holding tight

I get called on occasionally to team up with colleagues and get families through terrible times. This morning I got a call from one asking me for advice and assistance. The husband of a couple known to us who has been coping with the wife’s dementia for quite some time called in that his wife seemed to have deteriorated following a trip to New Hampshire to visit friends. Without getting into all the details – he needed to get her out of the house and to the doctor. While my colleague spoke to him on the phone, I traveled over there in person “to assist him in getting her to the hospital” which in my world means calling an ambulance if he doesn’t follow through.

My drive took me to what I consider the prettiest part of our little town and to an immaculately maintained Cape. What was happening on the inside did not quite match the picture perfect exterior. The house was well kept and tidy, the unrest was more emotional than aesthetics. I assisted this charming gentleman in getting shoes on his wife. She seemed anxious and I rested my hand on her knee, explaining who I was, that I was here to help her, and that though I knew that she must be nervous everything would was going to be ok. I reinforced what her husband had likely already told her; that she was going to the hospital so her doctor could evaluate her, that she might not be able to come home today, and that this was to keep her safe. As her husband helped her to standing, I looked him in the eye to reinforce his role as advocate. “If they tell you to take her home…” “I say no. No way.” I encouraged him to be strong, to stand up for his needs, to be honest about the night he had with her, and validated his amazing role – “you’ve done so well.”

As they drove away I looked out my window at the beautiful sunny summer day that had unfolded while I was in my office. I drove down meandering roads, past Cape after Cape, and rolled my windows down to breathe in the salty summer seabreeze. I parked at the seawall and exited my car, my hair whipping in the wind, the sun beating down on my face and I dialed my phone. I shared what had happened, said I was heading back to the office and added, “I hope this never happens to us.”

This line of work gets me to thinking about time, family, and love and when I find myself face to face with the reality of getting old, forgetting, feeling isolated and alone with your own family – I think of Steve and I hold tight the closeness we have today – in this moment – because you never can really know what tomorrow will hold.


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