Ch.229 My Twin Brother and My New Life
My twin brother Don was coming for a visit, his first here since shortly after Pat died. Eight days, including travel time. What to do? It’s not like rural Wisconsin in winter is full of possibilities, at least not since neither of us hunt, fish, snowmobile, or cross-country ski. And, of course, Pat wouldn’t be here to make suggestions.
I did find a film festival in nearby Eau Claire and planned a visit to St. Paul to see our friends Paula and Erik from the Lewy Body community, and then to visit the excellent Russian Art Museum in Minneapolis. And we would spend time with my children: Cindy in Rochester; Jenny, Jeff, Joshua and Patty at my home. That still left a lot of open time on my calendar. And so, I did what I would have done if Don wasn’t coming – I arranged visits with my friends: John, Richard, Jerry, Jeannie, Forrest, Ed and Judy, Cathy. If there had been more time, I would have scheduled several other visits.
Don and I had time to talk, too. And that’s when I realized how much my life has changed over the last 17 months. Before, my life focused upon Pat. As you probably know, I visited her almost every day at Azura, her memory care residence, usually twice daily to help her with meals and just to be there with her as her brain and body faded away. If Don had visited a year and one-half ago, we would have spent much of our time at Azura; I would have hesitated to leave her, even with my children readily available to give me some time to do things with Don.
But that’s in the past. Pat is gone. And I have a new life.
So, I took (dragged?) brother Don to breakfasts and lunches and coffees with my friends, hoping he’d like my friends as much as I do.
I’m starting to see that sharing my life with family and friends is what feels meaningful now. In the past friendships complemented my life with Pat; It was as if they were a dinner salad, but our love was the main course. Now friends and family have become the entree. They give purpose to my days. If I had to make a choice between keeping my friends and family vs. continuing to do “important” tasks like facilitating my memory loss and Huntington’s Disease support groups, I would choose my friends and family. I would even make the same choice if I were deciding between just my friends and my important tasks. It does feel strange to have become so friends- and family- centered now. I’m not used to these people being pivotal in my life. My priorities were always Pat first, then work, then friends and family. Now it’s friends and family first and work is a distant second. Both bring joy. But, at the end of a day, friends and family sustain me.