Not surprising — I forgot our anniversary this year. It slipped my mind as I spent the morning following Barry around his care center.
We were married on June 30, 1979. The ceremony was held at the church I grew up in to satisfy my mom. After, we had a huge picnic and square dance at my parent’s hobby farm in Jordan, Minn. The weather was perfect that day as I threw my bouquet from the top of the open barn door. Dogs ran wild and a couple of toddlers played in the mud by the water trough. Our honeymoon was a trip around northern Wisconsin and Minnesota to fish. But we had no luck, so Barry got the idea to head up to a fishing camp in Canada, where it turned out that I was the only woman!
We settled down in south Minneapolis, establishing our careers and starting our family. We had an awesome life filled with family and friends. This is something I have to remind myself about each and every day. Our life as a couple has changed so much due to stupid frontotemporal dementia (FTD). It’s a lonely and depressing life for me if I let my mind go there — which I try not to. Since Barry’s diagnosis more than two years ago, I have felt relieved and comforted that Barry has not seemed to register this huge, depressing turn of events in his life — at least up until now.
The day of our 35th he said, “My life is a disaster.” I asked why he felt that way and he said, “I can’t figure anything out because of this elementary dementia.” He was mixed up about what he has but certainly he was aware of his plight.
When Barry was first diagnosed, his doctor said the good news is that Barry will not be aware he has FTD. So this turn in his thinking left me confused and worried about how to help him feel better. I wondered if my recent trip to California made him feel sad and alone. I try to bring him a treat or a magazine each time I visit but nothing seems to interest him. I guess all I can do is wait for this phase to pass like the others before.
There was a time when I thought he would die of a blueberry overdose! Now he never eats blueberries. A few days ago as we were walking the hall, I patted his back. He stopped, looked me in the eye and said, “Are you trying to lift my spirits?” For that moment he sounded just like a regular guy — not someone with FTD. He was clear and lucid.
We talked a little bit about how great it was to have our kids and how he ran a successful business for many years. It was a real conversation! I looked forward to the next visit; maybe we could talk over things again. But when I arrived the next day, I found him wandering the halls with his pants around his ankles.
The old Barry was gone again!