Long before Alzheimer’s Disease entered our lives, all of us met our spouses in different ways - we fell in love, raised a family, and traveled through life together as best friends, lovers, and each other’s support system.
In this section, I have given our readers a chance to share with us their unique love story. Let us celebrate the love we have; treasure it; and be thankful for it.
Dianne was the first thing I ever really wanted in life and was serious about getting. I told her I was going to marry her on our second date and her look clearly said "oh no a weirdo". So I never mentioned it again until I knew she'd say yes. She was the little red headed girl in charlie brown. Celtic, quiet, and self assured. I was a giant hun apparently although when we married at 19/18 I don't think either of us knew what we were. We would have married later but her father refused to let her stay out past 11 so we moved the date up. Her parents seemed fixated on us getting pregnant but we weren't looking to become parents until we had some vague idea who we were. We had a couple of shorter jobs and quit to travel and hitch hike across Canada and down the west coast. We lived outside San Fransisco for six months in 1973. I could see the city from the deck on the side of the mountain and we bopped around chinatown, stinson beach, muir woods, and I learned how to paint. We flew back and got real jobs, met all our lifetime friends over the next few years, went out almost every night and on weekends while we were going to night school. I get exhausted just reading my journals of those years. Those people bear little resemblance to us in the middle years or us in the later years before AD.
When we hit 30 everyone was having children and so we talked about it for 1/2 hour at the boatshow. We decided that everyone else having them wasn't a good reason for us to because neither of us was excited about it. So we bought the sailboat and explored Georgian Bay. There's 20 years or so in there that were a giant fun blur. We did well in our jobs, we always saved , she kept our social calendar full, we watched the kids grow up and got close to some, and the time just flew by. Neither of us wanted much. We never bought into new shiny things. We were just us and it was fun to be together and it was easy to compromise. We drove everywhere from Nova Scotia to Chicago and from the Florida Keys to Thunder Bay. We could sit for hours quietly or talk for hours.
The rabbit thing died down over the decades but we always talked about everything. She taught me a lot of things about how to be and I think I returned that. Her family was reserved where saying the thing made it real so fourty year old things were still simmering on the stove and my family was animated and life was opera so it was a fun mix that made for mortifying times. I recall laughing out loud at something funny on TV the first time I was invited over and they all stared at me like I was having a fit. It's funny I explained pointing at the screen. Ok no laughing out loud.
My family commented on and argued over what was happening on TV. Her family watched practising rigor mortis. Dianne was overwhelmed the first few times at my house. She never really changed but I know she came to enjoy the theatre and when large groups of friends got together it was the same racket anyway.
She taught me how to be calm and I taught her how to enjoy being crazy. She taught me dignity and I taught her the Kama Sutra. She taught me how to make high tea and I taught her how to pee standing up. She taught me caution and I taught her risk.
Only I know Dianne. Everyone thought she was so quiet and she was. They all liked her. But only I know all the things we did we never told anybody else because it was just us. Like the time we were lying in bed not sleeping for some reason and I said lets go to washington and we got up got dressed made a tea and coffee and some ten hours later were in Washington DC walking around the zoo. I still have a picture of her and the gorilla.
And she stood up in that canoe. We were easily ten minutes out and she really had to go. I gave her the options of which getting in the water and climbing back in the canoe was not one of them. She swore like a trooper, and stood up trusting me, and amazed herself. Downwind of course. Always downwind. Too much information. Yes. But quiet little Dianne was always so willing to test herself she would have made Virginia Woolf afraid.
It was glorious. It was a privilege. It was the best of times.
Today is our anniversary - married 20 years and together 22+. It is both second marriages for each of us. We've been through fires (house), floods and topical storms (Isaac). Now we are dealing with Alzheimer’s. We are on vacation at the moment in Marco Island. It's been a good trip. My husband is doing well, I am too. I am writing this today to share some happiness.
