Ten Years Ago I Met Norman

Sometimes I lose my words. Sometimes I forget where I’m going when en route. Sometimes I think I am developing dementia, but then chalk it up to brain surgery. But that was ten years ago. I agreed to only use that as an excuse for ten years.

What if it is dementia? Alzheimer’s or not, like Robin Williams, like Phyllis Schacter’s husband, would I take their path? I don’t want to be one of those who finally dies after years battling a horrible disease that makes my purpose in life impossible by literally disintegrating my cognitive function and physical ability to manage my own basic needs, while my heart and lungs would continue to work up until the time when finally, my brain stopped communicating completely.

Years ago, my friend Charee schooled me on how to love life, and continues to inspire me to live life to the fullest. She was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 52. Charee was in the prime of life at that time; in very good physical shape as she had been killing it at the gym for years.

When Ken and I recently went to Idaho for a family event, and since we were just across the border from Spokane, I asked Charee’s husband, Greg, if it was ok if I went to visit her in the memory care facility where she is currently living. His words were “prepare yourself.” His only charge (ask) was for me to make her smile. I tried my best.

Our visit was brief as she was just about to have (be fed) her lunch when I arrived. I looked her eye to eye and held her snarled hand in mine. I saw as the light I remembered momentarily fluttered by as I chatted at her. I like to think that she recognized me and realized who I was. I think she tried to talk, but her jaw appeared to be too heavy to move. I invited her to come with me to the gym to kick my butt. That’s the moment I’m sharing with you here.

Charee doesn’t appear to be experiencing physical pain. That is a small blessing. I don’t know if this is the life that she wants to have in this moment, but I can tell you this.

It’s not the life I would want for myself. But I won’t have a legal choice. We treat our animals better than we treat our humans. Given a choice, where would you not want to be, what would you not want to be doing the day before you leave this earth?

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