Saturday, January 22, 2011


I am searching for something I cannot find. Because I cannot find it, I am experiencing all the classic symptoms of frustration—tight chest, anxiety just behind the rib cage, the sag of doom down toward the navel. Four times a day I do the thing that ought to be done—I give up searching once and for all.
“Quit looking and let it come to you,” says The Voice Of Reason. It’s sage advice, the kind of advice that ought to be taken seriously. So I take it seriously.
But then the moment will come, maybe a moment later, maybe an hour later, maybe not until the middle of the night, when freedom takes over and says, “Now that you have a moment, why don’t you just do a little more looking?” Oh, that’s how the thing unfolds. One minute I’m forgetting all about it and the next I’m back in the frenzy, peeking under rocks, leaving no stone unturned, so to speak.
“Back on the hunt again are you,” Reason observes with a patient little sigh. “Do you not remember the scissors incident?”
“Of course I remember the scissors incident,” I say. “How could I forget that when you remind me of it every time I can’t find something?” And so I push reason aside and keep on searching.
I’m searching for something to set a tone for my upcoming presentation to family members preparing to transition a loved-one with late stage Alzheimer disease into a care facility. The urgency to find that perfect something grows with each passing hour. Where once there was no sweat, endless time to believe that something would come along, Tuesday evening has come clearly into view. If I pause to take a breath, blog a blog, do a bit of laundry, cook a couple of dinners, answer a phone call, and read a few chapters of something light, Tuesday evening will be tonight. Fickle Reason—all too often a bit forgetful will be saying, “Well, you might have found something if you hadn’t spent so much time breathing, blogging, doing laundry, cooking dinners, gabbing on the phone and reading trashy books.”
Still, self-criticism aside, the facts are the facts. I haven’t been able to find what I’m looking for, possibly because I really don’t know what I’m looking for, something to set a tone, likely a story, maybe a poem, possibly even a song. I’ve avoided focussing on Alzheimer disease, or nursing home transitions. That focus will be there as part of the package. I’m looking for something to make us laugh, to help us think differently, to fascinate us, something to give us hope.
It’s not at all like the search for the scissors. We knew exactly what we were looking for then—a pair of medium-priced, medium-size, silver, metal-handled all-purpose scissors. At the time they were the only scissors we owned. I’d bought them at the drugstore—one of those purchases you make when you start an independent life and suddenly realize how many essential odds and ends your parents have. We lost them during a move from one apartment to another. One day we had them, the next day we didn’t. We knew we’d find them somewhere, though Reason did mention that we might have left them behind. We, however, knew we hadn’t left them. We simply had to find them.
There’s only so much cutting you can do with a paring knife and a nail-clipper. Even the most resourceful people come upon the necessity to cut paper, to trim fabric. Eventually we made the ultimate sacrifice, the letting go, the moving on. We scraped up the cash for the purchase of new scissors—plastic handles had become the norm by the time we made the compromise. Plastic handled, cheap scissors being what they are, we had purchased several more pairs before we unexpectedly discovered the old metal stand-bys. They were hiding among the unused sheet music in the piano bench. We must have put them there after taping up the final box.
Reason said, “I told you you’d find them eventually.” And we had to admit that Reason had said this a thousand times, but we hadn’t wanted to hear it. We’d wanted to find them. We knew they were there somewhere.

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