My name is Jane and my husband of 36 years was diagnosed with Dementia/Alzheimer’s about three and half years ago. This blog is a tale of our lives after “Al” (the name I’ve given Joe’s disease) moved in. In the two years since I began this blog, it's been read in over 25 countries. It really is "AL" over the world. Thanks for coming along with us down a path of uncertainty. Joe passed on November 19, 2016.
Sunday, February 8, 2015
ALZHEIMER'S--PITCH ONE TO ME
Joe and Grandson Joey at the Tournament 2014
Joe and I started dating, so about a million years ago, we attended our company
picnic together.(Yes, we were an office
Joe in 1956
By then, we
had shared a few stories from the past so I knew that Joe had been an
athlete. He’d told me about growing up
in the Midwest in the 40’s and 50’s, and how he’d spend most of those summers
on a ball field.
that his first “real” job, after being discharged from the Army, was with a
large company that also had a softball team that competed in a five state regional
proud of the fact that he got paid to be a company employee, but what he really
did was play fastpitch softball for them.
In fact, he’d helped the team go all the way to the World Series of
So on that
day at the picnic, as Joe participated in our company’s softball game, I
shouldn’t have been surprised to see him round third base and slide into home
process, he shredded a brand new pair of white shorts and got a huge
raspberry on one hip. When I asked him
“why” he slid into home, he simply said, “I could have been out.”
That was the
first time I understood just how competitive Joe was, and how important sports
were to him.
to this year—we’re now living in an “Over 55” community and apparently, there are many other senior
guys with Joe’s same love for a ball field because they have created a “very
senior” and “very” slow pitch softball league.
(It’s quite the big deal, with a nice field, electronic scoreboard, uniforms,
and a schedule printed in the newspaper, the whole megillah.)
Joe and Al and I went to one of their games.
We sat in the stands and ate
popcorn just like at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
mentioned, this is a very senior league.
The average age within the community is somewhere around 74.5, and there
are guys with all types of physical challenges.
They even have pinch-runners if you can’t make it around the bases.
I sat there
and thought Al (this lousy disease) is the only reason that Joe can’t just sign
up for a team, and get out there and do something he would totally enjoy. It’s all Al, nothing else. I suddenly wished I could push Al off the
disease that is robbing Joe of his mental and emotional flexibility he could
take a pitch, run the bases, and field a ball with the best of them. There would be no stopping him.
frustrates me to think about how many things Joe has had to give up.
But then I
remember how much Joe enjoyed watching his grandson, Joey, play baseball. During a trip to Las Vegas this fall, Joe was so
proud of Joey when his team won the whole tournament.
Joe got so
excited that at one point during the final day of the tournament, our daughter
had to remind him that if he didn’t stop chiding the ump, he might be thrown
out of the park. And, there were those
little conversations Joe had with the team manager in between games where Joe
imparted his vast wisdom. (I’m not sure I want to know exactly what Joe and Al
said to the manager.) It was pure delight for Joe to be there.
I guess that’s
what happens in life. Sooner or later
you have to come off the field and sit in the stands and cheer for the generations
that come after you. (I usually don’t
like sports analogies, but this one “hit it out of the park”.)
We try not
to grieve over the things that are lost, but enjoy what we still have while we
still have it. After all, as long as you
can remember even some of what you once did, you can still brag.
Tomorrow is Friday,
“TGIF” or “GIFT” if you are dyslexic like me.
By the way,
our daughter just called to announce that grandson, Joey, who is still a high
school junior, just made his “varsity” baseball team. Way to go Joey!! There's that bragging thing.