I just read Joan Gershman’s eulogy for her husband Sid Gershman on her site The Alzheimer’s Spouse. Sid died on June 15.
After twelve years of care giving and eight years of blogging about Alzheimer’s, Joan is taking time to grieve. In her eulogy, Joan is her usual down to earth, self-aware self. And loving in a way I can only aspire to be. Of course, I have often aspired to be more like Joan.
I discovered The Alzheimer’s Spouse the week that Ralph was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment/Early Alzheimer’s. With dread I turned to the Internet to read up. I found academic articles, scientific studies, platitudinous advice columns. And then I found The Alzheimer’s Spouse.
This was only two years ago so the Gershman’s were already 10 years deep into dementia’s waters while I was just barely wading the shoreline.
Joan’s site has always been rich with information, but it was Joan’s spirit that grabbed me that night, her willingness to say the unsayable, to bare her wounds and scars. Her spirit and her survival mechanism. I remember sitting at my kitchen table pouring over her posts while Ralph slept in the next room. Here was a role model—a woman facing the reality of her husband’s deteriorating condition, sticking with him, but remaining a person in her own right.
I admit I am no Joan. I am more grudging about care-giving a husband with developing dementia. I am less willing to devote a lot of energy to researching the nooks and crannies of Alzheimer’s care giving in order to stay as up-to-date as I should with current knowledge. But that’s okay—Joan would understand. What I so love about The Alzheimer’s Spuse site is that while Joan has made available a library of knowledge about Alzheimer’s, bthe personal connections and revelations have always been paramount.
Each of us taking care of someone with cognitive impairment realizes that no two cases are the same, that despite statistics and research we each face different challenges. Yet reading Joan’s words always remind me that we have a lot in common as well.