“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”—Alan Watts
It’s always challenging for me when Vernon moves to a new spot, because I feel the need to be there as much as possible, and I just cannot be, not with my other responsibilities. At the last place (Kindred) I was able to fall into a weekly routine that allowed me to be with him only every other day or so, and that felt pretty balanced and healthy. But here we are again…another transition. It’s not like I haven’t been learning to be flexible with these things. It’s not because I worry it won’t be safe for him there, that he isn’t where he next belongs. Lately he has been aware enough to ask questions about his surroundings and what is coming next. So I do want to be there to get some answers, to get a sense of the place. But mostly, I want to be there with him because he doesn’t know anyone else yet.
Maybe I shouldn’t be too concerned, as when I asked him today where he was, he said: “I’m home.” Now he understands that it wasn’t our house, but he seemed to accept it as his new home…for now. After a staff member came to clean him up earlier, he said: “Thanks, I trust you.” I probably shouldn’t be too worried about his getting lonely either, as when I visit him, he often tells me stories of conversations he has been having with fantasy friends.
Chats with Eric Gill have come up a few times lately…though he admits that he didn’t get to talk to him as deeply or ask as many questions as he would have liked. Today, however, he admitted that he knew Eric Gill had been dead for many years, though he might still be a good connection to get some design work through. So there is a kind of progress. He has also randomly asked me how may of the Beetles might show up. I told him, if any, only two…as that is all that are left. Perhaps this is a kind of heaven he is in…walking with spirits ever so slightly, then back to earth again when we get him focused on us again. I have found that when he is like this—drifting in and out of memories and names (most of which keep changing as the conversation goes on) — he does get more grounded, the longer I can speak to him. That is, until he gets tired again.
Today was a day full of names from his art college in England. It sounded as if one girl in particular, whose name kept changing, had done particularly fascinating work. Work I would love to look up if he hadn’t kept changing her name. Of course, I hadn’t heard anything about her or most of the name-dropped classmates until today. Both Chris and Pilar mentioned the other day that he kept bringing up things about the French, going so far as translating something he was asked to read into French (a language he learned in primary school, but as far as I know, has not practiced since.)
I understand that his brain is doing a sort of housekeeping after the Tornado that hit it. On days like this, he is a bespectacled and somewhat absent-minded secretary, trying to hold a polite conversation with me, whilst trying to reorganize all the wind-swept files and re-catalog the fallen books, scattered across the library of his brain. It’s all in there, just not in order. I can see he gets frustrated, he admits it. But usually, I just listen and ask questions, not really helping him organize…just keeping him company while he works, keeping him talking. That’s one of the things a wife does, after all: teaches her husband to multitask!
I rubbed his feet and clipped his toenails while he talked to me. It was quite pleasant until I attempted a little physical therapy on his rigid right leg. I know moving locations and staff is always a set-back for Vernon physically, and even weekends can undo the PT’s hard work as Vernon will contract his weak areas all over again. As I tried to straighten his knee, I said: “I’ll stretch your leg slowly, just tell me when it hurts.”
Of course, it was only an inch out before he complained of the pain. I gently tried to move it a tiny bit more, and suddenly he exclaimed: “Why don’t you just put my head in a vice and tighten the clamp! Do I have to stab myself and die before you stop? I told you it hurt and you keep moving it!”
OK! OK! Message received. I know the situation isn’t funny, but his response is. Can I say that out loud?
So much for my trying to do this on my own. I want to help, but you can see why it’s easier to leave this to the pros…even if he doesn’t get to work out his muscles as often as he needs. I am hoping that this place will have some great therapists that really take Vernon on in a personal way, that know how to work effectively and efficiently…and that I can learn a few things from as well. And more importantly, that he can learn from.