That day in October 2001 we staggered out of the doctors office, Michael and me, leading Elbert between us. Words, just words ... our minds had registered the words but our hearts had stood still with their sound. The doctor said it was Alzheimers but that couldn't be. Just words. I heard a scream deep down inside my body but there was no sound. The scream was stuck deep inside my gut.
It was difficult, to say the least, to accept a sentence like that. Sure Elbert had been forgetful, had a change now and then in personality but every old person I knew got forgetful. It would be so difficult to tell the rest of the children and all the grandchildren. Some took it well while with others it took months for the enormity to sink in. It's so easy to shut your mind to what you do not want to know is true. It's much like when a loved one dies and you go through the grieving process. This was denial, big time. At the news Elbert just said 'There's nothing they can do to help me, so I live with it'. We all would have to live with it. That was 8 years ago and we are still living with it.
Back then I had no clue what lay ahead and I still don't. Every day is set on a different path with Alzheimers patients. I have a better idea now for I am better educated about Alzheimers and I've been through some trials by fire. Perhaps it is a good thing that we don't know what the future holds. God doesn't reveal it so that we are protected. Those early days I began to feel my way, examine my feelings, even make a few plans.
The knot in my stomach seemed like a permanent growth. My mind raced ninety miles an hour. I did not know if I could handle the mental decline of the vibrant, funny, active man that I'd loved for over 50 years. I railed against our plight. I desperately wanted things to be like they had been but I knew that the old Elbert was slipping from my grasp one moment at a time. I have to admit I was scared, more scared than I'd ever been but I felt that God would protect us and love us. Even though I knew all of that I had never felt more alone in my life.