Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Three Word Wednesday - distant apology consider - 2/27/08

The prompts this week were distant, apology, and consider. I have no idea why it led to this:

The two photos he could see from his recliner were taken fifty years apart. The first was of their wedding, shortly after he came back from the Pacific at the end of World War II. Every time he looked at it he was amazed at how young they were and particularly how beautiful she was.

It was such a distant memory that it almost seemed as though he was looking at someone else. Yet, in other ways it was only yesterday, the pages of the calendar falling off the wall much too fast and accelerating with age.

The second was taken several years ago at their 50th anniversary party. He thought, had it really been twelve years ago? She was still so beautiful and so happy.

It was shortly after that when the disease began. It came slowly at first. She would forget to turn the stove off, lose her purse, or make a wrong turn driving home. A wrong turn on a road she had driven nearly every day for over sixty years. At first he teased her about it but he could see the change in her. She would become preoccupied and confused. She had always been a shrewd and crafty opponent at Scrabble or gin rummy. But gradually they discontinued playing. He could see the fear in her eyes, followed by anger, that she could not focus.

Then the first real terror came the first time she did not recognize him. It began as a momentary lapse and became more frequent and of longer duration as the months passed. They went together to see a specialist. His diagnosis confirmed what they already knew. Treatment was available but ineffective in most cases. The deterioration would continue. The bottom line was that as the disease progressed, they should consider either in-home care or moving her to an “adult care facility”. At his age, he would not be able to provide the care that she would require. The doctor asked about children. They had two, both in their sixties. They both lived clear across the country and could really provide no help. They had their own lives, medical problems, children, and grandchildren. He knew, that their pensions and social security were sufficient to provide them a comfortable life, but there was no money for buying the kind of care she would need.

He had provided loving care for as long as he could. Through the heartbreak of watching his best friend become a stranger, he persevered. But, as promised, the symptoms of the illness continued to progress. It seemed like it was worse every day. Her once intelligent blue eyes were nearly colorless and vacant. It was not just her mind, but her body deteriorated to a shell. She could no longer control her bowels or emotions. He was not certain which left a bigger mess.

As he sat in the recliner, trying to summon the courage to dial 911, he could not bring himself to apologize for holding the pillow over her face as she slept. Perhaps realizing that her misery was at an end, there was only a feeble struggle as he heard the sounds of her last, labored breath. He kissed her a tender, final goodbye and as he stumbled through his tears into the living room, his pain was tempered by relief that their shared torment was at an end.

The smiles of the couple in the gold-framed photos were what he would remember. Of all the photos that adorned their home, of grandchildren and great grandchildren, of beloved pets……..these were her two favorites. And though he never admitted it to her, they were his favorites too.

This piece was rewritten  and entered  into the Coastal Carolina University creative writing contest where it took 3rd place.

23 comments:

Remiman said...

That was absolutely awesome Rick!
rel

TC said...

God this broke my heart.

Three years ago in May, I moved away for a couple of months. When I came home, I didn't come back to where I'd been living, but rather to my HOME hometown. I suddenly got to see a lot more of my grandparents than I had in the four years before that. And what I saw scared and made me sad. I tried to tell my parents and my aunts and uncles that something wasn't right with my grandma, but everyone told me that it was just that I hadn't been around the last couple of years. She was fine.

That October she was diagnosed with Alzheimers. I've never hated being "right" more in my life. I get to see her once every couple of months, and sometimes I luck out and she's having a "good day." But as my cousin and I have discussed many, many times, that woman in that nursing home is NOT our grandma. Our grandma will forever be in her kitchen, fussing over someone or something, wanting to hear about places she'll never see in her lifetime or just how a day at school was. And I miss her.

There are people who would say what he did was wrong, and even a small part of me thinks so. But there are others who would say NOT doing what he did was wrong... and a small part of me agrees with them. Tough, tough topic this week.

paisley said...

now that my dear is love... human compassion in the most dire of circumstances.. the ability to provide for her what she could no longer provide for herself... human dignity....

i love you for posting this...

myrtle beached whale said...

