58: Snowflakes and Sunshine

58: Snowflakes and Sunshine

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer's & Other Dementias

Snowflakes and Sunshine

Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair . . .

~Susan Polis Shutz

It was a beautiful crisp fall day and I decided my husband Bill and I needed an outing. His Alzheimer’s was progressing and some days his world was dark and confusing. Heading out from our home, which is up against the foothills thirty miles west of Denver, we drove along Highway 285 toward the Continental Divide. I had taken on the role of driver without ever really thinking about it. With Bill in the passenger seat and our two Border Collies in the back, we sang to the oldies station as we drove along, enjoying the changing colors of the Aspen trees.

Cresting my favorite pass in Colorado, the valley spread out below us, mountain peaks off in the distance. Bill pointed, and as if seeing it for the first time, tried to tell me how pretty the trees looked. Bill’s verbal skills had changed. With friends and family he entered into conversations less frequently and even with me he was having more trouble finding words and putting sentences together.

At Fairplay, we turned north and onto a dirt road to head over Boreas Pass, which would eventually drop us down into Breckenridge. My nephew and his girlfriend were attending college nearby, so our plan was to meet them there for lunch.

As we headed over Boreas Pass, which was lined with Aspens just dropping their bright yellow leaves, Bill opened his window and stuck his head out to feel the breeze on his face. He suddenly looked over at me and said, “It’s snowing.”

Sure enough, on this beautiful blue-sky day, it had started to snow. He stuck his head back out the window and opened his mouth to catch the snowflakes. At that moment I knew we had to pull over and enjoy what for Bill was a moment of pure joy. He wasn’t thinking about his disease and what it was taking from him, he was living in that moment, capturing snowflakes on his tongue.

I stopped the car and we all got out to stand in the falling snow. It only lasted a few minutes and then the sun shone down once again. I had Bill sit with our dogs, Cody and Raisin, so I could take a picture. It’s one I cherish, of a day when the only thing we focused on for one moment was being together with our dogs, in the mountains, in the unexpected snow.

Joining him as time stood still is the most important lesson I learned from our journey with Alzheimer’s. Treasure every moment and go wherever that moment takes you with the person you love. There are plenty of dark days, so enjoy the time you are given when those happy moments come along. The sun can definitely shine even while the snow is falling.

~Sara Spaulding

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