PLEASE NOTE: Even though this blog is now dormant there are many useful, insightful posts. Scroll back from the end or forward from the beginning. Also, check out my writer's blog. Periodically I will add posts here if they provide additional information about living well with Dementia / Alzheimer's Disease.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


Almost every day, Vera brought Marvin to Lieberman to visit Betty. Marvin is blind, walks with a white cane, and presents a sophisticated, educated, friendly air. He always recognized my, "Hi Marvin," even though he could not see me clearly.

He would comment on how young Gregory was and how good looking. He wondered if I was his father but didn't flinch when I told him I has Gregory's life partner. "How wonderful!" he said at finding out we just celebrated our 39th anniversary. "Babies," he said, "Ours is 75."

Sometimes Betty was in a good mood and the six of us would chat. (Marvin, Betty, Vera, Gregory, Manny, and me.) Other times she was unhappy, complaining, and argumentative with Marvin. But Marvin loved her and would always answer "Pretty well!" when I asked how he was doing.

Vera was Betty's helper but also helped Marvin. She would pick him up at home, bring him to Lieberman, take him back home after his visit, and return to be with Betty, then get back to help Marvin by evening.

The difficult part is that one comes to love these people, this community of Alzheimer's design. One comes to look forward to seeing them every day, to having the same narrow conversation, to feel part of the community.

Then one day a laminated blue Dove is flying on an 81/2 x 11 piece of white cardboard hung on the door of their room. Sometimes you don't get even that much warning. You commiserate, you hold back your emotions, you are supportive. You offer your wishes for the best.

This is the unspoken way of dealing with an imminent death. In a few days the room is empty and the partner no longer comes to Lieberman. The helper is no longer there to smile at. You do not get the chance to say you are sorry, or goodbye, or even it's been nice.

You move on but the emotions follow for a few days until the next person occupies that room. And the cycle begins again. For a week, or a month or maybe for years the cycle repeats. But it circles and you continue until your own loved one's room flies its Dove.

Safe travels Betty. In your small way, I'll miss you. Thank you for the reminder that there are happy endings.

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