We too often focus on the dark side of what we are all going through. My sister was here with is last week and she said to me "I can't believe how patient you are." This terrible disease has taught me patience but more than that it has shown me what love truly is. We've had a wonderful time together and I wouldn't trade it for anything. The wonderful times are not over.
A gypsy once told me "You will find love in a house." We built our house together. I walk around it and see all the things in it that bring back wonderful memories of trips and times we've spent together. We’ve shared many adventures both in traveled places and in our lives. Pictures reflect births and birthdays and disasters and deaths. We always had our arms around each other.
My grandmother told me when I was little at a funeral - "our bodies are just our houses here on earth. When we pass, we just move on to a different house in heaven." Maybe what the gypsy was saying was you can only find love within your self - your own self/house, only then will you know and accept love.
Alzheimer’s. I've accepted my husband's reality now and still feel lucky to have truly experienced love with him in my life. All we truly have is each day. I choose it to be filled with love. Each night our ritual is for one to say: “I love you a bushel and a peck” Then the other: “And a hug around the neck”. Together we say “Yes I do, yes I do.”
I wish a little laughter and a few moments of feeling loved to each of you struggling somewhere. The journey may be long and the path difficult to climb, but love will be your strength with God’s blessing.
THE HAPPIEST TIME OF MY LIFE .....The year was 1945. Still in the army. Just back from overseas. Stationed at Camp Pindale, Fresno. I was 23 years old and had never really had a girlfriend. I had always been kind of bashful around girls. My army buddy, Don Cook, had made arrangements for me to meet his girlfriend's 18 year old sister.
.....On meeting her, I was immediately overwhelmed by her exuberance and beauty. She was so cheerful and happy and best of all she seemed to like me. But I knew she was very popular and had several boy friends. The next day, Don asked me when I was going to see her again and I told him I didn't know. Well, Don called me a dummy and gave me a little lecture about dating girls, but he set up another date and told me from now on, you're on your own. So I got another chance and I was in heaven. From then on, Helen was on my mind constantly. I was so happy. .....On the second date I was waiting for her out in front of the telephone company where she worked as an operator. There were girls coming out and I was not sure which one was Helen. One girl came out that looked like Helen but she just looked at me and didn't say anything. I didn't know what to do but I started following her down the street. Then I heard someone yell "Hey George"....Of course it was Helen who had just come out and fortunately saw me walking down the street. Wow.... I was so relieved.
.....After the third date, something terrible ended it all. I awoke at the army base with a high fever and a pain in my right knee. I knew immediately that it was a reoccurrence of osteomyelitis which had plagued me several times since my high school days. I also knew, from my previous experiences with it, that I would be confined to a hospital for many months, being treated with drugs, before I would be cured. And worst of all, I knew that I would never see Helen again. .....They put me in a place called the infirmary, to be transferred to the hospital at Hammer Field the next day. I had told Don to give Helen the bad news. The pain in my leg, together with the high fever was bad, but the pain in my heart over losing Helen was all I could think about. It was about six o'clock in the evening and I was just lying there in the infirmary, feeling so bad, when this soldier came to my bed and asked if I was Sgt. Streit. He told me that he worked at the base message center, and there was a telephone operator at the Fresno switchboard who made him promise to hand deliver this little note to a Sgt. Streit at the base infirmary. He handed me the little note and said "Here it is. I had to walk all the way down here from headquarters, but I kept my promise". .....I remembered then that Helen did work for the telephone co. as a switchboard operator, and as I read the little note, the tears came to my eyes..... They still do.....
.....That little note changed my life forever, and I have kept it close to me all these years. This is what it read. "Miss you very much. Hope you get well soon. My fingers are crossed for you. With all my love Helen"
.................That was it.....The happiest time of my life.....
.....I think I should mention that on my third date with my Dear Helen, when I said goodbye to her, she told me that I could give her a kiss if I liked. So I did. Then she said (and I remember her exact words) "Do you call that a kiss?"......I explained to her that I had never kissed anyone before. We did not kiss in our family. It was my very first Kiss. Which makes it all the more remarkable that she would stay with me for two and a half months while I was in the hospital. Visiting every day, even though I was such a terrible kisser. .....This helps to explain why I loved her so much.......
