When I walked through the Bob’s gate yesterday afternoon, I could see him sitting in the wheelchair watching TV with Wayan, one of his caregivers. He still had the sheen of coconut oil on his skin from having his weekly massage a few hours earlier.
Every Sunday a local Balinese masseuse comes to work him over. It seems to help his swelling feet and he loves it, always dozing off in the middle of the relaxing session. It’s obvious Bob’s circulation is not running at full power any longer. But with the massage, and naps with his feet elevated, the swelling goes down. Plus he's always liked massage, having studied and practiced it himself.
I see such a change in Bob since his birthday in April that I’ve started to prepare practically and emotionally for the end of Alzheimer’s - the end of my sweet husband. He’s in the last stage of the disease and I’m guessing he’s in the middle of that stage. It’s characterized by the inability to walk, needing assistance with eating, complete incontinence, and a thinning of communication.
Because I have to return to the States for two months at the beginning of the year for my shows - an integral part of making our living - I want to have everything in place if Bob passes away while I’m gone. I want it to be spelled out so our staff and friends know exactly what to do in this country that is run very differently than the States. Planning ahead is not part of the Balinese tradition. They really live pretty much in the present moment although that is changing as they modernize.
I have the local clinic alerted and Bob’s landlord will contact the village head to keep him in the loop. We will need two death certificates. One from the clinic and one from the government - this one will be the most difficult. The police will investigate because we are foreigners. My next step is to find out about the cremation which I’m hoping can be closer to Ubud and not the two hour drive to the one in the South.
Emotionally this is difficult. I feel almost like I’m betraying Bob by planning for his death and yet intellectually I know how important and responsible it is. I don’t want to leave a mess for others to figure out. And I’m having to face that my soul mate is dying, albeit slowly.
Even in his illness, he is an anchor for me. He is an impetus to push on when life gets difficult. I have had to work at being ready or at least willing to let him go and this hasn’t been easy. Now I only want to keep him comfortable and give him the best for however long he has left on this earth.
|Filicudi Italy 1984 - Where Bob Came to Claim Me|
It was sweet yesterday, sitting with him and Wayan watching an animated Disney movie called, A Bug’s Life. We held hands, Bob played with the door knob, and he laughed at who knows what. I showed him some photos of when we first got together. He looked at them for a long time. He tapped his finger on his image but I’m not sure he recognized me. I said, “That’s us Bob, a long time ago”.
I kissed my husband good-by and told him I love him. He looked right into my eyes and it was clear our connection is still there.