Tap Dancing

Me and the hubby dancing away the Alzheimer's Blues.  Not.

Me and the hubby dancing away the Alzheimer’s Blues. Not.

Don’t know how true this is for the rest of you, but this little red hen is a creature of habit.  I like my routines.  I like knowing when I’m going to do something and how it’s probably going to proceed.  Don’t get me wrong, I like surprises as much as the next person, it’s just that I feel a certain, well, security in routine.

In childhood, little routines were the only way I felt any sort of safety.  I was a bit like Sheldon Cooper in “Big Bang Theory” — specific tasks occurred only on specific days and it really threw me if that needed to change for some reason.  I felt off-kilter, out of synch with my life until the routine could be re-established.  I’ve gotten better as the years have passed.  Saturday no longer HAS to be cleaning day.  (Shit.  These days the house is lucky if it gets cleaned once a month.)  I don’t need to follow a specific order when it come to doing a task.  I can even (on occasion) mix whites with colors in the laundry and not feel like I’m about to hyperventilate.  (I blame this last one on my mother, the former laundry Nazi.)

Nowadays, there’s no such thing as routine.  With Alzheimer’s all bets are off.

Time was when I’d get up around 5, make tea, have a bit of breakfast, take the dog out for a long walk, come home, sit down to the computer, write for four or five hours, take a break, do something with the dog, maybe run some errands, make supper, wind down, and go to bed.  Now anything might happen at any time.  I’m still up around 5 (unless I haven’t been able to sleep – something else Alzheimer’s interferes with – when it might be 6 or 6:30 or (if I sleep in really late) 7.  Of course, it’s just as likely to be 3 or 4 in the morning…or earlier still.  Occasionally, there’s no sleep at all.)  The dog gets taken out, the pets get fed.  I make tea.  By that time the pinball machine that is my life is primed to go off – BING-A-TA, BONG-A-TA, RING-A-LING-LING, and (of course) BAZINGA!  Mom gets up at 6…or 7:30…or 9.  I try to stay home until she’s settled in her chair with toast and tea (I’m still fortunate in that I can leave her for a couple of hours at a time without anticipating trauma), but often I don’t make it onto the trail until nearly 10 or 11, which throws everything off because by the time I get home it’s time to make her lunch, run a few necessary errands, and think about what’s for dinner.  Writing?  Don’t even talk to me about writing.  The blog helps keep me sane because it’s something semi-regular.  My own writing . . . well, it’s getting done because I shoe-horn it into place, but it ain’t fun and it’s no way to court the Muse.

Still, maybe this is a good thing.  (I’m writing that sober, can you believe it?)  I’m no longer so tied to routine, to what must be or else.  I’m learning to balance on one leg, pirouette and plié with the best of them, ha-cha-cha and jazz-hand, and tap across the floor like Gene Kelly on crack.  It ain’t pretty, but I’m doing it.

Right now, that’s enough.



About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
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