Ralph is fine. I have been slow to post lately, but not because of any crisis. Just the opposite. Our life might be too boring to describe.
In the first few years after Ralph’s diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment, I watched every change he experienced, observing my own reactions as well. Every day was new, not necessarily in a good way but new nonetheless. I rushed to record for future reference the evolving “new normal”s, dots that graphed Ralph’s route from MCI into Alzheimer’s
That urgency has dissipated. Ralph’s life is altering more slowly for now. His set routine has not varied for months. The morning pills, the coffee, the book reading, the radio, the dog, two afternoons of playing music plus a little practicing here and there when I push him, early dinner at home, a little reading, sleep. If anything we have been in a rut, but ruts can sometimes be a good thing. At least we have found a rhythm that is working.
We do not do a lot together the way other couples our age seem to. Ralph doesn’t watch TV, he is loathe to take even a short walk, he doesn’t enjoy eating in restaurants so socializing with more than a few people. I find I tell him less and less about the friends I’ve made since we moved, the activities that involve me. But there have been exceptions. When his son visited from California with two of the older grandkids, Ralph had a ball, playing music and coming out to eat several times.
We actually took a short driving trip to visit his old fishing buddies and their wives for three days. Ralph had his limits, preferred to stay alone rather than sit with the others on the beach at times. But he had a wonderful time while we were there and held his own in telling well-worn fish tales. Of course, he forgot the trip as soon as it was over, even as we were driving home. What I think he loved best in fact, was the actual drive—sitting in the passenger seat, having my undivided attention and listening to oldies on Pandora. He even agreed to take a detour on the way home to drive through an arts community I’d heard about. It was the kind of place I’d love to walk around and explore on foot, but I knew that would be pushing Ralph’s envelope to far. And that was fine. I envision more short driving excursions, maybe with a stop here and there, maybe not.
The thing is, now that life has been tailored so closely to Ralph’s needs, I feel less strain. (At least about him; there is still the world to worry about and my own neuroses.) Ralph seems if anything less demanding, maybe because I’ve accepted his level of need. Life feels oddly peaceful.
Of course the last time I felt this calm about our relationship was about 12 years ago, just before his memory started to go obviously downhill and our world turned upside down. But for now I’m going to wallow in our rut for all it’s worth.