I Married the Love of My Life at 48—Then Unexpectedly Became His Caregiver

From Woman’s Day

I married Vince in 1999 when I was 48. This was my second marriage and I thought I had it figured out this time around. We felt like we belonged together. Although Vince was 16 years older than I, we had so much in common on so many levels, and the differences we had complemented each other. He brought out the best of me and made me feel comfortable in my skin for the first time in my life.

The work I did with him-organizing international conferences of laser scientists and publishing an arts-news magazine-brought out skills I didn’t know I had. And, I think somewhere inside of me, I felt he needed me, although I didn’t know how extreme that need would be. I knew that marriage was hard work, I just didn’t realize it was going to be this kind of work.

Early signs and changes

Soon after we married, I noticed that Vince started making uncharacteristic mistakes at work. He was a self-employed scientist who had been successfully building lasers for companies all over the world for over 10 years. But now it seemed that he couldn’t quite get the jobs done; one laser he built for a company in Europe kept being returned to him because it was not working properly. Vince just kept tweaking it and sending it back. Not knowing anything about building a laser, I didn’t speak to him about it. I also found myself doing more and more of the work we once shared in organizing our annual conference. I figured he was just losing interest or bored because he had been doing it for so long.

“He wasn’t the same person after we got married. I knew I really loved him and he loved me, so I was puzzled.”

Then the physical changes surfaced. A month after we got married, Vince fell down playing golf. I wasn’t with him and he couldn’t explain why he fell. A few months later, he fell again. Sometimes we’d be walking and he would just stop. He would have to sit down and rest for a while before we continued. I figured it was a movement problem and thought we should see a neurologist. His primary doctor didn’t want to refer him because they thought it was just old age. He was 65. That’s not old. He was perfectly strong and healthy at the time.

On top of all this, there were emotional changes, too. When we met, Vince was a sweet, loving and passionate guy. But out of nowhere, he’d act like he was mad at me for no reason. Once, we were at the theater and he clammed up like he was angry at me, but nothing had happened. I was afraid to ask what I did. He just wasn’t the same…

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