It is Monday and Peggy is feeling weak. She’s decided to spend the day in bed. Cancel the calendar. Actually the only visitors scheduled for the day are a nurse to draw blood, an occupational therapist and a professional bather but that’s not going to happen. She has shortness of breath and sleep is the preferred choice. But that was then.
By Tuesday she has bounced back. There is a mind / body split. For the day her spirit prevails and she is twenty-five again, for the fourth time. Wednesday is a continuation of the day before with high stamina until it isn’t. Now she is back down on the couch. Robust is a distant word. And so it goes.
Caregiving is a great adventure. It never ceases. Tuesday is indistinguishable from Monday and by Wednesday evening the morning has merged with yesterday.
I try to anticipate what’s around the corner. I’m at the ready. Exertion is to be avoided since it leads to listlessness yet the physical therapist has given her a series of exercises to keep the blood moving. Nothing is simple anymore. When I say exertion I mean transit from wheelchair to couch or commode to bed one step away.
For those who are a mere ninety-three or even ninety-eight this might sound a bit much. When Peggy was ninety-nine, almost a year ago she was spry scooting around with her walker and managing the nine steps outside our front door. That was true even six months ago but standing is no longer possible even for the National Anthem; particularly for the National Anthem. Decline happens incrementally and then it leaps.
On the other hand, creativity blossoms in the dark. At least it has with Peggy. Like night jasmine it has bloomed. I’m in awe but I’ve always been in awe. Is it because she is closer to the mystery, to ultimates? Peggy embodies both the social being and a pensive aloneness. I have witnessed her go to the well. She roams and probes her inner landscape and then emerges with a basketful of grapes.
No resistance, she proclaims, yet her spirit is irrepressible and her embrace grows wider and wider.