Here I am, ready to write, with a serious sugar and caffeine high. What? Why yes, I was hanging out with Val and Skip tonight. I always leave their place in this condition.
I want to talk about several fictional characters in books & movies that have influenced or inspired me as a caregiver.
Anne Shirley. Anne Shirley forever. Specifically how she wins over the cranky, intimidating old ladies by the sheer force of her charm and whimsy. Let’s open up the curtains- eat lunch on the porch- remember that life is wonderful! It’s probably because of her that I have a certain fondness for the grouchy type of elderly woman. I enjoy the challenge of making them smile and enjoy things and come to love me against their will!
The Nancy Drew book Password to Larkspur Lane. The creepy fenced-in old lady on the cover, that alone made a lasting impression on me. Nancy disguises herself as an elderly woman so that she can be admitted into the oddly secure sanatorium, where the staff is trying to extort money from the residents. Not that I’ve ever encountered such a situation in real life, but I’m always on the lookout. I do believe this book influences how I view nursing homes to this day. If I ever find a wounded homing pigeon with the coded message “Blue bells will be singing horses!” attached to its leg, I’ll know exactly what’s up.
Just enjoy this quote from the book, you’re welcome in advance:
“We’re in enemy territory now,” Nancy remarked. “From now on, caution must be our password.”
Robot & Frank. This discovery began as me doing one of the things I do best: picking very strange, terrible, and/or perfectly cheesy movies from the library and inflicting them on my roommates. As it turned out, I liked this movie quite a lot! Just check out the description: “Set in the near future, an ex-jewel thief receives a gift from his son: a robot butler [really, a caregiver] programmed to look after him. But soon the two companions try their luck as a heist team.” How could that not be good? It was a sweet movie, brilliant and sad and well acted. And I enjoyed pondering the future of robot caregivers.
Another movie dealing with elderly themes, again from the library, was Lovely, Still. It was Christmas-y and bittersweet. I liked how it helped me see things from the perspective of the main character, an older man, who’s perceived reality was very real to him. Sometimes I get too caught up in my “all-knowing” outlook of a caregiver & young person.
Can’t forget about Up. Sigh! Sniff! That whole part that tells the story of Carl and Ellie always gets me. A neat part of being a caregiver is getting to be around people who were married for 50, 60, or even 70 years. And not only that, they were totally in love.
Still Alice. This is the kind of book that sticks with you for a long time after you read it. I loved it. Basically it’s about a woman who has early-onset Alzheimer’s, written from her perspective, so you experience things along with her. Like being lost even though all the landmarks are perfectly familiar. Or searching your house frantically for your keys , or for something, you aren’t sure what, but you are searching and searching. My brain hurt at times. It helped me to put myself in the shoes of someone with Alzheimer’s, just a little bit. I pondered identity and memory and all sorts of deep things.
Well the coffee, other coffee, brownies, and one more half of a brownie are starting to wear off, so goodnight!