A few days ago Ralph had an appointment at the same dentist’s office he has frequented for thirty years. When I first made the appointment, I asked if he wanted me to come along. He said I should just write out the directions (he doesn’t use GPS). A lot of me wanted to agree since I don’t much like giving up the time—an hour each way plus the visit itself.
Then reality set in. After confirming the appointment a couple of days ahead, I began to worry about sending Ralph off on his own. I imagined him circling Atlanta, lost on streets that have been familiar to him for years. Fortunately, if sadly, Ralph decided he wanted me to drive him after all. The anxiety was too much for him.
So I drove him into town and read People Magazine for an hour in the waiting room. Then I paid for the visit with my credit card and drove us home.
Driving and paying are small acts.
But they epitomize just how much our lives have already altered since Ralph’s diagnosis of MCI. Ralph, the man who spent his career as a self-proclaimed entrepreneur, no longer is comfortable or even interested in handling money. Ralph, the fix anything guy who was refurbishing and selling old telephone trucks for a living when we first met, prefers not to drive at all. And impractical, absent-minded professor type Alice, who couldn’t balance my own checkbook or change a tire to save my life and whose kids still tease me about my nervous driving, has taken over all the practical issues in our life.
Driving and Paying: changes that not only define our daily mundane routine but serve as metaphors for the larger, psychological and spiritual landscape we have begun to inhabit . And it is scary to examine that landscape, not only for Ralph’s future but also my own. But in my next few postings, I will try–if the daily and mundane don’t get in the way as they usually do lately.