Rose M. Schreiber
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
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.