I expected it, but I was still surprised when it happened. I just didn’t know WHEN. This week he visibly forgot people that he should have known. In his defense, it was Maine Maple Weekend and Easter, which are both huge days for our family. It was very busy and stimulating, but I was still surprised and unprepared to introduce my husband to people he has known for a very long time.
HIs timeline is tough to nail down. I am learning that most are. However, he really started to come unraveled in 2009 with a mid-life temper tantrum. In 2012 he became miserable in the workplace. He felt like people didn’t like him, and he felt picked on. In 2013, he was fired from his job of 17 years and was out of work for 7 months. At that time, he was hired at a similar company and fired 5 months later. He lost 2 jobs in 1 year to the day, and it really wasn’t his fault.
Three years later…
He forgot a local community member who he used to see all the time before he lost his first job. She worked at two of the local stores, and is married into a large family in our town. They share a birthday, and she used to always make him a cake on his birthday: chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. She saw him in the grocery store two days before Easter. I gave him all the clues. Nothing.
The next day, I prepped him for Maple Weekend. He gave tours of the maple orchard. He stayed outside and I primed him for what to do if he ran into people he didn’t know. “Nod and smile,” I said. Before it got too busy, a farmer from his home town came into the sugarhouse. I have to admit that I didn’t recognize him either, so I was no help when he shot me the look. However, the man was not someone I knew nearly so well during my lifetime. Once I did find out who he was, I shared my new found information. I gave lots of clues. Nothing.
I found out that a college friend was coming for the big day. She brought her parents. We have known the family since we were teenagers. He knew she was coming, but when I brought him over to see the family, he didn’t recognize any of them. This meant that I had to introduce him to people he has known for a very long time. It helped that her father has been diagnosed with dementia, so both she and her mother “got it” and that was a relief.
When people asked how he was, I warned them that he might not recognize them. Occasionally I caught him staring, wide mouthed off into space.
He looks for me in a crowd. He wants to be with me. He needs me. I am glad that I give him comfort in scary, noisy, stimulating spaces. I’m glad that I can do that for him.
The real test was recognizing a past coworker/fellow selectman that he worked with for many years. He and his wife popped in for a visit and some syrup. We were outside, away from the craziness and the chaos. I was forced to introduce them. I felt bad when the coworker said, “He knows who I am…” and he clearly did not.
I can’t help but wonder what happens when he forgets family?
I can understand confusion during outings. Our biggest challenge is the grocery store and two days before Easter was not good forethought. I find myself most successful when I send him to isles with a specific task, although it scares me when he is out of my line of vision. Last week I sent him to the meat isle for deals. I went up and down 3 isles before joining him at the meat isle with just pork chops: 2 packages. I sent him to the bread isle for bagels and I found him staring wide eyed and wide mouthed at white bread. I scooped him up with my arm through his, and led him to the bagels, giving 2 choices and ending up with both.
Sometimes he acts 13. Sometimes he acts 9. Most of the time he acts 50. But I have to remember that even when he is acting 13, or 9, he is still 50. He is still my husband, my partner, the father to my children, and my equal. Yet, he’s not. Most of the time, it doesn’t really bother me. I just roll with it. I have no other choice.
Now to get his Bp under control…