Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Dropout (05/12/11)
TITLE: Absence of Mind
By Patricia Protzman
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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.
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Based upon a true story.
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