I often wondered how we managed to stitch ourselves together again. After having experienced the horrors of our son’s paranoid schizophrenia, we were sure that nothing more could happen to our family. And then, my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I was shell-shocked. Would we ever take another exotic vacation together? Would we go on another cruise, stand together at the railing and watch the ocean heaving and rolling by the light of the moon? Would we never be able to discuss books, plays, concerts, good movies, our children and grandchildren? Then I had a bizarre thought; “Who will help me with the banking? After all, my husband had done all that and would no longer be able to do so.”
If my late husband had suffered a heart attack, someone would have asked whether I needed any help and I might have said; ‘Yes please, or no thanks, I’m okay. I’m healthy. I’ll get through this. I’m going to live till the age of 92 like my mother did before me. My father passed away at the age of 88 so longevity is my genetic gift whether I want it or not. But, my friends were as shocked as I was and did not know what to say, what to do.
All I wanted to do was to continue living with my husband … a healthy husband and not someone who had become so forgetful. At least he did not lose his sunny smile or his ability to remember that he loved me.
The phone rang less. I needed to talk but most people acted as though everything was okay, but it was not. Slowly, my husband became withdrawn, ordered goods by mail, yet when they arrived, had no idea how they had come to our doorstep or who had ordered them. He was simply unable to make the neccessary connections. He had to stop carrying a credit card but how was I to tell him that he could no longer go shopping? What else did he have left? While trying to work out a way to handle this, I slipped money into his wallet, hoping he would use the cash rather than the card. Loaded with bags from the supermarket, dragging our shopping trolley packed full, my hands werre full and I’d say; “I can’t carry this alone,” and he’d look at me, then he helped carry.
We were invited out less so I took to inviting friends for dinner on a regular basis and always made sure that there would be two couples present so that the men would be able to chat to one another if they so desired even while my husband sat in silence.
It’s not true that some people have will power while others don’t. Some of us are ready to change and others are not.