As a child I could never quite see why those two words had to be together! Separately, they had a recognisable meaning, I knew what ‘real’ meant and later, understood what an estate was, but wondered why those words were constantly joined together.
Pairing the right words to make sense is much the same as joining two people for the same purpose! Finding the right partner makes sense for even more good reasons. Alone we could easily become lost on our journey but it’s far less likely when we are together with the right person. Indeed, it is truly amazing what can be achieved together; that’s how I think of my marriage to Dorothy. It’s fine to talk about the power of one but, let’s face it, most of us need to be ‘paired’ to walk the road of life without too many wobbles. What a difference when a load (or a joy) is shared!
Thinking about the word ‘real’ lead me to consider relationships and how we need to face reality in our lives. It is so easy to drift into a way of life that becomes self-centred with little or no regard to others, even a partner, and sometimes we need a jolt to face reality. Like real estate we are all different. Even two identical houses will not be the same, each one furnished, heated and cooled differently and used for different activities. Like us, they will also need different maintenance.
As Dorothy’s Alzheimer’s intensified and became more complex I struggled with the reality of it. For a long time, I refused to accept it was anything other than just getting older and, like me, becoming more forgetful. Our children could see it from afar. I was so close it was not apparent in the same way. And the consequences meant a heavy toll on my ability to cope. Over time, perhaps like you, my reader, I ultimately recognised that our lives had become more complex and finally accepted that we both needed help.
Thus began my journey with Dorothy as a different person to the girl I’d married sixty years ago. In the beginnings of those last years there were, nevertheless, many happy times and we were able, albeit fleetingly, to re-live some of the many wonderful experiences we’d shared earlier. We could communicate with each other, even in those last days, sometimes with a giggle, a smile – even a hearty laugh or a hand-squeeze, or simply by sitting together. But progressively those joyful moments became more rare and there were times when she didn’t even recognise me.
I treasure, and always will, the precious memories of earlier years when we were able to share a total awareness of each other. Those days were the ‘real state’ of happiness for many of us who can still remember!