Last night I had the chance to see my Uncle Larry and Aunt Sandy. My mom is one of 5 kids, and Larry is her brother and oldest sibling. He is 72. I haven’t seen Larry of Sandy in at least 10 years, maybe more. My mom and her siblings are spread out over several states and when I was a kid, would only really get together for Thanksgivings and Christmases. As I grew up and older those family reunions were fewer and fewer and now they don’t really happen anymore. I’m not very close with my cousins and my aunts and uncles don’t really have the drive anymore that they used to have, I suppose, to trek everyone together for the holidays. We’ve all grown up and started our own lives. We’ve gotten married and had kids of our own and have whole other families to see. It’s just hard.
That being said, Larry and Sandy have been having significant health issues over the past few years. When I got married 4 years ago, Sandy was having such problems that they weren’t able to make the wedding. Sandy had been diagnosed with ALS and was having a tough time of it. She is confined to a wheelchair now and has trouble speaking, but is managing life well enough so far. Larry has trouble breathing and after seeing him last night, he also is growing frailer and is having issues with his memory. His mom battled Alzheimer’s and eventually succumbed to the disease. With their health problems and the fact that they pretty much stay in Valdosta, GA all the time, this was a rare opportunity to see them and so we made plans to have dinner last night.
It was good to see them and dinner was great. On the way home I pondered the interesting dichotomy the two of them presented. Sandy has a deliberating physical disease that she fights, but she still has all her mental faculties about her. Larry, even though is becoming weaker, really fights more with his mental issues in his age than his physical. His mind is slowly leaving him. The pair of them almost have the flipped aspects of aging between them. She’s good mentally but not physically. He’s ok (more or less) physically but not so good mentally. Neither situation is choice to live through, but I couldn’t help but wonder, if given the choice, which one would I pick for myself? I can cope and adjust to most things in life. I really think I would have a problem with losing the thing that makes me, me. Dealing with Alzheimer’s or dementia would be hard to work through for me.
I know this may very well be the last time I see Larry or Sandy alive. With all their health challenges and their ages, we just don’t get enough time to see them where they are. I was grateful to be able to see them last night and really have a good night. They were able to meet my wife and my son, which they had still yet to do.
*the featured picture is not the actual restaurant we ate at, but it gives the feel for the place where we were*