My Knight in Shining Armor read “Letter to Gerda” at AlzAuthor-Kensington zoom dementia discussion yesterday
Featured image: Joseph Christian Leyendecker (American, 1874-1951). Lune de miel (Honeymoon), The Saturday Evening Post cover, July 17, 1926.
Peter sent me this remarkable letter the day before Thanksgiving after I had a bad patch of dementia trouble for a while. Peter, you are my Rock, my husband, my lover, my Love, without whom I would not be living in this house, have a computer, blog, or all day (and night) eiderdown of Love. I can only echo the words you wrote to me last year: “I love you the most of everything.”
My dearest Gertie,
At physical therapy today, a woman in a wheelchair—about forty, nicely dressed, shiny hair, hands in lap—blocked the aisle. As I tried to go around, she blew into a tube, wheeled back to give me room. I tried to visualize her everyday struggles: getting out of bed, making coffee, or going to the doctor like today. Then, of course, I thought of you, my darling.
Yesterday you dropped your wine glass and later your soup bowl, you forgot the squash in the 400-degree oven. For your mall-walking, you forgot your cane. You set out with your wide-legged stride for balance. A minute later, you called. The flashlight on your phone had come on. Could I come help you turn it off? Back at the car, there was your cane next to your seat. At home, you forgot how to log into the doctor’s website. At dinner we clinked our wines twice because you forgot we’d toasted 5 minutes earlier.
I see you cringe at each failure. I try to give the appearance that this is just our life and help where I can. I could say something every time, give you a hug or make an encouraging comment but it seems that what I do causes you less stress. (Inside, I cry a little every time). When it gets too much for you, I hold you and wipe your tears. If a different way of showing that I ‘see you’ would work better, please tell me.
Most people have no idea that you have overwhelming mental hurdles every hour, every day. When rested, you still socialize so elegantly. Others only see your often dramatic sense of fashion and sparkling personality. They read your blog, which is like an angel wrote it.
Your behind-the-scenes life is a metaphor that only our dark-humored family knows will make you laugh: you are my Black Knight—as in Monty Python. King Arthur is your dementia. When he chops off the Black Knight’s arm, the Knight says, “’Tis just a scratch.” When the second arm goes, “Just a flesh wound.” When Arthur lops off both legs, the Knight shouts, “Come here, I’ll bite your legs off.”
My beloved Black Knight, you have the courage and determination of a medieval army. I admire you so much. And I just adore you.