|This picture is from Billy's birthday last July 12 in 2011.|
|This is Billy today - a notable difference, but we see it more in behaviors than in his looks, but the big smile from last year is not seen often.|
|Billy and Shelley - our sweet daughter who loves her dad with all her heart.|
Today was Billy's 56th birthday. He had no idea what day it was, and each time I told him that it was his birthday, he was surprised. I picked him up for lunch, and we met Jonathan and Debra Hooper at a favorite restaurant in Fort Worth. Billy and Jonathan have been friends since their college days in the 70s, and the four of us have been friends since before we married. We've shared many meals together in the last 31 years, and today may have been the most unusual visit we've had. Billy and Jonathan have always bantered, joked, and laughed about whatever the topic. Billy fell into the same type of banter when he saw Jonathan, but he can no longer verbalize what he's thinking, or maybe he's thinking in disjointed sentences. He wants to participate in conversations we are having when we are with friends, and he will say something to get our attention, and as soon as we all look to him for what he has to say, he either trails off, or he says something totally off the wall. Our typical reaction is to laugh, and that seems to work well because Billy has always been pretty funny, but the reality is - it's not all that funny. Alzheimer's Disease has made this 56 year old man seem like a ten year old when he's in social situations. I'm a big fan of keeping your sense of humor during all of this, but some days my humorous outlook wanes.
I'm good at keeping up a positive front when I'm with Billy and others, but when I get home and stop all my busy stuff, I sometimes have my moments. My last post was about the bittersweet reminders of June, and as I was reading through it again, I realized that any month of the year will have reminders of happier times. Billy's birthday was today, and our son's birthday is in three days on the 15th - always another difficult reminder that we don't have him here. Through blogging, I've met several other women whose husbands have Alzheimer's Disease. One of them, Karen from New York said not long ago that she had never shed as many tears for anything as she had over AD. Her husband was diagnosed at age 36, and passed away this past February at 47. Karen's two children were very young when they began this journey. Another friend is Delores, and her husband is in the last stages of AD, and even though the term sounds as though death is imminent, a person can live in the last stages for years. Billy's mom was in the final stages for 3-4 years. Delores has days when she is overwhelmed with missing her husband of 49 years, but she sees blessings in so many things that may seem trivial to others. My friend, Sandy from Pennsylvania, cares for her husband who is in the earlier stages than Billy, but she already feels the brunt of caregiving for a person with AD. Sandy's husband is in his mid 40s, and they have two teenagers. All of us blog about our experiences and the unsolicited journey of this disease, and we all have rather different styles of sharing, but we have much in common - a disdain for Alzheimer's Disease, a strong faith in God, a firm belief in seeing our spouses healthy again, and we have moments of sadness and frustration. I'm glad I'm not alone on this journey, but I hate that so many are effected by AD.
I am not sad all the time - I can't be. I have blessings galore, and I am thankful for those. I am very thankful to have enjoyed a nice two weeks away from work, and I'll be ready to go back on Monday. I love getting ready for the new school year, and I get just as excited as I did twenty years ago. We have the dearest friends who walk this journey with us, and our family is always with us. As Delores says in all of her posts....God is good.