Co-Pilot Dreams


Mother's Day, Chincoteague. 2011

Mother’s Day, Chincoteague. 2011

I just celebrated a birthday recently. Not long after Christmas, not long before Valentine’s. I have been spoiled and blessed with a husband that always put a lot of thought and effort into gifts. He was so thoughtful and I was so lucky. I was the recipient of some great surprises for many holidays. One year he surprised me with a skydiving jump. Then there was the beautiful dress he purchased on a business trip. Our first Valentine’s Day, I received my engagement ring…. I always tease him he still owes me a Valentine’s gift because an engagement ring doesn’t count. Now, at this point, I don’t care. I am grateful for just being his bride.

Two years ago I had no gifts or cards for Mother’s Day.  I know I am supposed to say that is OK. I know you love me and appreciate me as your Mother and I don’t mind. But if I am being honest, I was pissed and hurt. So Christmas of that year, I thought I would nip that in the bud. Jim and I had been in Bethesda, MD visiting the NIH for his diagnostic trials and we went shopping at a fabulous store. Just the two of us. I purchased workout attire and handed him the bag and told him that would be my Christmas gifts. I made sure when we got home they were put with his stuff. I made sure I reminded him before we left for Christmas at my parents.  Not only did I not have anything from him, he had completely been unable to plan ahead for stocking stuff too.

Now the kids are older.  They do a good job of reminding him and making sure he takes them to pick out something.

I don’t think I will be receiving any more jewelry or surprises from him. The definitiveness of that statement really makes me sad. Not because I want to be lavished with jewels. Because it is the end of part of our marriage. When you go through struggles in a marriage, whether it be lack of funds or rough patches in intimacy, you always know better times are ahead. Maybe you stroll through the mall and see something fancy that you would really like one day. You know practically, it ain’t happening any time soon. BUT, you can dream. You can tell yourself that one day, things will be better and when they are, you will get that beautiful ring or piece of furniture or whatever it is that has caught your eye. Maybe it is a trip to somewhere exotic. Maybe it is re-doing the kitchen or the bathroom. Maybe it is a new car or nicer home. Whatever it is, you are in it together; planning, dreaming, saving. Working toward a mutual goal that will eventually happen.
Alzheimer’s Disease changes personalities. Sense of time. Sense of planning. Sense of empathy. Sense of urgency. They sort of just walk (or shuffle) through life at the same pace and nothing seems to bother them. Maybe it bothers some of them. I have  some friends, who are caregivers, tell me their spouses get frustrated and angry when they can’t remember something. I am so fortunate. Jim just seems to take it all with a grain of salt. He doesn’t show anger or frustration. I do enough of that for the both of us. Maybe I would like it if he did show that he was aware of what is going on; the changes that have happened in our family. But, the saying says be careful what you wish for for a reason. What I really wish is for my husband to return to me. To see that smile and hear that laugh. To feel his touch and know that we are connected souls again. I miss HIM. I miss his mind. I miss him everytime I have to plan our family’s lives…. what is for dinner?  what movie will we watch?  how will we pay for new windows or the tax bill?   how are we going to discipline the kids?

You can choose to sit around feeling sorry for yourself or you can try to keep your future bright and full of possibilities. I choose the later. So what if he doesn’t help with birthdays? So what if he fails to notice we have up no Christmas decorations? So what if he doesn’t understand we are living paycheck to paycheck; unable to save for fixing up the house or taking vacations or planning for the kids college? I still have him. I still have part of him. He may not be the same man I married, but he is still so much better than I could have ended up with. He is so much better than many men. He loves me. He loves our children. He tries his best every day, without complaining. He leaves that for me. He is still a beautiful, loving, caring dad. And I am still so very lucky I found him.

posted by Karen in Early Signs of Alzheimer's,Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease,Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease and have Comments (2)

2 Responses to “Co-Pilot Dreams”

  1. Beth Jackson says:

    Karen, you are such an amazing person. I think your posts really help others put things in perspective and I hope provide some outlet for you as well. I can’t begin to imagine what a tremendously difficult journey this is for you and your family, but I do hope there are some bright spots and you do seem to find them. It is human that you are pissed, frustrated,and sometimes angry. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

  2. Lyndie says:

    Wow, the part about not filling up the stockings really hits home with me.
    I didn’t realize that my mom always was in charge of the stockings and gifts until she got sick and we just didn’t get them anymore.

    You are very brave.

    Keep loving him and keep fighting.


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