“Woman,” he said in his kind and distinguished voice. “You must get out of this room. I’m a married man, and you should not be in here. I’m a preacher. Please leave my room.”
With tender, hurting eyes, his wife looked at him. “Honey, it’s me. I am your wife.”
“No, you are not my wife. Get out of my room.”
A precious godly woman told me of this exchange between her and her husband, who was at that time in the final stages of Alzheimer’s. They were able to keep him at home until his death, and in the earlier months of his illness, she would dress him in a suit and white shirt and take him to church. Sometimes, he would sing and join in the worship; on other occasions, it was as though he were in a strange building in an unknown land.
My friend Donna who came to dinner on Wednesday is faced with the terrifying knowledge that both her parents are rather rapidly developing significant dementia. I am so troubled for her, and when we discuss it, I can tell it weighs heavily on her mind, a certainly understandable response. The doctors say it is unusual for both a husband and wife to develop Alzheimer’s. Donna’s parents still live in their home, but the days that this can continue appear to be numbered. They get terribly confused about simple things, often forgetting which day of the week it is. Not long ago, they appeared at Donna’s church on Sunday morning, dressed for a stroll in the mall, and asking if there were something special going on at the church. “Why are there so many people here?” they inquired, thinking it was Thursday, not Sunday. Now, every morning, they call the telephone operator and ask what day it is.
Last week, Donna invited her parents to meet at Black Angus for dinner. She quizzed them thoroughly about the time, the place, and “did they know how to get there?” She called two or three times to remind them.
They did not show up at the restaurant, and when Donna called them, her mom said, “Well, we were right there waiting for you.”
“Where were you?”
“At the Red Lobster.”
Someone has recommended that Donna read a book called, “The 36 Hour Day” by Nancy Mace and Peter Rabin. She has obtained the book and is now reading it in preparation for the extreme challenges and sorrow that are ahead of her.
There may be some reading this today who need this reference. The book is available at Amazon.
My prayers and thoughts are with all of you who face the extremely daunting challenge of caring for friends and loved ones whose minds are being destroyed by the terrifying disease of Alzheimer’s.