Today would have been my mother-in-law’s 65th anniversary, and in her mind it would still be so. She has no idea she is a widow. She has no idea that the love of her life…the man she has known since she was just a little baby, and with whom she shared a crib sometimes…has been gone for over a year now. That is the side of Alzheimer’s Disease that I think is merciful. While she doesn’t remember the things that happened a few minutes ago, or even a few years ago, and she doesn’t always remember our names, she also doesn’t remember that my father-in-law passed away on May 5, 2013. To her, he is visiting the neighbors, working, or out in the garage. I’m glad that is the case. She feels no grief and she doesn’t miss him…because to her, he is still here. She sees him everywhere. When she sees a man in a plaid shirt, she thinks it’s Dad, because he loved those plaid flannel shirts. I wouldn’t wish for her to remember Dad’s passing…it’s just too hard. We can play along. When she asks where Dad is, I tell her that he is in the garage, at Walmart, or at the neighbors. It satisfies her. She also sees Dad in her sons, Bob and Ron, her grandsons, and even in some of the men in the nursing home. We play along. At first it was hard, but the guys are used to it now.
This anniversary, that would have been a landmark anniversary for them, had Dad still been with us, is a bit sad for us…the children, in-laws, and grandchildren left behind, after Dad’s passing. It is always such a cool thing, especially these days, when someone makes one of these landmark anniversaries, because so many marriages don’t last. But theirs beat the odds. They had the real thing…love, and that made all the difference. It’s what keeps a marriage together through good times and bad.
Dad was always the bread winner, and Mom was always the homemaker. Together, they raised six children. She cooked, baked, canned, and kept the home and kids in order. He took care of the outdoor things like shoveling the walk, mowing the lawn, working on the cars, and any building that needed to be done. They were a team…and then half of the team was suddenly gone after a little under 64 years of marriage. To us, their family, it seemed too impossible to be true, but to Mom, it simply wasn’t true. To her…he is still here, and will be for as long as she is. It’s the merciful part of Alzheimer’s Disease.