The Importance of a Name

I walked down a path towards Laurie seated with four men sitting at a table. He looked up and I expected recognition but his facial expression didn’t change. The closer I came the recognition didn’t alter, my heart almost stopped and a feeling of fear rushed over me. I approach closer and he eventually smiled and said “This is my wife’.’
He didn’t mention my name but that was immaterial. I had dread that this could happen as Laurie was suffering from Alzheimer’s and short term memory loss.

The first signs of loss of his condition started while working in his shed. His ability with measurements was causing a lot of errors. Trying to assemble whatever he was making just would not work out. He was never a really tidy worker just dropping tools on the ground then unable to find them. We eventually worked out that he was failing to recognise the tool that he wanted. Sometime later while driving a familiar route I realised that he wasn’t sure where he was going and made a dangerous mistake. On asking where we were he realised that it was unwise to drive again. He willingly gave up driving and that pain was eased by a big refund from the licensing department. His mind and health gradually deteriorated with his love and care for the family remaining constant.

When he required an operation his stability was further threatened. He had to return to the theatre and have the colostomy repaired 36 hours after the initial colostomy collapsed. His instability was further threatened, loosing control and pulling out drips and being quite irrational. While visiting one afternoon we were told that a specimen had diagnosed cancer. We sat together unable to talk for some time and eventually he said Well I have had a good innings”, a smile returned to his face and we could talk about it.

The family had a discussion with the doctor. We decided it would be hard on him to have chemotherapy. He had four sessions of radiotherapy and then came home.
With the help of visiting nurses I cared for Laurie at home for as long as I could manage. He was hospitalised for about three weeks and moved to the Hospice where he passed away.

He never forgot my name but unfortunately he forgot the girl’s – which saddened them.

A name can become so important.

AG and UL 2004

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