"A minor miracle occurred yesterday," wrote Frank Fischer in an email on November 17th, "(it) marked a significant victory for democracy and justice in Romania's long march from the end of the Communist regime."
Ed, my Romanian soul mate of 30 years, had Alzheimer's. And I knew I'd never be able to accept it. It was so bad I couldn't have a meaningful two-way exchange with him. He couldn't advise me about my problems or praise me for my successes as he'd always done.
The thing to remember is that people with Alzheimer's live only in the present. If you understand that you won't be disappointed when they shunt the present aside. The main thing is to bring them pleasure in the moment and that's what a wrapped gift usually does.
My life history has resulted in me being very sensitive to others who are and/or were mistreated by parents, spouses or others. I can feel the pain of these people and am more understanding when they exhibit negative features, such as losing their tempers easily.
Ed came here from Romania in his mid-50s as a penniless political refugee fleeing the brutal communist regime. All they would let him take out of the country was $100, one suitcase and the clothes on his back.
I was speaking at an Alzheimer's family support group recently. A man there told me that he visited his wife with advanced-stage dementia nearly every day, even though she didn't recognize him as her husband. He learned early on, however, that she knew when he'd missed a day.
Late one evening, I was deeply immersed in editing the photographs I'd taken at the Cincinnati Zoo that day when I was startled by the phone ringing. I thought it was probably Ed, my Romanian life partner and soul mate. But it wasn't.
I have to admit almost all have focused on the caregiver. We can feel contentedness, pride and joy. We can also feel sadness and loneliness. The list goes on and on. But how does the person with dementia feel?
Just seeing him smile and hearing him laugh had become more than enough to make up for losing our previous relationship. My heart had changed forever. Our love had endured, even despite Alzheimer's -- the last and most daunting obstacle it would ever face.
I wrote Come Back Early Today: A Memoir of Love, Alzheimer's and Joy as a love story. It's about the powerful 30-year relationship I had with Edward Theodoru, a delightfully colorful, wickedly eccentric Romanian gentleman and scholar.
It is often said that animals and children reach dementia patients on a level people cannot. Every time Ed, my Romanian soul mate of 30 years, saw my little Shih Tzu, Peter, he said, 'Oh, the lee-tle one. I love him so much.'