It’s The Little Things….

August 13, 2013

By Samra Jones Bufkins

I think of that Robert Earl Keen song every time I remember “It’s the little things.” Of course, his song addresses completely different issues, but you get the idea, especially when you hear the last line of the chorus. And dealing with dementia means the little things add up.

Original image from Skip to my Lou

Like the Amish Friendship Bread fiasco. This food fad has hit my circle of friends, and when Deb posted on her Facebook page that she had starter to give away, I thought “why not”? I like to bake, and Bill has a sweet tooth. It would be a good, cheap way to keep fresh baked goodies around the house, and knowing I’d have to bake something every 10 days would be an incentive to keep at it.

Deb arrived with a Ziploc bag of starter and the instructions. I dutifully put the bag in a container on top of the refrigerator, hung the recipe and instructions on the refrigerator door, and started checking off the days until I needed to feed the starter.

  • First Mistake: I didn’t put a sign or label on the bag.
  • Second Mistake: I didn’t explain to Bill what it was.
  • Third Mistake: I assumed he’d ask if he wanted to know what it was.

Because I was teaching a summer school class four nights a week I wasn’t paying much attention to the kitchen. Bill was handling most of the cooking and cleaning or I was bringing home carryout. But when my Google Calendar texted me a reminder that it was Day 6 and I needed to feed the starter, I happily bounced into the kitchen, ready to dump in milk, sugar and flour.

Except I couldn’t find it. The kitchen counters were clean and very free of clutter. The lingering bouquet of white vinegar and Clorox (his favorite cleaning supply) perfumed the air. The plastic bowl containing the baggie I had dutifully mushed every day was gone from the top of the refrigerator.I looked high and I looked low. I looked in the fridge, in the pantry, and in all the cabinets. I looked in the office and the dining room. I even looked in the bathrooms. I found the bowl, washed and put away neatly with the pots and pans, but the bag of gooey starter had vanished like Bill’s

I looked high and I looked low. I looked in the fridge, in the pantry, and in all the cabinets. I looked in the office and the dining room. I even looked in the bathrooms. I found the bowl, washed and put away neatly with the pots and pans, but the bag of gooey starter had vanished like Bill’s short term memory.And at that moment, I realized I was learning how to cope with this disease.

I didn’t ask him where it was (he wouldn’t remember), and I didn’t get mad because it was gone.

Progress.

Wow, if I could handle every “little” thing like this life would be good. And this was before I had the chance to learn a new acronym: DIRM.

Does It Really Matter?

On the first of August the Alzheimer’s Association presented a Caregiver’s Conference in Denton. In the session on communication DIRM came up, and I thought I should get it tattooed on my wrist where I can see it all the time. (And in the grand scheme of things, it’s good advice for EVERYBODY, not just caregivers, but that could be another blog topic.)

So now I’m trying to remember to ask myself a series of questions before I respond to “stuff happening.”

    • Did anybody (human or animal) get hurt?
    • Was there any major property damage?
    • Was our security endangered?
    • Was a financial account compromised?

There might be some secondary questions to go with this, depending on the situation, but you get the gist. A fermenting bag of milk, flour, sugar and yeast disappearing isn’t a “yes” answer to any of these questions. Move on. Because it doesn’t really matter.

I messaged Deb and asked if we were still good enough friends for her to give me more starter when it was time to give some away, and she said “of course.”  This bag of goo went into my sewing and crafts room, which is way too much of a “girl cave” for Bill to enter often. Ten days later two aromatic loaves of bread emerged from the oven, and another batch of starter bubbled away on the shelf next to my beading and soap making supplies. (Let me know if you want to be on the distribution list for starter–I have some to give away every 10 days or so.)

And I’ve found one less thing to get annoyed about.

This post originally appeared on The View From Little D blog on August 13, 2013.

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