- Published on Sunday, 12 March 2017 13:22
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
“June and Stan and Alzheimer's”
(June and Stan - Happy Days 1991)
June's Alzheimer's Years
June’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis came early in February 1998 following short term memory problems noted in 1997. June in her role as a nursing home visitor, knew at a very early date, the blackness and the depth of the distant approaching Alzheimer’s storm clouds.
June displayed a concern for me. I remember well that Sunday (Ca. 1999) when June brought home the “Care Notes” pamphlet from our church - “Handling Grief as a Man.” She said nothing; just left it out for me to find and to read.
I also remember the time that she detected one of my episodes of emotional sadness as I watched her illness progress. She tried to console me by saying “Don’t worry, I will be alright Stan!” I am sure at the time, we both really knew otherwise.
Thereafter, I lost June slowly, tear drop by tear drop during her long and exhausting journey into the shadows of Alzheimer’s that lasted for almost 12 years.
For the first 8 plus years I took care of June at our home. The first 6 years of these years were relatively easy years that only required accommodation for her short term memory problems. We continued to travel extensively and did the many things we had put off in past years...we completed our "Bucket List".
Although June had lost her short term memory at the time of diagnosis, she continued for several years to always remember to say “Grace” at all the meals…eventually the time came when June would start to say Grace and then forget everything after: “Come Now Jesus Be Our Guest”…at this point I would step in and finish saying “Grace” for her.
In Years 7 and 8 the disease started slowly closing in on us as we saw June’s personality changes and eventually hallucinations and behavioral changes. In year 9, June went into a nursing home. As the disease progressed she had seizures, lost ability to walk or talk, had difficulty swallowing, eating, and became incontinent. During the last year and a half, she rarely opened her eyes or even responded. Aspiration pneumonia, a common Alzheimer’s complication ended June’s life in her 12th year. (The average is 8 years - President Reagan went 10 years - Charlton Heston only 6 years )
June and Stan's Life Together
June gave me a lifetime of unconditional love during our 56 year’s marriage and a life with only the regret that it is now over and that June has had to suffer the horrors of Alzheimer's. I owe her and God an unending debt!
Her passing was as if a most beautiful symphony that played during our life together, now fell silent!
Before June's Alzheimer's diagnosis, our world and her character and personality were represented by a vast sea of bright and beautiful lights. After her Alzheimer's diagnosis, these bright lights all begin to slowly dim. As June slowly slipped deeper into the shadows of Alzheimer's, the lights gradually flickered out one by one.
Eventually the time came during the last two years of her life, when the brightness that marked our world and June’s life was replaced by one of darkness.
June rarely ever opened her eyes to a world that was then alien and strange to her. June had become so tired, exhausted and weary that in the last year of her life she lay like a wounded soldier on a battlefield. God mercifully took June home on the 23rd of October 2008.
June's passing leaves me with an emptiness that can never be filled! I am reminded of the words by John F. Nim:
"For should your hands drop white and empty –
All the toys of the world would break."
As I have said so many times in the past…I love you June and I will love you until the sands of time stop their endless trickle…there will never be another June…
I hope that some day as you walk the pathways of your heavenly home, that I will be permitted to join you…
"Please watch for me…listen for me to once again call your name…"
Joseph Kavanagh - Dundalk, Maryland - (17 March 2017): "A very beautiful tribute, Stan. Thank you for sharing. The love you two shared and still share is what most people dream of having. The caring for each other and the sharing of every step of this life was a precious gift. She must have been one helluva lady. My best to you, Stan. Thanks again for sharing this story of love."
Lynda Etlicher - Rice Lake, Wisconsin - (17 March 2017): It's very nice. It's also very sad And hurtful. Life is never the same when we lose the one we Love . There can never be anyone to take their place. They just can't "
Elaine Deehan - Dunoon, United Kingdom - (17 March 2017): "It's beautiful Stanton, it shows her as a very caring person over her concerns for you and your commitment to each other is beautiful. She's in a much better place now. It must be quite therapeutic to write these memoirs."