I was on school break with my parents at the same resort where they met. A young man who had worked at the resort while in college was also on break from the army. We met and I told my parents that this was the person I would someday marry. We carried on a long courtship via the mail. This was long before internet. Finally his army stint was over. He drove through the night to get to my grandparent's house to meet the family. He fell asleep on the sofa. Valentine's Day arrived. We planned a dinner at a restaurant we couldn't afford (I was still in school and his first job out of college netted $28,000/yr). When we were seated he presented me with a very corny card. Tucked inside was a small box with the most beautiful diamond ring I have ever seen. That was in the year 1959. Thirteen months later we had our fairy tale wedding. Bill treated me like a princess all of our lives together. We loved each other until the monster stole him. It is four years since he left this world. I'm fine. The good memories are finally coming back and I am happy again.
We watched our wedding DVD yesterday. It was fun to point out people and for bob to see us 21 years ago. Fun to see us laugh and dancing. What I found amazing, was while he couldn't remember or did know a lot of people, when we were talking about our sons in the wedding. His son was his best man. He puzzled, then stated that "he must have been married before if he had a son". I explained he had but was divorced 3 years before we met. He didn't remember his first wife's name or anything about that other life/time. While he's lost so much, names, faces, he still could think logically. I am so happy we have that DVD I will make a point of watching it together more often. He was surprised that he had a tummy and weighted a lot more back then. Now he is pretty much skin and bones. He almost didn't recognize himself. I dug this out thinking about our wedding "story" invitation for Joan Gershman's request.
My oldest sister’s husband was stationed in Hawaii. Her two sons who were just a few years younger than me thought their aunt needed help finding guys. They would take my picture around showing it to sailors asking if they wanted to write to their aunt so I had a few guys I wrote to. Art was managing the roller rink on base (tough duty) where he got to know the kids. He went home with them for lunch one day, saw my picture and asked who it was. He wrote one letter to me in October 1969 then after I sent him a Christmas card in December he wrote back telling me he was getting married in June so we shouldn’t write to each other any more.
Fast forward: Christmas 1970 where he was now on sea duty. I had graduated from high school in June, turned 18 in October and going to medical assistant school. I sent Art a Christmas card asking how he was and if he had gotten married. He wrote back saying he was glad I wrote because he lost my address and had not gotten married. He said he wanted to write but had no idea how often he could get letters out because they would be out at sea heading back to Long Beach from Singapore. We exchanged a few letters the next 4 months. In April he said he wanted to meet me and would send me the money to meet him in Long Beach.
May 3, 1971 6:30 pm I walked off the bus in Long Beach. He took me to my brother Bob’s who also was stationed in Long Beach, then we went walking to get to know each other. By 9:30 we had decided we wanted to get married and would do it in September. Then he took me to meet a good friend of his who was getting married that Friday. Art was best man and I sat on the front row with the couples 5 kids. We looked at each other and later decided we did not want to wait so would get married the following Sunday. Our first date was that evening when we went to the drive-in along with the couples 5 kids. The oldest girl had a candy machine ring that she gave to Art to give to me as an engagement ring – I still have it. A very romantic date!
We called our parents that Sunday, Mother’s Day, and told them we were getting married the following Sunday. Monday we took the bus up to Portland. I told Art I lived in the boonies but he did not believe me. Our driveway was a mile into the woods – he did not believe we were going to my house. We were married at the Vancouver Friends Church on Sunday May 16, 1971. We were married in Washington because they only had a 3 day waiting period while Oregon required blood test and 7 day wait. His parents flew out from Massachusetts and were shocked we had electricity, running water and indoor plumbing – we had an outhouse I offered to let my new MIL use (this was 1971 remember).
