It is up to me to learn how to let go, to reduce my expectations of my husband who has Alzheimer’s disease, even lower. Friday, Arbor Rose held a lovely tribute to the 44 veterans who attend their day club and residences , with a program that listed each person’s name and presented a flag, a handshake and a picture taken with the fully uniformed senior care director who is a Major in the Air Force. We sang patriotic songs and ate cake that was baked red, white and blue. Bob did not enjoy sitting in the hot sun among so many people, but he sat between my son Steve and me, holding his program, placing his flag in his shirt pocket and saying again and again that he did not recognize me.
However, as I stood next to the photographer who took his picture, he said, “That’s my wife,” and when we finally returned to his quiet room, he said, “You’ve come back to yourself.” We are all trying so hard to maintain that connection but slowly, he is slipping away. And many of these other 43 heroes who fought to preserve our freedoms in the Second World War, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, the Gulf Wars and the War on Terror are struggling to maintain their own identity. We honor them, we tell their war stories for them, we celebrate whenever we can with love and respect for them, their families and for the smiling and sensitive people who care for them now.