More Vignettes of Yvette At VI is the second volume and the love story continues. Throughout all four volumes we learn of the many different skills and memory exercises that were used to help Yvette keep her mind active and strong. But, the emotional stress and strain on John was apparent but no matter what the doctors said he never gave in to their defeatist attitude. Alzheimer’s is deadly but the person who has it does not have to life on a downward spiral. There are ways to keep the person active, alert and living a normal life. In this volume we get to know John, his life in the military and his job as a cryptographer. But, what will really endear you to him is the one question he was asked by a superior officer about Stalin and the Soviet Union. Sometimes honesty can be the best policy but in this case it dragged him down from the top of the ranking list to a clerk with the serious possibility of being transferred to many different locations. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor his job became in question, his answer to the question not what they wanted to hear but the end result miraculous. Imagine answering the question wrong, remaining close to Sacramento close to his parents and meeting Yvette Maganosc and marrying her. What could be better! Married, traveling and then finding himself in a retirement home John eventually realizes that he is going to have to do some of the household jobs when the early stages of this disease takes over. A phrase that rings through all four volumes is Yvette’s statement of “ I want to go home.” Does she mean the home she left after 44 years, the one she helped to design and decorate or is it some somewhere unknown? Does she feel safe in the Memory Support Center or does she want out?
The journey continues as John shares what happens to Yvette’s ability to communicate with words and her need to have a wheelchair. What I really admire and love is the fact that Carmen did not accept the inevitable and made sure that Yvette’s legs were massaged, flexing them as if she was riding a bicycle and made sure that she had the right exercise on a daily basis. John explains what happened to curtail her speech and how and Carmen understood the changes. But, what really shines through once again is the face that she was dressed, properly groomed and looked like a beauty queen. You would be surprised how this does and did help make the person feel special and loved. Describing Carmen’s schedule and the number of hours she worked was truly amazing and understanding Yvette’s mood swings and her behaviors required patience and understanding.
I love the story about the Burritos and how she would curl up her fists. Readers you really have to read this chapter for yourselves to appreciate just how this one movement helped her with holding a glass of water and much more.
Imagine going to a Shopping Center and having the sanitation workers show an interest in his wife. Speaking Spanish with them and talking with Carmen in their own language was a plus and the warm relationship they observed between Yvette and John. But, what about the walk through the Stanford Shopping Center where Yvette decided to hold out her hand and say hello. You have to read this one for yourself as the result was as he related in a double-take by those passing by.
In Chapter 8 John relates that he and Carmen talk to her daily about the present and the past. Each day they start out by telling her the day of the week and try to relate it to things she might know. It is so important to speak to someone with Dementia as if they understand. Talking about why there might not be so many children, dogs or shoppers. Showing her menus and information packets this is truly how to keep her mind stimulated.
The Bathroom Drama is quite compelling and although it might seem embarrassing to some I would blame it all on Dementia. Lunch on Sundays at Neiman Marcus was great and taking her out was another way to help her have a somewhat normal day and life. Making sure that her food was pureed and making sure that she was part of the conversation was another reason why she always had that special spark of recognition that you can see on page 47. But, the most amazing and heartwarming parts of these stories came from the pictures that he had hung in her room, the great works of art to add color and the wonderful anniversary party that everyone including Yvette enjoyed. Carmen always manages to add that special touch and the earrings which she had never worn spruced it up even more. Gigi and Ella Marie who are young children that visited her and the pictures on page 56 and 57 are priceless. When her friends arrived it jogged her memory and this party and seeing her friends made her smile and the memories you would be surprised I bet came flooding through to her in her own way. This is a love story that has a huge beginning but will never end. Why does he do all of this or why did he: As he states and I quote: It keeps me going. It’s the craziness of it all that keeps me sane. It is this story and all of the vignettes that will keep others going and encouraged to try and follow the same path with anyone in their family with Dementia. It does not have to beat you! You can fight to keep the Beast as John calls it at bay for as long as you can!’
Fran Lewis: Just reviews
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