About four decades and five years ago, you held her hand for the first time. Though she used to work a 16-hour shift at the diner and bustling tables hardened her hands, you still managed to grasp it with such love that it bordered on devotion.
Today, you approach her as she sits in a corner of one nursing home in Flushing. You hold her now thin, veiny hands that mirrors your own. You greet her, introducing yourself, saying that you are Tom, and that you are her husband of 45 years. You tell her that you have three kids, a teacher, a clerk, and a soldier. She withdraws her hand and says nothing. She asks you to sit down, because you are now, as she puts it, Mister, and she wants to talk to you about the woman who shares her room with her, because she woke her up today with her atrocious yelling.
You do this everyday. You plead to your knees and joints to not give you problems so that you can go to your wife, who’s probably just had her breakfast by this time, and see her and talk to her. Everyday you remind her of who you are, and tend to her needs with whatever it is that you can do. Mostly, you just want to be near her. Like the way you’d wait for her outside that diner many years ago. It’s that simple.
The story above is, of course, fictional. I do not know a respectable man named Tom nor his adorable wife. But then again, there’s always a possibility that this happened or is still happening in real life, with different subjects and a hopefully, a better, more “awww”-inducing plot.
Sadly, on the non-fictional front, a caller goes on live television to seek TV evangelist Pat Robertson’s advice about a friend, whose wife is stricken with severe dementia. The caller’s friend has blamed God about his wife’s condition. This is probably why he is now dating another woman.
Courtesy of abcnews on Youtube.com
Out of infuriation, I don’t know how to start with this one, so let’s just enumerate the important parts of Pat Robertson’s advice to his caller and make the necessary commentary, shall we? Quotes from Robertson were taken from this article.
1. “This is a terribly hard thing. I hate Alzheimer’s. It is one of the most awful things, because here’s the loved one — this is the woman or man that you have loved for 20, 30, 40 years, and suddenly that person is gone.”
Is the person really gone? Granted, your husband or wife cannot remember who you are, or the things that you’ve been through. But the person you loved, and should still love, is not gone – he or she is there. The person may not be able to recognize you, but that doesn’t mean that their need for someone to step up and love them unconditionally is gone.
2. “I know it sounds cruel,” but if he’s going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but to make sure she has custodial care, somebody looking after her.”
A preacher is a person who’s supposed to be the voice of morality and biblical wisdom. Pat Robertson claims that he is one, but his actions disprove this. True, the complete lack of memory of a loved one can be a major toll emotionally, mentally and physically, but is this enough to leave him or her for someone else? More importantly, is this enough reason to put the blame on God?
In my opinion, trying to forget the fact that your loved one, that one person you took a vow with on your wedding day, who has forgotten everything due to a debilitating disease, not only sounds cruel. It definitely is.
3. “This is a kind of death.”
In this scenario, what is death? Robertson attempts to rationalize his saying that the caller’s friend should divorce the wife whose suffering from dementia. He says that this disease is a kind of death anyway. So according Robertson, the husband will not be committing adultery, because the wife may be considered dead.
In what universe does involuntary memory loss equates to a kind of death? How many kinds of death are there really?
Bro. Eli Soriano, a TV Evangelist who unlike Pat Robertson uses the Bible to answer people’s questions, expounds on the two kinds of death – the physical and the spiritual, on his blog post about how Adam died long before he actually died. Sounds confusing? Give this a read and you’ll find yourself learning who are dead in God’s sight.
I hopped from one blog to the next on his site and found some great topics that he actually touched. This one’s about marriage and fidelity and I find it to be apt in this situation, entitled Love is Lovelier the Second Time Around – With God. A piece of friendly advice to that man who has deserted his wife at her time of need, if your wife cannot remember you because of a disease that she did not choose for herself, be a man and make her fall in love with you everyday for the rest of your life.
My two-handed salute to the loving and caring partners of people suffering from Alzheimer’s. I know that what all of you are going through is not easy, but you are the small candles that light up the dark corners of a world where televangelists like Robertson condone infidelity for convenience’s sake.