We remember the story about Mr. Sweets and his owner, a very sweet lady who had advanced Alzheimer's disease, who would rush down with Mr. Sweets if he so much as sneezed, right? That story was written as much about Mr. Z as it was about Mrs. Z. That sweet man stood by his wife for YEARS with that horrid disease, keeping her safe and warm and comfortable, maneuvering his way around her deteriorating brain and memory in a manner that required so much love and patience that to this day, I stand back in awe of his abilities.
I talked to Mr. Z last month. Hadn't heard from him in a little while, and of course, because I hadn't seen Mr. Sweets in a while, I became concerned. So gave him a ring.
"Hello Mr. Z! How's it hangin'???" (cause that's how we'd kid around)
"Oh hello doctor!! Well, I'm doing well. Mr. Sweets is doing great! No problems and he has finally lost some weight!"
Uh oh. Mr. Sweets lost weight. I knew what that meant instantly.
"How is Mrs. Z?" I asked.
"Well, Mrs. Z finally passed last month. She finally let go of that agonizing body of hers and moved on to the other side."
I got a little choked up, but I held it inside so I could maintain the conversation and not show him how... upset... I really was.
But after a few minutes, I felt relief. Relief for Mr. Sweets for finally have a shot at having a healthy body weight and for not having to get *another* physical exam for the third time in a day; relief for Mrs. Z for not suffering any more after years of living with Alzheimer's; but most of all, I felt relief for Mr. Z. He sounded.... happy. He sounded... free. He sounded... relieved.
He told me once how utterly impossible it was to live with your soul mate and watch them slip into the pit of hell with no memory. He told me how agonizing it was to look at your wife of 50 years and love her and then have her ask, "Who are you again?"
I understood. I got it. It's one of those human condition things, where we survive and we go on. And Mr. Z is going on. And not one person on this earth could accuse him of not loving Mrs. Z with every ounce of his soul.
Of course I haven't seen Mr. Sweets since, but that's a good thing. He's been to the vet's office enough times in the last year to last him... a lifetime. But I'm sure he feels relieved too, and is now the caretaker of Mr. Z.
One thing bothered me, though. When I called Mr. Z, he said...."Oh honey, I forgot... I thought I had called you and let you know...." (he hadn't called)
Which sent a shiver down my spine because now I'm worried Mr. Z is slipping without Mrs. Z around.
Mr. Sweets has a very big job ahead of him. It will be my job to make sure he's around to do it.