“I used to climb the highest beam in the barn and jump down into the hay mound.” She looks up and points, as if she can see the barn rafters.
Chances are if you live in the tri-state area, you’ve heard Gran tell this story.
“That sounds pretty crazy.”
“I’d run across the beams–they were like 50-60 feet up. Jim would climb too, but Marge was a little leery of heights.”
“Marge sounds like the smarter of the two of you.”
“Shut your mouth! I knew what I was doing!”
I mentioned in an earlier post about people with dementia/Alzheimer’s reverting back to childhood. Unfortunately, this is true of climbing too.
My very first day on the job, caregiving that is, Gran was determined to climb a ladder and examine a buzzing noise in the garage. (She did this when I had my mom sit with her for the first time. It’s like her method of testing caregivers: start threatening to climb stuff and if the person doesn’t crack they’ve got the job.) Now, I think it was an attic fan, but I’m still not sure.
“Nobody is climbing anything.” I glance over at the ladder which is hanging on the wall. If I ran over to it now, I could beat her to it. I think.
She’s still concentrating on the attic space. “What the hell is it?” Her eyes are too big for her face now. It could be anything: an alien invasion, attic fan, burglars.
“Could be locusts,” I suggest.
“It ain’t locusts!”
Okay, so maybe it couldn’t be just anything.
This conversation went on like this for ten minutes before I convinced her to come back inside and “forget” about the noise. She didn’t and she continued to investigate the mysterious noise the rest of the day.
She hasn’t had the urge to climb the ladder in awhile or stand on end stands in the middle of the night. While both of these events were unnerving, part of me enjoyed witnessing a piece of her childhood: she was climbing the highest beam in the barn again. Just when you think so much of your loved one’s personality has died with the disease, little bits of the previous person comes out in instances like these.
Still, you can’t put an 83-year-old in time out.