Prologue II

Featured image: Raphael. Seated Youth Writing in Book, 17th/18th c. The Art Institute of Chicago essay from the Old French essai, an attempt,from the Latin exagium, a weighing Cynthia Ozick, an American essayist, describes the act of writing an essay as “walking around a thought." The words of my husband are the thoughts around which... Continue Reading →

A Foretelling

A wedding gift foretold our lives in ways that Dick and I could not have imagined. Harry Dodge, the groomsman, gave us a pine box with dovetailed corners. He'd carved the story of Rapunzel on its sides and lid. The tale was a mirror of our marriage. Themes such as song, desire, blindness, and revelation... Continue Reading →

Wandering Blind

In their earliest version of Rapunzel, the Grimm Brothers tell us of trysts in the tower. The Prince's visits lead to a pregnancy. (In a later edition created for children, they removed that part of the story.)             Rapunzel naively wonders why her clothes have grown so tight. Furious at the betrayal, the witch chops... Continue Reading →

My Husband Has Dementia

The titles of my essays are quotations from something Dick said or wrote after the onset of his dementia. But these words are mine: My husband has dementia. How many times had I said those words over the decade before his death? And in the seven years prior to his diagnosis, how often had I... Continue Reading →

Terrified of Losing You

The disappearance of a beloved happens in many ways, for many reasons. People change. Grow remote. Divorce. Move away. Lose touch. Get ill. Die. In our case, we held on to a long love in the face of loss upon loss. He had dementia, but he didn't disappear. Neither did I. We continued to see... Continue Reading →

Tracer of Lost Persons

In 2005, the year that his dementia worsened markedly, Dick wrote Dick Cain, Tracer of Lost Persons on a scrap of notepaper, then drew a descending series of spiraling lines beneath it.             A snippet from his childhood had shown up, like a tattered ticket falling from an opened book. When he was a boy... Continue Reading →

A Textured Life

Determined that Dick and I would continue to find one another, I sought out places where we might meet. Some people join with their loved ones in prayers or songs, some watch a ball game or a sunset together, and some simply fold laundry, side-by-side. I provided Dick with a life similar to the one... Continue Reading →

Not a Husk, Not a Shell

Some people dismiss those with dementia, describing them as "husks" or as "shells." Perhaps it's frightening to consider what might reside inside.             When I was a child, an old woman lived near my grandmother's home. My sister and I never saw her. We saw her rotting house, shrouded with shrubs and vines, shades drawn.... Continue Reading →

Wooed by His Eyes

  References to the eyes and sight wend their way throughout my essays. The eyes are "these lovely lamps, these windows of the soul," as the French poet Guillaume Du Bartas wrote. Like a night walker glancing into lit windows and imagining the lives inside, we can glean the inner state of others from their... Continue Reading →

Looking Straight at the Terrible

In the first years of Dick's forgetfulness, I saw things dimly. Gradually, living with dementia burned away all my illusions. I saw clearly and pledged to bear witness, which called for a naked seeing of things as they really were. Jean-François Millet's oil painting, Hunting Birds at Night, is a lesson in the naked seeing... Continue Reading →

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