We were going to drive my car back to Massachusetts where he was from but his parents talked him into flying back. L I wish I could say it was all exciting and romantic, but we stayed at is parents for 2 weeks before we found an apartment. In those first two weeks his parents made sure I knew 1) they thought I was pregnant and forced him to marry me; 2) they had hoped he would marry Susan (high school girlfriend); 3) they felt t-shirts and jeans were not appropriate wear for the city life – polyester pantsuits were more appropriate which I hated but went along; 4) they were going to be the parents I never had.
He went to work at Sweethearts Plastics where he worked before he went into the Navy. In August I broke out with a rash all over my body which the ld family doctor said was my tonsils – had never had a problem with them. I had to expose as much skin to the sun as possible and take baths twice a day in starch water! Not fun for a newlywed. Three days later when I got out of the hospital he went into the VA hospital in Boston for an abscess tooth – a tooth the Navy supposedly did a root canal on but did not get all the root. So here I was recovering from a T&A while his parents took me daily in to visit him the week he was in there. I would have preferred staying home recovering but they would not hear of it! I would be considered rude and unappreciative if I did not take them up on their offer.
In October I found a job as a nurse’s aide at the local hospital in the town we moved too. I loved the job but it was graveyard and my husband worked swing shift. We saw little of each other and while I slept during the day he went to his parents. On Saturday nights when I did not work we went out bar hopping (even though I was underage) with his uncle – which I really liked. We also had a lot of fun with his sister and her two daughters which I and their Uncle Art adored.
For our first anniversary we bought a peek-a-poo puppy. She was adorable and a lot of fun. Also, one of Art’s nieces came to visit often. After a year I started visiting the doctor to find out why I had not gotten pregnant. That was put on hold after 1 ½ years I had had enough of his parents and the New England lifestyle – told him I was going back to the northwest, he could stay or come with me. He followed and the rest is history!
I was never able to get pregnant and in 1978 we adopted a brother (2) and sister (1) who had been taken away from their parents. It was the happiest day – thought all would be perfect. We moved to Omak, WA where Art got his dream of owning his own print shop, we had a place in the country where I grew our veggies which I canned. The kids had room to run and play. Years later I found he never wanted to adopt. If he could not have a bio child he did not want any which explained why he never wanted to bond with them.
We were happy the first 3 years in Omak then he started changing. Things happened that I now believe were early signs of the Alzheimer’s Disease to come about 22 years later. After a few rough years he seemed to bounce back but constantly changed jobs hoping the next one would be his dream job. He was able to change jobs because he was a top notch offset pressman. The kids left many friends and homes behind following after his constant changing which I regret doing. In 2004 we both lost our jobs – I knew mine was coming but his was a surprise. I now can look back and believe he did things he knew were wrong due to the AD and detached personality he was diagnosed with earlier. We gave up the house, moved into our motorhome and in fall 2005 started living our dream to travel and work around the country. He was diagnosed in 2008 when we went back to my sister’s in Vancouver and sat there for 2 years before someone on my spouse support group said ‘I was sitting around waiting for him to die’ and realized that was what I was doing. We packed up and took off. He could no longer work, but I could and he still drove. His last driving was when we went to Nevada fall 2012. He tried to drive when we left a year ago but it was too stressful for him.
Now we are parked in an RV park because it is easier on him, less stress due to no changing all the time. An RV park can be like a ‘family’ watching out for each other which this one is. We have been through a lot in our 43 years. This narrative just touches some of it. There is a lot of bad too in marriage but we were committed, did not want to become one of the divorce stats, so worked through it. Now there is Alzheimer’s Disease to work through as it takes more and more of Art away day by day. Life still goes on no matter what. How we deal with it, the choices we make, is up to us.
I am currently married to the love of my life. Dave and I first met when my family moved to SD when I was age 10, and I was enrolled in the local parochial school. Dave and I immediately liked each other. We were an ‘item’ in 7th & 8th grade. While not allowed to date individually, we would arrange to go to the movies with a friend and ‘just happen’ to meet at the theater and ‘accidentally’ end up sitting by each other. After 8th grade we went to the local public high school and each went our separate ways. We went to colleges on opposite ends of SD, met other people, and eventually got married to someone.
