Our friend, Marisa, hadn’t seen Bob in over a year and asked if I would take her to him. We’ve been friends at least a dozen years and traveled together in 2006 to Italy, in celebration her fiftieth my sixtieth birthdays. On that trip Bob insisted on doing all the driving through tiny cobblestone Tuscan hamlets. It was his last year to drive before Alz took away that ability.
|Marisa and Bob at the Warung|
Marisa and I arrived in Bob’s village mid-afternoon a few days ago. He was in the wheel chair chatting with caregiver Gusti, while hanging out at the warung. Marisa bent down, her face level with Bob’s, and looked him right in the eye. His face registered “I know you,” as he gazed into her eyes. They had a long look at each other, something Bob rarely does these days.
Marisa used to say, “Bob reminds me of my father. He had a subtle charisma that attracted people without him intentionally trying to attract them”. On the day we visited she commented that Bob still has an inner light that she clearly sees and appreciates. Perhaps this is what I’ve called his ‘ageless spirit’ that shines through his withered brain. See: http://alzworld-susantereba.blogspot.com/2013/07/ageless-spirit.html
I know Bob is in there but the path to the outer world is fraught with neuron tangles and so he’s perceived by many as not being home. When we still lived together well meaning friends would tell me that Bob was gone and I should let him go. I know they were trying to protect me. I started to believe them. I was a burned out care giver and that belief made the grief a tiny bit more bearable. During that time Bob became the disease to me. I was too close to the situation and too stressed to see the man any longer.
Now that we live apart and I have a better perspective, I see it differently. My husband as I knew him is gone but the essence of Bob still lives - the essence I fell in love with. That has become more apparent to me as he’s retreated further behind the Alz veil.
Marisa brought Italian chocolates for Bob that afternoon. He needed help peeling off the foil wrapper but had no problem downing three of these nutty balls. It was clear from their interaction that the special connection they always shared still registers somewhere inside Bob.