As 2017 is drawing to a close, I am reminded it has been two years now that my husband was jarred into the reality that something was going terribly wrong with his state of mind. It was at a friend’s Christmas dinner party that Art stared vacantly into the distance, absently turned, and simply walked away right in the middle of a conversation with a nurse friend of ours; not once, not twice, but three times that night. When I asked him about it later that night he angrily insisted that the two never even attempted to engage in conversation. For the first time, I saw fear and alarm in his eyes. Art credits our friend with being responsible for scaring him into seeking appropriate medical help. Up until that fateful evening, it was only me telling him something was not right, and that he needed to go to the doctor. Being his wife, it was naturally turned around during our uncomfortable, always tense conversations about what I saw happening to him on a daily basis. The facts were skewed to be my overactive imagination, making up things, and during one especially vengeful confrontation, was accused of being like the mother I knew who suffered from Menchausen Syndrome, a psychological disorder whereby “an individual falsely presents another person as ill, impaired, or injured.” (Psychology Today, 2017). Enter an unbiased third party, not having seen us for a while, recognizing his inability to engage and hold a conversation as a terrifying red flag, needing immediate medical assessment.
Life turned on its heals for us following his grim diagnosis just a few short months later. In the past couple of years the progression of his Lewy Body Dementia has been moderately paced, with clear digression in all areas of his abilities, mental and physical. The tough part for him is that he never remembers what he has, and most days he denies there is a serious problem, and that he can indeed continue life as he once was. He cannot. But rather than dwell on what he has lost, I prefer to look to what he has the ability to do. So yes, LBD is debilitating, but for Art, it is crucial to continually point to the positives in his/our lives. So this year as Christmas and 2018 draw near, I am making a list, not a Christmas list of wants, not a New Year’s resolution list, but rather a list of “Haves”. What do we have (not material things) that we thank God for??
- We have each other. Always.
- We have a caring family, with new grandkids coming our way within a few short months of each other! We love them all, and can’t wait to meet Benjamin, grandson #3, grandchild #4!
- We have you. All of you who care for us, pray for us, help us in your own loving way. Thank you!
- Art still enjoys his amazing artistic abilities-with the art show fundraiser this past October his talent received recognition beyond his wildest dreams! What an ego booster! While the fundraiser was a huge success, he actually loves to give away paintings. Truth be told, he gives away far more than he sells. This is his legacy.
- He still enjoys his own brand of sarcastic, often silly, sense of humor. Some things never change…we’ll take it!!
- His desire to live each day to its fullest. Whether it’s painting, meeting his pals for coffee once a week, or having his grandkids lovingly throw their arms around him for a healing bearhug, each day is a new opportunity to live life in his way.
- We have our faith. I don’t know how folks get through life’s challenges without the hope and promise of God’s grace. From the poem “Footprints in the Sand”: “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.” God is carrying us each and every day of this journey.
- The hope of a new year, and what it will bring. What new adventures await us? We do have a thing or two up our sleeve, but for now we’ll just keep it neatly tucked there…
Thank you letting me share our lives with you in this way. I find writing a cathartic experience, one that forces me to look deeper into my soul to uncover the truths I may have kept hidden. My prayers for you all are that you find peace and joy this holiday season and into the new year. As always,
Blessing to you and yours!