She doesn’t know me, but I still know who she is

She doesn’t know me, but I still know who she is

She doesn’t know me, but I still know who she is

This story reminds me of a newspaper headline I read in the newspaper last Saturday. The headline read, “A tidal waves of sadness: Dementia is striking more Singaporeans.” In that long special report, a couple spent a lifetime together but now ravaged by Alzheimer’s Disease, she can’t remember who he is. He, too, is slowly losing his mind. It was mentioned in the report that a particularly difficult aspect of dementia is the burden of care it imposes on loved ones.

Burden of care? Would you ever consider taking care of loved ones to be a burden? I certainly hope not. Taking care of loved ones is never a burden; it is love and responsibility. I do not deny there might be times when one will feel that way. Don’t be too hard on oneself, we are just human. Yet there will be a time when taking care of loved ones is no longer a responsibility but of unconditional love and giving.

Something from the story below, “True love is neither physical, nor romantic. True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.

She Doesn’t Know Me, But I Still Know Who She Is

It was a busy morning, about 8:30, when an elderly gentleman in his 80’s, arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb.

He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 am. I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would be able to see him.

I saw him looking at his watch, and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound. On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound.

While taking care of his wound, I asked him if he had another doctor’s appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry. The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife.

I inquired as to her health; he told me that she had been there for a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimer’s disease. As we talked, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late.

He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in five years now.

I was surprised, and asked him, ‘And you still go every morning, even though she doesn’t know who you are’? He smiled as he patted my hand and said, ‘She doesn’t know me, but I still know who she is’.

I had to hold back tears as he left; I had goose bumps on my arm, and thought, ‘That is the kind of love I want in my life’. True love is neither physical, nor romantic.

True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.

With all the jokes and fun that are in e-mails, sometimes there is one that comes along that has an important message. This one I thought I could share with you.

The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.
Photo credit: Steve Slater

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24 thoughts on “She doesn’t know me, but I still know who she is

  1. Laura

    My mother in law is just that sort of person. 10 years younger than my father in law, they met and married when she was 37, he was 47, a WWII pilot and hero. It was a second marriage. My husband is the result.

    In 1998 my FIL was diagnosed with dementia. When I met him in 2003 he was already mostly “gone” but retained his sense of humor. Before he died, in 2006, he had days and nights when he had no idea where he was, or who she was, or why he was in his house, and why they didn’t let him fly his plane. She took care of him, in their home, until he developed pnuemonia, and died. He was 87.

    She needs our care now. I will always honor her sacrifice of love, and care for her. My husband is an only child, and we’re both dedicated to giving her the best sort of life she can have, in her declining years. She will have us, and her 7 grandchildren from our blended family. I hope to live up to her example.

    Lauras last blog post..Errr…Missed again!

  2. Symphony of Love Post author

    @ Laura, thank you for sharing with us about your mother-in-law. Your mother-in-law is truly a beautiful soul, a living example and model for us all; someone we can look up to and to learn from. And I believe that you are someone that your children will look up to and learn from too.

  3. Tammy Warren

    What a story. I think of this often. Not making fun of this situation, I often have my own thoughts of freaking myself out when I begin to forget some things. I cannot imagine being the person going through this experience on either end. This has never happened in my family but I have seen it with other families. It is a time to stick together and love together. I feel that as you gain wisdom with years, you come to understand that love is not something given to you. Rather, you give love to yourself when you let it in and open your heart to embrace the essence of life.

    This was a very touching story.

    Tammy Warrens last blog post..My shadow moved on

  4. Sherxr

    My FIL is suffering from Parkinson’s Disease for more than 10 years now. He’s slowly losing his bodily functions and most of the time my MIL has to help him with a lot of stuff. But he is really strong and fighting the disease because of his children. Whenever I opened his medicine cabinet, I felt a little down at the sight of how many bottles of pills he has to take each day to stay the way he is. He gets frustrated when he knows he couldn’t do the things he used to.
    But my MIL who is married to him for more than 29 years never stop loving him. At times, we will see her hold his hand and tell him gently that she loves him. And that seemed to bring us back to those times when they first met and fell in love.
    What a wonderful example of unconditional love.

    Sherxrs last blog post..Stop Food Wastage: Leftover cakes

  5. Evita

    Hi BK!

    Beautiful post!

    This totally reminds me of one of my favorite movies “The Notebook” – have you seen it? It is an amazing tear jerking love story that touches upon exactly what you wrote about here.

  6. Symphony of Love Post author

    @ Tammy, I do not want it to happen on either side too and to anyone. However, when it does happen, like you said, “it is a time to stick together and love together.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. I find that life is very interesting, in my younger days, it was easier for me to give and to love unconditionally. As I grow older, sometimes I will have thought of ‘what am I getting’ when I am giving and loving. In the years of growing up, some how I have allowed my heart to be contaminated. I am learning to give and to love unconditionally again. And often time, I find that reading stories like the one above helps me to reinforce my values and thought.

  7. Symphony of Love Post author

    @ Randall and Evita, I have to check out the movie ‘The Notebook.’ Perhaps the story which I received in my email was inspired by ‘The Notebook’ or maybe it was the other way round. It just goes to show that the world is still very much a loving place to be unconditionally.

  8. Symphony of Love Post author

    @ Sher, thank you for sharing to us the story of your FIL and MIL. It is story like this that warmth my heart and inspires me. How very often we have heard of people getting together and breaking up, even when they were married; marriage just doesn’t seem to be all that big deal nowadays. Could it be that we have forgotten the true meaning of marriage as what our parents remember? Perhaps. Or maybe we are falling behind the new trend? πŸ™‚

  9. Symphony of Love Post author

    @ Theresa, well said, “the happiest were the ones that lived the simplest.” I believe that the essence is being grateful for and making the best out of what is given to one.