"Today was the first day he didn't recognize me," his wife said, her bottom lip quivering a bit. "He thought I was his sister."
My attending carefully explained how dementia progresses, and her white-haired husband nodded a bit, smiling as though we were delivering wonderful news. Almost as an afterthought, the doc asked him who the woman was sitting next to him.
"Oh, my sister Sally, of course!"
"Not your wife?"
"I've got a wife now? I don't think so." He looked at us with a hint of confusion in his eyes. As if for guidance - they've been married 60 years - he turned to his wife and said in a hesitant voice "you are my sister, right?"
She extended her hand and gently caressed the back of his neck. Tears gleamed in her eyes, but she smiled and said nothing. On her face was writ complete, beautiful, aching love. He turned back to the doctor, reassured. He smiled.