August 2, 2018
A celebration of 64 years of marriage
At first Shirley Ahmed thought her husband was just being irritable and unreasonable. And then Hurricane Katrina hit. “We went to sleep with everything we needed and woke up the next morning with nothing.”
Her sister moved them to California, but Abdullah just sat around, refused to call or see friends. He was finally diagnosed with cognitive disorder. But the ironic part is that it was Shirley who was having difficulty coping. She’d fall asleep at the doctors. Or break down in the drugstore. She found it wasn’t Abdullah who was unwilling to change, it was her.
Learning to live again
It was at UCLA’s Alzheimer’s unit where she was given the insight that saved her life: “It’s not a rational decision your husband is making. It’s the disease. It’s amazing how sharing the anxiety and burdens makes it bearable.”
On the last morning of their 64 years together, Abdullah woke and had a light breakfast. And then he caught her attention, winked, squeezed her arm three times and closed his eyes forever. “It was beautiful,” she says. “Their life becomes so small. And if you are person of faith, you know there is something better for them.”
Shirley Ahmed and the love of her life, husband Abdullah.
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