Vernon’s sweet sister, Vanessa, and her husband, Paul, have been on hand all week to visit Vernon, so I took some time off to let them have their own experience with him, not just through my subjective lens From what they shared, it was a special week. They admitted being a bit jarred by his state at the beginning of the week, despite following this blog and my letters all along. Apparently, the real deal always comes with an emotional punch. So they got a crash course in recovery. The ups and the downs. Ultimately, they told me, it was a privilege to watch Vernon commit to his trainers in physio and speech therapy, how on the days he was ‘working,’ he was generally in a better mood: less agitated and unfocused. Well, it makes sense: I always feel better on the days I get some serious exercise—and I’m not in a hospital bed all week. I can only imagine its twenty-fold for him.
Vanessa and Paul told me that even over the course of one week, they felt they had a pretty good grasp of Vernon’s current situation. One day, he might be connected and chatty, and on another, he was tired and distant. They told me they learned to “just go with the flow.” That is a lot to learn in a week, I’ve got to hand it to them. They were fantastic. They had also noticed that his clarity and memory (at least the long term) seemed to have strengthened over the course of the week.
My own brother and sister-in-law also came on Sunday to visit Vernon, after a weekend at my parent’s house. Here is a picture of Hyatt and his lovely wife, Nicole.
Apparently, I was out of the room when he committed us both to a bike ride up to the Bay Area to visit them. I would, of course, have to ride as an escort. What? It’s one thing for him to have to get into shape to ride that far…but ME? I may or may not have have promised him my support.
My mother visited today as well. She tries to make it up once a week if she can. I often think they have more in common than I do with either of them. No wonder I love them both so much. The math of love. By the way, its her birthday today. Vernon didn’t seem to get that part.
And here is Maki. Who can top Maki when it comes to visitors?
Vernon did have some wise advice for him today though: “Don’t make conversions…I mean, conversations, with GIRLS.”
Hmmm…I wonder at what point Maki will stop looking at his father as a giver of wisdom. We’ll try again next week.
A couple of high points today that I experienced:
I got to witness Vanessa sharing all the photographs she brought of Vernon’s youth with him. He seemed very interested in the old pictures of himself in a variety of football (soccer) kit, dependent on the year.
It was fascinating to watch him try to make connections with his past through these photos. The short-term memory may have a way to go, but the long-term certainly seems alive and well. It seems it was the perfect timing for Vanessa and Paul to visit.
And the next high point, honestly, was how he responded to ME when I arrived this morning, after a four-day visiting break. I had been advised, up till now, that he would be totally in the moment, with whatever he is dealing with that particular day. He wouldn’t ” miss” people after they had left. He wouldn’t understand the passing of time as the rest of us do.
But when I arrived in the room today, Vernon lit up with the sweetest expression. He seemed so surprised and happy to see me again. I can’t be sure, but I think I saw his eyes well with tears, and he told me how he had “tried to remember” me as much as he could. He told me it was harder in the moment when he “wasn’t working”He hugged and kissed me with such celebration, I almost felt bad for taking so many days off.
I think he is ready to move on. He is bored when he isn’t doing therapy or entertaining visitors or sleeping, but it is still confusing for him. But I do believe, as I always have, that overstimulation is better than understimulation. Let’s give him the choice.