Saturday, December 03, 2022

I Am Not Prepared For This....

I was in the middle of writing another blog article last night when I went in to tuck Pam into bed for the night.  During that process we had a conversation that alarmed me and one that I was not prepared for.  I thought that by learning the symptoms and timeline for the disease, that I was preparing myself for what was to come.  What I have learned tonight is that I might be intellectually prepared, but not emotionally prepared.

There is little I can do to stop the progress of the dementia and I view my role as one of maintaining her comfort and her safety.  So I often ask her if there is anything I can do for her or get for her.  Tonight she responded in the affirmative.  She said that I could get her memory back for her.  She admitted that she is starting to have trouble remembering who is family and who isn't.  She mumbled something about not knowing if it was our granddaughter and great grandson.   Considering that we have five grandsons and no granddaughters, I wasn't sure what she was talking about.  It took a few more questions before I understand what she was saying.

I asked if she knew who Elijah's mother was.  And she knew that it was Allyson.  I then asked if she remembered who Noah's mother was.  She tripped through all three daughters before she settled on Courtney.  Correct.  I then asked who Keelan's mother was and she was stumped.  She admitted that when Kendra and Keelan were here for dinner on Thursday, she wasn't sure who they were.  Maybe she was our granddaughter she thought.  I will say that it was not at all evident on Thursday night that she had those doubts.  And then the shocker... she said that she didn't expect to make it until next Christmas.  I know that she has been well aware of her situation, but this is the first time that I heard her talk about mortality like this.

I am not prepared for this.   I had felt that her cognitive issues had leveled off (for now) and was focused on the more visible, physical symptoms.  I probably should have been aware that her memory loses continued.  For the past couple of weeks, all conversations referencing Bruce, were in third-person. In the past, she has mentioned that there were several Bruce's , so when she references me in third-person, I usually ask which Bruce does she think I am.  She just laughs... without answering.

I understand that we are all mortal.  We will all die. But I am still dealing with the emotions of the loss of our plans to live the RV lifestyle, our dreams to check off destinations on the bucket list, our loss of fun times together with friends, and our quiet, intimate times alone.  It is not that I feel like I am losing out on those things.  The sadness is that WE are losing out on those things.  I have no qualms about being there to help her get dressed, to shower, any of that.  That is what we signed up for more than fifty years ago.  We wrote our own vows, so we did not have the typical "for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death does us part", but that is what was meant.  I am completely good with all that.  What I am not able to deal with is seeing her decline physically and mentally.  I can't talk about it to others without tearing up.

More than one person in the support group that I am in has sought help to deal with these feelings.  I just don't know if I am ready for that.  Originally, I was reluctant to join the support group.  Just not a support group kinda guy, I said.  But I have found it to be enormously helpful, as has writing this blog.  I am not prepared for this!


  1. Our dear cousin Bruce, Your emails always touch our hearts, but this last one is especially poignant. We are at a loss for words; know that the depth of your love for Pam is certainly what each and every one of us should have for our spouse and should express daily while we are able. Our love goes out to you, Stevie and Dan

  2. I love you both and try and do what I can and I will continue to do so❤️

  3. I wish I had the words express our feelings. Please know we are thinking of you and Pam.

  4. Cuz Bruce, know that you are loved. Blessings to you both.

  5. I feel your heart when I read these emails, with tears in my eyes and love in my heart. I always look forward to our sister time every month and also feel that I/we should make more visits. Love you both

  6. Being emotionally ready for something is different than being logically prepared. One of the most difficult things I've heard was from my close friend Chip. Forgive me if this is a repeat. Chip fell and hit the back of his head on pavement. He suffered a TBI. I visited him weekly for many months while he was in the Boston area for treatment (he lives in FL). In a lucid moment he looked at me like the "old Chip" and said "Please don't forget me." It still haunts me 5 years later. That may have been the same day he introduced me to someone else at the facility saying the other person was me.

    Bruce, you're a loving husband and father. You're doing everything you can and Pam needs. Put whatever you want in the blogs. Sometimes it's easier than talking about it. -rich b.

  7. Bruce - it is startling when there are noticeable declines in a short period. That does happen and will continue based on my experience. Keep doing the best you can and keep sharing with your family and key friends so they can understand what is happening. You are indeed a loving man.