Do you remember Charles and Charlane who began dating in an assisted living facility? You may have read about their first stirrings of togetherness, and how they were swept up into a full-fledged romance in Where Singles Meet.
Their story ended with the growing physical and mental enfeeblement of Charles, and Charlane’s worsening forgetfulness – the inexorable sprouting of dementia.
But they were inseparable. Glued. Like a fraternity pinning in college days gone by.
Then the unavoidable! The ineluctable course of Alzheimers.
Unable to locate their rooms. Uncertain which way to go. Neither knew where they were. Escorted to their place in the Dining Room, they gripped each other’s hand. Looked into each other’s eyes. Everything became fine. They had found themselves.
Charles was the first to go. Standing uncertainly by the dining table early one morning, in front of the bewildered eyes of Charlane, he was swept away by his son just he was about to sit. Charles was taken to another facility, where he would get more help than in the ALF. Charlane didn’t know what was happening
She spent the next days stupefied. Trance-like sitting on an upholstered chair by the entrance passage. Led to her seat at the dining table. Returning to her post by the entrance.
Eventually, she stopped sitting by the door. She started opening it and walking outside. Seeking something away from the building. Wandering the streets of the neighborhood. Advancing uncertainly into the real world.
Time to go. To find another care facility.
Following her son to his car, she took leave of the Charles-less ALF into the next step on the path to total care – the Memory Center. To be locked in. No more wandering. Lots more sitting.
Charles and Charlane have gone their separate ways.
Dick Weinman is an AARP volunteer and an assisted living guru.