The Fun Part
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at 11:08AM
Caring for Marriage
Everyone wants the fun part of life. Who can help but smile when your feet are light and your skirt is sparkly, you know the steps and your friends are by your side?
But we brush over the reality of the back story. These dancers logged weeks of sweaty practice time, memorizing the moves and pushing their bodies to glide instead of bumble. There were nights they would have rather stayed home eating popcorn, than trudge through an April snowstorm to dance rehearsal. But they showed up, and that effort carried them to the night on stage with hundreds of people on their feet clapping.
A friend is dealing with her husband's illness. He has fronto-temporal degeneration, and his mind is slipping away. He still remembers things from thirty years ago like his position as president of the Bowman Association, but the names of his grandchildren elude him. The kitchen is locked up, so he will not eat too much or the wrong things, but the security is a small lock using a single key on a bracelet that hangs within reach. He does not understand how to unlock it so he stays out. 
We did a puzzle together to pass the time. His skill level is twenty five pieces, and the picture was of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. Apropos to a man who is accelerating toward childhood, and is lost in his own mind. We high fived with each successful connection, and his smile was as real as it gets. He told me without hesitation how much he loves his wife, and she loves him. I cut him up a few strawberries and he generously offered to share. I declined so he spent his generosity on the dog, whose name he also could not recall. 
Caring for a husband whose intelligence and competence are snuffing out like birthday candles is not fun. Recently a group of people leaped eagerly on board to offer support. They will show up to sit with him, and listen to his jokes again. Those riddles are some of the dwindling repertoire of his once rich sense of humor, but they do not answer the real riddle of where his personhood is fleeing to. 
Yet although he does not know how to unlock the kitchen or call his grandchildren by name, he has a firm hold on the essential things. 
He loves his wife and she loves him. And I believe that when they walk through heaven's gate there will be a standing ovation. Then the real fun begins.


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