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My Friend My Patient My Love
By Rose M. Schreiber

(Page 2 of 3)

The years pass and I begin to become a better golfer.  I am younger than my friend, but that doesn't matter, because she has more stamina.  She has taught me so much about the game, and I have watched her every move to learn everything I could.  I wanted to be a 3 handicap like her.  I am only a 10 handicap after her many years of teaching - but then I don't have the same thing she has.  I don't glide down the fairway in slow motion like she does. I almost run to get to my ball in order to hit it again.  I am too anxious. She has the love of the game - the soft caress of the club, that makes her one with it and, in turn, one with the ball.  It is like watching love in motion.  I am too nervous, and agitated with my bad shots.  She handles them in stride, and just keeps going forward.  What a beautiful thing to watch this love affair she has with the game of golf.

We both decide to move to Florida, so we can play golf year round and each day till sunset.  We enjoy our years in Florida, playing on different leagues with lots of great people; and meeting new friends, who enjoy the game as much as my friend and I.  We play in the hot summer months and love it even more, because there are so few players on the golf course - and you can hit two and three balls.  Friends come down from up north to visit us in the winter months.  (We have the cheapest place in town to stay)  It seems that we are living only to play golf - which really isn't so bad, we both say. She loves it so, and I love the competition with the other players.

Then one day - she doesn't remember where she hit the ball.  I don't think anything of it, because it is only slightly off the fairway, although she usually is always in the middle.  We walk to her ball and I show her where it is.  A few months go by and I find I am beating her at the game, where before she always beat me.  Her swing is the same, although maybe a little shorter backswing.  But she is still out driving me and still is as graceful. Lately, though, she seems to be having problems with keeping a score card, but says it is because her eyes are not as good any more - so I leave it at that.

Then one night at the dinner table, we are talking about the day's game, who we played with and telling each other shot for shot what had happened.  All of a sudden she begins to stare into space, with a shaking of her head like a tremor.  I try to get her attention, but I am having trouble.  I get right in front of her, touch her shoulder and ask "are you all right?"  She snaps out of it and then says "yes, why?"  I am frightened, because I know something has happened with my friend.  She seems okay now, though, so we finish eating.  (In the back of my mind, I don't like what I saw.)

Later we decide she should be checked out; and after many months of poking with needles, with scans of the brain and other areas of her body, the doctors say it is a Dementia-Alzheimer's type disease. She is devastated and says I must put her in a nursing home.  I say "NO", that we will go through this together - it will be okay.


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