Sunday, May 24, 2020

Jane: Uncertainty in the Age of Coronavirus

My last two blog posts were about "Respite" in the Age of Coronavirus. However Sky is no longer on respite at the memory care center, but is now a permanent resident. Given that the world is still topsy-turvy, it seemed the best thing to do. So I signed all the papers, and wrote the big check, and there he stays.

It's lonely without him, and it's also peaceful. I sleep through the night every night now, unless I am woken up by a cat doing some kind of cat-thing, like throwing up, meowing at me, or getting into a fight. Luckily, Sayer and Emma were still up the night the raccoon tried to come in through the cat door, so I happily slept through that event. Sleep is a wonderful thing.

But, here I am, in this beautiful place where it is finally summer, and the garden is thriving (though I have to water every day -- no rain for 10 days). I spend several hours a day tending the vegetable garden, and the fruit trees and bushes that we planted in the last couple of years. For the last two summers, Sky tended the orchard -- watering, weeding, mulching, mowing. He loved hanging out with the trees. Now it's my turn.

For 35 years, Sky and I gardened and tended fruit trees and bushes together. It was one of the things that drew us together -- our love of the natural world and of growing our own food. We complemented each other -- he liked preparing the soil, I liked planting. He liked weeding and harvesting, I liked canning and freezing. We both would put the garden to bed for the winter, and then enjoy relaxing indoors wth our kids, warmed by a wood stove fueled by wood we had cut, split and stacked together. We were a team.

I miss being part of a team. A partnership.

Sky and I continue to talk on the phone once or twice a week. I let him call me, hoping that he'll be more lucid than when I call him. But, no. He lives in his hallucinatory world 24/7, and I never know what he will say. During one call, he told me he was so excited that I had just had a baby named Califa. During the next call, he told me he was at the train station waiting to board the train to come home, but he had to wait while they backed up the train. We chatted briefly, and then he told me the conductor called "All Aboard!" and he had to go, but would be home soon. Yesterday he told me that there were two black people next to the phone booth... they were 2 or 3 inches tall and they were kissing each other.

I never know what he will say. I listen and make appropriate comments. I am grateful that he still knows who I am, and I am sad that we can't have a real conversation anymore. That was something else I loved about being with Sky -- we've had years of interesting conversations.

But, he did say something else yesterday that was pure Sky, and I think wise words for all of us at this uncertain time:

"It's foolish to try and control everything. It just makes for more heartache and more pain."

Right on, Sky.


  1. I so appreciate your posts. My husband is in the early to mid-stages so we are still enjoying our gardens and projects but more and more oversight or “checking in” is required to help him remember what he set out to do and veer him away from dangerous or counter-productive endeavors. I resonated with your comment on loneliness. Especially during this pandemic, I want to have conversations with him that extend beyond the present moment but after 11 weeks of quarantine I must be constantly vigilant of his desire for close contact with neighbors or a walk to a store. Your sharing helps me not feel alone and prepare a bit for might lie ahead. Blessings on you both.

  2. Oh Jane, my heart goes out to you and to Sky. But more to you, because you know what is happening and Sky... well, he "knows" what is real for him, but it's not real for anyone else. I'm glad he still knows who you are and calls you to talk. And that last comment... whew, that's one for the ages. I'm sending blessings.

  3. Jane I'm sorry it has come to "a parting of the ways". There is so much loss and love in your posts, which I am only now reading. Of course you and Sky have found a way to leave the gift of reducing stigma. Perhaps you remember Petie Ferris of Montpelier, a dear friend who also had Alzheimer's. She lived out her final days at The Arbors in Shelburne. Thank you for sharing the journey. Best to you,Roberta Downey,( formerly of Kellogg Hubbard Library).