Hear my prayer, O Lord. I am your passing guest. That I may smile again, before I depart.—PSALM 39:12-13 (NRSV)
My wife, Candy, and I play Scrabble five-plus nights a week, which gives us a solid hour of focused time together. Last night she won 306 to 255. That would be a typical score. I rarely win more than once or twice a week. Even then she still usually scores over 300. We have modified house rules to accommodate her Alzheimer’s. For example, sometimes she touches the spaces on the board with her finger to visualize how to play a word.
When Candy was diagnosed, her memory disorders doctor told us Alzheimer’s disease presents and progresses differently depending on what areas of the brain are affected. Unaffected areas can still learn new things. So Candy does lots of word puzzles and plays Scrabble with me to keep as much of her brain working as well as possible for as long as possible.
Once in a while I may win three or four games in a week, or even in a row. When that happens, I wonder how I need to respond when she is no longer as proficient as she has been. Then she will win by over 100 points the next time, and I am relieved for the moment. Affirming my wife’s persistent gifts and abilities is intrinsic to being her caregiver and is essential to her dignity on her journey.