Jerry. Two years ago dancing with Katie while we were still at home. Jerry loves to dance. He rounded the corner from the back room and saw me standing at the nurses station. In that second, he picked up his step. My face lit up in a smile and I ran to hug and hold him. He felt so soft in his yellow Nautica sweatshirt. Like a bony pillow.
Our hospice social worker was there to pick up some paperwork. I’ll miss her, but she reassured me, that if I ever felt Jerry was declining rapidly, not to hesitate to call her for a reevaluation. The three of us walked back to Jerry’s room. Jerry never let go of my hand and kept patting my shoulder. He knew me today. The social worker explained that the reason he did not recertify for hospice services was that, in spite of his mental decline, his physical decline was not declining enough. Certain criteria have to be met. His weight has stabilized and he is still ambulatory. His vital signs are still good and there has been only one UTI.
Our visit was good, in fact, she asked me for insight in counseling people who’s spouses don’t recognize them. How do I cope? I told her it was really heart wrenching, at first, when he began to not know me. I told her that I missed him so much more and felt that if I visited more often, he’d remember me again. It took a while for me to adjust, but now I make a joke of it. I try to make it light and say things like, “Who do you think I am? Your girlfriend?” Or, “You just said you loved me. Who’d you think you were saying that to?” It usually gets a sheepish smile out of him and that is much more important than the fact that he doesn’t know me.
Today, however, we DID connect. He looked so dad-gum handsome. His hair is long, now, like a retired rock star. It was clean and had a little curl on the ends. It was a mild fall day and we spent our time sitting on the front porch with some of the other residents from the independent living section. They all know Jerry and are so, so nice to him. Next time, I told them, I’d bring some music so we can dance to Duke of Earl. (That’s Jerry’s favorite oldie.)
Next up......Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby.