Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bluebirds

Right outside my window, in the little nest box that in past springs has sheltered families of wrens, a pair of bluebirds are building their nest.  Blue, orange, and white he perches, exuding authority, on the little apple tree whose leaves are barely unfurling, while his paler, browner wife thrusts beakfuls of stuff into the box.

(Photo:  Ed Cobb)


On the other side of the glass, I talk on the phone with my sister.  We are discussing whether to put an IV into the arm of our dying mother, to hydrate her.  I Google "hydration for late-stage dementia patients" in hopes of guidance, but that girl bird keeps stealing pieces of hay from the blueberry mulch and stuffing them into the nest hole, and I keep looking up from the screen to watch her.

I find the following and cut-and-paste it to my sister who, unlike me, is on the scene:

"Patients at this stage often refuse to eat or drink, even though they are offered food. This is due to the patient's sense of hunger and thirst diminishing as dementia advances. Once families realize that the patients with Alzheimer's Dementia (AD) often do not experience hunger or thirst, they may be able to remove the guilt they feel associated with "starving them to death" and accept the natural progression of end-stage AD. It is also important to explain that patients with poor food and fluid intake who become dehydrated typically do not express pain or discomfort. It is generally believed that dehydration in end-stage dementia is not painful."

Old Lexi limps into the room, dragging her hind legs, and laps at the water bowl.  At least she's not  dehydrated.

Bluebird of happiness, you ornithological cliche, could you have picked a worse time to visit?  Those little brown wrens in their modest clothes would have been far more appropriate for this season.

And yet, the breeze is cool, the air is clear, the evening light is bright.  For an instant, the bluebird is happiness. 

11 comments :

  1. Oh, Eulalia! This is the season of new beginnings defined by the old making room. I have just this year come to understand gardening at a deeper level - always hope and fresh young sprouts where there was finish and brown last fall. And you and your sister have almost completed the long goodbye. I'm glad you had it though it is hard.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm sorry about your mother and making these impossible decisions. But this? This is perfect. I love present tense writing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. mrb, you were there before me, so you know how it is.

    Bridgett, thanks, and thanks for reading. I'm really glad I have a place in which to share this.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm sorry you're going through this.

    Your last line is so perfect. It brings to mind the beautiful spring blossoms outside the hospice where my father died. They gave me (and my mother) joy momentary joy as we passed them, even when everything else was grim.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Mali, we do learn, slowly and painfully, that momentary joy is all we can lay claim to, don't we?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I like to think your mother sent the bluebird. The dying have certain powers.

    ReplyDelete
  7. such a sad post. and yet ... and yet .... we all know what the bluebird means. all best to you and your sister in this very difficult time.

    ReplyDelete