We usually meet up, the six of us for a meal. We might go quite a long time till we see each other again afterwards, but the six of us always get together again eventually.
We recently were invited to Viv and Peter's house for dinner and I knew that Sally and Robert were also going to be there. I see Viv most weeks at Church and she had warned me that Sally was having problems with her memory and was having brain scans. I realized that it was a good few months since I last saw her.
When we arrived at Viv and Peter's house I was a bit stunned when I saw Sally. Robert was his usual self, but Sally didn't seem to recognize us at first and looked a bit blank when she saw us. I was shocked by her appearance. She was clean and tidy but her hair was not the same and she had not worn the kind of clothes she would have worn the year before. She is only sixty but seemed years older, suddenly. She slumped silently on the sofa beside Robert, who explained that her scans had proved that her brain was slowly deteriorating and she joined in with this conversation and said she had been advised to walk a lot and read, though she had difficulty remembering what she was reading.
The meal went fine and Viv excelled herself with her usual good cooking. Sally did seem to be enjoying her food, but seldom joined in with the conversation. The rest of us had plenty to catch up with and we kept going back to Sally and went over old times, that she didn't seem to remember at all.
In the space of a few months, Robert had had to give up his high powered job, with lots of responsibility- a job that he really enjoyed to the utmost, to look after Sally, as she could not manage on her own. She had to finish working as a child carer and could not now be left to look after her own grand children.
Not only was her memory affected, but it seemed that she had lost her personality as well. She had ended up like a little girl who was lost and bewildered if her husband moved away from her side.
I'm not sure how to handle this situation at all. Viv thinks we must all keep in touch and I know that we should, but Sally is only a shell of the person she used to be. How do we move forward? I don't really know. By ten o'clock she wanted to go home, so we did all break up earlier than we normally would have done.
The real Sally was intelligent, confident, with plenty to say about her life, work, family and ideas. She was always sparkling, nicely dressed and made up and with nicely styled hair.
She was never one for hugs and kisses and was slightly reserved, but now she clung like a limpet when we had to go. I couldn't believe the change in her.
Fortunately, Sally and Robert have always been so much in love and are committed Christians. I just know he will stand by her, what ever happens, but I am stunned by the way this Alzheimer's Disease has come upon her so fast and unexpectedly. It is frightening, it really is. She knows what is happening to her, that's the sad part. She remembers how she was and wants to carry on as normal but she can't.
These people really did not deserve this severe blow in their lives. Over the years, they have given themselves to other people and to God.
Isn't life cruel?