“I’ve had enough of this,” she said as she headed toward the door.
The husband heard the back door open and shut. The dog continued to bark, and he was beginning to worry. Finally his wife returned and climbed back in bed.
“What have you been doing all this time? The dog is still barking,” he said.
“I brought the dog into our backyard,” she said. “Let’s see how THEY like it!”
This would never have been an issue for Mom and Dad – on either side of the fence. Neither of them could hear well enough to be bothered by the barking of the neighbor’s dog, and their dog Ebony was never out of their sight long enough to disturb the neighbors. Ebony was a black dachshund, and he was the king of the household. Mom and Dad vied for his affection, and he slept between them on his own pillow. When he got too heavy from all the ice cream they fed him to jump up on the bed, Dad built him a carpeted stairway. Ebony died too early from diabetes and other ailments brought on by his life of luxury, but he died a happy dog.
Two old retired guys were getting bored with daytime TV and dominoes, so one of them suggested they volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.
“I don’t know,” said Joe. “I’ve never done much carpentry work.”
“Neither have I,” said Bob. “But how hard can it be? You pick up a nail, put it against a board, and hit it with a hammer. We can handle that.”
Joe agreed, and a week or so later they showed up for their first project and were put to work putting up sheetrock in the bedroom. Bob was getting into a pretty good rhythm with his hammer, and he decided to see how Joe was doing. He was surprised to see Joe reach into his bag of nails, pull one out, look at it closely, and throw it over his shoulder. He pulled out another one, inspected it, and nailed it into the wall. When he pulled out a third nail and threw it away, Bob stopped him.
“What are you doing? Nails aren’t cheap, you know. Why are you throwing some of them away?”
“Well,” said Joe, “I think they got a bad batch. About half the heads are on the wrong end. I’m throwing those away.”
Bob rolled his eyes. “You idiot,” he said. “Those aren’t bad nails. They’re for the other side of the room!”
Dad was pretty handy with a hammer in his younger days, but as dementia took away his initiative and his ability, his projects became simpler. I believe the staircase for Ebony was his last hammer-and-nails project.
Bill and his wife had recently retired to Florida, and he set up an appointment with his new primary care physician for his annual physical. After an examination and exhaustive lab tests, he went back to visit with the doctor about the results.
“Bill, you’re doing fairly well for a man of your age,” said the doctor.
Bill was a little concerned about that comment.
“Do you think I’ll live to be 80?” he said.
“Do you smoke or drink alcohol?” said the doctor.
“Oh, no! My wife made me give that up when we got married. And I don’t do drugs, either.”
“How’s your diet? Do you eat red meat, butter, fried foods?”
“No, my wife is a vegan, so I am, too.”
“Do you spend a lot of time in the sun — playing golf, sailing, hiking, bicycling?”
“No, my wife is very fair-skinned and doesn’t like being outdoors, and she likes me to stay inside with her.”
“Do you gamble or drive a fast car or a motorcycle?”
“No, my wife is too delicate for the noise and excitement of the casinos, and she insisted that we get a mini-van.”
The doctor looked at him for a long moment before responding.
“Then, why do you even care?”
Dad gave up a lot for Mom as they got older. He sold his boat and then his golf cart and he spent more and more time inside devoting himself to her happiness and welfare. Before I realized what was going on in her brain, I resented what I saw as the unreasonable demands she made on him. But as I became aware of her Alzheimer’s, I realized that she needed him close in order to feel safe, and he was willing to do whatever was necessary to take care of the woman he had loved since they were both 17 years old.