”Yeah, I noticed all those things,” Jeff says, looking up from his favorite kitchen chair.
”Oh yeah?” I say. “What especially?”
His answer is unclear, but that’s ok, since none of this “conversation” has made any sense, and I’m just playing along. He is increasingly slipping into a place in his head where, what should we call them—daydreams? hallucinations?—blur inextricably into what the rest of us think of as “reality.”
One of the most notable features (so far) of the alternate world in which he’s routinely dabbling is that, there, he has Google programmed into his blue jeans. And he generally likes to use it while he’s sitting in that same kitchen chair.
We’ll notice him scrutinizing either the seams of his pants, or maybe the Indian jungle pattern of the chair upholstery. He runs his finger along a line of text which no one else can see: “The 3 Clement boys are coming, and staying 3 or 4 days,” he reads aloud. “Huh. I guess I’ll get my boxing gloves ready.”
Family coming to visit seems to be a recurring theme. If not the anticipated fracas with his three brothers, it might be something as civilized as a meal out. He spent much of this morning reminding me that we were meeting his sister, brother, and a couple others at a local diner, “Garry’s Grill,” for breakfast.
“Where’d you get that idea?” I asked. “I got a Google,” he replied. Then he looked down to better poke at the invisible screen on his pants legs. “It says it right here.”
His typing skills appear to be fairly intact where poking his knee through denim is concerned, because he “gets Googles” on a pretty regular basis these days.
I generally use the recommended dementia strategy and neither confront nor deny his extra world. I merely distract. Or sidestep. “Yes,” I say. “Your sister IS coming to visit next week, and she is staying a few days.” This is truth and it’s also happy news. I do not add that I am taking those few days off and going on a mini-caregiver’s respite retreat. No point. I have warned Helen that Jeff now has Google installed in his pants, and that she’s likely to catch him tapping away at it.
It is clear when he’s in the other world. He sits, he fiddles (whether “typing” or “writing,”) and he whispers. There’s a dialog happening there and he’s either chatting or he’s narrating. Hard to tell which. If I don’t move him into his downstairs bedroom for any other reason, I may do it simply because it’s hard for me to sleep while someone ten inches away is whispering incessantly.
These changes are accelerating, it seems to me. As he spends more time in his whispered world, he’s seemed to become even more detached from the one in which I still reside. Today he poked at a large envelope on the kitchen counter. I’d loaded it with assorted mail that had come for our daughter who lives in Washington, D.C.
“This says ‘Rachel,’” says Jeff.
“Yes,” I reply. “I’m sending her some mail.”
“What’s she doing in Washington?” he asks.
“She lives there,” I say. “She teaches school and does yoga in Washington.”
He nods. He has, as far as he is concerned, never heard this before, but he doesn’t dwell on it or ask more questions. Nothing that we “healthy” people cling to as important and essential seems to hold much relevance to Jeff as he begins to spend more and more of his time in his other universe.