Our Love Story
My name is Becky Ison and I like to introduce you to my best friend and husband Dave. Our journey is a lengthy one; we have been married 51 years. Dave and I met at the tender age of 14 and dated for four years before we married.
I changed schools in ninth grade and felt lost for a few months as I adjusted to a new school and made new friends. The first time I saw Dave was at the school bus stop, we lived a few blocks apart, but our paths had never crossed. Dave’s piercing turquoise eyes and dark hair were hard to miss as we wait for the bus together every day. Having made several new friends who had been in the same school system with Dave I learned much about him from the teenage girls I had befriended. The first year of school one of my friends bet me I could not get a date with Dave since he did not date anyone at our school. He had a band and was always having a practice or playing at a gig and was going with a friend’s cousin from another town. That was all it took for me to show interest in Dave and the rest was history. We had so much in common, he was in little league and a very good baseball player. I went to his games and he went to my softball and volleyball games for the next four years of high school. We did homework together at my house with my father over seeing us; he took interest in Dave and worked with him as though he was one of his own.
When we were in our last two years of High School a musician, who had been following Dave’s band invited him to travel to Nashville with him the summer before senior year. He felt that Dave had enormous potential and wanted to sponsor him. Dave’s parents agreed after talking with the man. With a departure date set, the last action item was for Dave to go to a hair stylist the man found and have his hair cut in a certain style which Dave did on a Saturday morning, he was to leave that afternoon. I went to his house to say goodbye and he told me he decided not to go because he did not want to leave me or jeopardize our relationship in any way even though he had my blessing. I realized how much he loved me at that point and how special our relationship was.
Dave and I married four years after our first date having enjoyed our high school years together with much laughter and good memories. Soon the blessings of a beautiful family arrived, our daughter Julie, five years later our first son Darren, followed by our youngest son Daniel four years later. There was much laughter and good times as Dave and I continued to grow with and enjoy our children. Once our children were in school full time I pursued career in technology after a seventeen-year sabbatical staying home with our children. Life was good as we were living the American Dream for many years.
Dave was in his late 50’s when I started having concerns about his mental health; he traveled across America as a project coordinator building the interior of new Home Depot and Menard stores. We talked every night he was on the road and as he shared incidents when he would be driving to a job site and forget where he was going along with incidents that he shared about the project I had a sinking feeling that something was wrong. Because we both traveled a great deal with our jobs we decided to retire at 62 and work part time until we reached 65 and qualify for Medicare, being home together every night was wonderful. We lived on a 300-acre lake and fished together often growing closer together enjoying the things we loved.
A year after we were down this path Dave started showing major memory issues forcing him to quit his part time job. We worked with our primary care doctor who quickly focused on dementia as a major cause of Dave’s problem. Once we met with a specialist he was very sure that indeed Dave had Alzheimer’s. What a debilitating blow that was. Alzheimer’s was the furthest thing from my mind because Dave was so young; the doctor had to be wrong. We went through more tests only to prove the doctor was correct in his diagnosis. During the next few years I began educating myself about the disease and the role of the care giver. Much to my surprise I discovered there was no cure, no freezing from that point forward nothing more than a few drugs to help with the maladies that a short circuit of the brain can cause along with the love, support and comfort loved ones’ offer. We lived in a house with four exits a golf cart and lake Dave started getting in the golf cart and leaving to go fish without saying anything to me. This happened often enough that I knew I would not be able to keep tabs on him by myself. We lived sixty miles for two of our children making it impossible for them to give much help and on top of that they were in denial that he had Alzheimer’s. Our youngest son who lived nearby and was with us every weekend was moving in to help me care for his father after seeing the changes in his dad and understanding my concerns. A few weeks before he completed the move he had a massive heart attack and passed. Dave had a terrible time with his death and his depression had an impact on him. I knew I would need to move into a smaller place with fewer exits and included the care of a house and yard Dave was already unable to do most task that he had always taken care around our home.
We found a duplex that me all the qualification other than a lake to go fishing in and moved within the next year. Our biggest obstacle was getting any support or help from our other two children still in denial about the disease. My daughter came over much more often once we moved closer to her; it didn’t take many visits before she knew something was not normal with her father. I did not know where, what or how to start making all the changes that would be necessary to care for my best friend in his most venerable time in his life. Depression and anger were making it more and more difficult for me to make progress in my preparation efforts. I was feeling so overwhelmed, like I was in in a bottomless pit spiraling down with nothing to grab hold to. Dave’s neurologist told me that there was nothing more they could do for Dave but attempt to keep him comfortable with the progression of the disease, this did nothing to help my depression. However, a few weeks later I received a call from Memory Care Home Solutions introducing their role in helping care givers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s & letting me know that Dave’s neurologist had asked them to give me a call. I felt like an angel was on the other end of the phone after talking with one of their employees about my concerns and fears. She had so many answers and suggestions, in addition she made an appointment to come to the house to meet with us and bring some resources to aid me.
The Memory Care Home Solutions visit was the branch I needed to stop my downward spiral into the bottomless pit. They showed me things I could do around the house to make it easier for Dave, and for me to be able to keep track of him when he would go outside unannounced. The biggest and brightest thing about that first visit was that I knew that I had someone to hold my hand, that understood what we are facing and stand with me all the way. I don’t know how to explain what that first visit did for me other than I felt confident and strong; that with their support and help I would make it through this journey with best friend and husband. My daughter sat in on the meeting and became a believer in what was happening to her father and has stood by our side and helped me through the journey. My daughter sat in on all the visits I had with workers from MCHS after that visit. My daughter in-law also has sat in a few meetings, which helped her to understand as well. They both made schedules to help where they could which was so encouraging to me.
Alzheimer’s disease is not a disease in which a person can follow a script and give good care without help. The journey is long and care must be so flexible, which I am now learning at visits to Memory Home Care Solutions. The improv strategy MCHS taught me when talking and working with your loved is such a gift, as it has helped turn so many daily challenges around with very positive results.
I look forward to sharing my experience in this journey to encourage all those wanting to hold their loved one’s hand and give them the hug they need and assurance they need to know you are there for them.
I am Becky Ison and I am a caregiver.