Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Heart Remembers

An Arkansas man with Alzheimer’s, eighty-three-year-old Melvyn Amrine, disappeared. His wife, worried that he was lost, called the police. When the police found him, Melvyn told them he had always bought his wife flowers for Mother’s Day, and he was on his way to the store. The officers made a stop on the way home for Melvyn to make his purchase. He came up a little short, but the officers made up the difference. His wife, Doris, said it almost broke her heart to know that he still loved her. She said, “It’s special, because even though the mind doesn’t remember everything, the heart remembers.”

Although this event happened on Mother’s Day, it epitomizes the love we all dream of for Valentine’s Day. There is nothing like having true love to warm your heart any day, but especially on the day dedicated to matters of the heart.

What is love anyway? Merriam-Webster’s first definition is “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person.”

Your ability to love is personal. Early in life, you love a lot of people: parents, children, siblings, cousins, and friends, but most of all, you love yourself. As a child, you may think you are the center of the universe and everybody revolves around you. When you don’t get your way, “I hate you,” may pop out of your mouth with no regard to how hurtful it may be.

As you grow older, you become more interested in the second definition of love, that is, “attraction that includes sexual desire: the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship.” Crushes are often mistaken for love. When love is unrequited, there is a fine line between pursuing your heart and becoming a stalker.

Love hurts when you lose a person you love. Regardless of how that loss comes about, you can either harden your heart or fill it to the brim with more love.  

The real love prize goes to soul mates, or two people who love each other. Most of us know the Biblical definition of love: “Love is patient, love is kind.” A lot of wisdom follows with the verse that says, “It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”

When  you are married to someone with Alzheimer’s you have a special relationship and a different kind of love. What had been reciprocal becomes unconditional. Shared memories become individual.

Much is lost, yet much remains. Love is shown in non-traditional ways. Possibilities abound for showing love for a spouse with dementia. My friend Jane said that her heart overflowed with love for her husband when she combed his hair.

When you truly love someone, you realize that you are not the center of the universe—your loved one is. Yes, the mind forgets when Alzheimer’s attacks the brain. But never underestimate the power of the heart. Romance becomes less important, but love is victorious when you place someone else’s needs before your own.

Happy Valentine’s Day, caregivers. Yours is the most remarkable love.

Copyright © February 2016 by L.S. Fisher

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