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By George, I Think He's Got It


Strokewife

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All I want is a room somewhere, Far away from the cold night air…
Lots of chocolate for me to eat, Lots of coal makin' lots of heat…
Warm face, warm hands, warm feet…Oh, wouldn't it be loverly?
Loverly, loverly, loverly, loverly…

 

Her day had been quiet allowing her much time to do a bit of baking and wrap a few gifts during the week of Christmas.  She really hadn’t got him anything aside from a lamp that projected the solar system on the ceiling to add to his light collection, his favorite chocolate, and a T-shirt.  Of course, she would have no gifts from him unless she bought them for herself.  Basically, she didn’t want anything material.  Their dog always benefited the most.  She would wrap squeaky toys, balls, and chew bones for him to eagerly tear off the wrapping, toss and play while adding his scent to each new gift.  It delighted them both to watch him enjoy this moment of spoiling.

 

It was a few days past the Christmas holiday into the New Year.  While she had only sparsely decorated in the room he spent most his days it seemed the season came and went with the same vigor.  There weren’t many packages adorned with vibrant bows or stockings hanging from the fireplace mantel.  In fact, this year was the least of all years in which she adhered to the compulsion of decorating every nook and cranny for the holiday season.  Somehow, taking care of him and the importance of it over shadowed anything else.  These days she just wanted him to be comfortable.  For herself, she desired simplicity. Thus the easy removal of a tree and a wreath that acknowledged the season assisted it to come and go just like that.

 

The film, My Fair Lady is a 1964 American musical comedy-drama film based on George Bernard Shaw's 1913 stage play, Pygmalion
Starring Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle and Rex Harrison as Henry Higgins the film won eight Academy Awards including best picture. The story focuses on an impoverished flower girl that had bad speaking ability and became the substance of a wager by a phonetics professor claiming that he could teach her proper English. The substance of the play comes to be more about the two falling in love aside their difference more than winning a wager.  While, (spoiler alert) Eliza conquers the quest to speak proper the professor suddenly becomes aware she meant more to him than a bet.

 

After tucking her stroke survivor and the dog in for the night she settled herself in the recliner in the front room to watch a movie as she often did in the wee hours of the night.  She found it comforting to just lose herself in movies. On any given day she could scroll through the list of recorded movies or shows and find he had duplicates, triple, or even quadruples in the library because he wouldn’t remember he had already recorded the movies.  It was an on going thing they discussed because if too many movies were recorded or the box was full they could not record future shows.  She realized he had trouble remembering how to get to the list of movies on file thus why he would record over and over.  So, on this evening she began the clean up as usual only this time to her shock she noticed a few movies, One being My Fair Lady, that were in the recordings and she had not recorded them.  Suddenly, a tune from the move popped in her head.  “By George, I think he’s got it! He’s got it! He’s got it! By George, I think he’s got it!” In that moment her heart was full. He could not have given her a better gift if he had paid for such.  Reflecting back to when she was a young girl she recalled how her family would focus on giving gifts that didn’t cost anything and how most of those gifts meant more than one’s bought in a store.  Clicking play she settled in with hot cocoa, a fuzzy blanket, and a movie that was gifted to her by him.

 

It has been almost five years that she became a caregiver.  Over the course of those years the journey has been a hard climb with very few easy steps. Yet, she through out their journey has focused on finding ways to help him live with in the means do-able with his new life.  Cognitively, he has not returned to an intellectual place like before his stroke and lives mostly in years gone by that linger in his high school and college days.  It was a time she was not a part of and didn’t appear in his memory. Still, she follows a regiment to talk about things they have always done together with hope that he will catch up to today.  Depriving her self of much most often to care for him she knows it will never be the same.  She also desires for him to talk about their dating years or wedding with her even though she knew it is unlikely.  “Just take time for your self and don’t focus on what cannot be,” rang in her head.  As Professor Higgin’s sings, “I’ve grown accustom to her face,” bringing the movie to it’s finale she got out of her head an embraced the awareness of simplicity; that simplicity that she wished for silently.  At the same time she acknowledged his gift. No words needed to be spoken.  Suddenly, she was aware that He had remembered her love for musicals. With that she turned off the TV, went to bed, and drifted off to sleep with the tune… Oh, wouldn't it be loverly?Loverly, loverly, loverly, loverly…sounding in her head.
 

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It is sad that those good memories have slipped away, sad that so many good times are forgotten. It is what it is isn't much comfort is it? I went through thirteen years of looking after Ray for the last four years all Ray really knew about me was that it was my duty to look after him because I was his wife. 

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Honestly, I am trying to step aside from the sadness side and focus on things that I can acknowledge about this journey that can perhaps help others.  Most recent, I have been focused on monitoring his medication.  I am trying to eliminate pills and or dosage levels that may not be necessary.  Thankfully, we have a good physician that works along side us.  I have notice much more coherence from my stroke survivor since a few adjustments have been made with medication.  Having, him gift me with a movie was one of the nicest things he has ever done, even before his strokes/seizures...So, I am grateful.  Of course, that simplicity easily gets overshadowed in the next moment when a call to clean up a mess transpire.  I take each moment for what it is.  Probably, that is why I write so I can keep those memories.

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I understand that, that feeling that you are a real person to him. I used to be the same when Ray would sometimes say my name with a smile on his face, special moments.

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