The Long Goodbye - Sandy Fultz

New Warhorn Media post by Katie Walker:


My wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at 57. She’s now 65 and in a skilled nursing facility. She fell at home in January and broke her hip. Surgery repaired it but she couldn’t rehab. “Move your left foot” and the right arm went up. She’s confined to a Broda chair or bed.

Caregiving at home was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Going to visit her every day and watching her die is a close second.

Many people have said to me how unfair this is. I settled the issues of God’s sovereignty and providence a long time ago. The Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 1 is a staple. The question or statement of fairness has given me many opportunities to share the comfort of the gospel.

The accompanying grief is a strange emotion with sometimes turbulent ebbs and flows. One day I got out cheese for my bologna sandwich and burst into tears. You see, I’d make grilled cheese sandwiches for Linda and me after church on Sunday’s. No more. She’s not home. Wave after wave of emotion crashed over me. It was completely unexpected.

Pastors, don’t forget the caregiver. Caregivers, from those I’ve talked to, don’t know how to care for themselves. If there’s no family around, engage the church to offer respite, meals and other help. Pastor Dave taught me pickleball. Thanks, pastor!

Don’t forget the family either. My three children are grieving in their own unique and difficult ways.

The ‘how are you doing’ question I’ve found to be generally useless. I know people are trying to be polite and caring, but they don’t want to hear about my blubbering over a slice of cheese or how dreadfully lonely I am or how some visits rip the heart out when she tells me that she knows I am cheating on her. She’s a short, heavy woman in a red dress and there are pictures of us in a bar drinking together. Now from where this comes, who knows. We’ve had 42 years of fidelity and don’t drink! Ask probing questions and just listen. Don’t be Job’s friends.

I know finances is a sticky thing, but ask about them. Alzheimer’s is an expensive disease. Nursing homes cost north of $10k/month. When Linda as first diagnosed, I contacted an Elder Care attorney. He worked in concert with my Edward Jones financial advisor. Expensive, but hoping I live longer than the 64 I am, I should be in good financial shape.

Don’t forget wills, powers of attorney, et. al. This was part of the Elder Care package. But there are issues involve that need to be thought through.

If I were an author I’d write a book, too. I hope these Cliff notes’ version of my experience helps a bit.