Dave lived most of his adult life on the west coast in central Oregon and the San Francisco Bay area. I lived briefly in Michigan, and then lived in western SD. In 1998 our high school started a web site, with a section where former students could post messages. My mother who still lived in that town told me about the new site. Dave’s sister who still lived in the area told him about the site.
In 1998 Dave was divorced, earning an MBA, and thinking about relocating back to SD. I was separated and in the process of getting a divorce while earning an MBA at a university in eastern SD. One late night for a study break I posted a message on the high school web site and included by email address. This is EXTREMELY unusual for me. I think it was fate. Shortly thereafter, Dave visited our high school site, saw my message and sent me an email saying: Hi! Remember me? When I got Dave’s email, I smiled. Did I ever remember Dave…with fond feelings from long ago.
We began emailing each other, rapidly progressed to online chat and phone calls. We found we were still attracted to each other, had similar interests, and our relationship from so long ago resumed. We made arrangements to meet in person and we found out that we were as good (or better) together in person as online. Dave was between positions, so made plans to move back to SD. Four months after reconnecting online, Dave and I were living in the same town! We planned a wedding for March 6, 1999.
When my divorce was final in December, we decided to get married right away…January 6, 1999. But since so many family members were coming to help us celebrate, we continued plans for the March 6 wedding. We still wish each other Happy Month Anniversary, on the sixth of each month…except now I’m the one who remembers.
Our life together has been great. When issues arose, for example, the inevitable stepfamily concerns, Dave and I worked together. We always kept open communication. Dave has been the one ‘sane person’ I have had to count on while experiencing a custody battle and workplace difficulties. We have always valued each other and our relationship. That is why, when Dave was diagnosed in early 2008 with Alzheimer’s we had no regrets.
We continue as we have always. We are a team and each does what we are most capable of handling. Of course the division of tasks has changed dramatically over the past year as Dave’s condition has progressed. We value each other. Dave thanks me every night before bed for ‘all I do for him.’ And I thank Dave ‘for loving me.’
"Maryland is not known for Tornados, so you know that when we get one, something miraculous is bound to happen. One came through the Hilendale section of Baltimore County on June 17, 1973. It overturned a car and then ripped through an apartment complex somehow tearing the roofs off of every other building. I didn’t live anywhere near there, but had been at my step-mother’s house to help her with some chores. On our way back home, my buddy and I had stopped at a restaurant in Hillendale. We heard all the sirens and watched the fire trucks and police cars race by and a morbid curiosity drove us to walk back to check out all the excitement. As we stood looking at the destruction, I noticed Mary with two of her friends directly behind us. I kept looking back and tried to work up the courage to say something to her. I couldn’t think of an ice breaker until I overheard one of them say, “Isn’t this some way to start our vacation?” Now, how do three young women all start vacation the same day? I turned around and asked Mary, “Do you teach?” She replied, “Yes, do you?” No, I didn’t, but the ice was broken and we began a discussion which resulted in learning her name and phone number.
As for Mary”s story, she wasn’t supposed to be there either. Her plan had been to drive to other side of the county to buy a TV. She started out in beautiful, bright sun, but before she even got to the beltway, it began to rain torrentially. She turned around and by the time she got home, it was sunny. She turned around and again, the skies darkened and opened up. This happened three times and she actually looked heavenward and said, “Okay God. I get the message. You don’t me to go there today.”
I took her to dinner the following Friday and on Saturday went with her when she bought the infamous TV. (After all, she needed a man to carry the TV to and from her car!) There was a crab house within walking distance of her apartment and if you know anything about eating steamed hard crabs, it is very leisurely and time consuming. We would talk and talk for over two hours over a dozen crabs. By August, I proposed and when she accepted, we discussed which school holiday we wanted to utilize for the wedding and honeymoon. We didn’t want to complicate things by doing it over Christmas and I didn’t really want to wait until Easter or the following summer. That left Thanksgiving, so our wedding day, November 17, was five months to the day from when we met!
