By: Emily Bennett, Kenmore
Thanksgiving after a year of loss, loss for the world outside and loss for me. My husband’s dementia has increased and the man who was once chief of staff, wrote four books and was often an after-dinner speaker at events cannot use his cell phone, follow a program on TV or remember his grandchildren. He is also declining physically in terms of hearing and mobility.
It is not the best of times, but it is not the worst of times. There is much we can’t do because of Patrick’s condition, but we could not do them anyway because of the virus. Patrick requires more care, but if he were not with me in this time of isolation, I would be living here alone. I am thankful for his simple presence.
At age 75, I am having to learn new things, things my grandchildren or Patrick used to do for me. I now use Zoom, Video Messenger, Snapchat, Instagram, Marco Polo — and I’ve used YouTube for directions on how to install a webcam and smart TV, and to winterize the house, etc. I shall soon learn how to sell a car. Learning is a good thing. Technology makes it possible to stay connected with family and friends and actually Patrick has more contact with his children than we did in better times. For this I am thankful.
I am also thankful for memories of Thanksgivings past. My granddaughter, with her tri-colored hair and eyebrow ring, helping me get the table ready, arranging the centerpiece and folding napkins into fans. Thanksgivings like the fun we had last year with kids providing after-dinner music or the year the power went out and it was a real candlelit dinner. This will be a Thanksgiving like no other, but we will make it work and we will be thankful for the things that really matter, the blessings of family and friends even if we can’t be together.
This was written last year at this time and as I reflect on the year that has passed, what was written then remains true. We remember the adventure of obtaining the first vaccines, we enjoyed a summer of small freedoms we had not known we valued, and we are going into winter realizing we are stronger than we think.
There continue to be parallels with the course of my husband’s illness and the pandemic. The slow decline continues, but he remains at home. The future is a little scary, but we know we are strong. We still have days when he can remember, when he can do and we treasure these little victories. We will have family in the house for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and even if he does not remember everyone, he will enjoy the company, the return to normal and the celebration. We count our blessings.
More than 11 million families and friends care for people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia. Join us in honoring their love and dedication during National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month by leaving a tribute message at alz.org/honor.