I want to describe how life is here … my interactions with Pete. Interactions are relatively passive on his part … I push him to places in his wheelchair; I get him up in the morning; I fix him coffee; I get him coke or 7-up … he chooses! A very few times, he speaks. Let me describe a couple …
I will begin with last Saturday morning. While Pete is eating his breakfast, I showered and put on jeans and a shirt … no shoes! He ate breakfast, and I brought him over in front of my chair. He looks at me and mumbles something … his first vocalization since he got up … 3 1/2 hours ago!! I ask him what he said. He clearly says, “Put your shoes on.”
I related this story to everyone who came into our room. It made my day. Craig brings some mail. He hears the story. I am “all smiles.” Pete’s showing any communication skill is just wonderful. Thus, my day is good!!! It is also worthwhile … while I have this story on paper … to note the level of his communication. This is a very good example of his speaking at a very concrete level … about something that is visible in the current time. Craig and I know not to ask him for the definition of a “group.” (Just a little inside joke!!!)
An example from last Thursday: Pete wakes about three o’clock in the morning. I tell him it is too early to get up. I ask him to go back to sleep because “it is not time to get up.” He does go back to sleep!!” He wakes for the day around 6:00 or 6:30 A.M. … I do not remember. He is adamant that he get up right then. I ask him, “Why do you have to get up right now?” He tells me, “Because it is time to get up.” It is going to be a good day!
Still Thursday. Therapy is cancelled. Barb, the therapist, has the beginnings of not feeling well; we all know that this is not the place for someone who might be getting some shareable illness. Pete and I should use the time. We will go for a walk … I push Pete in his wheelchair. About a city block away … but still part of this complex … is a lovely collection of individual gardens … a community garden where residents have their own plots. This part of the complex houses residents who are capable of taking care of themselves … basically individual apartments with very minimal services. The gardens are lovely … tomatoes, marigolds, petunias, pumpkins … and a lovely squash that seems to be on a race to be the largest “thing” in the gardens. Pete and I had done the gardens the day before … and he had clearly told me … when questioned … that that object was a “squash.” I expected the same lovely reaction on this Thursday. Instead, close to the gardens, he says, “I do not want to go there.” So much for the walk … but he talked. I smile and relate this sentence to everyone I see.
I have been thinking of other examples to add to this essay. Pete’s favorite line these last few days is “Close your mouth.” Now those who know Pete know that the old Pete would never say anything “nasty” to me. I wouldn’t think the existing Pete would either … and he wouldn’t. I was apparently sitting in front of the television with my mouth open … literally “Close your mouth.” It is apparently the dryness of Colorado … and not my astonishment at some pathetic television show!!!
Another example … a little deeper. The staff apparently woke Pete too early from his nap. I came in soon after they woke him. We were close enough to dinner so when he asked to go back to bed, i explained that we would go to dinner … then he could go back to bed. He asked me: “Why won’t the girls come back and put me in bed?” That sentence is pretty much in tune with what was happening at that time … and it was not really concrete … more like a reflection on … then current … activities. I have pondered over that sentence quite a few times. Those times make me so happy that Pete is getting such good care.
Keep in mind that words are so beautiful … and I grab everyone of Pete”s.