A life sentence.

Periodically, our long term insurance company arranges for a nurse to come assess my husband — they want to  make sure he still has dementia, I guess. Today was the day. We were lucky to have Caroline again. Peter clicked with her before and again today.

The questions she asks are almost exactly the same as those his neurologist asks, and we were at her office yesterday. They want to know if he has any physical limitations, dizzy spells, or loss of strength, and if he can do household chores or handle bill-paying.

No, no, no, no, and no.

The hardest questions for most dementia patients are: can you name the day of the week, the month, the year, the season?

No, no, no, and no.

“Now I’ll ask you to remember three words,” Caroline said. Peter groaned and she smiled, but went on. “You’ll get one point for repeating the words correctly right away, and then again after you’ve either counted backwards from one hundred by sevens, or spelled the word “world” backwards. OK?” Peter nodded. “Your words are table, book, tree.”

“Table. Book. Tree,” he said. One point.

“Now, would you rather count backwards by sevens or spell “world” backwards?” she asked.

No hestitation. “D-L-R-O-W.”

“Great!” Caroline said. “Now, the very last part.” She handed him her clipboard and asked him to copy the multi-sided figures shown. After that she asked him to write a simple sentence.

“Sentence about what?” Peter asked.

“Anything at all,” she said. “A short sentence, but it has to make sense.”

Peter quickly copied the three figures, and after thinking a few seconds he wrote a sentence.

She looked at the clipboard. “Oh-h, that’s so sweet,” she said. She showed me his sentence: “I still LOVE my wife.”

Even though he didn’t score as well as he did the last time she was here, my unsentimental, undemonstrative husband got an A+ from me.


Header photo: Swans at Middle Gardens, Charleston, SC, May, 2009.

2016 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ contest finalist. 


20 thoughts on “A life sentence.

  1. That is so sweet!! You so deserved that!!! But I’m not crying, I’m smiling!!!

  2. I am crying and smiling! I have this sense that people with expressive and neuro/cognitive disorders have it all in there and just have trouble expressing it. Wonderful moment for you and Peter. Bet Peter was smiling when he wrote it!

  3. A shining moment! Love does make the world go ’round and brightens each day. I know that’s what keeps you going, Judy. cj oxoxox

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