Saturday, June 11, 2016

A Fading Life

My past few blogs discussed some of the trials related to my spouse being diagnosed with a terminal dementia illness. The mourning begins when a label is assigned to the illness and, I suspect, it will continue for many years after her passing, possibly until my death. She is still in the early stages of Lewy Body Disease, but it is clear the disease is progressing in textbook fashion. I am losing her a little bit at a time. Each diminishment is difficult to discern from day-to-day, but the overall effect cannot be denied. The beautiful and bright young woman who has been my partner and companion for the past 24 years is fading and, in very little time, she will no longer be her. I rue that day.

We have decided to make the most of the little time we have remaining. As a result, she is enjoying a rare opportunity to experience the joy of early bequeathment. Why wait until she passes to give to those she loves when she can see the benefit of her gifts now and enjoy the fruits of them herself? To ensure her grandchildren have a stable home with a great school district, she bought a townhouse for them in Bellaire, TX, a small city a surrounded by the greater Houston area. After that, she opted to take the grandchildren to Disney World, something they might never have experienced without her intervention. We also plan trips with them to Yellowstone, Washington D.C., and the rain forests of Washington State. Time with her grandchildren is most precious to her, and with them she will spend her last days…until she no longer knows them.

Death is a hard reality to face for those of us who are still healthy. It is also a harsh teacher. As I watch my wife decline, the memories of her vibrant youth rarely leave my mind. Images of dancing with her over the years float through my mind, as do thoughts of the many exciting trips we took and the loving times we shared. We are as close as any two people can be and all that will remain of “us” in the near future are lessons about loving I learned from her—the first and foremost being that a child can never have too many people loving it. Therefore, I have encouraged her to give away whatever she wants to benefit her grandchildren. She worked alongside me for years to accumulate what we have, so why should she not use it for her pleasure now?

Therefore, in the remaining time we have together, she will give freely, hug often, and love openly. All she expects in return are hugs, kisses, and my hand in hers as she travels into that dark tunnel from which there is no escape.

I have enclosed a few pictures from our recent Disney World adventure with her grandchildren. I hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed giving those memories to the children.

Thanks for reading,

James L. Hatch



Tina Donahue said...

So sad, James. There simply aren't words. I'm glad you're still healthy and have the funds to show your lovely wife a good time before the inevitable. Again, and hopefully, there will be a cure or treatment soon.

jean hart stewart said...

I'm so sorry, James. You won't completely lose her, though, she'll always be with you. My husband died five years ago, but is with me daily.

James L. Hatch said...

Hello Tina and Jean Hart Stewart.

I am back in Houston now after the exhausting trip to Disney World. I believe Jean is correct. Memories or Meredith will be with me always. I have a 91-year-old friend who lost his wife last year, and he still hugs her clothing now and then. He also has asked me a difficult question that I have yet to answer for him or myself. Maybe I never will. He asked, "What is my purpose now, Jim?" I believe that question must be asked by everyone who loses a spouse or child, and perhaps the answer is different for each person. For now, I see it like Tom Hanks said in "Sleepless in Seattle", something like, "I get up every day and breathe in and out." More or less, I believe that is what I'll do too.