We often read about people with Alzheimer's who are incredibly difficult to get along with. I'd like to balance that out by providing some examples of my Romanian life partner, Ed, who started off that way but later became one of the sweetest, most loving, adorable people you'd ever want to meet -- Alzheimer's or not.
Even before he had Alzheimer's Ed thought of me as virtually a genius. (That was not true at all. He was the one who was brilliant.) At any rate he once told a colleague at the university where he taught that he had a young lady in his life and that she was incredibly knowledgeable about classical music history and theory. "Even that of the ancient Greeks," he added.
Another time, when an old friend from Bucharest was visiting, he actually made the man sit down over coffee and read part of my doctoral dissertation! I felt sorry for the guy. It was highly technical and couldn't have been of any real interest to him.
But it was when he developed dementia and was living at the Alois Alzheimer's Center that he really began to sing my praises. Here are but a few examples. Those that occurred closest to his death are the ones I treasure the most:
1. Praise for My Photographs: When Ed was at the Alois Center I had taken up the hobby of photography. Every time I brought in some photographs to show him he showered me with praise. And not only that - he insisted on having various staff members look at them as well!
2. Praise for the Eulogy I Wrote: When my mother passed away I wrote the eulogy. When I showed it to Ed he read it aloud over and over, each time telling me, "It's so beautiful. You should be proud of yourself for writing such a beautiful thing."
3. "You Will Get the Job:" When I told him I had applied for a job at the American Academy of Family Physicians, he immediately became excited and said, "You'll get the job. I'm 100 percent certain. With all of your experience and success over the years they certainly will hire you." He was so enthusiastic he actually had tears in his eyes just thinking something good was going to happen to me. (This took place during one of his fleeting moments of total lucidity.)
4. "Since I Became in Such High Admiration of You:" This example, illustrating his Romanian language syntax, was the most poetic of all the praise he ever lavished upon me. One day he spontaneously looked in my eyes and said, "Since I became in such high admiration of you, other beauties didn't exist." I was deeply moved that a man with dementia could still make such a romantic statement.
5. "Isn't She Beautiful?" If the previous example was the most poetic, this one is the most touching. On the day before he passed away, the cleaning lady was in his room when I arrived to visit. When he saw me he turned to her and said - referring to me - "Isn't she beautiful?"
These are but a few examples of praise I received from this remarkable man who loved me and expressed that love even on the day before his death. I will never forget them or all the other tributes he paid me.
Does anyone else have examples of their loved one praising them so much?
Marie Marley is the author of the award-winning, uplifting book, Come Back Early Today: A Memoir of Love, Alzheimer's and Joy. Her website contains a wealth of information for Alzheimer's Caregivers.