“Bye- Bye Honey” Barbara said yesterday as she made her way back to her home. We have ended our conversations this way for well over two years. I find comfort in the familiarity of the phrase, as I am certain she does. A simple pattern of social interaction for us both, we find closure to a conversation. Always smiling and always pleasant, she is a breath of fresh air, most days.
A far cry from the first time we met. I was on my deck overlooking the pond when I heard a voice from below, “have you seen the baby?” she asked panic-stricken. A very normal reaction, to a child near water.” No I have not seen any kids this morning” I explained.
Shortly after this she was joined by her granddaughter who I assumed was ‘the Baby’ despite being six years old. This is how I came to meet Barbara and Arianna ‘The Baby’.
We made our introductions, and I learned Barbara was raising her daughter’s child. Arianna was the by-product of a mother lost to drugs. But lucky to have a Grandma who loved her and cared for her. She is a bright and beautiful child, full of energy and the actions that wear out a young parent, Let alone a Grandma.
We’ve had the same conversation a hundred times since; I now know to keep a sharp eye out for ‘the baby’ at all times.
“What was your name again, honey”? A conversation we spent most of the first year repeating. I forget people’s names often as well.
“What do you do again honey”? Barbara asks me constantly even to this day. I patiently explained it for months. Hell, there are many days I ask myself the same question.
Then one day a panic-stricken look appeared on Barbara’s face. “Have you seen the baby”?
I quickly replied “no”, then realized it was a school day. “Isn’t she at school today, Barb”? I asked.
“Oh, that’s right”! Barbara said, a look of pure relief crossing her face. She began to cry.
That was the day I learned Barbara had Alzheimer’s. I comforted her as she cried, explaining I too, often forgot what day it was. She thanked me, and we’ve had a friendship ever since. Often it is confusing for both of us. As are things like dates and times. On a few occasions Airriana has been dressed for school on a Sunday morning.
I finally met her eldest daughter one day. We compared notes and exchanged phone numbers. The medications have lessened the frequency of the attacks causing panic but the confusion remains. Our conversations are often sad, although sometimes humorous for us both.
She may forget the day, the time, or dinner. But she has never forgotten the fact I am divorced and single; she never forgets we are friends. It is Barb’s mental mission that I am seeing every single girl she meets. I laugh and take solace in the fact that most she picks for me are attractive.
I have also had 236 different careers thanks to Barb. I’m bored with explaining mine to her, and found she enjoyed my stories more than I did. Now if she asks, I make up a new one each time. Hey I enjoyed being a fireman ! And this week while the weather is good, I intend to be a Marine biologist.
I just hope and pray I am never a Social Service worker when she can no longer provide care for ‘The Baby’.