I went to visit with Elbert this morning. Hadn't seen him in a week. He was in the day room where several of the residents were doing some activities. I had taken along a magazine 'Birds and Blooms' and he enjoyed looking at the beautiful pictures. I did a crossword puzzle and asked him questions about the clues but that was above his comprehension. We did enjoy our time together.
Lunchtime came. Elbert was seated at the table where he always eats. Gladys soon came in her wheelchair and got in place across from him. I saw Louise coming. She looked at me, then at Elbert. Uh oh, I thought to myself. But, what happened took me by surprise and touched my heart so much. I'll never forget it.
She asked, 'Have I seen you before?'
I said 'Yes'.
She poked Elbert gently on the shoulder (we were standing behind his chair).
'Do you know him?' she asked me.
I said 'Yes'.
'Who is he?' she wanted to know.
'He's my husband'.
Gladys, who is seldom quiet, piped up, 'I thought he was my boyfriend'.
I said, 'No, he's my husband. We've been together for 59 years'.
Louise is standing there taking it all in. She looked confused, uncertain. 'That's time enough to get to know each other', she says.
Then her head dropped, 'I wonder where my husband is' she said.
Wow, that got me. Here I am, my dear husband within inches of me and she no longer has hers. He died several months ago. I turned and put my arm around her shoulder and pulled her to me. 'I bet your daughter knows where he is' I said hoping that would be of some comfort.
'I don't know what I am supposed to be doing' she said. 'Can you call my daughter?'
So I tell her it's lunchtime, why don't we sit down to eat.
'Oh, I have no money, 'she says.
'Guess what', I replied. 'It's a surprise. It's free today'.
She smiles but then she again complains that she doesn't know what she is supposed to be doing. She looks so lost and tears come to my eyes. I hear in her voice the confusion of not knowing where she is, where her family is, what she will do when it gets dark, what she should do right now.
I hate Alzheimers. I hate it for me and Elbert and I hate it for Louise and I hate it for the others that have it and their families. This is not fair. I set her down at her table and tell the nurse, 'she's confused'. DUH... what a lame statement. It meant nothing but I had to say something. Then I turned, kissed Elbert and headed home.