by Cary Ulrich
On this journey of caring for my beautiful wife with Alzheimer’s I have learned many things about life; what is most important, how to love in a deeper way than I ever knew, to see her on a deeper level at the core of her very being and to connect at the very deepest of the emotional part of her. I have also learned that as ugly as this disease is there are many things to be so deeply grateful for. Am I grateful for her having this disease? NO. I am mad as hell that it has happened. This disease is so devastating to not only her but to me, our family and friends. Since it has happened, am I glad that it is the way it is? In a way, I am. I would hate for her to be going through the pain and grief that I am. She and no one deserves this.
The things that I am grateful for are many. I am grateful for the little ways that she tells me every day that she loves me, cares about me and that I am important to her. The way she smiles and the sparkle in her eyes when she sees me. The way she will rub my back or the little kisses I will feel on my shoulder when we hug. The little tug I will feel from her as we are getting close to a door so I don’t run into the jamb. These little things, in such a subtle way, tell me that she still loves me.
I am grateful for what is still left. So many things have faded away and will never be back but at the very core of her being, Sharon is still there. I am grateful for every moment that I have with her. I am grateful that she is still here and that I can still see her every day for I know that won’t always be the case. I am grateful for being able to hold her hand as we walk for someday soon she will probably be confined to a wheel chair. Then I will be grateful that she is still here for me to push.
I am grateful that we can sit on her bed and she is there for me to hold as she takes a nap on my chest. And when she is no longer able to sit, I will be grateful to sit by her side and hold her hand and stroke her face. I am grateful that she still recognizes me and gives me that beautiful smile and sparkly eyes when she sees me.
I have learned to be grateful for the honor, privilege and blessing of taking care of this beautiful lady. How grateful I am to be able to feed her, to know that I am still her rock and support, the one that brings some stability into her world. It is such a privilege to be her advocate and make sure that she is taken care of.
Do I wish she was still at home for me to do this? Definitely, but I know that is impossible so I do all of these things from a distance with honor.
For me, learning to look and be grateful for what is left has saved my sanity. I could dwell on all that has been lost, and there has been so much, but I would miss the gems, the love and caring enjoyment of what is still here.
When it comes to an end I want our journey together to be one of enjoying each other to the fullest with love and happiness knowing that we were together until the end.
Cary Ulrich Photography has been shooting freelance images for over 20 years. Based in Central Washington State gives me access to a large variety of locations to shoot. We have the drier agricultural eastern part of the state and the wetter costal western region all within a few hours drive. For the last 7 years I have migrated into fire photography and fire investigation. Having worked with our local agencies, attending drills and takeing classes in Wildfire Firefighting has given me the opportunity to get in next to the firefighters to get some incredible shots that others can’t. With this experience I have had many images published in National magazines such as FireRescue, Wildland Firefighter and Fire Engineering.