This year is our thirty-fifth anniversary. I can honestly say that I love her more (or at least differently) than I did on our wedding day. She is now totally dependent upon me which I view as an honor. We have been through good times and bad raising two boys, but we have always been through them together. I regret that our “golden years” are not so golden, but we have had a chance to enjoy retirement before things got too bad. When she retired in 2002, she was already exhibiting early memory difficulties. We tried to take a trip every six months. We have been to Hawaii, The Alaska Inside Passage, The Panama Canal, The Mexican Riviera, Amsterdam, and this past spring to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. That last trip was pretty hard on both of us and is probably our last.
Like all of us, I know what the future will bring. I just don’t know when. I only hope that she remains as happy and compliant as she is now. As long as we have that smile, I can do anything."
It was the beginning of Sophomore year in High School. Three friends and I decided to go to a square dance with dates. I was having trouble finding a date. Then my mother suggested that I ask "M..A.." I was hesitant to do so, because she was by far the smartest kid in the class, but it was getting close to the time for the dance, so I asked her. She knew I had already asked almost every other girl in the class, but, fortunately, accepted. We had so much fun that I never seriously dated another girl. Eight years later, when she had finished her Masters Degree and I was still in graduate school, we were married. This coming June will be our 54th wedding anniversary. (Side note: The four guys of us formed a club in high school and still get together once a year, even though we are scattered from Maine to California)
M and I had a wonderful life, raising three great kids, enjoying family trips, and then taking major trips all over the world, including 2 with our oldest daughter and her husband. Four years ago our oldest daughter said she was concerned about her mother's memory, so we had tests done and confirmed the diagnosis of Alzheimer's. One hard part of this is that in high school she had photographic memory.
Our days of travel are now over. I lost her once when she turned the wrong way coming out of the Ladies Room at the Philadelphia Airport. At the insistence of our daughter, we have moved into a Retirement home, so I don't have to do so much cooking, cleaning, etc. But we are still able to have fun together - watching TV or Netflix movies, taking walks, talking with others in the Retirement home or our chuch. She is still the same sweet girl I married. She tells me frequently that she loves me and needs me, so I don't mind being the caregiver 24/7. She tries to help me around the house, but makes so many mistakes that it's easier for me to do it myself.
I know I still have a rough road ahead, but we have our memories and pictures of all our trips. Although our kids and other family members live far away from us, they are willing to come and help out once in a while so I can get away (as with my friends from high school). As I read the problems others are having, I am thankful that my situation isn't worse.
Larry and I have been married almost 22 years. We met at his sister's home when I was visiting with my mother..I was ending a very abusive marriage and we found each other in what I call a God thing...
I had 2 boys - 2 and 3, was pregnant with my third child about 4 months along. We began to see each other after months. We were married a year later..
He has been the father of my children ever since. Taught them about being honest, about commitment, about unconditional love, as our oldest son said one day "oh mom what will we do when superman doesn't know who we are especially you momma"? Well, I told him I know he will always know in his heart who I am even if he is unsure of my face...Larry is going to be 54 this year and he is slipping in ways most people would not understand....But, we take each day and thank God that he gave us all these years.....We are buying the thing we planned to buy for our 25th anniversary now, as I figure he may not enjoy his HDTV flat screen latter.....We take little rides in the truck, eat subway sandwiches watching the river, and we watch the programs on TV that he is sure he has never seen, and I smile and say wasn't that a good one...
OK I figure that I will never know someone again who has loved me as much or as deep again. I have decided that when he is gone I will then take some trips we planned to do but he cannot now. He will be with me, he will be with our grandchildren when they are born in the future. He will be apart of the stories of how he saved our family and showed us that we were worth loving.
