Personal Stories

Marie and I... and Parkinson's

Marie and I... and Parkinson

Robert Semenza, Caregiver to wife, Marie
Hamden, CT

It was Christmas morning, 2004.  I had just spent the loneliest night of my life on what had always been our happiest time of the year. I had stopped going to Sunday mass years ago but felt compelled to attend services on this particular day to ask God for just one favor – to have Marie, as she lie connected to a respirator in a hospital intensive care unit, open her beautiful eyes so that I could look into them for what I felt would be the last time. I had no illusions that we would ever share our golden anniversary on June 17, 2006.

When Marie was 45 years old, she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Over the past 30 years, it has been a long journey of coping with all the attendant emotions – from the initial period of realization of what lie ahead, to the, at times, almost unbearable strain of simply getting through the days and many long nights.  Keeping her at home became an overwhelming task, and about six years ago I had to put her into a nursing home – it was the hardest decision of my life. 

What has sustained me over the years is the support of family and others and the growing love that I have for her. God answered my prayers on that Christmas day… we did get to enjoy our 50th wedding anniversary with our loved ones, and I still look forward to the best time of each day….when I see her beautiful, smiling face.

Although clearly not a poet or a composer, I have felt the need to express my commitment and love to her in verse and song, which follow:

THE SEASONS OF LOVE

THEY WERE WED IN JUNE UNDER A YELLOW SPRING SUN
WHEN SHE WAS ONLY TWENTY ONE
HE NEVER PROMISED HER UNTOLD WEALTH
ONLY DEVOTION IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH

SUMMERS WERE SPENT BY THE BLUE GLISTENING SEA
SURROUNDED BY FRIENDS AND FAMILY
FALL BROUGHT COLORS THEY LOVED TO SHARE
ON LONG RAMBLING DRIVES PAST SIGHTS SO RARE
MOST SPECIAL WERE WINTERS WHICH BLANKETED THE WORLD
WITH SNOWS AS WHITE AS THE RAREST PEARL

MORE THAN FIFTY YEARS OF SEASONS HAVE SINCE COME AND LEFT
YET HIS LONG MADE VOW HE HAS ALWAYS KEPT
AS THE MEMORIES OF THAT PRECIOUS TIME
ARE SLOWLY STOLEN FROM HER BEAUTIFUL MIND

BUT HE KNOWS THAT DEEP WITHIN HER LOVING HEART
THERE WILL ALWAYS REMAIN A VERY SPECIAL PART
WHEREIN WILL REST LIFE’S LASTING TREASURE
WHICH ONLY TRUE LOVE CAN FINALLY MEASURE

The three-part theme of the “love song” - “Near To You,” expresses: my feelings about commitment, loss and renewal. For our 50th anniversary, I had it professionally recorded for her on a CD.
 
NEAR TO YOU
ALL MY LIFE
 I’LL BE NEAR TO YOU
ALL MY DAYS
I’LL BE HERE FOR YOU
NEVER FAR FROM YOUR LOVE

CARE FOR YOU
DAY AND NIGHT I WILL CARE FOR YOU
MY LIFE’S PURPOSE FULLFILLED BY YOU
AND RENEWED BY YOUR SMILE

FEAR FOR YOU
EVERY MOMENT FEAR LOSING YOU
AND THE DAYS THAT NOW SEEM SO FEW
TIMES WHICH NEVER WILL DIE  

WHEN LIFE IS THROUGH
AND THE PAINS THAT IT BROUGHT ARE TOO
TIME WILL PASS TILL I KNOW AT LAST
THAT ONCE AGAIN I WILL BE

THERE WITH YOU
WHERE OUR LOVE CAN BEGIN ANEW
ALWAYS KNOWING THAT I WILL BE
FOREVER NEAR TO YOU


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