Hummingbirds & The Slow Tsunami

The hummingbirds came to the feeders the next day, a month ago now, and have delighted us with their cheerful colors and zippy acrobatics. If I can figure out an effective squirrel barrier, I’d love to have more feeders out there – we both enjoy the show. Family members of both of us have wonderful feeder arrays which are visible from their dining rooms – we are enchanted when we visit, so need to work on this for our own yard – probably this fall.

It’s been a relatively peaceful and pleasant month, to my surprise. The routine of 3 afternoons at the Respite center, plus recorder-playing for a couple of hours on another afternoon has become effortless, and although I never assume J will willingly go to Respite, she actually has calmly gotten ready each time and gone over without much fuss. The tone in the house has been warm and friendly.

Yesterday a neighbor had a few women in for a drink and chat – her husband was away on his fishing week, so it was a chance for the ladies to get together. This was lovely – saw people we seldom have a chance to talk to, heard the gossip, enjoyed great food. Before we went, though, I had some worries about J being able to deal with 6 other people she doesn’t know well. It turned out that we all sat down in the living room, and the talk bounced back and forth among the people, so that J could sit there without being required to respond, although I noticed she had a vacant, rather than engaged, look. But when we got home, she said it had been fun!

She then says, “Well, we must have so-and-so over….”, with much enthusiasm – not realizing at all that everything about that project will be up to me – deciding the time, deciding the food and drink, seeing that it gets bought, getting it prepared and set out, etc. Seeing myself write this, I wonder what my problem is – how hard it that?? Well, it used to be a joint endeavor, where we had known responsibilities when we had people over. If I did the cooking, J would set up, or vice versa. If it was my family or old friends, then I’d have main responsibility, and if it was hers, she would be point person. Joint friends we would just share or alternate – it was a good system.

I don’t think I really noticed when that system was no longer operating, but I now encourage going out to lunch, or coffee, as the format for seeing friends, so I don’t get myself into a place of resentment about doing the work. I choose midday over evening, more and more, because I’m often just plain tired by 5 o’clock.

I noticed recently that some of the people who attend the Respite group are picked up by their Companion, rather than by spouse or child, and that made me think about how I am now not just J’s partner and spouse, but Companion as well, in the sense that agencies provide “companion services”. I’m learning my job, but it is all day, every day. Respite group provides such a welcome break, when I can take that hat off for a few hours. And, usually, when I go to pick her up, I’m recharged, or “re-set” somehow, for the next couple of days.

If I think about what I would want in a professional Companion, it helps me to do a better job with J. Especially my attitude – staying kind, friendly, relaxed – I realize how much I would value that in someone who is looking after J, (or me, eventually) so I focus on developing and maintaining that approach.

The slow tsunami – a volcano erupts across the ocean, and warnings are issued that eventually there may be tidal waves. So, you begin to prepare – and at some point in the preparations, you’ve done what you can and then you just wait and see. I think at this point I have done all I can to address the situation we’re in, and what’s undoubtedly coming down the pike, by building skills and getting experience and putting a number of supports in place, and it’s good for us to rest in the relative calm, for now.

5 thoughts on “Hummingbirds & The Slow Tsunami

  1. Sounds so familiar. I miss the ability to talk through, problem solve, complete a project together. It’s not that it’s difficult by myself, just feels sad and lonely. I’ve seen that vacant stare in my husband when we’re with several people talking. Just kind of listens, but seems unable (overwhelmed?) to be able to engage and converse.

    Love your descriptive term the slow tsunami.

    Glad to hear that the routine you have for you and J seems to be working well for you. The “new normal” (as I call it) takes some adjustment psychologically, especially for the caregiver.


    1. Carole: Has he been checked for a brain tumor? My sister had one and her dementia or more like confusion caught us off guard. I don’t have a google account just email address. I hope you get this.


      1. Thanks Germaine for your comment. Unfortunately I am unable to get him to agree to discuss this with his physician. He is convinced there is nothing wrong with him other than some age related mild forgetfulness. If I were to go behind his back and contact the Dr. about my concerns, Jim would never forgive me. He is due go see the doctor again in August, so I will try again to see if I can go with him. I will say that his cognitive changes have been almost insidious, over a period of several years. It is very similar to what his mother experienced at the same age. She was diagnosed with Alzheimers.


  2. Yes! I was able to send a note with him to the doctor asking for a B12 and Vitamin D level be checked (under the guise of “it’s good to check this for all folks who are older”. He is on thyroid medicine and his levels are in normal range. You are right, any abnormality in these could cause cognitive changes. His other blood work looks good too.


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