We were 10 or 11 in grammer school and at recess the other children teased me that, "Bernie loves you, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha." It meant nothing to me, his love was unrequited. I was more interested in hanging by my knees from the monkey bar or climbing to the top of a tree. Years later I would learn that little boys do that and I felt bad that I hadn't cared. We continued on thru middle school and high school, barely nodding to each other, I had my share of boyfriends--until he asked me to the senior prom. By the time he brought me home that night I knew I'd spend the rest of my life with him.
Very early on I felt 'something' was wrong, he seemed frightened at times, but there was nothing I knew to be frighted of and I knew he'd take a bullet for me and the children, he was brave, strong, decent, good, and handsome, but 'something' was there and eventually it was named Alzheimer's. Sometimes it played havoc with our marriage, I was too often angry and didn't know why--what had he done--how could I describe any of it? Well, you all know that, and yet we loved each other so much. I cared for him, mostly by myself, for 10 years and learned to love him even more--even tho he could drive me up the walls. I did not want him to leave me, but I was grateful when he was finally at peace, he deserved his peace and so did I. We'd been married 53 years by then.
Now he lives on in our children and grandchildren, but there are times when I miss his love and altho I never expect someone to love me that way, over a lifetime, ever again--I feel blessed and grateful that it all happened that way.
Our story really starts back years before we ever met. I was about 14 - not popular. I used to get so down and wonder why in the world guys just weren't in to me. I finally decided to pray about it. I didn't like obsessing about it. So I told God that I would not worry about boyfriends or the lack thereof, if He would tell me when I meet the one He has planned for me. Now fastforward about 7 years...
My family had just moved to Kentucky and had been visiting the area churches trying to find our church home. We visited First Baptist and they had 4 people get up and sing a song that these people had performed when they were in the youth group at the church. Robert was one of them. I took one look at him and it was as if someone sat down next to me on the pew and said Leighanne, that's the one. That's the one I've chosen for you. It kind of freaked me out. From that point on, I set out to find out who Robert was, how old he was, etc...
My family joined the church and we began going to Sunday School. When I went into the college and careers class, there was Robert. His sister and brother in-law taught the class and it didn't take them long to play match makers. After a couple of months, Robert got the nerve up to ask me out and the rest is history. We've been married for over 15 years. We have 2 great kids.
Sometimes, I wonder just "who" it was that spoke to me that day. I wonder how can this be what God has chosen for me. Now, I tend to think that it wasn't so much that Robert was chosen for me, but rather I was chosen for him. However it went, the good has far outweighed the bad. I'm a better person for having been married to Robert. I wouldn't go back and change anything.
From Dick S:
I think about her green eyes and how they would twinkle when I would surprise her with an unexpected gift. They are still green but now they seem devoid of any emotion.
I think about her joy of laughter and love of life, her warm personality and her close association with friends. The laughter has all but died and her social skills are few. She prefers the solitude of our home to outside activities.
I think about her love of travel. All those wonderful countries and interesting cities we traveled to. Broadway shows in New York, lunch at Scoma’s on the wharf in San Francisco. Her favorite was cruising and we have the platinum cards from two cruise lines to remind us. We will never cruise again.
I think of our two daughters who can never seem to find time in their busy schedules to spent quality time with their mother.
I think of the vows we took forty five years ago “for better of worst” and I know I will care for her and love her forever.
I think of all the lost opportunities and I wish I could hold her in my arms and drift away to never awaken again.
I think my heart is breaking tonight.
M and I met through an early computer dating service in Houston, Texas. Remember key punched datacards? After several months M and I decided to marry. WhoooHooo! Was that ever a good match? We still love each other 41+ years later. Our son is happily married and has three children. They visit us every week or two. M was diagnosed with AD about five years ago. Her doctor said the medication strategy would be to keep her out of a nursing for as long as possible. That has worked and she still lives at home with me, now her 24/7 caregiver as well as best friend and lover. In 2007 she had three fainting spells due to irregular heartbeat and a recent close call with pneumonia.
I frequently think about the lyrics of the Beatles' song "Yesterday" and Simon and Garfunkel's "Homeward Bound."
