Alzheimer's and a Husband's Love for his Wife
- Published on Saturday, 11 December 2010 18:55
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
A Story as told by an anonymous doctor's office nurse.
It was a busy morning at the clinic, about 8:30, when an elderly gentleman in his 80's arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb. He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 am.
I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would to able to see him. I saw him looking at his watch and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound.
On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound. While taking care of his wound, I asked him if he had another doctor's appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry.
The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife. I inquired as to her health.
As we talked, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late. He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in three years now.
I was surprised, and asked him, “And you still go every morning, even though she doesn't know who you are?” He smiled as he patted my hand and said:
“She doesn't know me,
but I still know who she is."
I had to hold back tears as he left, I had goose bumps on my arm, and thought -
"That is the kind of love I want in my life."
(Original Author unknown – Named, edited and illustrated by Stan Berg - December 2010)
Editorial Comments: I do not know if this is a true story or just a poignant tale of fiction revolving about the horrible disease Alzheimer’s. However, I can testify to what is depicted here by way of an "elderly gentleman" with an Alzheimer’s wife, has a basis in facts many times over. During the almost 11 years that my wife June K. Berg battled this dread disease, I have had the occasion to spend many hours of time in Alzheimer’s nursing home facilities. I have personally witnessed a number of similar real life dramas that revolved about the efforts of husbands’ to care for, love and protect one of the most precious parts of their life – their wife of many years. One of my best friends, Dr. Don Fox is a perfect fit for the “elderly gentleman” in this story…Don's wife Gloria just passed away after a battle with Alzheimer’s of many years. Gloria was one of June’s friends and also a member of our Redeemer Lutheran Church.
Situations of this type are really very common and normal. Most husbands do not stop loving their wives or stop spending time with them because they no longer remember or know them simply because of the effects of Alzheimer's. Most husbands would be insulted to suggest such a thing! I did not spend less time with my wife June when she no longer knew who I was. The reverse would have been more correct. During the last two years when June rarely even opened her eyes, I would spend 8 hour days with her simply holding her hand and occasionally assuring her of my love for her and that I would always care for her. Don and I would discuss how we felt our love for our wives actually increased as Alzheimer's became more intense and controlling in the life or our wive's.
It should be kept in mind that in the majority of Alzheimer’s cases, it is the elderly that is most often impacted by this disease. The married couple struggling with the disease will in most cases be an elderly husband and wife. These are couples who have spent most of a lifetime together. For them, the husband and wife relationship is a very precious one. These are not cases of a “here today and gone tomorrow” type of love so often seen among present day younger generations.
"Caregiving is an inadequate term...it's really LOVE‐giving. You essentially need to be willing to give unconditional love to the person that's suffering from Alzheimer's." - Mark Shriver
Emily White, Events Coordinator - Alzheimer Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, Inc. - (17 July 2012): "Love can be such a beautiful thing, especially when it triumphs through the Alzheimer journey. All the best to you, and thank you for sharing"
Julie Yates - Warrington, United Kingdom - (17 July 2012): " How lovely is that? It reduced me to tears! "
Vicky Greaves - St. Helens, Staffordshire, United Kingdom - (26 November 2012): "The story reminds me of my nan and grandad, but it was my grandad who had it first, nan in late stage but i look after her."
Vicki Cadogan - Limerick, Ireland - (26 November 2012): "Lovely story, reminds me of my dad."
Note: For greater detail on June's life with Alzheimer's and her struggle with the disease of almost 11 years, please click on the below link for the article on:
June's obituary is found on the same blue navigation strip, under the tab "In Memoriam" on on the drop down menu: