A loving, yet frank letter to a wife who suffers from Alzheimer's from her caregiver/husband who has suffered as well
Thank you for your sweet call yesterday reminding me of our anniversary. I spent today bathed in memories of the beautiful years we spent together and all the joyous trips you took me on. I shared that today with our dear friend, Pat Roybal. She was touched and she misses you deeply. She told me to say: "Hello." She is sending you some greeting cards to wish you well.
Sadly, however, I could not come to pick you up or bring you here. As you may recall, the authorities (police, paramedics, two hospitals, and Adult Protective Services) have all said that you cannot come home. They all say the level of violence has escalated to the point here to where we MUST BE SEPARATED. You are now in Andy's loving and capable hands. You simply, as best you can, MUST LOOK AHEAD to a new life in Boston. It is what you wanted for eight years and, with a little longer wait, will soon unfold before your eyes.
Beyond that, as I indicated, my health has been so damaged that Dr. Strutz, my new cardiologist and my hospital admitting doctor have all advised that IT WOULD NOT BE WISE for us to reunite. Rather than the "nervous breakdown" that you indicated I endured, I suffered a full health collapse. The doctors say my massive collapse was caused by an atrial flutter, lung failure brought on by COPD and lingering bronchitis, chronic malnutrition, chronic exhaustion, chronic dehydration and chronic depression. I was in the ICU at Tri-City for eight days and on their med-surge floor for two more. My blood pressure hit 160, my blood oxygen level dipped below 80 and my weight dropped to 124 pounds before I was admitted to the hospital. My EKG looked like a roller coaster and my lower heart valves" function was 40 percent of normal. It was a perfect storm of a health collapse.
I am on the mend now, and recently ventured back to senior exercise. Some aspects of my recovery are slower than others. i am still waiting for our beloved psychologist, Dr. Kramer, to wedge me into his crowded teaching, hospital and clinical schedules. I saw my heart doctor for the first time and the drugs are currently "marinating" my heart. They are watching carefully for any adverse reactions to the meds, especially the blood thinner. Dr. Strutz, our internist, is treating my COPD until I can see a pulmonary specialist, ie. the one who was supposed to call me a week ago. The specialist will take careful note of my lifelong asthma, exposure to second-hand smoke, frequent bouts of bronchitis, my career as a police reporter covering untold structure and wildfires as well as our own personal household fire. The pulmonary specialist will run me through a series of lung function tests to establish a baseline that he/she will refer to in the years ahead. I will be on COPD meds for the rest of my life and may have to switch to a nebulizer like my dad used for his COPD.
But I am assisting you in a small way from afar. The other day I mailed you an assortment of paperbacks from authors you love. Because a cold front is on its way, today I dropped two boxes of flannel shirts and a thick housecoat into the two-day UPS mail. I have asked your many friends and former colleagues to send you cards expressing their love and best wishes. They have all wanted to connect with you but they lacked the mailing address. I am finally getting it to Donna, Nanette, and the folks at AAUW, the Senior Center and other locations. Beyond that, I still have many of our mutual friends with whom I will connect. They know you are lonely and anxious about your future. I promise you will soon be deluged with love. Tomorrow I need to see Susan D. I stopped in to see Dr. Roncone today. My tooth and gum dentists both need to know if their patients have been hospitalized. Susan said she will put your address in the AAUW newsletter. Soon you will be deluged with love and well wishes.
Sadly, your beloved friend, Bill K., is not well. When I called to tell him our news, he said he recently had surgery and his recovery and been longer and more painful than expected. He said he will send a card, but I had an old email address for him and mine went off into internet space. He telephoned to give me his new email address, but the voicemail was all garbled and my second email bounced back. I texted him in hopes that he would reply with his new email address. But I have not heard back from him and I fear he may have gone back into the hospital. He said he will call you and/or send you a card. I know he will do so once he is doing better. He is your dearest friend and he is closer to you than any other brother would ever be. I am truly sorry that Andy and Mary Ann never met him.
Finally, I am also trying to arrange a massage for you. I know you are aching and your skin is dry. Sadly, it won't be Craig or Jenny. I expect to talk to Jenny when she is back from vacation next week. I will ask her if she knows any massage therapists who have a folding table and are willing to drive to Secure Seniors. There might be someone in Escondido who would be willing. I hope to pull it off. If so, you will be surprised if someday if a young, beautiful Thai woman rolls up to the door and starts unfolding a massage table like the one we store outside our third bathroom. I wrote a little poem for Frost and one for Shadow. I will share them with you after you happily settle into your new home. You have always been my beautiful, red-headed muse. I finished the painting of you that I started years ago and sat forlornly on our artist's easel in our lovely library. I will email you a photograph of it after you are successfully relocated. As you recall, I sketched it from a photo that Seth took of you on a camping trip. You are nude, of course, and you are holding a glass of wine. I used artist's license, of course, and there are flowers, apples, and books in the painting. All items that you love. Someday, if she wishes it, I will lovingly give it to Anna along with any of our beautiful art that she desires. She is a joy and will grow into becoming a beautiful and intelligent woman like you.
It is with full honesty that I say I love you very much and always will. I miss you very much, especially on our anniversary. The house is like a ghost town and the cats still wonder where you are. Shadow misses her lap and that mischievous Frost misses his constant companion. But you CANNOT come home and I CANNOT see you. Andy and I are trying to ease the difficulty as best we can. Andy greased the palms of some of your "keepers" and I itemized my humble efforts above. Please suffer your difficulties as best you can and know that time is growing shorter. Before long you'll be on a silver bird with Andy heading east to your beloved Boston. There you will begin a new life surrounded by family and new friends. I would then call you often and email you frequently. It is simply too painful to do so now. It pains me to read your emails and hear your phone messages. And, someday, perhaps I can visit you and the family in Boston and I could meet all of your new friends as we spend hours together on end.
Thus, until we can connect again, know that I miss and love you. We had many beautiful years today and spent untold nights in each other's arms. We saw some amazing sites and witnessed miracles in Fallbrook, Escondido, Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, the Panama Canal, the Holy Land, Rome, Pompei, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, and beyond. As you recall, in Rome we stumbled into a little basilica in which tradition holds that beneath the altar is kept a few drops of Christ's blood. I was weak in the knees as I was able to touch and pray over the glass cylinder that holds the drop of our sacred Lord's blood. We will NEVER DIVORCE and your life and mine will be forever intertwined. And, of course, we'll always have Paris. Do you remember the breakfasts we ate there in that little stone basement with the circular staircase?
What a magical life we shared and, albeit separately and God willing, we will each have many blessed years ahead of us. And so, dear love, let me say adieu again until we can resume a life of electronic chatter. I look forward to those days as I shall always love you. Thus, until we chat again, take care, and be well, God bless, love, pray, and may the road rise up to meet you and the wind be always at your back.