Saturday, February 12, 2011

A short tale of true love

Love is... going for walks at the lake to feed the ducks every day, even
though your husband can't find the words to describe them.
Although it was nine months ago that a very dear friend was facing the certainty of her husband having to be placed into custodial care, the first awareness of Frontotemporal Dementia came when her beloved began to have difficulty remembering the names of simple things, and that actually seems to have started seven or eight years ago.

But apparently about two weeks ago, he took off in the car and withdrew a large sum of money from the bank. This kind of behavior was the indicator that he could no longer be trusted to stay in the home unsupervised. On the 4th of February, she told me, they drove him to a facility where he can be cared for 24/7. "I told him we were going to see some friends," she said, remarking that she was permitted a therapeutic lie in order to keep him calm. And then she went home alone.

I called her recently without knowing all this had happened and asked if she was up for a visitor. She exclaimed, "You are a blessing, coming to visit me now - how did you know?" I didn't. I live my life with a different sense of guidance these days and impulsively end up in places where I guess I am supposed to be.

So it was that I ended up in Salt Lake City this week, visiting this lovely woman who has been a good friend for many years. "I am a widow without a funeral, a single woman who cannot date, a wife without her husband," she said. We agreed that this long goodbye she has been enduring for all these years still has time on the clock. She doesn't know how long it will tick. "I have these wonderful memories of us together - almost 20 years of marriage - and the day before we were separated, I spent time with him, and he surprised me by telling me that he remembered the first day we met. He hasn't been able to speak of things like this for years! And he told me he loved me."

When we were together last November, I commented that if anyone wanted to know what love was, all they  had to was watch her with him. Her patience, her kindness, her tolerance for the child-like man he has become was remarkable. Now, only two days before the Day of Lovers, February 14, she is unable to be with him because the facility wants him to adjust to his 'new home,' since for the first week he was there he was constantly trying to escape.

Dedicated to my friend and her husband, who was also my
friend and business associate. Can you see the heart in
the clouds, making this evening even more special?
In one of our conversations I said to her, "You will have a chance to talk to him, and I feel sure you will be able to see him soon. He will adapt and you will be able to go and be with him as his loving wife, not a caretaker who has been stressed to the breaking point."

Just a short time ago I received a phone call and she announced, like a teenager, "We talked briefly on the phone and he said he loved me again!" It is heartening to tell this story of love and hope for Valentine's Day and I hope it brings you joy to read about it.


  1. Oh this made me sad and happy all at the same time. So sad at the terrible illness that has befallen your dear friends husband and then happy at the knowledge that he was still able to find the words of love for her again. Life is sometimes so hard for those who love. My best wishes as always.

  2. What a lovely story of true love ... and the pics!
    Be led by your heart to call, speak and visit - be that special blessing to somebody in need. I've been thinking of Susie too, and how she's missing Hamada. I am glad to see her comment here... means she is holding up.