I wondered how it would all come out. I am married to a late stage Alzheimer’s patient. We have been married 35 years and she has been sick 10 plus. Many recent public events have caused me to believe it is time to make a statement. So a couple of months before Valentines Day I began to make arrangements to re-new our wedding vows. It was not an easy decision and among my greatest concerns was the health of my wife but it was a decision made out of love. Could she stand the strain of having many friends around her at one time? Would the excitement and the car ride to the church be too much for her? What would she say when asked if she would take me as her husband?
It had recently been said by a TV preacher that when Alz patients reach a certain stage it was all right to put them away and go on and live the rest of one’s life. Love does not go away because someone is sick or disabled. Love is in the heart and one must continue to show that love and human dignity to that person you promised to love and honor. There is no excuse to abandon that person. In fact there is a far greater call to serve them in their still very real needs. I think many like my wife still have a great need of love. She likes her hands rubbed and held. She needs someone to joke with her a little. She just needs someone to talk with her when she is lonely. Not a lot different than me and you. My wife remains an important part of our family. She is content for the moment but still hopes for a cure. She will not tell you that but she does tell me. She has been so brave to face what she knew was coming. I love and admire her so much.
In the end it was not a difficult decision for me to make. The ceremony was great, she hit all the words right. It was a peaceful and yet a joyful event. My thanks goes to our daughter Christi Bales who did all the leg work and was so good to get it all done, to brother Worth Gibson for a beautiful ceremony, to Allison Hogue for her part in providing the photographer, to my sister Gail Green who is always there when I need her and to all those who worked behind the scene to provide needed services.
State Rep. Butch Wilkins, of Bono, serves as chairman of the Task Force on the Effect of Alzheimer’s Disease in Arkansas.