Receiving an email reminder of the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to Stop Alzheimer’s coming up in a few months, set off a chain of reactions I jotted down as they were hitting my brain…bumpbumpbump…
1. I want to go on the walk. It will be a good thing to raise money for research of course, but what really appeals to me is the sense of belonging the walk implies. I imagine myself in a bright-colored t-shirt surrounded by smiling new friends.
2. I can’t sign up. Ralph will refuse to participate. If I bring it up he’ll say “just send money.” He walks every day with his dog or with me., but with other people? Other people with varying stages of Alzheimer’s: No way. He doesn’t want to be part of that world.
3. Actually, he’s not that stubborn. I probably could convince him to participate. I could say his doctor says we should . No, I don’t have to manipulate him that way. If I’m honest and say that the walk is something I want to do, he’ll probably go along; he likes pleasing me these days.(a smile of affection at that thought)
4. But if I do convince Ralph to walk, he won’t want to walk with other people. We would be a lonely twosome. I get support from knowing others in the same boat, while being around people with cognitive impairment only scares Ralph. And this difference is not just because he has the impairment; it also has to do with his personality versus mine. Not everything has to do with the impairment.
5. But Ralph was the extrovert for the first twenty years of our marriage. I used to resent how easily he met people. Our roles have reversed after all.
6. Maybe it’s not a great idea. Maybe I’m still too shy to walk with strangers. Maybe I’ll just send a check. Why push against my natural inclination and his current comfort zone.
7. But how can I not walk? We need to own this reality.
8. I am not sure why this walk seems so important. I have plenty of time to decide; three months can bring a lot of changes (or very few). But this one small choice, like every small choice, crystallizes the back and forth in which I spend so much of my inner life these days.
9. And besides I keep imagining those new friends.