To the editor:
Today we are in Calumet. The family is gathered for our annual. Lynda and I are heading for fresh veggies. 'Let's go to the roadside stand on the highway." "Great!" I said.
A big burly fellow past retirement age is there. Lynda engages him. "How are you this fine day?" He graces us with a smile that goes all the way to his kind eyes under bushy brows: "Well, Becky says I'm perfect, so I guess I am!" We laugh together. "And who is Becky?" I ask.
"Becky is my beautiful wife. She wasn't feeling well today or you would meet her. She has had Alzheimer's for 13 years. She doesn't know who I am anymore, but she likes to come along. Becky loves people. "
We got more of the story. Years back, Richard left a good job in California. He took over a family farm in lower Michigan when Becky started failing. Then, when even that peaceful setting began to agitate her, he got the idea to move to her childhood home in Calumet. He hoped familiar surroundings would bring her comfort. It meant giving up everything. It was nothing if it helped his precious Becky. And it seems this IS helping her. While she doesn't remember him anymore, she does relate to Calumet, where little has changed over the years.
The pure joy on Richard's face as he talked about his sweetheart was so moving. Tears trickled unchecked down his cheeks, but his eyes never ceased sparkling. He believes mind-altering drugs benefit the caregiver more than the patient so they don't use them.
We listened for quite a while. It seemed so natural then to hold hands with a prayer for their blessing in every way. Richard said "Well isn't this something!"
And it was.
We were living "The Notebook" - Richard was James Garner. The funny thing was I have driven by that stand many times the last few summers. If open, there were always cars stopped. We talked for 45 minutes. No one stopped and interrupted.
This encounter, besides feeling like a surreal movie, brought me face to face with pure love.
The love I saw in Richard was:
I know without a doubt that Richard loves Becky. I am pretty sure Becky somehow knows she loves Richard, too. After all, she tells him he is perfect!
ANNE ANDERSON COLLINS