Most of my posts tend to be a bit silly and trite, as intended. The three words this week struck a different chord. I am not making a moral point here, it is just what came to my mind.

Judy Thomas said...

what a beautiful and heartrending entry into 3WW. Well-done.

Anonymous said...

And what a wonderful mind you have!!! Great Post, as always!! I love to see the softer side of you!!!

Corina said...

This is another one of those issues that people get passionate about. You did a beautiful job of portraying this side of it.

For some reason, you were meant to write this. Like you said, that's just where your mind went to. What you may not ever know is that somewhere, someone probably needed to read this today and that's why your mind went there.

I, for one, am glad you chose to follow your mind when it went there.

Anonymous said...

This touched my heart.

Watching someone you love wasting away is so hard. Wanting them to remember you, wishing there was something you could do to help....

A hard decision to make. I didn't have his courage.

A very good post!!

Lucy said...

I couldn't help crying while reading this Rick. My friends mom was just diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It is such a heartbreaking disease.
I couldn't help wondering if this was written about a loved one of yours Rick? It was written beautifully and lovingly. I hope it wasn't a personal tragedy. ♥

Little Wing said...

Oh if only we could all be so lucky as to share a love such as this one.
It broke my heart but I smile thru the tears.
He loved her enough.
He loved her enough to let her go.

myrtle beached whale said...

Paisley: But do you love me enough to kill me?

Lucy: You are just a softhearted person. You probably cried when Seinfeld lost "the contest."

Little Wing: This man had killed before, but they were the enemy. He found himself having to kill the love of his life to spare her and himself the misery of lack of dignity.

As I was writing this I thought how sad for those of us that never experience a love like this. I felt dispair for them but greater sadness for us. You hit the nail right on the head.

tumblewords said...

Heartwrenching story - so well written - it reaches deep in the psyche and stirs emotions.

Renee said...

did you write this after reading my blog? ;o) kidding

You wrote a lovely story. I know you weren't trying to make a statement, but you did.

Two of my MIL's siblings have this terrible disease. One has the angry kind, the other doesn't remember and doesn't remember to care either.

shammi said...

Dammit, this made me cry

Heather Kathleen said...

my heart aches with this post. very close to home. beautifully written...

Anonymous said...

Fantastic storyline. Your creative mind continues to amaze at all levels. I know you.
Miss Rose

LittleWing said...

i cannot imagine what a feeling that must be... to love so dearly and slip through your hands... beautiful story full of compassion...

giggles said...

My parents believed in euthanasia, so who really knows what the agreement between them may have been! Very moving, great love story, written with so much heart! You are such a wonderful writer Rick, keep it up! Thanks for sharing!

Hugs Sherrie

anthonynorth said...

What a beautiful, heart-wrenching post.
Well done.

Amarettogirl said...

This was one of the best pieces of writing I have ever read about alzheimers. It brought tears to my eyes. It was clear, poignant, powerful, yet terrifying and intriguing! This piece is about one of my greatest, deepest fears...infact I think its why I travel no where now without a camera and why it is that I want to document my life ...I want to mark my existence for fear of losing it. I make have to write a blog inspired by this piece. No worries, I will link to you! Thank you!

myrtle beached whale said...

Damn, I forgot I wrote this. Who are you people?

gautami tripathy said...

This is so touching, Rick. One of your best posts so far. Thanks for sharing this.

lubricating

rebecca said...

Rick,

This was beautiful...i am so happy that this is the inspiration that came from those words.

My parents had a love affair that lasted over 50 years. When my mother died, my father was in the midst of dementia, yet still physically strong and completely healthy otherwise. Funny, many times he had difficulty recognizing many of us, yet he never had difficulty recognizing his one true love. He died exactly two years after her death. one day when i went to visit him and he was in one of his rare lucid states, he said to me, "it's time for me to go home rebecca...your mama is waiting for me." i cried for i knew it was just a matter of time. he never stopped asking for her. he soon died from a broken heart ... the need and desire to connect once again with the one who he shared his love and soul with was stronger than anything else.

it's amazing what the power of love can do....