Monday, July 25, 2011


I met a woman on one of my walks the other day. She was about ten years younger than me. Her name was Julia and she was pushing in a stroller a sweetheart of a boy, less than two years old. She explained that he was her youngest grandson and he was wonderful the way he laughed and played with his grandmother. She said his name was Jason.

We got to talking and exchanged first names only. We were in one of the small parks that is near where I live. She lived with her daughter and her husband and was caring for Jason while his parents were at work. Julia had a job working in part time in a non-profit senior center as an administrator in the mornings. I walk in the evenings after 5pm so I don't miss my phone calls from the VA Hospital.

Julia explained that she was getting a divorce from her husband of 30 years because he was so hateful and angry at her now that he was so ill. She was so glad that she had gotten an education while she was married and now had a decent job. He was a retired airline pilot and her cash settlement and the eventual part of his pension should give her a good life. I asked her if it was his illness, ALS, that was making him so difficult to live with. She was sure it was as she stated he was in the later stages of the disease. She told me that after she left he had to hire people to help him and none of them lasted very long. His doctor was now recommending that he go into a convalescent home. I wondered out loud if instead of a divorce, she could just put him into a home. She said she could not do that to him. I apologize and said it wasn't my business to say that. She said he was angry that he had this disease as he had been so healthy all of his life.
Once he was deceased, she would get their house back and she would move back.

She was looking for an apartment and asked about the ones that I lived in. I told her that I was very happy with it but that it did not have laundry hookups. I did not find that to be a problem. She wanted to stay in the same area as her daughter and her part time job.

When I got home, I realized that taking care of someone with ALS, is not pleasant. Gradually, paralysis spreads to the body and her husband because he is in the later part of the disease is having trouble swallowing. She mentioned that he needed help in breathing. Not only was her husband angry that he had ALS, but she was unhappy with it too. She probably felt she did not sign up for it either. She would have to take the abuse her husband gave to anyone that cared for him in his last illness. It would be better to get a divorce and then go back after his eventual death since there is no cure.

Julia told me that when she first met her husband, he was a pilot and she was a flight attendant. He was very good-looking and had many women chasing him. He was proud of his looks and thought she was the best looking woman he ever met. Even at her age, she was still a good looking woman. She worked hard to keep herself trim and in good condition. It must be hard to be let down by one's own body or the body of one's husband. He had been working at the gym on a regular basis even after retirement from the airlines when he noticed something was not right and went to his doctor. She said he was devastated by the diagnosis.

There is no happy endings in life at times. I just found out that I have a tumor in my right lung. No one knows for sure if it is cancerous or not. I will have to go under for a biopsy or whatever it is called. I just hope I don't get angry about it.

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