Last night my husband, driven by love, walked out our front door on his way to see another gal. This move, this compulsive, but well considered decision is why I love him so much and all the more.
He was going to see our friend, his friend Paula, who at a very young age, has been institutionalized with late stage Alzheimer's disease. Institutionalized. My Dear learned this a few months ago in the turn of a conversation with a mutual friend. His question, "How's Paula? I can't seem to get in touch with her" was answered with that word. "Placed." Placed in an institution where they can handle her, care for her.
When he told me the story initially, I could see he was processing the questions, the how. He'd been told she wouldn't know him if he went to see her. And while it took a while to get there, there was never a question about whether or not he'd go and take all of himself to this dear, lovely friend. We went together the first time we tried to go. She wasn't at the facility and had been moved. It took a while to find out where she was and when he did, it took only the wait until a weekend for him to go.
He left, taking all the strength and love he has. He walked with her. Talked with her. Listened to her inner/outer conversations. Prayed for, hoped for a real moment of connection. Took her picture. And came home to share it all with our family. Our kids had a hard time understanding Alzheimer's dementia in the abstract, but when he reminded them of the people we visited every Christmas for the Naples Boat Parade, they took it in. Really? The tall lady with the fun laugh? She didn't remember you?
The thought was hard for me to reason through. Paula meant and means much to my husband. In her earlier days she was a great work partner and equally great friend. She still is all of that. Tucked in a mind that can't connect the information.
And she has a great partner and equally great friend in the man who will go and visit her frequently. He'll take all that love and respect and appreciation and go and hold her hand and walk with her and chime into her talking. He'll search for who she is and was, but for the most part, he'll just be with her.
Because she deserves it, and that's who he is. He's the guy you want to know when you've hit a worst wall. He's the one undaunted by the hard stuff. He's the guy I fall in love with, over and over.
If you'd like his take: http://rotationandbalance.blogspot.com/2010/09/visiting-paula.html
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