Wednesday, November 5, 2014

life is more like a smoothie than fruit cocktail...

growing up, a dinner side was often fruit cocktail.  the del monte kind with pears, grapes, pineapple, peaches and a sparse number of cherries all soaked in high fructose corn syrup. it was usually accompanied by frozen mixed vegetables {which i hated} and swanson frozen fried chicken. so much mouth-watering goodness served on a burnt orange melamine plate.

i was a kitchen helper growing up and would grab the can opener so i could dish the fruit cocktail.  i had a secret behind my assistance.  i wanted the cherries…all of them.  while scooping the fruit, i would eat every last cherry.  once dinner was on the table,  we three would sit and stare at the bowl of fruit.  my mom and sister could read my face confessing to the consumption all of the cherries.  dishes passed. meal devoured, except for my golden diced peaches.  i loathed those peaches. they were too soft & slippery. everytime this sugar-laden side was served, rejected peaches remained.  i would rather be denied dessert than eat the peaches. that's how strong the aversion.

yesterday,  i was visiting pjm and we were sitting at the dining table. he was eating an apple & flipping thru a party supply catalog.  the page turning was mostly a finger exercise.  he showed no interest in the items on any one page. me on his left and a caregiver on his right. she looks over singing out with her accent, "pjm, you so skinny.  you so very skinny.  you eat. you walk. you so skinny.  how about you give me some of your skinny.  i love to be skinny like you."

wait.  what?  she did not just say that.  as if she heard the screaming in my head, she repeats, "really pjm. give me ALL you skinny."

yep.  she wants all his skinny.  if felt insensitive as it rolled off her lips and splatted on to the table much like a swatter hitting a horse fly.  she has worked along side dementia for almost as long as pjm has been a resident.  skinny is the sometimes byproduct of dementia. and dementia is something no one would long for.

as i was drove home, i was replaying her thoughtlessness in my head.  there was this mental dialogue…"you want that skinny?  all the skinny?  you can have every diminishing ounce of that skinny.  but there is a catch.  you don't just get the skinny.  you get a laundry list of other symptoms that accompany dementia.  it isn't about just the skinny."

it reminded me of fruit cocktail and my six year old cherry picking fingers.  the skinny isn't about the cherries one loves or the peaches pushed aside.  disease doesn't work like that, nor does life. it's more like a smoothie of choices and not choices all blended up in a glass. the joys of all the cherries and the sorrow of all those peachy chunks commingled-you can't sift out the unwelcome adversity and toss it aside like i did those peaches.

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