The Lie In
[This diary entry was written after Israel’s last snowstorm, no need to call your family or friends in Israel to double check that they are okay!]
Last night it snowed…and snowed…and snowed. It’s a very big event for those of us who live in Jerusalem. Our last big snow was in 2013 – 10 years ago. It played havoc with our lives. Jerusalem is on top of a mountain. The roads leading up the mountain were closed and dangerous. The grocery stores ran out of all fresh food. No one owned vehicles that could drive in snow conditions and the streets were devoid of cars. No taxi could reach our street as we are located on a steep incline. Even Emergency Vehicles could not reach their destinations.
I am one who loves snow, in the right place and right time. We used to go to Sun Valley, Idaho every year for vacation. Hubby was a Diamond-lane skier, no pun intended. He was excellent on skis and knew no fear on the slopes. Diamond lanes were for the best – the intrepid skiers, and he loved them. He adored the fresh powder and the stunning views experienced as if he was the only one in the universe. If skiing had not included: speed, cold weather, great heights and the possibility of great bodily harm, I would have joined him. The hot apple cider, needlepoint, and sitting by the fire in the lodge, waiting for Hubby to come off the slopes held more allure for me.
The snowfall last night was so beautiful l that I sent a video of it to family in London. My nephew replied: “Great – You can have a lie-in tomorrow!” As the world is still in a veritable lock-down from the Corona virus, my response was “I have had almost two years of lie-ins without the snow!” Still, it would be absolutely divine to sleep late.
Hubby was asleep by 11 PM last evening. I retired to my bedroom to write emails, play digital games and make sundry lists while waiting for my eyelids to get heavy. I knew it was time to call it a night when my iPad (which was lodged at a 90-degree angle on my horizontal body) flopped onto my chest as I was nodding off. My iPad has the most wonderful sculpted foam pillow which supports it whenever required, a terrific purchase from China, which only took six months to arrive. (Hence the saying: on a slow boat from China!). I digress once again, bad habits are so hard to break!
Sleep arrived at 2 AM. At 4 AM, I awoke and decided to go to the living room windows to see if the snow was still falling. It was dense and beautiful. The parapets atop of the Old City walls were outlined in white against the dark sky, highlighted by spotlights enhancing the glow. Transfixing. Returned to bed, but unfortunately now fully awake. Sleep only arrived two hours later.
At 8:15 AM, a booming voice at my door announced “Where is Barbara?” “I am here,” I responded from my stupor. “No! My Barbara!” He responded. I thought I was his Barbara. Exactly which Barbara did he think I might be? Violet’s voice behind Hubby coaxed him away from my room, and I turned over pulling up the yummy pink blanket over my head once again. In my mind, I did the math: 2 + 2 ¼= 4 ¼ hours of sleep. I am an 8-hour gal. This is a serious short-fall.
The voice returned. “Where is my Barbara?” I responded again… “I am here.” “No” Hubby proclaimed… “The other one! Barbara, my wife! She went to get my watch fixed. Where is she?” The band of his watch is indeed broken, and as soon as the stores re-open, I have promised to have it repaired. But definitely not at this very moment. Trying to go back to sleep again, but now agitated, I conceded that I had lost this round
Dementia sufferers have a classic obsession with their watch, the time of day, and whether the watch is still working. Because Hubby forgets the time a minute or two after having discussed it, I have cleverly placed a larger battery-operated table clock in front of his place at the dining table. When he asks repeatedly if his watch has the right time, I now tell him to “look at your clock.” If he moves to a different location, we make sure that the clock accompanies him. It is far easier for us to tell him to check his clock, than to stop whatever we are doing, check our watches, tell him the time again, return to the work that we were doing, only to have the entire process repeat in a minute or two.
I have loaned one of my non-rhinestone studded watches to Hubby so that he can know the time throughout the day. He is quite concerned that the hands are not perfectly placed on the face of my watch. He has a problem reading the time. “How much did this watch cost?” He demanded to know, as if it somehow would explain the imperfection. A cheap watch could be forgiven, but an expensive one would require a refund from the seller. It is not his inability to read the watch properly that is at issue, thus, it must be the watch’s fault.
The sound of rain outside my bedroom window warned me that the beautiful snow had turned to slush. I was glad that I had seen it in its glory at 4 AM.
The house seemed very quiet. I rose from bed having surrendered.
Where is everyone? Hubby was in his bed, tucked in under the covers “sound-asleep.” Our care-giver, Violet, had wisely given him his first set of morning pills, one of which calmed the stressed soul looking for his wife.
When Hubby awoke and came to the breakfast table, he once again began asking where his “wife Barbara” had “gone.” I was (and still am) deeply troubled by his continued confusion. I pulled out a wonderful book which was gifted to me on a special birthday, with photographs of our closest friends and letters from them to me. I showed Hubby the photos of himself…with me… Barbara, his only current (or past) wife with that name. Memories of when we first met and at intervals throughout our 48 years together in our favorite photographs: “This is me… this is you…” I tried to clarify the confusion. It was time to eat, and Hubby became quite angry with me. “How can I eat when I am this confused and upset? What is happening to me?” he pleaded. The only intelligent response I could give was “Well, we are getting older.” He was not placated one bit. He continued to be confused about the two Barbaras, but the book of photographs helped to give him some context to our life story and history together.
By evening, Hubby knew who I was once again but did ask me if “the man” had slept in my bedroom last night. As there is no “man”, I girded my loins for the rest of the conversation which inevitably would follow. Accusations that I am perchance having an affair with “that man” come from a deep place in Hubby’s libido and have an absurdity about them. I want to joke with him and tell him that “I have not had any good offers lately,” but he would miss the humor and believe the worst. To say that I would have no energy for such a fling would be an understatement.
I have a zoom meeting in an hour- a support group of spouses who need a safe place to “vent” and help one another. Not everyone has you, Dear Diary, in which to confide. No time for sleep now, I must make myself presentable from the waist-up. I need to be ready for “my close-up Mr. DeMille” For those old enough to remember Gloria Swanson’s performance in the film Sunset Boulevard, her character’s psychological decline at the end of the story hits much closer to home than we had ever imagined. We were all considerably younger when the original movie or even the Broadway/West End version was the rage. We were just beginning this life’s journey, with no clue what would lay, waiting in the shadows, for each of us.