Meanwhile at the VA Dementia Ward

Indoors Again

Now that it’s cold, our adventures are indoors again.

We roll down the long, gleaming white corridors in search of old friends, the Sunday bingo game, the library where we are always welcomed with great warmth.

All buildings are connected via basement tunnels. Some tunnels are curved with small half-round windows throwing sun light inward in the shape of inverted smiles.

My guy had been sinking into his illness, but has stabilized and improved to where he enjoys things more. Talking is difficult, but he fights through and lets me know if his hat needs adjusting, if he is cold, if he wants to play Bingo or go visit the nurses and aides in his old, pre-dementia ward.

On arriving back at the ward’s day room I tell him that we did well today, I hardly ran his wheelchair into any walls or doors. He got the joke and laughed, which is perhaps the height of my comedy career.

When I left I told him I would be back Wednesday and asked what should he remember? “Don’t take any wooden nickels,” he responds, our regular goodbye ritual.

As I am leaving I see a fellow sitting in his wheelchair, not watching the Patriot’s game on the fuzzy TV. He is looking straight ahead at nothing. His shoulders are going up and down and I look to see if he is laughing or crying. But I can’t tell. Perhaps there is another emotion going on that I don’t know of.

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