The Loving Wife
I just phoned to wish our darling friend Ian a happy birthday – I am five days late, as I have been ill with flu.
I speak to his wife Pat with whom I share a birthday and many other memorable experiences, for several minutes about the challenges – and delights – she is facing daily, as Ian has advanced dementia. This loving couple, married 60 years, so separated by this ghastly disease.
It is our habit to sing Happy Birthday to each other on our birthdays, and I am prepared to do so, with my croaky, flu filled throat, and Pat goes to find him.
She comes back - a long minute later – chuckling, she clearly has a smile on her face.
She says Ian has been watching the 25 year anniversary of the show, Les Miserables on TV.. Could it be that long? And now, she says, Ian thinks he is on stage, right there in the midst of it in the closing dramatic scenes. Ian, a man talented in so many areas, and an internationally renowned architect, has sung all his life, in choirs and plays and groups. There is so much to this charming man - a public speaker, an entertainer, community worker and activist, a generous host, loyal friend, father and husband, is singing his heart out. I can hear his rich and resonant voice hitting each note, and as I know this man well, I can imagine his dramatic gestures, his postures, poses and pauses, as he connects with his audience. He is in that film – or better still, on stage as he so often was - that this is his destiny, and he has to deliver, with passion, for the audience.
Of course she does not wish to disturb him, and she must not.
I have this image of this handsome, loving, elegant man singing his heart out in his lounge room. I want to cry, yet despite their circumstances, it makes me smile. As Pat has done for several years.
This is what is left, the music. And his patient, gentle, loyal wife generating the environment in which such things can occur.
I am in the presence of love.