John and I met long before we fell in love, so we were friends for years. He's always been a special person, full of life and fun. He has never met a stranger, and will talk to anyone. We have now been together 20 years. I can't imagine my life without him even with AD. He is still the devoted husband who tells me everyday how much he loves me and he wouldn't want to be without me. Even though I was married before, I didn't know what deep romantic love was until John. I'm glad we still have that love and connection even though AD has robbed us of the future we planned.
I have known my husband since we were sixteen...We lived 11 miles apart in separate small towns. We married at 18 while he was in college. Upon his graduation, he went into the Air Force and became a pilot and then a missile officer.
During his 10 years in the service, we had 5 children and moved every 18 months. After leaving the service, we both became teachers until our retirement. We loved to be together, had friends, but needed no one else to be complete.
I am so blessed to have had a few years of traveling, learning golf, and enjoying our retirement. I am desolate without my sweetheart, he doesn't know me most of the time now, has been in a nursing home for 4 years. We have had 56 years in our marriage, and it was filled with love and good memories. I do so miss my best friend.
I relate very much to the problem of missing one's best friend. I have never been one to have many close friends at one time, and after my high school/college years I could count about 4 people as close enough that I still keep in contact with them. (Luckily, my family is close.) So, this is to say that I do not connect deeply, often or easily. So finding and connecting so well with Jeff was a rare and special thing. I was 21 and he was 35, and it was never an issue. He just went into that maverick, single stage post-college, and stayed there longer than most people.
Having him as the person with whom I could talk, in depth, about anything and with real enjoyment made for a very privileged 20 years--a two decade window of having someone to share life with that did not exist prior to that, and which is unlikely to occur again. We've got 3 excellent girls who are now 21, 19, and 17, and a unique, creative, and stubborn 15 year old son. As Jeff's affliction came on slowly and subtly, they have never had to deal with suddenly finding themselves with only one competent parent...they've kind of grown into it. I'm working on re-becoming that single, self-sufficient individual I was pre-Jeff...back in the days when I related to Simon and Garfunkel's "I am a Rock." (Though it's my distinct recollection that that girl really, really wanted the kind of relationship I eventually found with Jeff. But she managed, as I will manage now.)
Jeff is still doing pretty well. As only people who have experienced this can understand, those less "publicly- detectable" changes that occur in the early stages change the nature of the relationship in fundamental ways, but we can do stuff, he can enjoy stuff, he doesn't need "care," per se, it's just that I'm in charge of everything. I'm going to live with the illusion that we'll just remain on this plateau until I'm forced to admit otherwise.
We both knew on the first date that this was going to be forever. It was as if my heart always had a piece missing. When I found him, I found the piece that made my heart whole . We complemented each other – his strengths were my weaknesses, and my strengths were his weaknesses. His business was retail electronics – he could read and understand a technical manual ; he could take apart and put together any piece of electronic equipment; he could program the first VCR; he could read road maps; follow driving directions; go someplace once and never need directions again; understand math, debits, credits , and do it all quickly. I could do none of those things, but I had talents he lacked. I could use words and language to pave the way for any occasion. He put together the TV; I wrote the letter complaining about the service. We were a team; we called our team, “US”. If we had an argument, we would quickly make up, telling each other, “I miss “US”.
AD changed everything. His processing is slow; his comprehension of spoken language is poor – he is so easily confused by what is said; he is no longer able to follow the directions for hooking up electronic equipment; he forgets what was said a minute ago. I have had to pick up the slack, trying to learn to do what used to come so easily to him. I am not always successful.
What AD has not changed is his love and concern for me. Not a day goes by that he does not take me in his arms and tell me how much he loves and appreciates me – how he hurts to see me have to bear the burden of so much.
No, he is not the person he was; we do not have the same relationship we had; but through AD education and our support system, we have worked to forge a new relationship. It may be different than the one that came before it, but what is not different is that we will love each other forever. That space in my heart will always be filled by him.