The Jim Gray Gallery
"Life gets complicated..."
This quote comes from an audio recording of Jim Gray back in the fall of 2018.
There is anguish in Jim's voice, as he looks at his wife of 65 years and struggles with the questions in his mind. Yet listen to the love in his Frannie's voice, and how within moments the two of them are happy in one another's arms.
This audio recording was made in mid November, less than two months before Jim and Fran would move together to a Memory Care Assisted Living apartment in early January of 2019. Dad's dementia created situations that made what would have seemed impossible, Jim and Fran living in separate rooms, become their new reality. Daytime was spent in the company of each other, with a good night hug at the elevator door as Jim was led to his room and Fran went on up to her's. Yet the villain in this love story, Dementia, was not satisfied to simply separate them each night.
No, Dementia has attempted to drive a greater wedge between them, as Jim's mind continued to slip a bit more each day, making it impossible for him to remain in Assisted Living. A fall on April 4th resulted in stitches being required, and also brought our family to the complete understanding that, as wonderful as Jill's House had been for him, Dad needed more one on one care than could be expected in an Assisted Living arrangement. On April 8th, he was moved to Brown County Health and Living in Nashville Indiana, the town they had lived in the previous three years. Although now 20 miles away from Fran, he is just blocks from the daily workplace of son Matt and his family. Like Jim said in the video, Life gets complicated... but we are proving that Love overcomes all. When he hears his Frannie is coming to visit, Jim's face lights up. Phone calls placed by Matt for Dad to Mom make them both happy and recalling that each is the love of the other's life. If there is any blessing in Dementia, it is the fact that each of them lives very much in the present. The physical separation they live now, would have been unthinkable three years ago, when they first moved to Indiana. The joy of seeing each other or hearing their voices on the phone is a pure joy, treasured as long as it lasts. Yet, when they go, the separation is not dwelt upon, as some other new present thought fills in his consciousness, and she takes comfort in knowing he is being well cared for while he is away.
I have said it before, but it is worth repeating, that Jim Gray is still a thinking man. His short term memory is mostly gone, and he often has difficulty recalling any current details. In the early years we lived in Tennessee, he not only painted, but he also taught classes in watercolor and drawing. Matt called me just a couple of days ago and said that when he arrived for a morning visit, Dad was planning an art class that he would be teaching that evening. He was glad to see Matt, because he was concerned that there might not be enough tables for the number of students he was expecting. Matt lovingly understood that nothing positive could come from explaining to Dad that the class was not actually going to happen. He simply asked how many tables might be needed and assured him that they would be there in plenty of time. They continued to talk over the details that the artist Jim Gray was pondering. There came a point when Dad started to realize that not all was just as he had it in mind, and that perhaps he was somehow thinking on things that might not be so likely to occur. He began to trail off and soon had let that line of thought drift away. The day was sunny and warm, so the two of them headed out to see the cows in the pasture across the road. There are blessings in each day, if you keep an eye out for them. May your next one come at just the moment it is most needed.