Monday, March 28, 2016

Sometimes emotions surprise

I didn't think I would care.

Just last week, his wife of 30-odd years and my younger daughter drove to a dementia care facility nearby and admitted my ex-husband.

He's a victim of the same horrible disease that claimed Robin Williams ... Lewy Body disease, a combination of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's.

At various birthdays and Thanksgivings, I have observed his steady decline, both in mental capacity and physical appearance. It was gut-wrenching to see this once-athletic high school coach and phys ed teacher descend into such transformation.

I can only imagine how difficult the whole process has been on his wife, my daughters and their two half-siblings, the kids of my ex and his wife. Occasionally, my daughters shared their need to vent their anger, sorrow and fear at what was happening to their dad.

It was only a few years ago, 1998 to be exact, that he and I finally put aside our bitterness and pain and buried the hatchet. It was the day of our older daughter's wedding and we agreed that there had been enough anger and that we should apologize to one another for our respective parts in the ruin that had been our marriage.

So we had some good years when we could come together, laugh and reminisce about the times before the bottom fell out. We could enjoy our grandchildren. He was a wonderful grandfather, in his glory with the little ones hew could toss into the air and savor the giggles.

Like everyone in the family, I knew the disease was rapidly claiming him. I knew it would not be long before he required 'round the clock medical and watchful care. So I wasn't surprised when the day arrived. Very sad, of course, for his wife and the kids, all grown adults and prepared for the day.

That night, knowing it was his first night in a strange place, surrounded by unfamiliar furniture, sounds and people, I thought about what must be happening in that room, I knew he was frightened. Change is difficult for patients with such a disability.

And I couldn't sleep.

My heart ached for the way his life had turned. For the lost years he should have had, the memories he lost almost daily, the steadily vanishing knowledge of the love of his wife, his children and grandchildren.

I lay awake for a very long time, worrying about how he survived that first night without the comfort of his home and the woman who loved and cared for him so faithfully for so long.

I was surprised at my own reaction.

I didn't think I would care.


At July 28, 2016 at 9:09 AM , Blogger Dorothy Bodoin said...

I can understand this, Jeanne. That is a terrible disease, and I hope and pray the researchers find a cure for it some day. To lose one's memories is a kind of death.


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