“I really enjoyed your message today, Pastor Steve.”
“Why thank you, Elizabeth.” Pastor turned to my husband and commented, “And thank you, Bob, for your special.”
“Oh, your welcome. I’ve been singing that song for years.”
“It’s his favorite hymn,” I added.
“So, Elizabeth, does Bob ever serenade you?”
I peered at Bob over my glasses and remarked, “Not like he used to.”
Bob shrugged his shoulders and quipped, “I don’t want to spoil you, dear.”
Bob left to get the sedan, while I waited in the crowded foyer. I smiled at a young couple holding their baby girl. She reminded me of my precious granddaughter–Sara. My daughter Mary and her family would be visiting in two months. I could hardly wait to hold Sara again.
I peaked out the foyer window. Bob was patting his pockets as he hurried back. He burst into the foyer.
“Honey, I can’t find my keys,” he said.
“Have you checked all your pockets?”
“Yes, yes. I don’t know where they are.”
“What about your suit coat,” I suggested.
He reached his right hand inside the left interior pocket. There they were. Bob’s breathing calmed as he clenched his keys. We wouldn’t have to sleep at church after all.
“I can’t believe how much Sara’s grown.”
“ I know what you mean, Mom. She’s sitting up on her own now.”
I lifted Sara from my daughter’s arms and cradled her in mine. “Bob,” I called. “Mary and Ted are here.”
Bob cantered down the stairs, embraced Mary, and gave Ted a firm handshake. He noticed Sara in my arms and asked, “Who’s this?”
I thought he was joking at first, but he wasn’t. I stared at him for a moment with my mouth half open. “Bob, this is your granddaughter– Sara. Remember?”
“Oh. Right. I’m sorry. She’s beautiful, Mary.”
Later that evening, Mary and I had a heart to heart in the kitchen.
“I’m a little worried about your father. He’s been forgetting a lot lately.”
“What do you mean, Mom?”
“He’s losing his keys all the time, forgetting names at church, and this past month we got three notices from creditors. Bob’s never missed a payment.”
“Have you seen a doctor?”
“Not yet, but we have an appointment.”
A euphonic melody interrupted our conversation. Mary and I crept down the hallway to investigate. Peaking into the dimly lit study, we noticed Bob in his rocker holding Sara in his lap. She was sound asleep as he serenaded her with his favorite hymn. I slipped my hand around Mary’s and gave it a squeeze.
The doctor entered the room, sat down across from me, and sighed. “Mrs. Harmon, this is never easy. But it appears your husband has Alzheimer’s.”
The words pierced my soul. Questions raced through my mind. Would he forget our children? Would he forget me? How would I care for him? Anxiety enveloped me. Doctor Carlson extended a sympathetic touch then detailed the changes ahead.
Bob’s name plated door at the home stood partially open. He rocked in his lazy boy with a pile of shredded tissues on his lap. His fingers persistently worked on another one as I entered.
“Hi, honey. How are you doing?” I asked.
“Who are you?”
I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply to gain composure. “I’m Elizabeth, your wife.”
“Oh no, Elizabeth is much younger. See.” Bob pointed to our wedding picture on his corner bookshelf. That was me forty plus years ago. I wanted Bob to know the ‘me’ of today. My lips quivered, yet somehow I held back the tears. I sat down on the bed and we visited casually. I showed him Sara’s two-year-old pictures, but he had no idea who she was. It was so hard.
I left with tears welling up in the corner of my eyes and cried out to God.
Oh, God. How could you let this happen? Bob loves you so much. I love you. I just don’t understand. Have You forgotten me as well? Please help me, LORD.
As I ended my heavenly plea, I heard Bob’s melodic, baritone voice wafting through the corridor– his favorite hymn.
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Tears cascaded down my cheeks. Bob didn’t forget a single word. And I knew God didn’t forget me.
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