It just happened so suddenly. Volunteer Deb arrived for the evening.  As I was getting prepped for heading out, Mary Ann got up and walked into the kitchen.  Deb was with her, as was I when she fainted.  We got her in a chair, then into her transfer chair.  She immediately popped up again, without the brakes yet set.  We got her to her spot by the little table at which she sits in front of the television.  She stood up again.

This time she responded that she wanted to go to the bathroom.  Deb took her while I was still there.  When Mary Ann came back to the Living Room, Deb said she had been looking for her diamond.  I pointed out that it was on her finger.  She popped up again needing to do something she tried to describe but it just didn’t compute.  Then moments later she popped up again and just stood there needing to do something but not sure what.  She fainted again. Deb, of course, was right there with her hand on the gait belt (Deb is a Nurse).

She popped up again. I asked Mary Ann if I could bring her something when I was out.  That is our code for getting her ice cream.  She said, “garbage bags.”  I asked her what she meant, what garbage bags.  She got angry with me for not knowing what she was talking about.  I asked her if she would sit down for Deb since she had been fainting.  She reacted angrily and sat down.  There was nothing in the air, any former conversation, anything in the immediate or recent circumstances having anything to do with garbage or garbage bags.  She responded as if I was just being difficult on purpose about the obvious matter of garbage bags.

Recently, the hallucination/delusion/dream  mixed with reality has been a constant undercurrent, surfacing at various times.  There have been days when she has had streaming confusion.  While the confusion can come and go in moments, tonight’s move from the mild dementia in the background to blatant and intense problems happened in a more dramatic way than I remember happening before.  Rarely has anyone else seen the dementia on the surface with this level of intensity.

After I left, Deb said there were a number of trips to the bathroom, with some action in the last one.  Then she settled in front of the television.  I asked Mary Ann as I was putting her to bed what she was referring to when she got angry with me about the garbage bags.  She wasn’t sure but she thought it had something to do with our Granddaughter, Chloe.  A couple of years ago we bought garbage bags from Chloe as part of an annual school fund raiser.  To my knowledge there has been no conversation in our household about those garbage bags since then.  At the moment, as I am writing, Mary Ann seems settled in bed.

Last night did not go well at all, so I expected today to have some problems with the dementia. She ate reasonably well.  Bath Aide Zandra came to give her a shower.  Mary Ann was in and out a bit.  She asked me to let the dog in.  There is no dog.  She talked about the tapeworm she is convinced that she has.  She said she sees it in the bed at night.  While she was in and out, it was not overly intense.

She was tired, understandably after last night.  There was a lot of time with her head on the little table in front of her.  She opted for Chinese from the grocery for lunch. Hospice Chaplain Ed came over after lunch for a while.  He asked Mary Ann how she was doing, asked me how I was doing, but most of the time it was the usual conversation that included our various ministry experiences.  He was interested in the Concert we had at church since he is a musician, plays the piano.  Mary Ann had her head down and dozed through most of what was an exceedingly boring conversation to her.

She then napped in the bed for about an hour and a half.  I got in some deck time while she was sleeping.  Tonight while Deb stayed with Mary Ann, I did a little shopping at Penney’s to replace some holey underclothes (it’s a pastor thing) and get a long-sleeved white shirt.  Yesterday’s Concert revealed that I had none that fit me.  Who needs a white shirt when retired?  Levi’s and work shirts (euphemism for hang around the house doing nothing shirts) are all that are needed.  Then I went over to my spot with the best view in town and sat for an hour or so.  I read from Weavings, the Spirituality Journal that comes to the house quarterly.  I watched about as beautiful a sunset as a person could hope to see.  In that spot I can hear birds and frogs and wind in the trees against the backdrop of tires on the Interstate a half mile away.

The deck time and sunset time was helpful.  Lately it has just been a little tougher for both of us to deal with the vagaries of each day’s leg in our journey — nothing dramatic, no one thing in particular.  Having said that, a prayer popped into my mind.  In our tradition there are formal corporate prayers (sometimes called Collects) that are often used in worship.  Many of them have a long and rich history.  There is one used in a worship service called Evening Prayer (also in other services) that is a favorite of mine. Here it is, copied from The Lutheran Book of Worship, p.153:

“Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown, Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.”

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