Monday, July 11, 2011

And Then We Had Tea

Bill and Tim Brantley

It snowed last year too: I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea.  - Dylan Thomas

You can blame it on a social media platform once again for a reunion in our home. It surely intrigues me how you lurk into peoples lives, view their pictures, and read their news to learn that your lives not only entwine, but your needs do as well.

WB is the eldest son born to J.W. and Helen Brantley and Tim, is the youngest. These brothers have been estranged for many years, but whatever their issues, those problems were laid to rest at our kitchen table last evening.

With more in common than I ever suspected, their physical ailments are surely complications of their trade. Complaints from Tim of back, hip and shoulder pain and I felt like WB had a body double as we treat these ailments daily. Also nearly identically mirrored, were shared opinions and goals for themselves and for their children.

WB struggled to express his feelings last night and ironically, I found Tim to be sharper than I ever remember. His knowledge of all things health, government and the law astounded me. Perhaps we have always had something to talk about and never gave it a go. 

Tim's struggles with finding the right doctors, coping with the funds needed to purchase the prescribed medicines and navigating the grief of losing his mother were just a few of the issues I deal with daily for his brother. There were things I knew that could have helped him and there was information he shared that would have already made life with WB and the Alzheimer's less complicated.  Hopeful that this reunion will ultimately result in an increased quality of both their lives and the time they have left to live it.

I appreciate him traveling to see Bill and was relieved when they arrived, as WB had been pacing the floor all day. From the door, to the windows. Sitting on the front stoop for hours and unable to nap. Lifting the lid on the stock pot each time he passed through the kitchen to check on the roast I had been simmering.

Bill had reached out to Tim before Helen's passing when he learned of Tim's scheduled heart surgery nearly a year ago and received no response. Not sure where the wires got crossed, but I find my husband eager to reconnect to people he's lost touch with. Guessing it is the dementia, but perhaps it is his soul, wanting to see and share with the people from his past. 

One thing is for sure, I cannot be certain that WB has the capacity today to understand the plight of his brother's health condition(s). With AD, the patient too often has only the capacity to concentrate on their own selves. Two brothers with extreme needs with very similar opinions, closed off from nearly everyone but their immediate family.

Ailments aside, I found two brothers finally grieving (together) the loss of their mother and brother, Jimbo. It was precious for me to see Tim finishing WB's sentences while maintaining patience, respect and a high regard for his older brother. No bitterness or animosity, no rehashing or revisiting of problems, no mention of it.

Only a tight and heartfelt hug near dark and a promise of visits in the very near future.

My name is Rhonda Brantley and my husband, Billy Ray Brantley, suffers from Early Onset Alzheimer's Dementia. This is the best shot we have at documenting daily living.


  1. How wonderful for Bill and Tim. I hope they can visit often!

  2. so good - yes, I am sure connecting to past is very important for dementia sufferers...more than words, the sound of someone's voice, their gestures - all very familiar.
    Nice posting.....smiles from Japan!


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