Nancy Reagan once said her husband’s Alzheimer’s disease was worse than the assassination attempt on his life in 1981. She described it as “The long goodbye” in 1995. Eleanor Clift and Evan Thomas capture former First Lady, Nancy Reagan’s witness of compassion with the ten year day to day coping with the slow creeping disease of Alzheimer’s, what she described as “The long goodbye” in a Newsweek’s reprint of a 2004 article.
What’s it like to be an Alzheimer’s patient? If you’re brave enough, go with Cynthia McFadden of ABC News and the son of a victim of the disease as they experience for themselves just that in the above YouTube video. McFadden says that experience changed her life, and it only took twelve minutes.
With the passing of former First Lady Nancy Reagan, may she rest in peace, I’m reminded of not only the terrible disease of Alzheimer’s but also of the tremendous compassion she showed to her husband. I can wax eloquently about compassion, but will never be able to communicate that reality like the witness of an actual caregiver.
When I think of a caregiver, I think of my brother Dave who took care of our father in his last days. I think of Penny Sue and Nancy who did so much to help my dear friend Penny through her last days. Thank you all caregivers for your tremendous witness to compassion.
We are a community of laymen and laywomen who, with vowed Passionists, seek to share in the charism of St. Paul of the Cross through prayer, ongoing spiritual formation, and proclamation of the message of Christ Crucified.