Pam’s Alzheimer’s Disease hadn’t produced a publication-worthy anecdote in a while, but the dead wire loop on Thanksgiving morning more than made up for the wait.
I’d been up most of the night, writing on the computer, and had gotten roughly 90 minutes of sleep when my alarm went off at 6:30 a.m. to start the ball rolling. I dragged my sorry carcass over to Pam’s room, gave her a heads up and her morning meds, and went back to bed for another 45 minutes. She had committed to spending the day at her son’s home, helping the family cook a turkey dinner with the usual fixings. I needed to be dressed by 7:30 in order to get her over there by 8:00.
At 7:15, when I got up the second time, things didn’t look so good. My wife was lying in bad with her oxygen on. She didn’t look so good, either. We’d had a long day the day before, running up to Tucson to have her dental implants cleaned; she was clearly not recovered from that. Frankly, I didn’t want her to do the long shift with her family, but talking her out of that didn’t have anything near the chance of the proverbial snowball in Hell.
Not that I didn’t try a little, but I knew it was a lost cause from the start. She might drop dead during the day, but she wouldn’t quit unless or until she did.
However, there was another issue. That early in the morning, the only functional way to power the oxygen generator is by starting the gasoline powered generator. The extension cord that handles the oxygen circuit is black; all of the others are bright yellow. Once the big generator is running, all she needed to do was pull the black cord from the solar array and plug it into a short brown extension cord that lies right there on the ground, not three feet away, 24/7.
“I had a hard time figuring it out,” she admitted.
Strangely, I couldn’t hear the generator’s engine running…and when I finally went outside to turn it off, I found out why. It was simply idling. That engine runs pretty quiet when it’s not revved up.
That wasn’t all of it. The black cord was still plugged into the solar array. Pam had pulled her oxygen generating power from the solar, clearly. Which turned out to be no big; the sun’s angle was producing plenty of power.
But the Alzheimer’s punch was felt, with a bit of surprise yet to come. Pammie hadn’t moved the black cord, but she had moved a heavy duty yellow cord with three black stripes of electrical tape that make it stand out from all the others. For years, when the microwave oven was still on a table in my bedroom, we needed an easy way to tell at a glance which cord powered that heavy-draw appliance. Thus, I knew she’d worked not with the black cord that powers the kitchen lights and part of her room but with the bright yellow cord (with black stripes) that powers my bedroom and the utility room.
Wait. There’s more. She’d plugged that wrong cord into the short brown cord, all right, but she hadn’t left the short brown cord’s other end plugged into the additional long black cord that runs the rest of the way out to the big generator. Instead, she’d taken that little brown cord and plugged it back into itself, forming a dead wire loop that had zero electricity running through it and led to no power source whatsoever, then left that dead loop just lying there on the ground, doing….absolutely nothing.
Some good did come from the morning’s difficulties. Pam agreed that this would be her last hurrah, her final year of contributing her expertise (which is considerable) to any Thanksgiving dinner. She fell asleep in her ex-husband’s easy chair for a while during the afternoon (he lives on the same land as their son’s family), so she did live through the day. The turkey wasn’t bad and the fixings were all edible.
Plus, we made it back home by 8:00 p.m. and she was down for the night by 9:00. All’s well that ends well.