We are winding down our 3 months in the south. So grateful that we have been able to escape the cold winters. When I think of the last few years we have wintered in the south, I realize how different it is, this time.
Almost every day, I am asked what day it is, when do we have to go back, and does everyone know that we will be home soon. And every day, I answer. A large calendar to cross off the days did not help.
I spoke with my mom today. She is elderly and battling a return of her lymphoma. She is a trooper, and doing reasonably well on her new chemotherapy pill. She asked about my birthday and how we celebrated. I didn't have the heart to tell her that Jim did not remember. I have purposely limited her contact with Jim, avoiding situations where it would be obvious. When we drove her home on Christmas day, he needed turn by turn instructions on how to get to her apartment. I don't know if she noticed; if so, she never mentioned it. We've driven that route a million times over the years. She would worry if she knew what was going on, and she certainly doesn't need any more worries at this point in her life. In addition, with Jim's denial/lack of awareness, it makes it hard to speak of this to others. It feels like a betrayal.
In fact, writing this blog at times feels like a betrayal. But I do it for my sanity; it really is therapeutic for me.
This is the first year he has forgotten my birthday, and I did not have the heart to tell him or remind him, knowing he would feel so bad that he forgot. For as long as we have known each other, he always made a huge deal out of celebrating my birthday. Loving, thoughtful card, cake, balloons and gift. The saddest part is that it robs him of the enjoyment he would get from "surprising" me with the birthday celebration.
I just finished a great book on cardiovascular developments over the last century. So interesting and fascinating. I was telling Jim about it and mentioned the development of penicillin as a treatment for rheumatic fever, which was huge in preventing the associated heart disease. He immediately said, "thats right, penicillin was discovered by Fleming". I almost fell over. Jim has always been known for his broad based knowledge on a lot of topics. Smartest guy I knew. Somehow he remembered who discovered penicillin. Yet, an hour later when I mentioned our Grand Canyon trip we took last fall, he said "wait, I don't remember that!". I prompted him by reminding him of the helicopter tour we took. After what seemed like an eternity, he finally remembered, and offered up a few nice memories from our trip.
I realize that this is really still the beginning stage. There are many caregivers who cannot leave their loved ones alone. We are not there yet. So I'm grateful for what we have, and hope that I can properly prepare for what I know will be a continuing decline. For the few folks who have managed to find my blog, thanks for reading. It helps to know that we are all in this together.