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My Friend My Patient My Love
By Rose M. Schreiber

(Page 3 of 3)

Years pass and we still play golf, but not as often.  It is hard to watch her declining so.  The doctors had said the progress of the disease could take three to twenty years.  I, of course, heard only the twenty years.  It is much shorter than that, for it's only been three years.  (I now beat her at the game we love so much - wishing that I couldn't.)

I shower her and dress her - and she fights me every step of the way.  My health is declining, because she is up twenty-four hours a day, pacing and speaking a language I do not understand.  She has lost all of her vocabulary, and is getting into everything in the apartment.  I am so afraid she is going to get hurt.  It is like watching my children all over again, when they were two years old.

Soon the time comes when I can't handle her anymore because of her six-foot tall body and her strength.  Now I have found that I have a heart condition; and the doctor tells me I must put her in a nursing home.  The thought tears my heart out.  I feel I am living in a time zone of depression and despair for the both of us - and I am sure she is feeling the same way.

She doesn't walk any more.  She is in a wheel chair now, due to a hip break, and then forgetting how to walk.  Her body is bent and stiff as a steel rod, because of the illness.  She no longer moves with that beautiful fluidity. Her movements are rigid, like a robot. She no longer remembers her love affair with golf.  She turns her head toward the television when golf is on, stares at it for a moment, but then is off to some other place in her mind.  She doesn't speak anymore, not even to say "thanks" to my "that was a good golf shot".  She makes noises that no one seems to understand - except the other residents on her floor of the nursing home, who also have this terrible illness.  They seem to have a language all their own - almost like the birds and squirrels.  But she is no longer one with nature.  When I take her outside to see the ducks at the nursing home pond, she just yells and her face and eyes are full of fear.  So we now stay inside.

Each winter she usually gets pneumonia, because her swallow muscle is no longer working.  She has lost all of the muscles in her body; and because of that, is in diapers now.  She is not determined to do anything anymore. She just sits in a wheel chair or lies in bed.  When she sleeps, she makes noises and faces; and her body twitches, as if in a bad dream.  (Oh, how I wish this was a really bad dream, and we both could wake up and once again play the game we loved so much.) She stares at me sometimes without blinking her eyes; and I try so hard to see what is behind those eyes now.  What I think I hear is: I am a prisoner in this body and I long to once again  go and play the game of golf that I love".

And I feel it was only yesterday that we both were playing the game we loved.


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