I probably underestimated Alice because her nieces were such mild and pleasant women. And, okay, I probably was over-influenced by the fact that they were enthusing over the dementia care workshop I’d just given. woking taxis
After the crowd was clearing, they came up to me and worriedly asked if they could talk to me about something. And by the way, they added, the workshop was wonderful. So funny and so entertaining, it wasn’t what they expected. They’d expected — and here they paused doubtfully…
“More anguish?” I suggested. “More suffering? A bit more gloom, doom and despair?”
Sheepishly they nodded. I was used to that expectation. After all, it’s how our society in general treats the whole issue of dementia in the lives of elders. A terrible thing, an awful tragedy — but not me. I think it’s just one lifestyle — and frankly I often find people with dementia a lot more interesting and original than most other people in the world. I know, I know. It says a lot about my own oddities, I dare say — but I don’t care.
We went of to a coffee shop together to talk. heir beloved Aunt Alice had begun to seem as if she had dementia. She was forgetful. She left pots to burn on the stove. She wore odd clothing. Her hair looked uncharacteristically unkempt. A very normal list of mild dementia lapses.
“And how old is your aunt?” 89, they said. Ah yes.
What they really wanted was for an outsider to tell her that she was to have a caregiver living with her in her little cottage. And they wondered also if I could be that person. I made a counter-offer. How about if I were a night-time person and I found someone else to be the day-time person?
So it was that I met Alice in her cottage one day the following week. Her nieces each had a cottage on the same 16 acres, in a lush southern Arizona canyon. A narrow road entered the woodsy canyon and about a mile further in. it became an unsurfaced road up into National Forest. Huge rock walls towered over the meadows in which the family land was situated. You could have made westerns in there.