Lately, I’ve been complaining a lot here about the difficulties of living with Ralph as his cognitive skills wobble and wane. While I hope that my honesty in voicing frustrations as I explore ways to manage as caregiver-spouse has been useful to others, I know I sometimes lose perspective (thank you to friends here you rein me in).
So it’s good to be reminded that life is not a straight line, especially when Ralph is doing the reminding:
1.The day after the contractor incident earlier this week (see ), Ralph asked me whether he’d had an argument with a contractor and what was it about. I told him, trying to soft peddle as best I could.
“Oh well, we can replace the system if he thinks it’s necessary,” he shrugged.
Despite my expectations, he hasn’t brought the subject up again, except to acknowledge that he is embarrassed by his own behavior. Pre-diagnosis Ralph was almost Trump-like in his inability to apologize for mistakes so I consider his contrition a sign of emotional growth.
2.Then yesterday, while listening to the news, he made a comment so astute I must share it with you all. Someone on the radio complained about political correctness and Ralph stopped sipping his coffee to say, “Why would anyone want to be incorrect about politics or anything else?”
Why indeed? I borrowed his observation and posted it on my facebook pages where “likes” flowed in. Although he may not remember the details, Ralph can still cut through to the chase.
3.The kicker is a conversation we had an hour ago. Periodically I must drive to St. Petersburg, Florida, to manage the affairs of a disabled cousin. Since it’s a seven-hour drive each way, I have to spend the night. I long ago gave up on getting Ralph to come with me. Last year I drove down with a friend who also has (difficult) family to visit in the area. Another friend may drive down with me next week; she needs a break and I’ve bribed her with the promise of a gourmet meal, a nice hotel and the Dali Museum. But she has warned me she might have to cancel at the last minute.
Ralph must have heard me talking on the phone about the trip as he was napping on the couch because out of nowhere, he sat up and OFFERED TO COME WITH ME. Note the capital letters in red ink. I was/am flummoxed.
Whether he comes or not is not the point—and frankly, I’d hate to have him miss his art class, which is so important in his mental life (one week wouldn’t matter but he has to miss class the next week too, ah the complexities of Ralph’s usually empty schedule!).
The point is that he is still capable of breaking through the Alzheimer’s shell of inward-gazing to think about someone else’s well being, and that someone else is me, not as his caregiver but as his wife whom he wants to take care of.
So at the moment I am feeling an emotion that our relationship doesn’t often raise in me lately—I ‘m not talking about affection, although I am feeling that too, but gratitude that this particular man is in my life.