I am so glad I went through the exercise of writing this “sequel”. Anniversaries are for reminding us of truths that keep us going, just sayin…
Five years ago, on January 11, 2015, I sat writing as I am now, on the same subject – the anniversary coming up in a couple days. I took a picture of my diamond and thought about all it meant to me, being married for forty-two years.
The ring looks a lot different now. Since it no longer fit me, I had the diamond reset. My preference changed to white gold somewhere in the last thirty years, and I worried about the prongs wearing off and losing the stone. The price of the gold in the old ring wasn’t enough to pay for the new one, so it cost me. I could only afford to replace the engagement ring with the stone in a secure beveled setting, but it was good to be able to wear it again.
The new setting suits me. It is plain, safe. It doesn’t collect garden dirt or catch on my sweaters. It fits, although I don’t know for how long. My hands keep… growing.
Life has changed. We are changing with it. It’s been a little over a year ago that my husband got his diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia. That day wasn’t when the problem started but it did mark the change in his focus. How does one think about anything else when faced with a prognosis like that? His world has gotten smaller in so many ways, limited in large part by his dependence on me. Today, at home, he was relatively quiet while we ate a meal with some friends and listened to a sermon on the internet. He spent most of the day in his recliner in the corner of the living room, looking very tired. He asked me once what I was doing. He went to bed early.
It means a lot to me that he is not ungrateful. He is not a big complainer. He puts up with me dusting him off all the time and fixing his clothing. He eats what I fix for meals and tells me when it is good. He willingly follows my suggestions. He sits still while I trim his beard. He doesn’t get mad when I easily do the things that are hard for him. He doesn’t criticize my decisions about money, or schedules. He is still here, a sweet person, a nice guy, thinking, trying to manage his daily existence as much as he can. But there is very little that he can contribute to us, to our marriage, to our future. His executive functioning is not working well.
Most of the time, I cannot imagine what he thinks about. I even have trouble describing my own feelings about what has happened to us. For our anniversary, should I not be able to put words to what’s meaningful for us?
It is for times like this that we make promises to each other. Our marriage vows had the old-fashioned words “in sickness and in health, till death parts us”. We had no idea who would be sick, no one does, usually. Few have the ability to think about what that means when the excitement of marriage and all it entails is new. But now, forty-seven years later, the promises have become meaningful. It means that we own these new circumstances together.
Now it makes sense to me what covenant marriage is. There were three of us making promises on the day Dennis and I married. God, who heard my promises, now helps me to keep them. God, who knows all about grief, loss, dread, panic, and everything else I experience finds ways to support me. He assures me that promises kept will be worth it, and that growing in personal integrity will be satisfying and rewarding. Our days now are part of something bigger, better and soon coming (relatively speaking). They are not the end!
So, on Tuesday the 14th, I will remind the husband that he is not alone. I am keeping him company as long as I am able, and I’m going to do my best to keep life from being dull (I guess he kind of does that for me too…) There are gifts all around us that we can point out to each other – maybe that’s how we’ll spend our “Happy Anniversary”.
10 thoughts on “Forty-Seven”
47 years….beautiful words Shirley. Thank you for sharing. May you and Dennis have a blessed anniversary of fellowship with each other and the Lord as you celebrate His goodness. Love you guys. Tera
Thank you Tera! I’m praying on a plan for our celebration, lol.
Beautiful. This piece gives me courage. Thank you, Shirley.
It is my greatest pleasure to help others be courageous. Thank you for reading A.
Beautiful post.Happy Anniversary! I am sorry your husband is sick. I will add him to my prayers.
All things come to us through the Lord’s protective hands – that’s my perspective. Thank you so much for praying!
Shirley, so well written! Happy Anniversary to you and Dennis! I hope you enjoy your day. This piece is such a reflection of life for so many couples that are married for the duration. God bless you both! JoEllyn
And blessings on you and Bruce – I hear experience speaking in your comment.
Oh what a touching and true post. I am walking a similar path – not a dementia, but a husband whose world is shrinking too – because of blindness – and who has only limited abilities to help himself and because we are older (he is 73) he has chosen to sit a lot and cut himself off from most of life. It is heartbreaking and difficult at the same time. We are married 51 years in June and I am once again the caregiver (as I was for 2 mothers) and the responsible one for all aspects of our life mostly because he hasn’t adjusted independently by his own choice. I feel for you. It is true that no one knows what another one carries in life. My hat’s off to you ‘sister in caregiving.’
Thank you for your heart warming comment. It is good to know we are not alone in our problems. This stage of life is not an easy game. If you ever need a listening ear…