A little over a month… that’s where we are on my husband’s placement. Two family members have alluded to his placement as being an opportunity for the kids and I to be free to live our charmed life. They’re wrong. Dead wrong. There is nothing charmed about placing your husband or father in a memory care facility. Admittedly, I thought life would be easier. It isn’t. It’s just different. Yes, one major stressor is gone. Safety. But, it has been replaced with the emotional fallout of such a heartbreaking decision. There’s guilt. Did we give up too soon? All of us, every human and even our two loving cats, have felt the profound loss. The house is quiet, almost too quiet. The lights stay on all night. Our front door was left open all day. He is no longer here to check and recheck these things. He’s never coming back. We miss him. That fifth piece to the puzzle fell on the floor and got kicked under the couch. It’s gone, and we’re all on our hands and knees looking for it.
How is my husband? His memory is worse. With any major transition in a dementia patient, a decline is expected. The decline may be due to multiple adjustments from leaving work and the home or because of the new medicines that he’s been prescribed to keep him calm. Perhaps it is because he has lost his daily crutch, me, his lifeline for so many years. The familiar has been replaced with new. Does it matter? Maybe. I like answers. I like explanations. I like to understand the intricacies of all situations. With FTD, there is no clarity. It’s the great unknown. It’s a trail being blazed across a vast desolate plain. It’s lonely.
My husband is happy. The brain is an amazing muscle. It protects us from things we may not understand. His apartment is his office. The lounge is his conference room. Clearing the dishes is his job. If he is busy playing games with the staff, he is in a meeting. Work was my husband’s solace. His job protected his ego. It provided his self worth. He doesn’t ask to go back to work. Somewhere in the depths of his being, he knows he is no longer able. Yet, he believes he is still working. It may sound menial, but for him, it is meaningful. His facility understands this insatiable need and has accommodated him in this way.
His social life is better than ever. He goes out to lunch. He rides in parades. The blue-haired ladies 25 years his senior flirt with him incessantly. He has visitors nearly every day of the week. And again, our family is blessed beyond measure.
This isn’t the end, it’s another chapter in our journey. A chapter that isn’t complete. But, it’s one that we will keep writing, because that’s what will give us enough clarity to go on as a family.