After nearly 50 years of marriage, my husband began showing signs of Alzheimer's. We were very in love when we got married in 1950. This is a brief story of our marriage before and after he was diagnosed with the sad illness. But I tried to look at the positive things I saw. It was not a bad time. Because we had that circle of love.
55 years Makes a Circle of Love
Fifty-five years ago, December 30, 1950, we got married in the First Methodist Church in Floresville. We had our little reception out at the farm at Kasper, with immediate family there. A friend drove us back to San Antonio, where we got on the train to Austin for our honeymoon. We didn’t own a car.
We stayed at the Commodore Perry Hotel and next day went for a long walk around downtown Austin, and ate at the Night Hawk Restaurant. It was a glorious honeymoon. I still have the souvenirs from that weekend, the matchbook covers from the Night Hawk and the stationery from the hotel, and a love letter from my new husband.
Coming back on the train to San Antonio three days later, we then took a taxi to the tiny apartment on 235 Madison St, in the King William area, almost down town. We had 30 cents left.
We began our next 55 years of life together. I was 18 and he was 25. We were very much in love. I couldn't believe I was so fortunate to have lassoed this handsome, sexy looking man (back in those days we never said that word "sexy", though), but with his dreamy eyes and big grin, and handsome features, and quiet gentle ways, he was all I ever wanted in a husband.
We always agreed on everything, from buying furniture or a house, disciplining the children, spending money, where to spend vacations, getting along with in-laws (we both loved each other’s family very much, so that was no problem). We never argued about where to spend Christmas and Thanksgiving and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. We spent equal time with each family. We gave 100% to each other.
The years have gone by and I wish I could go back and re-live many, many of those years. They are precious to me. Even the hard times because we went through them together.
I said "Happy Anniversary" to him this morning, and he said the same to me and gave me a kiss. But 15 minutes later he had forgotten. It is night and almost time to go to bed, and he does not remember of course. We didn’t go out to celebrate, because now I am happy to just be here with him. In a way I feel sad. But I also am grateful for all those years that we did go out to dinner and he always gave me flowers and a beautiful sentimental card and I gave him a sentimental gift or card.
I am grateful that he put up with me all those years. I know I was not always an easy person to love, but somehow he never stopped loving me, and I knew it, and therefore, I was always secure in our relationship.
We both had so much freedom in our marriage, to each be our own person, that it made it so much easier to stay married. Never did we ever think or say the word "divorce". Who would have put up with me, I always thought? I had it easy. And it would be too hard to break in someone else to my adventurous spirit. I needed someone very laid back, like Eddie. Being married to him was easy for me.
If we ever had an argument, sometimes it ended with me jumping in the car and driving off with the tires squealing (doesn’t that make for a good closing argument?), driving for an hour or so to cool off, and when I came home, it was as if nothing had happened. Everything was back to normal.
He became very distant and in his own world around 25 years ago. I am sure it was the pressure of work and beginning of many family trials and tribulations and tragedies. So for the past 22 years, I felt very alone. I knew he loved me, but it was as if I was not there. He never looked directly at me. His mind was on other things. Most of the time I felt neglected as he absentmindedly kissed me goodbye in the morning, and hello in the evening. He was very used to me always being there. But never did I ever think of leaving. Marriage is a lifetime commitment. I had invested too many years in this relationship.
But then with the Alzheimer’s disease slowly taking away most of his memory, a few years ago, he slowly began to focus on me, just like he was when we first got married. It was as if he changed to the same wonderful man I had married so many years ago. It's wonderful! His small world consists of him and me, and sometimes, "all those kids running around here somewhere", (they aren't here any more, but maybe in his memory they are).
Every morning when I wake up, he is so happy to see me, and says, “Good morning, sweetheart. How is my bride today?”
He gives me a big kiss on the lips, and a hug and says, “You are the most beautiful girl in the world. How did I get so lucky to be the one to have you?”
It is like 1950 all over again.
He is the sweetest and most loving of husbands, and it is like the 55 years have all dropped away. Life is wonderful. We have our whole future ahead of us. I love him like I did so long ago. Except now, I am taking care of him, instead of him taking care of me. I call it the circle of love.
Note: Eddie Wauson, my husband passed away on August 23, 2009. We were married 58 years. “Looking For a Silver Lining” is the book I wrote about our life, before Alzheimer’s and after, and how we coped by always staying positive.