I begin posting for solace after Bill's diagnosis in 2007. On the worst days, just writing it down and putting the angst into words was therapeutic.
Then, I found myself with nothing to say. The realities of what loomed ahead were just too ugly to confirm. To write it all down was just too REAL. Written documentation always is. To have to explain where we were and his level of impairment began to invade the respect and dignity we fought so hard to protect.
Alzheimer's doesn't really get you. It's what happens because of it. We knew early on that Bill's dementia was probably mixed and that an inherited vascular condition was likely the culprit. In the end, they're all treated the same. You just have to pick your battles and I am the most guilty for never fussing about the pleasures he derived from eating well. At the end of the day, if that's what makes you happy - it just made sense to me to load him up with a second helping. There are no good ways to explain to an AD patient how many calories they're allowed.
It was Easter Sunday. Kate was home from school and took off her regular Sunday shift to stay at home with us. I cooked all day and cooked more than I normally would, as Bill moved from the kitchen to the sofas - back and forth all day. He was happy, happy, happy. Mama was in the kitchen and Katie Doll was at home. He talked all day about how good it smelled, when it would be ready, the dates of our next road trip. Bill and Kate shared the batter from the mixer and bowl before the cake went into the oven. He took the trash out several times and promised to try and shower before bedtime. My regret is not documenting this with pictures and the camera was out as it always is.
Sundays are my days to study and work as the phone rarely rings. So dedicated to that day, I'm not sure I ever turned the computer on. Breezy and warm, the sun was bright and high in the sky all day.
The rest is still a blur, and surely God's way of doling it out in increments we can handle. Is that even possible? It's been shared that we will have bad days and better ones.
Just as we shared here to get us through the hardest of times before, I am hoping to rely on this platform to preserve our precious memories and share with caregivers the rest of the story. Things change so fast, but some things will remain the same. Our family is closer and our friends are dearer to us than ever before. In his last days, Bill was the most grateful, the most humbled and the most loved. We were the loves of his life and he was ours.
We laid my precious husband to rest on Friday, April 13, 2012. Below is an excerpt from our children...
My name is Rhonda Brantley and my husband, Billy Ray Brantley, suffered from Early Onset Alzheimer's Dementia. This is the best shot we have at documenting daily living.