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Reflections August 2015

Agelessly Yours

The Uninvited ‘Guest’

By Karen White-Walker

But that’s always been an integral part to his personality, so now I can’t distinguish what is really him, or what is the illness. But really, does it make any difference? The facts aren’t pretty and they’re sullied my life, but I’ll hang onto my happier memories that I pray transcend all heartache and heartbreak.

So help me heaven, if I don’t find humor in what is now happening in our lives, I don’t think I’ll ever get through it. It started out so subtly –  my husband asking me what day it was. That’s no big deal because when you’re retired; do you really have to know? Except for Sundays, so we can go to Mass and pray that we don’t kill each other, because we’re always around one another.

I feel like such a phony. This very mouth that receives the sacred host is the same big mouth that yells at him for going to the store for butter and milk and coming back with a cake mix and baby lima beans. Now it’s double jeopardy because as the weeks go by, that daily question of what to get is being asked more like five times a day, along with what day, month or year is it.

It makes my stomach flip every time.

“You know what I feel like for supper tonight? Chicken and dumplings,” he informs me.  You’re lucky,” I smile, “because that’s what we had last night and there’s leftovers.”

“What are you talking about?” he annoyingly asks, “It’s been months since we’ve had it. What are you going crazy, girl?”

He’s been diagnosed with the early stage of dementia, this very bright man who could glance at blueprints in the morning and never look at them again, because he totally retained what he saw. Now he sometimes reaches for the telephone and tries to change the TV channels with it. He also struggles with putting batteries in the television’s remote, but that part I’m almost grateful for, because by the time he fiddles with it and gets it working again, the house has been almost serene without that darn thing blaring. That’s always been a contention between us, but looking back, did I really complain about something that now seems so trivial?

I don’t dare tell him when I’m going to do something because he obsesses over it. “Is it today that you’re going for your facial?” he’ll ask.

“No dear, that’s Friday and today is Wednesday.”   

“I thought you said you were going today?”

“No, Friday.”

“Isn’t this Friday?”

“If it was I’d be going.”

“ Going? SEE, I told it was today.”

By now I’m hyperventilating and the hell with just the facial, I need a full-body massage! Well, guess what?” as he playfully draws me to him, “the facial isn’t working.”

I savor these tidbits of humor that this gruff hombre still has, but because of his ever-present uninvited “guest,” these moments seldom surface anymore. It’s heart-wrenching, but he seems contented in his present state, unaware of what’s really happening to him, except when he becomes angry with me for something –  or is it for everything? But that’s always been an integral part to his personality, so now I can’t distinguish what is really him, or what is the illness. But really, does it make any difference? The facts aren’t pretty and they’re sullied my life, but I’ll hang onto my happier memories that I pray transcend all heartache and heartbreak.

For a no-special-occasion day, he bought me a sweatshirt that reads “Life is good.” Dear God, if he can still believe that, so must I.

 

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