Our good friends are Peter and Maureen Beck. Over the years, we have had many good times together. When our kids were babies, we started a tradition of spending New Year’s Eve together. Some of our best times were up at our cabin with the kids, building forts, sliding, skating and eating good food.
Now the kids are grown and living all over country. And our cabin was sold, so sadly our New Year’s tradition is over. As frontotemporal dementia (FTD) has taken over Barry’s brain, traditions of all kinds have gone away, including dinners at friends, parties, golf outings and other social events. I don’t blame anyone because it’s really uncomfortable and scary to see Barry the way he is now. But it’s also pretty lonely for the caregiver. I am lucky to have my daughter and her husband nearby and lots of time available to babysit Charlotte — I love it!
The Becks have not been afraid of Barry’s FTD. They had us over for dinner when he was first diagnosed and last fall they invited us to their lovely new cabin. After an uneventful drive up north, Peter stayed with Barry at the cabin while Maureen went off on Hike Number 23 together.
Not far from their cabin, we found a wonderful series of trails called Big Bear Springs. We walked for a couple of hours, and it felt good to relax and know Barry was in good hands with Peter. That night we had a wonderful meal, complete with s’mores over the campfire. At this point, Barry was still doing pretty well although he couldn’t contribute much to the conversation.
That night I lay awake listening for him to wander off into the woods. But he must have slept well because all was quiet until morning when we heard a huge crash. Barry had pulled down a cabinet in the bathroom. With nothing too badly broken and Barry not hurt, we headed off to golf. Sadly the golf game did not go well.
Things FTD has taken away
It was just one year earlier that Barry had a job at an Edina golf course. At the time, we did not know that dementia was taking over his brain. The job lasted most of the summer, then suddenly he was no longer on the schedule. I am pretty sure he was fired, but I didn’t ask because I was too angry at the time. Barry had always been a pretty good golfer, but on this fall day with our friends, he was confused and unable to hit the ball very well. Stupid FTD was taking golf away from him, too! I knew that this would be our last golf game together.
After golf, we drove back home to Barry’s comforting favorites — blueberries, waffles and TV. The good news was that he had no idea his world was getting smaller and smaller. I knew this would be our last trip together.