Glenn kissing Pam on the cheeck at Christmas

Things I Miss: Making Every Minute Count

By Glenn Jacobs, Puyallup, Wash.

Hi there, my name is Glenn. It has been three-and-half years since my wife, Pam passed away from Alzheimer’s. We were married in 1969, so it was a long time that we had been married. We first learned about her diagnosis only three years prior to her death, so that wasn’t a very long time at all. It was a fast ride, but quickly pointed out to me how important she was in my life. Hopefully, what I wrote below will help some along their journey.

Living alone has been a bit easier than I first expected. Actually, I didn’t know what to expect. The windows get washed, the grass gets mowed and the house is kept clean. That part of living solo has been a rather easy transition.  

There are, however, a few things I often think about concerning Pam, so I decided to make a list. Actually, the purpose of this list is to pass this writing on to those of you who are still married. These are in no order of importance, but the reason I am writing this is that, unlike me, those of you that are married, still have the chance to improve. I did okay on some of the things I listed below and could have improved on others.   

Watching TV together: Remember when you first met your spouse and you would sit next to them on the sofa? Suddenly, watching TV became a solo experience or she had her favorite chair and he had his favorite chair. Although we were never what you would call “cuddlers” — what I wouldn’t give to be sitting next to her on the sofa rather than living solo in this house. And for those of you who are old enough, think back on those bench seats in the front of the car, where she sat right next to you. It puts a smile on my face — amongst other emotions.

Photo of Pam at the fair

Holding hands: That stopped a year or two after we met. The only people I remember holding hands were “old people.” Pam and I started holding hands a few years ago when we went on walks. It wasn’t so much because I liked holding hands, but more of a safety precaution. I think back on those last few months when we took walks around the neighborhood. Our two hands always seemed like a perfect fit as far as I was concerned, and it didn’t take that long before I enjoyed holding hands. It is too bad it took a disease to figure some of this out.

Making dinner: I could count on one hand the number of times I stepped up and volunteered to make dinner for her. That happened a lot of times when she had Alzheimer’s, but before, it didn’t even occur to me to go the extra step. Sure, I could tell her we were going out to eat, but making something at home takes a lot more work than just driving to a restaurant. I strongly suggest to those reading this who are not cooks: make the effort and learn.

Writing letters and notes: How long does it take to write a note to the person you love concerning how much they mean to you? When I first met Pam, she and I used to write back and forth once or twice a week. Make it a point to spend 10 minutes with a pen and paper and tell the person you love how much you love them. It is a lot more personal than trying to find the right words on a card someone else composed.

Dancing: I wish that, when a song came on the radio we both liked, I would have gotten up and said, “Dance with me.”  It reminds me of a scene from the movie, “Shall We Dance.”

Saying I love you: Those words, if not spoken consistently, are harder to say than you may think. Make an effort to say them — and say them in front of your kids and grandkids. It makes a bigger impression than one would think. I made sure to tell Pam that I loved her; but I wish I would have said it in front of others, not just between the two of us.

Giving her candy or flowers: We all know there are a lot of things that last more than just a few days (like flowers) — but understand that it is the thought that counts. Flowers are important to a lot of women, so don’t forget those special days like birthdays and anniversaries. If you really want to blow them away, give them flowers or a personal gift on days that have no significance.

Pam and Glenn cutting the cake at their wedding
Our wedding day June 14, 1969

Sharing memories of the past: There are a lot of memories that are only shared by a couple, like when you first met. Talk about those memories with each other while there is still time to share. Sit down with an old photo album and let the memories flow.

Going out on dates: Make it a point to go out somewhere — maybe a restaurant, but keep away from places where the dress code is sweats. Make a reservation and get dressed up. Tell her it is going to be a surprise, and let the adventure unfold from there.    Too often, when you go out to a chain restaurant or some other local place, you are on your way back home in an hour. That’s not really connecting, is it? It is more like fulfilling an obligation. Make a night of it. If your kids have all left home and you are empty nesters, what is the rush to get home? And by the way, try to have an interesting conversation rather than just, “Have you decided what you want?” or “Can we get the check?”

Turn off the TV, turn on some music and talk: Don’t always let the television live your life for you. It can, you know, and that is not really a good thing.

One last thought: Life tends to move way too fast. Make every minute count and share your lives with each other, for as long as you can.

6 thoughts on “Things I Miss: Making Every Minute Count

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this, Glenn. So many great sentiments that lead me to questions how I living right now. PS – My dad would totally agree with you regarding cooking!

    1. You should consider leading “marital thoughts & ideas). Wish I heard some of them way back when I was married. Deb W

  2. Loved your suggestions, Glenn. Wish I had thought of many of them while my husband Rich was still alive. He died with ALZ in 2017 and I miss him as you do your Pam. We share June 14 but ours was 1964, we were kids. You are right the daily life stuff is relatively easy it’s the lack of emotional connection that is painful. Missing a best friend….the 4 legged one isn’t quite the same. The best advice make the minutes count.

  3. Hi Glen, since I know you I guess I’m biased somewhat. This list is very touching and romantic as well. You are a stand-up guy who showed such patience and kindness to Pam as she took her final earthly journey and if this list helps others I’m glad you shared you thoughts.

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