Sunday, 6 August 2017

Adventures with Gueguette: chapter one

If there is one thing that is guaranteed when it comes to Alzheimer's it's that life is never boring.  Even if you've never had a loved one afflicted by it, or know someone who has a loved one affected, you've probably heard random stories of somebody who's had to deal with dementia. Most of them are sad, frustrating, and as time goes on, devastating.

Although Alzheimer's is a terrible thing, when you talk to people who have dealt or are currently dealing with someone afflicted by it, there is usually one thing they have in common and that is humor.

In my new mini series 'Adventures with Gueguette', I'll be posting about the good times, the funny times.  Those are the times we need to hang to.  These are the times we need to remember.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It started off as any normal Monday of the summer holidays.  The kids woke up, we had breakfast, and we amused ourselves doing summer things in the sun.  Mondays are also the day I usually pick up my grandma from the day center.  Mom drops her off in the morning then her and dad go off to do things.  It's their day off together.  I pick Gueguette up at three so that the two of them can stay out as long as they want/need to.  

I sent my mom a text at about eleven.

How was Gueguette this morning?

She was a bit confused. 

Okay.  I'll go stay with her at your house after I pick her up.

By one, I knew this wasn't going to be happening.  Though a confused Gueguette always does best sitting in her chair at home, my son with cerebral palsy, autism and epilepsy also has days where he does better in his house, in his room, away from everything.  Today is one of those days.  On days like this, I go with the lesser of two evils which is a very confused senior over an autistic meltdown by a teenager.

When I get to the day center, the group is in the main room singing songs.  I get into Gueguette's line of view and make eye contact.  Nothing. My grandma doesn't recognize me.  No big deal.  It's not the first time, it won't be the last, and to get upset solves nothing.  I leave the room, wait until they're done signing, then go back in.

She sees me, smiles, and waves me over so I can help her stand up.

"Did you like that song, Mireille?" (Our conversations are all in French, English is starting to confuse her) 

"I did! It was beautiful."  I take her arm and start walking toward the room that has her back of things.  "Did you have a good day?"

She frowns, trying to think of what she might have done in the past few hours.  "I don't know."

I smile and hug her.  "I'm sure you did.  We can read what the girls wrote in your book to see what you did later."

Satisfied with that, we gather her things and head to the jeep.  "Here, have a Halls.  They're good."

I take one put it in my pocket with the other three she's given me since I got there.

"Where's Danielle?" she inquires.

"She's gone fishing with dad."

"Oh, right.  Good for her."  She stops walking at a red van.  (I used to have a red van).

"My jeep's over here, Gueguette."

"Oh, right." 

I open the passenger door for her, remind her where the holy shit handle is so she can use it to help pull herself in, and a lot of laughing and pushing and pulling later, I do up her seatbelt.

"Oh, Mi.  You must be so tired of me."

I laugh.  "Of course not.  We always laugh when we're together, right?"

She nods, happy.  "When does your mom's plane land?"

It takes me a second to respond and she keeps talking.

"I don't know what I'm going to do when I get back."

I decide to let her keep going to get a better understanding of what she thinks reality is right now.

"I'm glad I came to visit though.  When do I go back to Ottawa again?"

Ding, ding, ding.  She thinks she still lives in Ottawa and that my mom lives there and that they're here to visit me.

"You're here for a while, Gueguette."


I nod.  "Yep.  You're stuck here with me."

She laughs.

We're quiet for a few minutes.

"Where's Danielle?"

"She's gone fishing with dad."

"Oh, right.  Good for her.  Here, have a Halls.  They're really good."

I add it to the I'm not sure how many other Halls in the change drawer in the jeep.  

She looks at the bridge as we go by it.  "We're not in Ottawa."


"How long am I here for?"

"For a while."

We pull up to the house and she moves to the back of the jeep.  "Mi, you need to open the back."

I smile.  "How come?"

"My luggage is in there."

I laugh and catch myself.  "It's okay, I'll bring it in later.  Come in the house.  You must be tired from your trip."

She nods and follows me in.  Exhausted from her flight, she sits on the couch and pets the dogs.  Pet therapy is no joke.  The instant she starts to pet them, you can see her relax.  The dogs decide they need to pee and go outside.  She frowns.

"I can't believe they lost my luggage! (throw in a few choice French words they don't teach you in French class)"

"It's okay, Gueguette.  I'll deal with it.  Emery, can you bring Gueguette a can of ice tea, please?"

My middle boy nods and smiles.  They know what's happening and all my kids are amazing with her when she gets like this.  I take my phone into my bedroom and make sure I speak loud enough so she can hear me.

"This is absoloutely unacceptable!  How is a person supposed to enjoy their holiday when they don't have any of the things they brought along!"  Pause.  "Well, look again!"  Pause.  "See?  That wasn't so hard, now was it!"  Pause.  "Thank you.  We'll be waiting for it tomorrow."

Gueguette looks up from coloring with Ashtynn.  "Did you get it sorted?"

I nod.  "Yep.  They found it and they're putting it on the bus first thing in the morning."

She smiles.  "You're so good to me, Mireille."

"Of course."  I give her a kiss.  "It's cause I love you."

More coloring happens, we eat supper.  It is established about 50 more times that mom is fishing with dad.  Sometimes, Gueguette thinks she visiting.  Other times, she knows she's a permanent resident of Saskatchewan.  It's half and half whether or not my parents live here or in Ontario.  The pile number of Halls in our little Halls bowl grows.

Mom and dad get back from fishing. Gueguette looks up, confused.

"What are you doing here?"

"I'm picking you up, mom.  We're going home."

"To Ottawa?"

"No.  To our house here.  The blue house."

You can tell by the look in her eyes she's trying to process this information.  I help her stand up.

"It's okay, Gueguette.  Go with mom."

She mumbles all the way to the truck.

I wait a half hour and text mom.

How is she?

Good.  She got in the house, sat in her chair, and now she's doing her words.

Okay.  Talk to you tomorrow.  Love you.

Love you, too.  Thanks again.

No problem.  Hey, don't forget to go pick up her luggage tomorrow at the bus stop that doesn't exist anymore.

LOL! Will do.

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