They strolled hand in hand along in the mall, a sweet grey haired couple looking in the different store windows. They looked just like any other couple out for the afternoon.
As they stopped at the kids play area where I was sitting with my toddler, the lady started to speak to my son.
As I listened, she made funny noises and her speech didn’t make much sense. Her husband was holding her hand and spoke gently to her; he gave me a smile.
I smiled at him and said “Hello” to his wife while she reached over to touch my son and talk to him more.
Her husband looked at me and said quietly, “My wife has dementia; she used to be a preschool teacher – she loves to stop and see the children play.”
As I watched them walk away, noticing the tenderness and patience he showed his wife, it made me start to tear up.
I could see this man loved his wife dearly. I am sure married life with his wife is a lot different now than it was before she had dementia.
I mentioned to him that I had a son with Autism. He smiled and said, “So you're a caregiver too?”
His life has taken a different turn and his days are probably filled now with full time care for his wife.
As I thought about the couple later that day, it made me think about how real the vows he made on his wedding day were to him now: “To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”
These vows probably meant a lot more to him and carried so much more weight as he has to take care of his lovely wife in a way that he never had to do before.
It reminded me that love is a sacrifice and it is unconditional. As a young couple on their wedding day, I am sure thoughts of taking care of a wife with dementia was not on something they probably even considered.
I don’t think any of us on our wedding day really imagine that one day we could be that couple strolling down the mall as our spouse’s sole caregiver.
I have a whole new respect for challenges in life we may experience after meeting that couple, but also an awareness of how life changes and we need to be ready for whatever may come – especially in marriage.
The couple I met briefly today are definitely fighting a hard battle, but seem to be doing it with grace and love.
What a beautiful example and picture that was to me.
...love is a sacrifice and it is unconditional.