Tough times call for some hearty laughs, and we've had a few lately. I could easily cry buckets of tears each day, but crying doesn't make this any better, and it gives me a big headache. I will admit that at times, I do cry because I can't hold the tears back any longer, but I laugh more than I cry.
I've also thought about how Billy would feel about our laughing at something he had done. I never want to be disrespectful to him. I have memories of how Billy handled his mom's behaviors, and he laughed. Those who know my husband well know that he spent many years making people laugh on purpose, and he laughed at himself very easily. He still laughs easily, and sometimes he's in a silly mood. I prefer that silly mood over extreme anxiety any day.
Billy has always worn his shirts tucked in. I noticed that about him when I first met him. Even though he owned around 50 t-shirts when we married, he always wore them tucked in. He's never moved into the recent fashion of men wearing their dress shirt tails out, and I'm happy about that. It's become difficult for him to tuck his shirt in lately...it requires coordination that he is losing, but he's tenacious. Several weeks ago, we were having dinner out with Shelley and Andrew, and Billy was wearing jeans and a shirt along with a fleece jacket. I noticed after one of his trips to the restroom that his shirt was untucked, but I didn't say anything. A few minutes later, he went to the restroom again (this is a common behavior...many trips to the restroom), and when he came back to the table, he had not only tucked in his shirt but his fleece jacket. Shelley and I looked at each other, and we both started laughing because it was so bulky. He looked at us and said,"You can laugh at me...I don't care."
When I am doing any types of chores around the house, Billy wants to help. I want him to feel needed, so I usually ask him to take out the trash. He typically does it correctly. A few months ago, I asked him to put a liner in our bathroom trash can. I handed him a small grocery store plastic bag, and off he went. He told me he had finished that, and I thanked him. A while later, I went to the restroom, and I saw what he had done with the bathroom trash can...he put the can inside the bag and carefully placed it back on the floor.
One of my favorite things about Billy has always been his friendliness. My dad has never met a stranger, and I grew up seeing genuine friendliness in him, and I found that very attractive about Billy. Having Alzheimer's Disease has definitely made Billy less aware of social norms, and if he feels it - he says it. Several months ago, I noticed that he waves (rather vigorously) at truck drivers. That includes 18 wheelers and pick ups. I don't notice him doing it with cars, but for some reason, he feels the drivers of trucks deserve a friendly "howdy." It makes me smile, and I'm sure many of those folks wonder who in the heck is waving at them as they drive 70 miles per hour down the freeway!
A few weeks ago, we were being seated in a restaurant, and as we walked through the dining room, Billy looked at one of the waiters, extended his hand for a shake, and told him how great it was to see him again. I don't believe he knew the waiter, but the guy went along with him, and shook his hand smiling and greeting him.
As Billy struggles more and more with verbal communication, one phrase is as clear as ever. He tells us he loves us frequently. When we visited my parents' recently, we were about to leave, and we always hug them before going. Billy looked at my mom, and said with such conviction, "I don't think you know just how much I love you!" He takes people by surprise, and he charms their socks off.
I know the time will come when Billy may not be able to utter words, but he is giving us a precious memory each time he tells us he loves us. One thing is certain about a person with AD....they do not fake their feelings. I'm thankful for the laughter.