婆婆贝蒂和她与阿尔茨海默症的抗争(中)

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3)母与子

我们第二天又去拜访贝蒂。泰迪拿起一把梳子站在窗前,帮助贝蒂梳理她的头发。柔和的日光洒在他们的身上。这是我第一次看到母子俩儿在一起的样子。泰迪轻轻地梳理着贝蒂灰白的头发,好像要把每一根头发都放到合适的位置,还要小心不要弄断一根。贝蒂抬起头,开心、满足地看着儿子。她的头发,像照片里年轻时候那样,依然浓密、时尚,衬托着她亲切的微笑。

后来,泰迪还给贝蒂请了一个私人保健护士,露丝,
给她按摩、探望她。

结婚前,为了得到我母亲的理解和许可,泰迪和我花了很多功夫给她写了一封长长的信。完稿用了两个月,泰迪用英文誊写在一张好看的信纸上,我把它翻译成中文。不过,我母亲还是不放心也不满意。也许所有的母亲都不情愿让女儿嫁出去,或者也许泰迪是一个还未谋面的外国人。他是那个执汝之手、与汝偕老的人吗?

如果有人能对自己的母亲这样孝敬,我还有什么疑问吗?

 
4)戴夫姨父 - 记忆与心灵

戴夫怎么样?贝蒂不时会问一下,有时每十分钟会重复一次。戴夫是她的姐夫。贝蒂小时候不幸失去了父亲和长兄,姐姐和姐夫照顾她、母亲和二哥。我相信戴夫像父亲和兄长一样抚养她长大。戴夫是底特律的一名地区法官,一个快乐的法官,因为他一直为居民主持婚礼。我们2003年结婚时,泰迪曾经请求他主持我们的婚礼。他幽默地回答说,他得要更新法官执照,因为他的执照20年前就过期了。那时候,戴夫快要一百岁了。

我们在戴夫100岁生日前拜访过他,他给我讲了好几个快乐法官的故事。有一次,他如何、如何在连接加拿大和美国的桥梁上给一对不同国籍的夫妇举行了结婚仪式。他在饭馆里款待了我们一顿美餐,坚持要付款。从口袋里颤巍巍地拽出一个老式钱夹子,给了我一个惊讶。哇,都是现金,没有信用卡。

圣诞节到了,我们再去探望贝蒂。她又不断地问起戴夫。那时候泰迪已经有了手机,他耐心地向贝蒂演示手机是一种全新的电话设备,然后把贝蒂和戴夫姨父连上线。两个人很久没见过面了,在电话里谈了好一会儿。看起来聊得很开心。

有一天,坏消息来了。戴夫在他102岁生日前去世了。正如长期陪伴他的法庭助理对泰迪所说,你的姨父失去了活下去的愿望。的确,他爱的人和亲朋好友已经走了很久了。尽管他的思维和记忆还向从前一样敏锐,但是他的身体让他失望了。

后来当贝蒂再次问到戴夫时,泰迪直接地回答到:“妈妈,姨父已经去世了。” 她显得很难过,从此再没有问过他。我想,除了记忆,还有心灵,心灵承载着我们的感觉吧。





 




-- My Mother-in-Law Betty and Her Battle of Alzheimer (Part II) --


3)The Mom and Her Boy

The next day of our visit with Betty, we dropped in early. Ted stood by the window and took a comb to help Betty with her hair. The morning sun peered through the window and showered them with soft sunshine. It was the first time that I watched the mom and son together. Ted gently combed Betty’s grey hair as if he wanted to make each thread of her hair at right place and not to break it. Betty looked up at her son with such fondness and gratification. Her grey hair, like those in her photos, was still full shock and fashionably accompanying her gracious smile.

Later, Ted found a private caregiver, Ruth, to give Betty massages and check on her from time to time.

To get my mother’s understanding and permission to marry, Ted and I took time to write her a long, long letter. It took us a couple of months to complete, hand-written on a nice piece of paper and translated into Chinese. Still, my mother was not assured nor satisfied. Perhaps all mothers would be so reluctant to let their daughters go. Or, perhaps Ted was a foreigner who she had not met yet. Was he the right person to take my hands?

If somebody could do this to his mother, do I still have any doubt?

4) Uncle Dave – Memory and Heart

"How’s Dave?" This is the question Betty would repeat from time to time, sometimes every ten minutes. Uncle Dave was her brother-in-law who took care of her and her mom after Betty lost her father and elder brother at a young age. I believe he cared her like her father and brother. Uncle Dave was a district Judge in Detroit, a happy one performing marriages. When Ted asked him to marry us in 2003, he humorously replied to do that he would have to renew his license as it had already been expired some 20 years ago. He was then in his late 90’s.

When we visited him before his 100th birthday, he recounted stories of a happy judge. For instance, how he married a couple of different nationalities over a bridge connecting Canada and the US. When he treated us a nice meal in a restaurant, he insisted to pay. He surprised me by pulling out a money clipper from his pocket. All cash, no credit cards.

It was Christmas Day, and another visit with Betty. She asked about Dave again. At that time Ted already had a Motorola cell phone. So, he demonstrated his new toy to Betty, which was a brand new type of telephone device. He then connected her to Uncle Dave. The two talked over the phone for quite a while as they had not met nor spoken for a long time. She looked to be quite happy and enjoyed the talk very much.

One day, the bad news came. Uncle Dave passed away before his 102nd birthday. As his long- time companion and court assistant told Ted, "Your uncle lost his desire to go on." Indeed, people who he loved and knew had long gone. And his body failed him even though his mind and memory was ever as sharp as before.

When Betty asked about Uncle Dave again, Ted said straight: "Mom, Uncle Dave has passed away." Her face saddened, and she never asked about him again. I guess that beyond memories there is heart that carries the feelings.      


 
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