Friday, June 10, 2011

June 10, 1967

Forty-four years ago we were married at Christ the Teacher Chapel (appropriate for two teachers-t0-be) in DeKalb, Illinois. Bob doesn't remember our wedding now, but that's ok. I do. We had a grand time, we celebrated with family and friends, my Dad walked me down the aisle, I saw the smile on Bob's face when he saw me and suspect I looked as happy. It was lovely.
Memories are good and because someone we care about can't recall doesn't mean we should put them away. We must embrace who we have been and who we have become.

In an odd turn of events, my husband's roommate at the care facility (an even younger victim of this terrible disease at barely 50) is the father of two young men, one of whom Bob coached in freshman football and the other Bob taught in creative writing class.

The son who played football wrote me a letter talking about how hearing who his dad's new roommate would be took him through all the stages of grief associated with learning about his own dad. He said "The Denial led me to look Coach up on the internet as I wanted there to be two Bob Ms in St. Louis... But, after reading that he had volunteered, after his initial diagnosis, to help other Alzheimer's patients and families to deal with the disease, I knew it was Coach."

Yup, that's the guy I married all those years ago. It hasn't been pretty all the time, but it's always been filled with love and commitment. Those will remain "until death do us part."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cleaning up

Closet cleaning, rummaging through files, shredding bank statements from 2001 are all ways I deal with stress and stay busy. Today I was cleaning up my desk top and found one of my favorite pictures of my Bob. Our son in law Mark had just installed a new mailbox and Bob was delighted and joking around.
Be still, my heart.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How am I?

How am I? Better and worse.

I mourn the loss of dreams I thought I'd given up long ago: being retired together, going out to dinner, arguing over politics, traveling the world, playing with our grandchildren, taking them on trips like my grandparents did with me.

I miss waking up in the middle of the night and being able to nudge his leg with my foot; even though he was totally dependent on me, he was a physical presence, the guy who stood by me for 44 years (our anniversary, June 10). I've been dreaming a lot about him. It's the real Bob in my dreams, the one with the confident smile and the wicked sense of humor.

I miss him all the time, every minute.
I'm getting better, but ... I'm getting worse.

Monday, June 6, 2011

And to keep us smiling

This, the current light of my life, granddaughter #1 (#2 is due on July 2 although as she lives in Madrid, Spain, I'm hoping for the 4th of July) illustrates how I feel as I maneuver through life these days.

Just close my eyes and hope for the best.

To l'oiseau, who follows this blog

Thank you.
Most of all on this journey I have learned that we can not isolate ourselves; it's too crippling. Your comments and shared footsteps have strengthened me and encouraged me to continue to ease my soul and share this trip.
God bless.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Visiting Bob

I went again on Thursday and he was really glad to see me again. One of the workers was walking with us down the hall and he couldn't remember my name to tell her, but he said I was his honey :) Bless his heart. He's pretty much out of it and "talking" with him is sort of a magical mystery tour. I asked if he'd like me to read him a story but he seems to have no interest in that.

We sat and sort of chatted. I commented that I had intended to bring my manicure set and one worker handed me a couple pair of nail clippers so we talked while I did his fingernails. That was good as he doesn't like to have it done and I think will be least troublesome if I do that. Then I left. I'd brought a crispy candy bar-like thing and I gave him half of it as I left, so he seemed contented. I told him I'd return since I had a care meeting with the nursing supervisor and the social worker.

After the meeting was over, I went back; he was in the same chair. We went for a walk in the outside courtyard and although it was warm the humidity was low and it was breezey. We just walked around and around and over and through and between. He complimented me on what a good job I'd done with all the bushes and flowers.
A couple of times I asked if he was getting tired as I was (getting tired of it); he wasn't so we walked for probably 30 minutes. He just talks and rambles; a couple of times he came back to mention that he doesn't have any money but he couldn't give me a reason why he needed any. He also said he didn't have a car which was probably good since he can't drive. It's stuff like that.

Mostly it's being a comforting presence to him, being sure he knows he is loved. He was glad I was there; no problems when I said I needed to leave. We walked back to Aspen and I gave him the other half of the cookie/bar. Kissed him good by and left.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The first visit

Waiting for two weeks after placement was incredibly difficult, but finally I made it and the time came when I could go see him. I worried that he would be angry or resentful or that he would beg me to take him home. That's because I still think of the other Bob, not the man before me.

I held his hand -- making a physical connection -- and we sat and chatted, sort of. I brought up old funny stories, some of which he remembered and we relived. He refers to "being in this place" and said he'd worried about some of his friends; I was able to reassure him that I am taking care of everything and everyone. He seemed glad. He was very pleased when I said everyone thought of him and sent their love; he gave a big smile, the only one I think. He talked about Lily, our granddaughter, a lot and told me several times that she had been born in Scotland. He said he didn't know that Amy was going to have a baby.

He seemed relieved to see me at first -- like he used to be sometimes when I came in late to pick him up from daycare. He was pleased when I told him I'd bring Lily to see him but that it would be a while. He told me she lives a long way away. When I told him I would be back to see him, he just nodded -- no affect. I wasn't sure he even knew who I was, but the social worker said she was certain he did.

I stayed about 30 minutes and by then they were getting stuff set up for lunch. I told him I had to go and it was lunch time for him; he said, "Good. I'm hungry." As I left, he was still sitting in the same chair, sort of motionless.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Time Passes ...

... and we heal or adjust or accept.
Bob's been at the care center for two and a half weeks now. I survived the two week - no visit as recommended by the facility. I try to honor professionals; they've had the experience. The social worker was fabulous; quickly emailing with updates and answers to my questions. (He was always doing "as well as could be expected" but did need the anti-anxiety med for the first couple of evenings -- me too!)
I am so fortunate that Bob attended daycare for over a year at this same place since he and I were both familiar with lots of the people; can't imagine trusting through this otherwise. The wonderful angel who runs the daycare has continued to stop in and visit him daily during the week, giving him his kisses and hugs, chatting with him during breakfast, and then emailing me about how he's doing.
Both of us are making the changes we've needed to make; I guess.