Sweetie Died

My one and only Sweetie died last week. She wrestled with Alzheimer’s for seven years and it finally took its toll.

It’s like peeling an onion. The first piece is your short-term memory. You will ask the same question over and over. Next comes a jumble of long-term memories. We’ll remove your ability to enjoy music, movies and live entertainment. Crowds will be your adversary. Your appetite will diminish and you will forget how to use a knife and fork. Your sweetheart will cut your food into bite size pieces. You’ll eat a lot of chocolate ice cream but not much else.

We’ll make dressing yourself a chore that takes more precious time away from living. You will forget how to tie your shoes. Along the way we’ll even add a few things, like headaches and pain. Or wild dreams that cause you to sit upright in bed and yell at the dark intruders. You’ll constantly repeat the same stories and create ones that are more fantasy than fact. You will visit the hospital ER several times and stay in the hospital some nights where you’ll rail against being there.

We’ll make you think you live someplace else other than your home. And wonder if your parents are still alive and do they know where you live. People will arrive who want to take care of you but you’ll swear at them and tell them to get the hell out of here or you’ll call the police. Your sweetheart will try to cope but he will feel much of your pain and anguish. Your sole entertainment will be getting in the car, driving into town, turning around and going home. Getting out of the car in your garage and walking to the house will become a terrible adventure.

Your sweetheart will turn his back for an instant and you will fall in the bathroom. And then you will fall a few more times. He will call the fire department to come and lift you from the floor, and you will tell them to mind their own business. You will finally get to bed, the paramedics will leave and he will wait for it to happen all over again.

You’ll sleep a lot on the chair in the sun room, the soft one in front of the fireplace and the couch in front of the TV. In a lucid moment, you’ll sit on the edge of the couch and say “I can’t do this anymore.”

Eventually you’ll have a caregiver because your sweetheart is exhausted. The hospice nurses will visit every day. They will bring a hospital bed, a walker, a wheelchair and other things that you thought you would never need. They will know things about life and death that only come from doing it over and over again.

You’ll fall asleep for days. Then, without warning, you will be gone. And your sweetheart will feel his heart bursting from his chest. And he will be alone for the first time in fifty-seven years.

And everything will remind him of you. He will fill his time by crying. And he will love you more than ever.

6 Responses to “Sweetie Died”

  1. 1 Tom Peterson August 31, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Fred, I am so sorry to hear this. My heart goes out to you and your family.


  2. 2 samandler@gmail.com August 31, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    Oh Fred. As we’ve discussed, Alzheimer’s is a cruel, cruel disease. Sending my deepest condolences to you, Nancy, David, and the grands. Gene would likewise want me to send his, if only he remembered who you are. Ours is a club no one wants to join. Missing Ila and sending you much love,


  3. 3 Sharon September 1, 2017 at 7:18 am

    I have no words. Only that it is so hard and then when they are gone you have a big hole in your heart. My prayers are with you.


    • 4 Norm September 1, 2017 at 9:35 am

      I have a friend who might be at mile-marker three or four on this marathon course, and it is painful and frustrating to watch her journey. We will give her all the support we possibly can, as it is marathon for us as well.

      Keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.


  4. 5 surewoodmike September 1, 2017 at 9:39 am

    Dear. Freddy,

    This blog of Ila’s struggles with Alzheimer’s brings real tears to my eyes. So beautifully expressed, a tribute to your love for Ila and her contributions to your life. Unless one has gone through such an ordeal, all the pain you both experienced every day for years cannot be comprehended.

    Your love and dedication to Sweetie will not be forgotten by your family and friends. You did so much more than most who find themselves in this situation do for their loved one. I honor you as do all your friends and family for being with Ila until she was gone from your physical presence but not ever from your heart.

    With love,


  5. 6 Michael September 2, 2017 at 9:24 am

    Fred, I have no words
    Sorrow is all I can share
    Cancer took my friend

    — Michael


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