I hear shouting down the hall and I know: Mr. G is having a rough day. And I know why: it’s because Mrs. G is also having a rough day. She’s been in a foul mood all day and she’s the one yelling. It’s not something I want to hear again, even though I know I will. That is the ugly truth of Alzheimer’s.
I’m on my way to the room, to do what, I’m not sure. But Mr. G is quicker and he’s already out in the hallway, staring back sadly at his wife.
Mrs. G is a resident and though her husband is not, I still feel protective of him, like he’s one of my people. I see him almost everyday when he comes to visit his wife. Now that’s being faithful: coming to visit, day in and day out. No matter what.
I respect Mr. G…and I feel sorry for him. It’s got to be hard to hear your wife screaming out that she doesn’t know who you are.
“You okay?” I ask softly. It’s a stupid question I already know the answer to–but I feel like I need to ask anyway, if only so he knows I care.
“Ah, May,” he replies, resting his hand on my shoulder. “Sometimes I can’t help but feel like…that’s not my wife. She is already gone. My wife, the woman I have known since I was 15…she’s gone.”
There’s nothing I can say. It’s true in a way. Mrs. G is not the same as she used to be and so her husband mourns the loss of his wife, even as he visits her every single day.
But it’s different for me. I never knew his wife, the woman who could bake cakes and but hated chocolate. I never knew the mother who scraped pennies so her children could wear nice clothes to school. I never knew the laughing girl he fell in love with, or the strong woman he stayed in love with.
The only Mrs. G I’ve ever known is right here, with a wrinkled face and a hair-trigger temper. The woman who throws her water-pitcher at me and calls me names when she’s in a bad mood. The woman who pats my hand and smiles when she’s in a good mood. This is the only Mrs. G I’ve ever known and this is the woman I care about.
Even though she replaced this man’s wife.
Mr. G sighs. “Can you calm her down?” He asks. “I think I’d better go.”
He’s off before I can answer, hobbling down the hall towards the exit, surprising quick for someone in his shape. I guess he really needs out of here.
I turn back to the room and square my shoulders. Inside, Mrs. G is still fuming and I’ve got to calm her down before dinner. This might require chocolate…
And my Mrs. G, she loves chocolate.