Ted with Juanita a Few Days Before She Died
Ted was married to Juanita for 67 years. She died two weeks ago. Since then we have brought Ted into our home so that we can provide the sort of help that he needs as his disease progresses. This is a huge change for Ted, for Barbara, and for me.
At times I have been reminded of our first child's birth, 26 years ago. Julia's presence in our home changed everything. We had prepared a room for her with special equipment and supplies. Julia depended on us every hour of every day. We loved her very much, but we had little experience in caring for a child.
Ted is not a child. Yet there are similarities. Our lives have been profoundly changed. We worked to create a safe comfortable space for Ted. Now we have a walker, a wheelchair, grab bars, and a ramp to our front porch. Ted's Alzheimer's has progressed to the point were he needs someone to be immediately available to him at all times.
There are also many differences. Ted communicates well. He has an excellent sense of humor. For now, he can dress and feed himself. As a baby, none of that was true for Julia. Ted's condition will very likely deteriorate as weeks and months pass. Julia grew and learned. Ted will become more dependent.
Alzheimer's impairs a person's ability to store new memories. It also gradually robs the person of memories from earlier in life. When Ted awakes from sleep, he has to ask us where he is. He still remembers his daughter, Barbara, but he doesn't know who I am unless I explain it to him.
Ted is fortunate in that his personality remains kind and good natured. He has faith in God. He knows he is loved by his whole family, although he has trouble remembering many of them or anything about their current lives.
Ted knows Juanita has died. He mourns her loss deeply. However, he also understands that their separation is temporary. Ted will join Juanita in heaven when his time on earth is complete. He is resigned to being patient, yet he longs to be reunited with Juanita.