Of course, I could tell him, but he would not understand. That is certainly the worst part of Pete’s condition.
A couple afternoons ago, I fell asleep in my chair. The clock showed 6:00 when one of the staff, Bella, came in and asked me whether we were eating in our room — or were we going upstairs to the dining room. I was still in my jeans and shirt, but I did not think too much of it since I was falling into the habit of just sleeping in my clothes. Coming out of my stupor, I indicated we would eat in our room. 6:00 was certainly early, but O.K. I started with Pete’s usual order … 1/2 bowl oatmeal, with brown sugar and milk, English muffin with two strawberry jellies, three strips of bacon… At that comment, Bella looked at me and asked if the dining room served breakfast at all times of the day. “Of course not … only mornings.” I then realized it was 6:00 in the evening, and I had just been asleep a couple hours. Bella and I smiled deeply and commented on my thinking I had slept all night!
The first thing I wanted to do was tell Pete that I thought it was morning … and had begun to order his breakfast. It was the kind of occurrence that you share with someone, and you both smile. The conversation then usually goes to other times either one has confused AM time and PM time. That does not happen with us any more. It is what I miss the most.
Pete has physical therapy here … Mondays and Wednesdays. Last Wednesday he was working with Karen, and they were having a good morning. There is a great emphasis on getting Pete to help himself get out of his wheelchair. He is to have his feet close and then try to lift his body with hands on the arms of the wheelchair. After trying to get up several times, Pete said distinctly, ” My fifteen minutes is up.” Now, of course, the session is 45 minutes, but Pete said a sentence relative to what was happening, and he was understood.
At lunch today, one of the most lovely and kind persons I have met in my life stopped at our table…Toni. Toni was the first person here to include me in one of her activities … her church invites peoples to use their activity hall once a month to play cards … and a group uses that occasion to play bridge. I have played bridge with this group since I came here. Anyway, Toni stopped at the table and included Pete in our conversation. She distinctly said, “Hello” to Pete, and he immediately answered, “Hi!” We were all thrilled!
For some time, I have wanted to communicate to my readers and friends the minimum skills that Pete has retained. Maybe this essay has allowed me to do that. His mathematics is gone. Most memories are gone. He is not Pete … but he is Pete. I love him, and we are together. I never thought life would take such a “twist.”