He is having a bad day. Numbers are in his head, too many numbers, running through his brain and confusing him. I don’t understand, but I rarely do when it comes to Jason.
The tremors are also bad today. Hands like claws grip his lighter, trying to ignite the tip of a cigarette that shakes like mad as it hangs precariously from his mouth. Why does he still smoke, I wonder? Better yet, why doesn’t Dad just quit buying the damn things for him? (But that is a battle I have already fought and lost.)
Cancer stick finally lit, Jason inhales, blows out a stream of smoke and tries to tell me something. “What?” I ask. His words are muffled. His right leg begins shaking involuntarily while he repeats himself. Something about a movie and numbers, but that’s all I get. Numbers of movies, maybe? Jason loves movies. He has been collecting DVD’s since he was a kid. He mostly likes older movies. I think he watches the old ones, not because he can watch them, but because he can remember them in his mind while they are playing on the screen.
It’s time to take his meds. Jason dumps a handful of pills into his mouth, reaches for his soda can and tips the ashtray off the table. Things always get knocked over. He chokes down his pills and then looks toward Dad. “Did it drip?” We don’t understand. “Did it drip?” he asks again, this time louder. “I can’t think of the word because of the numbers. The thing, did it drip?” Oh, now I get it. He knows he knocked the ashtray down.
“No,” Dad says. “Your sister already cleaned it up.” That’s what I am good at, cleaning up the messes.
I’m ready to go. I tell Jason bye as loudly as I can. He turns his head to the right, trying to look at me. He mumbles something, and I can only make out the word ‘numbers’. I am standing to his left. He can never tell where my voice is coming from. I just let him talk to the empty space. I tell him that I love him and I go.
Later I call Dad to ask how Jason is doing. Dad says he’s okay. He’s in bed watching a movie. Dad says Jason knew he was messed up all day. Jason said to him after I left, “Dad, I’m seeing upside down today, and that’s why I’m thinking backwards.”
“What about the numbers?” I ask.
“I don’t know,” he says. “But let’s hope they’re gone tomorrow.”
This is the third essay of a series I am sharing about my brother who is deaf, blind, and has epilepsy. If you’d like to know the beginning, please click here. To move on to the next essay, click here.
Thank you so much for reading, and please — other caregivers out there — feel free to share your own thoughts and experiences in the comments below.