Thursday, May 20, 2010
Fuck You Alzheimers...Fuck You. A Love Story
This is a love story.
Of our best friends, the wife has early onset Alzheimers. She’s had it since her mid 50’s. She’s 61 now. And every single day, she is leaving us a little bit more. Well, a lot more.
I’ll call her Daisy, it’s not her name, but I feel protective of her. Daisy and her husband were our neighbors for many years. His name is Dennis. That is his real name. I think he is a tough guy, so I’m not afraid to use his real name.
Though they are older than we are, with grown kids, we started having a relationship of geography. (Hey, we just happened to see each other ALL the time. We lived on a dirt road and The Husband had a tractor. We had needs, you know how that goes… except instead of asking to borrow a power tool, we would ask him to get on his tractor and smooth out our driveways). That relationship grew into a friendship, and now, they are our family.
We always thought Daisy was a little “dingy”. Sweet, fun, beautiful and well…just dingy. Going over to their house for dinner was an experience in hunger, patience and manic-ness and she ran from the table to the kitchen and back, cuz she couldn’t remember what she needed. You know . . . ditzy.
But the ditziness got worse, and all of a sudden it wasn’t a charming personality quirk. After trips to the neurologist and those horrible tests where she was asked to count backwards from 100 by 7’s (hey try it . . . see if it doesn’t scare the shit out of you) the diagnosis came back: Early Onset Alzheimers.
There was shock and crying and grief. But then the worst of that passes and there is just settling into the New Normal.
You know, where you can’t have a real conversation with her anymore.
Where Dennis has lost his partner/soulmate/best friend of 20 years.
But in the beginning of this, man, Daisy was pissed. She hated the doctor for asking her questions she couldn’t answer and she hated us and her husband for talking “behind her back”.
And she felt so insulted by the diagnosis. She used to say, when she stumbled about something: I’m not a nit wit you know. I’m not a nutter. (She’s English, you know…)
“No Lovey, we don’t think that. You just have a little condition about remembering.”
Those feisty years are coming to an end. Now Daisy is so delightful. Everything makes her laugh.
My kids understand that in a restaurant when she says: I’ll take the girls to the Restroom, that THEY are the ones taking her.
We all pitch in to help her do her belt, or get her shoes on or keep her pesky zipper zipped UP.
If we tell my daughters that Daisy may not come visit us this weekend, they shout out, BUT WE CAN TAKE CARE OF HER. WE WANT OUR DAISY.
She gets lost trying to find the bathroom in her own house.
She and Dennis have some weddings and fancy events to go to this year. Dennis handed me a bag with the junkiest, most overwhelming, TON of makeup and said: Can you help me figure this out?
I told him to give me the credit card and I’d be right back. (Hey they’re our best friends. Why shouldn’t I speak to him just like I speak to my own husband.)
I went to Target and bought a few simple things. Then I labeled each brush and each compact. Then I made a list. Then I took photos.
Then I gave Dennis lessons.
It is a good thing Daisy is tough, cuz Dennis is a former Marine, do it yourself Home Remodeler, and man’s man. That was some harsh eye shadow application there, Dude!
But you know what? Daisy looked pretty. She looks better with some eyebrow and a little color.
Daisy is leaving us. And she’s not just leaving us and our kids. She’s leaving her daughters and her grandkids and most painfully, she’s leaving her husband.
You know, before Alzheimer’s had her, Daisy was never an “I love you” girl. But she is now.
And cuz she can’t remember anything, she tells me she loves me over and over and over. I kinda love that part. Cuz I love her too. And now I can say it as much as I want. (And no one questions whether or not I have been drinking too much.)
Every day Dennis and Daisy set out to have a good day. And every day I miss her. Every day I think: Fuck You Alzheimers.
I love you too, Daisy. I love you too.