One of the difficulties I have being the spouse of a dementia victim, is that occasionally I go back to “The Way We Were”. (Wasn’t that a movie?) It’s always a struggle when I move from our safe little world to reality and back again. Yesterday was one of those days.
A dear hearted guy, I’ve named King Richard, approached me and asked if Jerry wanted to play golf that afternoon. (I call him that because he’s about 7 feet tall and towers over Jerry.) It was a perfectly clear, mid 60’s Emerald Isle day. He had someone drop out of his foursome and thought he could take Jerry along. Now you must know that Jerry is young and healthy looking; it’s his brain that doesn’t work! My first reaction was “fear and trepidation” because I didn’t want to set him up for failure. So, I patted “the King” on his hand and told him how much I appreciated his asking. I explained to him that Jerry really only “plays” golf and that he would have to line him up and point him in the right direction. If that is done, THEN, he could hit a slammer. (That’s baseball, I think.) King cares for his father with Alzheimer disease, so he knows the ropes well. He quickly said, “That’s ok. None of us play well. He can ride with me”. I said, “Ok.” FIRST MISTAKE.
SECOND MISTAKE! You cannot rush a dementia person. It’s like pushing a rope. After church, we rushed home, fixed a quick PB&J and I helped Jerry change clothes. We had a 12:30 tee time to make.
THIRD MISTAKE! You cannot be late for a tee time. We were! At the golf course, I ran inside to pay. Jerry patiently waited, we put his clubs on the cart and I scurried that little cart past all those healthy golfers and on to the third hole, where they were getting ready to shoot. (uhhhh. I think that’s basketball. ) At no fault of his own, King Richard apologized and said he had waited for 10 minutes and thought we weren’t coming, so he picked up another golfer. He offered for Jerry to come along as a 5th player but I would need to drive him. WHO ME? I felt so bad. I could feel the anxiety well up inside of me because I hate for Jerry to be hurt or disappointed. It’s the “mother’ in me. I passed and decided we’d just schedule it another time. My eyes began to well up. Jerry stepped back into the cart, I made a U- turn and headed back to the clubhouse. I was biting my cheek as hard as I could in order not to cry.
Passing by all those jovial and healthy golfers preparing to tee off, flooded my mind with memories of my old Jerry. I could envision his laughing face, cap pushed back, driving off with his foursome. I was beginning to crumble as I walked in the to get my money back. The desk clerk only offered me a rain check. “What! My husband has....I explained the whole thing...we’ve only been here 5 minutes".. yada yada', then stood there quivering until he reluctantly handed over the money.
THEN I BROKE DOWN! With tears streaming down my cheeks, I walked by the rangers to help Jerry get the clubs off the cart and into the car. He looked at me and with his endearing eyes, put his arm around me and said, “I’m ok.” THAT DID IT! My heart broke for him. I never should have taken him. I had failed him. I missed him.
Can’t believe I’m telling the world all of this! I only hope this helps someone. Anyway, I eventually took him to the driving range, where a wonderful manager cheered me up and helped me get Jerry set up. We slept for 2 hours when we got home. Then we went on with our day that ended well.
I ate 2 pieces of cake that night. (they were small ones though!)
Oh well! Tomorrow’s another day.