Tuesday, December 17, 2013


I received an e-mail from an old friend we haven’t seen in years. She knew Bob before I did.  It turns out she reads Alz World and finds solace in it as she cares for her mother with Alzheimer’s.

She wrote:   I don't know if you ever heard the story about the time Bob gave me a ride down to Southern California. We’d met through mutual friends. Bob was going south to visit his family and I had a couple days off school so he gave me a ride down and back so I could have a quick visit too.

During the drive we talked about how much we missed the ocean. When we got near Long Beach we could smell the salt air. Bob looked at me and said, “Detour?” I agreed and off we went to the beach! It was a race to the water, fully clothed. What a blast!

Cinque Terre 1984
One of the joys of Bob was that he knew the value of being spontaneous! Well, we dried off a bit and drove to my Mom's house. He came up to the door as I wanted Mom to meet him. When Mom opened the door, she cracked up at the two wet people standing in front of her, then as I introduced Bob, she interrupted me with something like: Bob? Bob Behrens!!! They had met years ago in the decorating business. Small world, huh? Good memories keep my spirits up when the "today" of it all nearly brings me to my knees.

Stories like this bring Bob back to me in a visceral way. Sometimes I forget who he was because he’s been in Alz World for so long. We had a great run together, a great relationship and I need to keep that memory alive for me.  

I accept who he has become and I don’t even wish it could be different. (Perhaps this is my psyche's way of protecting me.) And at the same time I want to keep the memories alive. He inspired me and still inspires me, only now to keep as good care of him as I can.

Monday, December 2, 2013


I lost a friend this week to sudden unexplained death - she just keeled over before a singing gig. Autopsies aren’t routinely performed here in Bali unless the family orders one so we'll never know why she died.

I also found out another dear friend has breast cancer and yet another has a recurrence of ovarian cancer. This coupled with trying to come to grips that Bob is in the last stage of Alzheimer’s has me unsettled.

I went to see Bob a few days ago.  It was very sweet. He held my hand and kissed it several times - a big endeavor because he’s quite uncoordinated. He’ll reach for a glass on the table and think he has it, slowly bringing to his lips an empty shaking hand with nothing there. His hand opens and you can almost see his energy dissipate as confusion shades his face.

Bob gazed into my eyes for a long time during my visit and told me, “ I love you very much.” This of course brought up tears which I had to fight back because I don’t want to confuse him or make him feel badly.  We were mostly silent but our eyes seemed to be carrying on their own conversation. Several times he kissed my hand tenderly.

This is quite a departure of some months ago. Now that Bob is wheelchair bound he seems less confused about who I am.  He seems more at peace with the present moment and rarely gets angry or impatient any longer.

He also seems to be slowly physically disappearing. In spite of eating a good quantity of food his clothes grow bigger on him almost every time I see him. I also know there’s nothing to do, that the best I can do for him now is let nature take it’s course. Still it’s a challenge because I’m a take charge, let’s solve this problem, kind of person.

I realize I’ve crossed over some kind of invisible line where I’m just required to show up and be with him. I don’t need to entertain, get him involved, or effort at engaging Bob.  He’s at peace. Now I need to be.  I’ve been a human doing and the best for him is to rest in Being while in his presence. 

There’s something still inside of him that connects us so deeply that it goes beyond mental capacity.  There’s a purity in his eyes when he looks into mine. It feels like unencumbered stripped to it’s element - love.  And it’s not just for me. He also expresses appreciation for his caregivers even though he may ask their names repeatedly.

It feels like Bob is slowly becoming this elemental love and when that’s complete he’ll be able to leave this world. His exit won’t be sudden like my friend’s but it will still leave a big hole in my life.