The previous post was about my sister and brother in law and how they have lived out their wedding vows during their 30 years of marriage. However - our family has had the privilege (or heartache) of watching another couple endure difficult circumstances.
My husband's parents have always been very kind and considerate to me, their daughter in law, although I suspect there was some dismay at the mate their oldest son had chosen. They never made those feelings known to me and I am very grateful for their love and support during the past 30 years.
A few years ago, it became apparent to my mother in law and some of us close to them, that my father in law was exhibiting the early signs of dementia. He has always been a strong man, never complaining about health problems, staying active throughout his life. He suffered with heat stroke one summer while they were working to clean out an old barn that belonged to my mother in law's parents. It was extremely hot and they were working very hard to get everything out. He fell and broke his ankle but also suffered from the heat. No one realized at the time how that would continue to affect him.
As time passed, they continued to play golf, take trips to see children or grandchildren, and occasionally family in Oklahoma. All 3 of their children lived in Amarillo, about an hour from their hometown. As his health declined, their children convinced them to move to Canyon as it would be closer to medical facilities and also closer to their children and their 3 youngest grandchildren. They moved a few years ago.
As is often the case with dementia, a major move or other traumatic event can accelerate the disease. After their move, the symptoms did worsen. They continued to play golf, go to church and attend grandchildren's events, but my mother in law had to be watchful of my father in law's movements-be sure she knew where he was, etc. It was easy for him to get disoriented, which was not normal for him. He was always one of those guys who could navigate anywhere without getting lost (his oldest son is very much like him). In the beginning, my father in law might go out for a walk, but then get
lost trying to get home. Remember - they moved so he is in a strange
town trying to find his way around. Fortunately - they had both gotten
cell phones and he could call for her to come get him
In all of this, I have watched my mother in law continue to live with grace and love towards her spouse. You never hear her complain about the situation. She may fuss about something that is said or some action but she continues to do what needs to be done. She is confined to their home for the most part of every day. She is able to go to church and occasionally to a grandchild's event, but does not feel she can be gone for long. She takes care of him, helps with physical needs, continues to cook, keeps their home beautiful, and is a companion to my father in law. Many times the actions and words from my father in law are like those of a child, but coming from an 80 year old man. I cannot begin to understand what she has to deal with each day, but she does it with grace and beauty and love. For their children and grandchildren, it is a beautiful example of what those vows mean - "for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health". In August of this past year, they celebrated 55 years of marriage with all of their children and some of their grandchildren!
I consider it a true honor to be their daughter in law and hope to honor them with this post. I love you, Mac and Helen!