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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Dropout (05/12/11)

TITLE: Absence of Mind
By Patricia Protzman


I was jolted out of a sound sleep by a woman’s terrified scream. Entering the adjoining bedroom, I flipped on the overhead light in time to see a porcelain figurine flying at me. I ducked behind a recliner as the object whizzed by my head and splintered into the wall. My attacker shuffled to the window and pounded on the glass with her fists. Afraid she might break the pane and be injured I grabbed her wrists. My wife glared at me and screamed, “Kill me, kill me!”

Shaken by this strange outburst, my voice quivered as I spoke. “Sharon honey, no one will hurt you. It’s okay, I love you.”

Her arms relaxed at her side while the wide-eyed angry gaze melted into a vacant stare. She allowed me to lead her back to the bed and cover her with a blue and white throw she had knitted years ago. I coiled her braided, gray hair on her pillow, turned off the overhead light, and switched on a small table lamp.

Easing into a yellow and white upholstered chair next to her bed, I reflected upon my wife’s condition. In the last two years, Sharon had slept 1-3 hours in broken intervals throughout the day and night. I had hired sitters from an agency to stay with her at night while I slept.

The arrangement had worked out well until two weeks ago when she cried and cowered in a corner whenever they arrived. I dismissed the sitters and decided to take care of her myself. Our long time neighbor, Linda, stayed with Sharon while I shopped and performed other necessary errands. Linda was the only other person, besides me, with whom Sharon remained reasonably calm

My purpose in life consisted of taking care of my wife. We no longer attended church. Friends had stopped coming by for visits long ago because of Sharon’s anxiety around “strangers.” Our two sons, who lived out of state, visited us once or twice a year. Of course, Sharon no longer recognized them.

As I retrieved a tissue from the bottom of the nightstand, I picked up a photo album that had slid to the floor. The album contained photographs of our wedding, our two sons, and our fiftieth wedding anniversary.

An envelope fell to the floor. I picked it up recognizing Sharon’s handwriting on the front, To the Love of My Life.

My hands shook as I slowly peeled back the flap, unfolded the paper, and read the contents. She had written the letter on the day her physician had given us the horrible diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Sharon had forgotten to give me the letter.

May 10, 1998.

My sweet, wonderful Bob,

I want you to know that I have loved you since the first day we met in church. There has never been anyone else for me. I know that you have always loved me, too, and are the best husband a woman could have. I thank God daily for giving you to me.

Bob, I want to remind you of your promise to me today. When I get to the point where I no longer recognize you, am not able to care for myself, and or become a behavior problem you will place me in an Alzheimer’s facility.

I realize you have already promised, but knowing you like I do, you may change your mind later and decide to take care of me until the end.

Please do not do that, Bob. Being a caregiver is very stressful. My thirty years of nursing experience has shown me that this illness will gradually take away my mind, leaving an empty shell. The person you have known will slip away from you.

Remember Romans 8:28. “All things work together for our good...”

One day we will meet again in heaven with our Savior and our new bodies.

My Love Forever,


I held the precious missive next to my heart as tears rolled down my face.

“My love,” I whispered.

Sharon knew me well; I had decided to take care of her on my own. However, the letter had reminded me of my promise which I intended to keep.

The sun peeked through the window and birds twittered. In a few hours, I would telephone the local Alzheimer’s facility and make an appointment to start the admission process. But for now, I would let the love of my life sleep.

* * * * *
Based upon a true story.

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This article has been read 327 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Linda Goergen05/19/11
Tears running down my face. This beautifully presented view of the reality of Alzheimer’s touched me because I am now dealing with dementia with my dad and I know the pain, on both sides. Powerful, raw honest piece, so well done!
Fiona Stevenson05/19/11
Very well expressed, neither making light of the situation nor dredging every twinge of the heartache that is obviously there. God bless you.
Donna Haug05/20/11
Tears running down my face too. We've just moved my FIL to a nursing home. He has Alzheimers and dementia. SO hard. My hope is that one day in heaven, I will meet him and know him as he was before sickness made him a shell of who he really is. Powerful, emotional piece. Thanks for this!
Colin Swann05/20/11
I ended up with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. Very emotional and tremenously well written! Thank you!
Emily Akin05/20/11
Excellent! You perfectly encapsulated the feelings of the caregiver. We all want to "do it ourselves," but it almost always becomes impossible with Alzheimer's.
Theresa Santy 05/20/11
From heartracing suspense to heartaching tenderness, this is a beautifully written piece.
Joe Moreland05/21/11
This is an awesome piece of writing you have presented us with. It is so good I wish I had not even bothered to enter the competition this week. It's not just the storyline, it is your humble and understated way of rolling it out to us. The pace of this story is so well controlled, quickening and slowing in all the right places, that it's like a heartbeat througout. I really thank you for sharing this and I hope everyone gets the opportunity to read it this week.
Leola Ogle 05/22/11
This really touched me, my sister and I having recently put our mom in a care facility. She has dementia, and although she remembers us, she does not remember my children or grandchildren. She cries so much from frustration of trying to remember, trying to carry on a conversation. Thanks for sharing this story. God bless!
Edmond Ng 05/24/11
A heart breaking story that stirs deep within. You have brought out the emotions and the understanding of what it means to hang on to God's word and promise despite of circumstances. Thank you for sharing this. God bless.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/27/11
This brought tears to my eyes and what a perfect fit for the topic. Well done.

Congratulations for ranking 6th in your level and 16th overall!