Gwendolyn de Geest, RN, BSN, MA
The interview with the husband follows:
Jack, when did you first notice that
something might be wrong with Rose?
It was a gradual thing. Rose had short-term memory loss and this
was distressing for her. She couldnít seem to remember from one
minute to the next what she had done and not done. She would
tell our daughter a story of something that had happened, and
then five minutes later, she would tell the same story.
It is interesting that in spite of the
fact that Rose doesnít speak to you, you still remain so
positive. Could you comment on that?
I can see her brightness vanishing, but I love Rose because she
is so loveable. Nothing can ever change that. Not even this
Alzheimerís disease. I believe that Roseís spirit is alive and
well, in spite of it all. This keeps me going.
And you mentioned she had a special
little smile that morning. What do you think she was thinking?
Rose and I met on Valentineís Day. That same piece of classical
music was playing when we met. And that morning when the girls
played the music, and I saw Roseís little smile, I really
believe that she is remembering too.
When Rose sits there in her chair, larger
than life, you must feel wistful for days gone by. Do you want
to talk about those feelings?
Well, yes, Iím pretty attached to my memories with Rose. Weíve
been married for 57 years. Thatís a lot of years and a lot of
memories. I guess though, Iím coming to a place where I feel
like Rose and I can still have a life without those memories. I
know that sounds kinda strange, but I tell the kids, ďMom and I
are making new memories every day.Ē
Jack, how do you handle it when Rose no
longer recognizes you?
It makes me sad. I tell myself, this disease is not about me.
But I canít help my feelings. Rose has always been so vibrant
and alive and chatty. These days she is in her own little world.
You mentioned you had done some research
on the subject at the public library. Was this information
useful for you?
Iíll say. I was reading about the mental deterioration and the
fact that the brain size is actually shrinking, and about the
plaques and tangles surrounding the nerve cells of the brain. I
can understand that the language centre of Roseís brain may be
affected, and this is why she no longer speaks to us. I
mentioned before I believe Roseís spirit is alive and well, in
spite of the Alzheimerís. I believe my Rose is still in there,
and when she doesnít speak, she is swallowing her feelings.
How do you deal with the silence?
I now understand that Rose is doing the best she can. Itís hard
sometimes because Iíll be talking to Rose about a memory or
something weíve done together with the family, and I pause,
waiting for Rose to respond like she always has. And thereís
silence. Thatís hard to take.