Why is it so much easier to know the right way to react to a situation or person than to actually live it out in practice? after ummpphhhh... years of existence you would think i had this civilisation thing sussed, surely? but...........nooo...........still the amygdala battles with reason, and reaction overrides calm response. useful to survive a mutant bus attack but oh, so destructive when it involves other humans.
One of my favourite nonagenarians, who until very recently was as sharp as a businessman's trouser crease, is sliding into dementia so subtly and gradually that i hadn't noticed until i found myself trying to convince her that microwave meals are made in a factory not her mother's farmhouse kitchen. i mean.......is it important ? .......no........will it alter the trajectory of the earth around the sun ? .......noo.......will it ensure world peace ?......nooo........will it add one atomic second to her life ?............noooo.........well, maybe if i'd continued to push the point she might have LOST several seconds as she was on the verge of apoplexy.......so why did i argue?
This ugly power play between parents and children, adult children and parents, partners, work colleagues, politicians, friends can be seen wherever the balance of power is held by one human over another, one party over another, one nation over another, and it is VERY ugly and it inevitably leads to conflict and broken relationships.
I know a family where the daughter is a spiky personality, picture cactus farm, the mother has clearly been the dominant force and less than maternal. mum's grip on reality is tenuous on a good day.......and there aren't many good days any more. sometimes she thinks the daughter is her sister or doesn't recognise her at all. the kind response, and what is now recommended by dementia practitioners, would be to play along, and be whoever is perceived that day. have a happy visit as sister, auntie, cousin, E.T. .......it doesn't matter, it isn't personal, it isn't a rejection..........it's the brain dying. instead they spend the time shouting at each other, daughter trying to vocally batter mum into rationality, mum becoming more and more distressed as she fails to understand why her version of fact is being so violently misunderstood. what a tragic waste of a family's last days together.
So.......when i next visit my lovely lady and the conversation shifts into the realm of fairy tale i promise you, i will enter the enchanted forest, kick off my shoes, twist wild flowers into my hair, sprinkle magic dust all around and enjoy being a welcomed part of her illusion.....in fact i will consider it an honour and, hopefully without patronising, will be who and what she needs me to be in the way i hope family and friends will for me when the time comes.