When I was a young girl with blonde ringlets sullenly cleaning my room before going to play, my mother would often remind me, “The Devil is in the Details..” She meant that even the smallest things when overlooked can haunt you.
Now as an adult, not only have I adopted the same attitude, but when I can’t control something, I control my environment. I attack clutter with a rigorous vengeance reclaiming my territory. In other words, I attempt to exorcise the devil.
We signed my sister’s DNR at the Nursing Home today. The three of us sat in this tiny conference room with the well meaning staff sitting across from us attending to the daily business of the dying and infirm. The large mahogany table filled the room with its drab gray walls and soothing landscape portrait. My niece and I witnessed as my mother signed a paper denying resuscitation to her daughter. Then, we added our signatures to the form. Our eyes were wet, and we kept looking at each other waiting for one of us to wake from this nightmare of CJD. My mother said, “I hate to be macabre, but we have to bring up about the feeding tube.” She began to cry. The Devil is in the Details…
After leaving the nursing home, we attended to Power of Attorney business before ducking into our family go-to restaurant for lunch. That’s when I saw it–a tiny red bump surrounded by a rather gruesome bruise. I hadn’t noticed it before, but it was there.
“Hey,” I said to my niece. “I have a weird bite.”
My niece took one look and said, “We better get that checked out.”
The nurse took one look at it and said, “Holy Shit.”
The doctor came in and said, “When was your last tetanus shot?” The Devil is in the Details…
We pieced together that while cleaning and de-cluttering my home, a small spider must have been disturbed and bit me. Talk about the devil hiding in all the details of my once different life reminding me that letting things go too long can cause worse damage. The bite appears at the moment to be benign although the doctor gave me all sorts of medicine to thwart against infection plus a nice tetanus shot as a parting gift. The Devil is in the Details..
Driving back to my home this afternoon, I thought about how focused we can become on all the negatives in life, all the “devils in the details,” and how I had laughed with my mom and niece on even this very sad day simply because we were together and enjoying each other even in a minute clinic’s waiting room.
On Christmas Eve, my sister didn’t want to get out of bed and go with us to the nursing home living room. There were twenty-five us wanting to be around her, but she didn’t want to go. I sat down on her bed and began the task of convincing someone with dementia to leave her safe haven. “Why?” was even a difficult word for her to utter.
My four year old perfectionist came and sat on my lap. “Please get up, Aunt C. We want to celebrate Christmas with you. We are your family. We love you.”
For an instant, her eyes seemed to clear. “That was sweet, ” she whispered. After a pause, she said, “Let’s do it.”
Yes-sometimes the devil is in the details, but occasionally, you find that one instant of perfect and beautiful truth.
To Learn More about CJD, please visit the following links:
UCSF Memory and Aging Center