I’m so happy to share this Q&A and guest post from Bruce Williams, a fellow Buckeye, Alzheimer’s advocate, and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias contributor.
How did you and Ann meet and fall in love?
Bruce: Ann and I are originally from Ohio. Born 8 days apart, we led eerily similar lives. Previously married for 12 years, divorced for four, we found each other in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Married a mere six weeks after our first date, I can honestly say that we were soulmates from the beginning. Our life together has been one of abiding love, with a healthy dose of passion thrown in.
We had two sayings, “We’ll never let anyone steal our joy” and, “We never want to look back on our lives and wish we had done ____________”. After the last of her boys were off to college, we moved up to a flying community near Daytona beach where she got her pilot’s license. Always the adventurer, she and a friend entered the Women’s Air Race Classic and came in second.
At what point did you know something was wrong? How was Ann diagnosed?
Bruce: Around five years ago, Ann said she couldn’t taste her food as well. We attributed it to a cold she had a few weeks previously. Her taste, along with her sense of smell, has never been the same since. As far as I can tell, her cognitive problems started about four years ago, if not before.
After several neurological tests, she was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment. A personal friend of ours gave her the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease after an MRI in his neurological practice, and the elimination of every other condition.
Why did you start writing?
Bruce: My emotions ran between denial, fear, hopelessness and rage against a cruel God who, after giving the greatest gift I’ve ever had, was stealing her away. One brain cell at a time.
Seeking some peace, and wanting to tell her story, I started to write. Putting my thoughts down has helped me understand the disease and open my heart to what unconditional love is all about when faced with the unknown.
Bruce was kind enough to share this touching piece about the reality of Alzheimer’s. Feelings of sadness and loss, of course. But a change in perspective allows him to appreciate Ann’s beauty – and their love – in a new light.
by Bruce Williams
I often get a sadness not unlike mourning. It is not the anguish one feels upon the sudden death of a loved one but a drawn out process that develops a life of its own every time a new event or “milestone” intrudes on our lives. Morphing into a dark presence that threatens to steal the joy I’ve always had with Ann, I finally break free for a time and realize its way too premature to mourn.
I do feel, however, that small parts of her are lost forever. She’s not the same girl I married 27 years ago but, in view of what she’s going through, I love her more now than I did at any point in our marriage.
As her personality changes ever so subtly, I can liken the experience to a jeweler examining a diamond. Accustomed to viewing it only from the top, One might notice a few flaws. Small pieces of carbon dimming the reflection, and to some critical eyes, reducing its value. I realize that, while I can’t alter her position, I can change my own perspective.
By peering at this precious gem of a lady from a different angle, I discover a new treasure, never before seen. Suddenly, those tiny specks are lost in the sheer brilliance of a magnificent cut, polished by the Master Craftsman Himself, for me, our family and all those who love this wonderful woman to enjoy.