When my husband and I were first married, we lived in a second-floor apartment in Farmington Hills, Mich.
Living right below us was a husband and wife, who, at the time, looked as though they might be in their early 60s.
When we first met the couple in the hallway, I immediately observed that the woman had a far away and distant look in her eyes, as if she was sifting through our conversations with great pain.
When I reached over to shake her hand after introductions, it was clear that moving her right hand just a few inches to meet mine was a struggle.
The man, inquisitive and jovial in nature, and quite the conversationalist, did all of the talking and laughing.
A few weeks later, the man, who was on his way home from work, stopped me in the hallway. In a whispered voice, as if not to be heard by his wife, the man told me that she had Alzheimer’s disease.
The man shared with me how at first his wife started forgetting little things, like where she had placed the shopping list and car keys. Later, as the disease progressed, it became difficult to maneuver around the apartment, and she could not remember where she was at all.
Then the request came.
The man asked if I would be available to occasionally visit his wife.
The proposition, I thought to myself, was a courageous one. I said yes.
The first visit is the one I remember most. While sitting on the sofa in the living room and drinking cups of hot tea, we chatted about everyday topics, nothing too pressing or stressful, and there was no mention about her affliction.
After tea, I took the cups and saucers to the kitchen, where, I at once realized, was one source of much confusion for my neighbor.