ll take my own advice and stop. I fear this, too, is IMI!
Thank you Marie– something tells me that numbers and age have never been a factor in your world 🙂
P. S. I loved your post!
Julie, thank you for sharing your journey. I think I may have told you that I never experienced this with my parents who both passed away in 1977. They died before dementia at ages 65 and 73. I am grateful that they were spared from this trauma but also that I was spared from the sorrow of seeing them suffer like that. May God continue to give you all the graces that you need to serve your dad and Gloria as you do in such a selfless way!
Bless your heart. You go through a day like this and you can still keep you wits about and retain your sense of humor. I stand in awe, missy. After the first time he yelled at me, I’d have probably taken him to the first barber shop I could find and asked them to give him a haircut AND a shave. Hang in there my friend and good and faithful servant of the Lord. Love and hugs, N 🙂 ❤
Love your documented accounts of Dad, memory, scripture, faith, hope, love of family.
Thank you CS, it is indeed a journey to be sure