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We all remember bits and pieces of our past…depends on how far back you want to go. I met Vince in 2009, six years ago, at the age of 28. I’ve had many experiences before that, but nothing like the things that were about to happen.

When I met Vince, I knew he had a father with Alzheimer’s who was visiting his family in Jersey. I did not meet Pops until a couple months later (but my time perception may be off).

I had no idea what Alzheimer’s was – besides the stereotypical side effect of memory loss. Over the next few months, I began to realize that Alzheimer’s was more than that. I embraced Pops with open arms.

In early 2010, Vince asked me to be his girlfriend. I gladly accepted…for some reason I had some sort of infatuation with him from the day I first saw him. Times were tough though; this is no fairy tale. Vince told me many times to “get out of his house”, “stop being lazy”, etc. But that was the past and has remained in the past.

I never knew Pops before he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I met him and continued to get to know him as the man is his now. We used to dance, take walks, go grocery shopping, and many more things – just him and I. We would also get into our battles…maybe it was me getting used to this relationship with my boyfriend and his father…maybe I was selfish…maybe I still am. I remember good things and bad things about the past.

Vince and I have been married now for two and a half years. It’s still no fairy tale, as I said before. Pops still has his friendly smile, he lights up when I walk in the room, but he has yet to say my name. Of course, he knows who I am, and that is what is important. I am the ‘pretty girl’ who he loves and who helps him throughout his day. He loves me; I love him. I frustrate him; he frustrates me.

He can no longer walk without assistance, so I lovingly hold his hand. He can no longer eat without assistance, so I guide his fork towards his mouth. The selfish side of me thinks, “I am 34 years old. Where are my children? Where is my place?”, but the logical side of me tells me, “Pops is your child. Pops and Vince have a place for you.”

At times I feel a lot of pressure, but that’s the insecurity I’ve held in me for a while. I know my place, and I know how I’ve made an impact in these two men’s lives. They’ve made an impact in mine as well…more than words can describe. In the present I feel happy, content, scared, emotional, mad, disapproval, love…In other words, this life I live is filled with many feelings; I just need to know how to deal with the emotions.

My future is filled mainly with questions. Will we have children? What will happen to my husband and our relationship when his father is no longer with us? Will my husband get Alzheimer’s? Will I be able to care for him in the same way he cares for his father? If we do have children, can we teach them the virtues of life and prepare them for the outcomes? One thing in my future is clear: I will continue to love, share compassion, and make no judgements.

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