Back in 1983, President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, according to alz.org. I assume this was long before he knew he would also battle the disease at the end of his life.
In honor of all who are facing the anguish of Alzheimer’s in their families, I thought I’d share “The Dance” which is something I wrote about my parents as they journeyed through my mother’s Alzheimer’s before her death in 2013. My dear mother bravely endured this devastating disease for fifteen years as my father lovingly cared for her in their home for most of those years. I wrote “The Dance” while visiting them in their home in Phoenix…
Their dance took my breath away,
heads bowed toward each other, face to face.
She in a pink bathrobe, her hands gripped on her walker.
He is coaxing her to take steps toward him as he
carefully holds on to the front of her walker.
He is guiding her toward her hospital bed,
placed recently at the foot of the bed that
they’ve shared for sixty years of marriage.
She is breathing heavily as if she’s run a marathon,
taking only ten steps from the bathroom where her
husband just helped her like she helped me when I was a toddler.
He gently guides her into her new bed.
She looks at him with frightened, childlike eyes and says,
“I am afraid.” He says “Don’t be afraid, I am here.”
He tucks her in while they quietly sing “His Name Is Wonderful!”
She still remembers most of the words of this favorite hymn.
Her voice is still beautiful and she sings on key.
He brushes her cheek with a gentle kiss,
and covers her with his prayers.
He then goes to their bed alone with his bride in her hospital bed at the foot of his bed.
She soon falls asleep, safely under the shelter of him.
My mother is free now, safely with her Savior and fully healed! But I pray that I never forget the dance of their “in sickness and health, until death do us part” love story.
This photo of my parents, Mark and Anita Bubeck, was taken the year they were married in 1949.
Check out the new book, Keeping Love Alive as Memories Fade: The Five Love Languages and the Alzheimer’s Journey by Dr. Gary Chapman, Dr. Edward G. Shaw and Deborah Barr. The central message of the book was inspired by coauthor Dr. Shaw’s moving personal story of caring for his wife with early-onset Alzheimer’s, coupled with his innovative use of the five love languages in dementia counseling.