My wife turned 70 this week. I had to remind her that it was her birthday. Because of her dementia her "in the moment" memory is a bit rusty.... but once reminded she accepted our birthday wishes and what gifts we could afford to get her with grace and many smiles.
We have been together 46 years. She is a bit frail these days but you cannot fault her appetite and her unfailing good nature. Between her and me we do not go for too long in between hugs and kisses and sitting close to each other.
I know that I am first her husband and everything else is second. I try live each day as if it would be my last with her....not in any morbid way...but in living life together to the full. I would not want it any other way.
Her condition has meant that we no longer engage in conversation where effort is required on her part to keep track of what I am saying. We talk about what she is watching on TV, and that too not about plots, sub plots or whether what is being done is right or wrong. It is enough that I see her smile when what she watches moves her to do so...especially her two favorites : Poirot (that Belgium Detective) and Midsummer Murders (the British Detective drama).
When we go for our walks hand holding is now a must. I do it because I like to hold her hand...she wants to do it because she feels secure...so it is a win win situation.
Conversation while we walk is not advised because she tends to drift in and out of things that catches her interest as we walk. I allow her to decide if we should turn right, left or go straight on....but I have to keep track as to when she starts to get tired and we need to head for home.
Sometimes I think of our times together in the years gone by and asks her if she remembers anything of it. She recalls our times together well but she is not too good at remembering others who were in our lives with the exception of a few close friends in London, Penang and Bangsar. After our time in Penang we came to live in KL and life was different and fast paced. Good but different. We finally settled on making Bangsar our kampong every time we are in KL and her memories of BSC, Bangsar Village, TMC, the morning Markets in Lucky Gardens and the many cafes and restaurants in Bangsar are still intact.....and we remember that DVD place near the Police Beat Base where we could get the latest DVD's...pirated of course!
Our Doctor has advised that we stay put in Melbourne....in the place we are at now because her condition requires familiarity and a routine that will become a habit that stays with her even as her memory starts to fade. If I ask her where she would rather stay amongst all the cities and towns we have lived in the past, invariably she will say "Here...." but there have been times when she will say "Bangsar...." with a far away look in her eyes as she recalls the happy times we have had with our children as they grew up there. I miss Bangsar too.....
For those of you who are living with love ones with dementia I hope that what I am sharing here about my life with my wife will give you some idea of how life will be as time passes by. As I am fond of saying.......when you have lived for over four decades with someone, if there is no love between the two of you....there really is nothing else. Anything else....money, fame or even power, is a distraction and will only drive you apart! So in a way I am grateful that I do not have money, no fame or power....only my wife.