Angela Brown - Burnley, Lancashire, United Kingdom - (17 March 2017): "I love reading June's website. Makes me cry at times because I relate to it so much. Stan, I know June had Alzheimer's. Is this the cause of her seizures? (Stan's Note: "Yes it was.")
John Stevens - Twin Falls, Idaho - (17 March 2017): "I remember much of this as your early writings...It is still heart rending to read. Bless you Stan."
Betty Taylor - Andover, United Kingdom - (17 March 2017): "Beautiful."
Nancy Carrillo - New Bedford. Massachusetts - (17 March 2017):"Stan just finished reading this and I am at a loss for words, everything that you write is beautifully put deep from within your heart. Your love is truly the never ending story...it is beautiful. June is watching over you and I am positive that her light will shine forever for you."
Kathy Williams - Madisonville, Texas - (17 March 2017):"Love this page ... I can't seem to put my feelings about this disease into words but you do such a beautiful job .... and once again have to tell you June had such a beautiful smile."
Mary Foster- Seymour, Connecticut - (17 March 2017): "It looks beautiful."
Marilyn Susie Mitchell- Big Cabin, Oklahoma - (17 March 2017): "Very well written Stan."
Beth Ann Doucette - Lino Lakes, Minnesota - (17 March 2017): "Very nice, Stan."
Janette Hyman- Hadleigh, Essex, United Kingdom - (18 March 2017): "Beautiful tribute, thank you for sharing."
Julie Harrison - Leyland, Lancashire, United Kingdom -(18 March 2017): "That is so beautiful Stan - a love made in heaven - to be continued."
Elizabeth Harless - Stoneville, North Carolina - (18 March 2017):"I have no words. So beautiful. I am in tears."
Dianne Cogar - Springfield, Ohio - (18 March 2017): "As expected, this was so well written Stan. Anything and everything you write in reference to June comes out so beautifully and straight from the heart. Even the saddest parts of your tributes give us an insight of the depth of your undying love for her. Like it or not Stan, this was your calling... to educate the world on the detrimental effects of Alzheimer's and dealing with this dreadful disease. We are all so very lucky ( blessed ) to have you lead the way in giving us reason to fight for such an important cause...thank you for caring, thank you for sharing."
Jackie Irving - Liverpool, United Kingdom - (18 March 2017): "Beautiful Stan...as always...God bless."
Kat Wheeler- Tampa, Florida - (19 March 2017): "Always praying for you, to find comfort and peaceful blessings."
Marsha McKneely Ault- Nacogdoches, Texas - (22 March 2017): "The beauty, the sadness, the love, and the sacrifice of your words touch me deeply inside. As I imagine that beautiful day when June will feel your hand slip so perfectly into her hand and the splendor of being reunited again with your Sweetheart. Thank you for sharing my friend."....(Stan's Note: Below is a special poem written by Marsha in honor of June.)
"I Will Be All Right, My Love"
After June’s diagnosis
Stan’s wrinkled brow
and the fear in his eyes,
wanting to reassure
the love of her life. . .
She simply said,
“Don’t worry ,
I will be all right, Stan.”
Their twelve year journey
into the darkness of Alzheimer’s
is well documented online.
Stan cared for June every moment
of every day. . .
those first years.
They made their bucket list
and checked items off
One by one
as they traveled
the world over.
Year nine June
could no longer remain
with Stan at home.
The years that followed
with increased difficulty,
as this man lost
his beloved wife
Bit by bit.
June was not blind
to the cruelty of this disease,
But June knew the Lord
and in the end,
She knew she would be all right
After an almost 12 year journey into the shadows of Alzheimer's, early one morning in late October 2008, an exhausted June felt God's gentle touch on her shoulder and heard the words: "Come Home June!" As June lay like a wounded soldier on a battlefield, it was God's Angels that ushered June into a Heavenly Kingdom to the sound of a chorus of Angels...and into June's new home, a "Mansion on the Hilltop", where there is no pain, nor illness nor tears...June's funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website in the drop down menu under the "In Memoriam" label - just Click on: