A loved relative who has had mild dementia for several years has reached the point where his devoted wife can no longer care for him in their home. He will move to a home this coming week.
It’s not a surprise. We knew it was coming. I am surprised it didn’t happen sooner.
So why does it feel like someone died?
Ultimately, this is a good thing. The change will be good for all parties. He will have more staff and activities than he would at home. It won’t be strange because he has been attending day care at the same place. In fact, he has already developed a girlfriend.
His new friend (wife approved) is 25 years his senior (yep, really old), equally dotty and a caring soul. She makes sure his sweater is nearby.
Neither one is capable of anything physical. It’s meeting a new set of needs. Or maybe the oldest need in the books — companionship.
His wife will be relieved of the burden of worry and the shackles of responsibility for someone (a large person) who cannot be left alone. At all. Ever.
His ability to stay in his home for this long is a tribute to his wife, who orchestrated treatment, doctor appointments and family visits much like a ballet. A very delicate balancing act.
This relative is not local so we don’t see him frequently. I doubt if he would know us.
What we have are memories of happier times when he was a vital, healthy person capable of a challenging discussion on just about anything. That version of him is gone. Long gone. That is what we are mourning. His eventual death will pale in comparison.
My (much older) brother talks about the funerals they attend (weekly). Funerals may trump doctor appointments. It’s another passage I don’t think I’m ready for.
One thing is certain. These events make you appreciate health and happiness. I find myself looking at people as if it may be the last time I see them. Hugs abound. (Working on not appearing too stalker-ish!)
Maybe I will get used to losing dear friends and relatives. (Do you ever?) Maybe not. We’ll see.
As Ben Casey said — man, woman, birth, death, infinity. I like the front-end better than the back-end.