Through Sickness and In Health - An Alzheimer Journey by Susan Scoggins

After checking in at the Syracuse kiosk, I turned and briskly headed to the escalator to go up to the gate.  In an instant, I visualized a tall gentleman in a navy pinstriped suit, standing at the top waiting for me.  His arms were stretched out.  Then, the vision dissipated when the realization came that I was traveling alone.   We each spent a lot of time in airports in our earlier years.  Jerry was a corporate traveller and I worked for the airlines.

My niece had gotten married over the weekend in the beautiful  Adirondack mountains of New York.  We had attended the weddings of all our nieces and this was the first one I had attended alone.  Truth be told, it was exciting to participate in all the “love” energy that was filling the air.  The fields were filled with wild Black Eyed Susans and Cone flowers; and the lilly filled ponds were straight out of Monet’s garden.  The wedding was put on completely by family and friends who had seen these two love birds through some challenging times in their lives.  So, the coming together of all these people from different parts of the country on behalf of this couple was one of the warmest and fuzziest feelings ever to be had.

The hard part for me was when I heard the vow......”through sickness and health, ’til death do us part.”  My cheery disposition fell into a puddle of sentimentality.  I toasted their coming together and encouraged them to remember the elation of this moment and to be grateful for the difficult times, because it is those times that will bring depth, beauty and richness to their lives.

On my way home, I couldn’t wait to get back to see Jerry.  Knowing he may not know me, I still knew he would be exited to see me.  Sure enough, when I walked in, the group was in the activity room watching a movie on traveling though Europe.  I slipped into the back of the room and it was as if Jerry intuitively knew I was there.  He turned his head, his eyes lit up, and he immediately rose to his feet.  It brought a smile to my spirit.  I nodded to the activity director that I was taking him and we headed out the door to walk Montana, our dog, who was waiting in the car.

I didn’t stay long today. When I brought him back inside, he wandered into the other room, completely unaware that I as still there.  Our time was short but sweet.  Jedde, his nurse, told me she was noticing a continuing decline.  His body is becoming more fragile.  Earlier in the week, I helped feed Jerry, who still eats solid food.  But as I watched the aides feeding the other residents their pureed food, I said, in a sort of teasing manor,  “No pureed food for Jerry, ya hear.”  I told Jedde I never knew what to expect when I came to visit.  I always imagine that Jerry will be upright and coming towards me.  But the reality is that he will one day be in a wheel chair in a slumbering position.  I shutter at the thought and pray that God takes him home before it gets that bad.

In the meantime, I still savor each visit and appreciate what this journey has brought into our lives.  We are truly blessed.