Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What Is Left When Your Stuff Is Gone?

photo credit: Alone by elward-photography

Barbara usually helps Ted with his bedtime routine. Tonight she is taking a walk, so I gave Ted the before bed pill and went into his room to set out pajamas for him. I had to look through his clothes to find a clean pair of PJ's. He has a standing rack with a dozen or so sport shirts and slacks on hangers. He has a small three drawer dresser for socks, underwear, t-shirts and PJ's. He has a few sweaters, a windbreaker, a winter coat, a couple of pairs of shoes and two caps. That's it for wardrobe.

We moved Ted's bed from the assisted living apartment to his room in our house. We use the dining room table that he and Juanita shared for many years. Ted has two easy chairs, a walker, two canes, and a wheelchair.

Ted had a small TV, but we replaced it with a digital one that gets better reception. We have to help him use the remote to turn the TV on or play a dvd.

Ted's car is parked in front of our house. He hasn't been able to drive for years now. But he likes knowing that he still owns a car. Whenever we take Ted anywhere, we drive his car. Often Barbara takes him for country drives or out to get an ice cream cone.

As I looked through Ted's small dresser (the bottom drawer is empty), it suddenly struck me just how stripped down his life is now. Sometimes I yearn for a simpler life. I realized I was looking at life reduced to its simplest.

Ted has few possessions. Barbara manages his finances (thankfully, he is quite financially secure for an 89 year old widower). We supply his meals, fetch his medications, and deal with other of life's details for him.

Alzheimer's has robbed Ted of most of his memory. It is very difficult for him to make new memories.

What is left?

Ted is still here. His personality is still uniquely his own. His sense of humor remains. He loves and is loved. He is generous, patient, and kind. He enjoys seeing wild life of all types, but especially the local deer population. He enjoys sharing the memories he still has. From time to time he mourns deeply for his wife of 67 years.

Ted teaches me every day. He teaches me what is, after all, truly important.

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