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Ernie’s Story – PJ Media

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I’ve lost three close friends to Alzheimer’s and dementia, the most recent being my mother last spring. Anyone who has been through it will tell you that it is a truly harrowing experience. Nobody deserves it.
Here at the beach, I have a neighbor — a well-known writer, in fact — who has recently gone through it with his wife of more than 60 years. I saw that and immediately recognized it. We spent a lot of time talking by the pool. That’s where I told him about Ernie.
My grandfather’s name was Ernie. He died in his 90s few years ago. When my grandmother was suffering from Alzheimer’s, he felt elderly and helpless, but he tried everything he could to help her get through it. He eventually had to place her in a home because she was acting strangely.
He, like many others, assumed his life was finished with hers.
But it wasn’t the case.
When Ernie’s grandmother died, the family sent him on a cruise. Not aboard a Carnival ship, but perhaps on an icebreaker in Alaska. Details frequently elude me. I suppose it’s early dementia. On this vacation, though, Ernie met a newly widowed lady. Dutchess was her given name. And what a lady she was.
They went on to fall in love. They eventually married. And the next time I saw my formerly completely buttoned-down grandfather, he was dressed like Elvis Presley, with a half-buttoned silk shirt and a gold chain around his neck. My father claimed to have seen him in a Speedo. Yes, please! May God bless him!
Anyway, Ernie and Dutchess lived in her lovely Oregon coast home. They did, however, purchase a Van Halen-style tour bus in which they would travel throughout the country to visit family. They spent the most of their time doing just that, and it was always amusing when these people in their eighties came in. “I only

need an outlet to plug the bus into and some bananas,” Grandpa would say.

So I made certain that I had the bananas. And he was content. They lived happily ever after. With an abundance of bananas. If you will, consider it a second act.
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Returning to my wonderful neighbor, I had told him the Ernie story as his wife was deteriorating. And I believe it gave him hope. Surprisingly, a woman in a similar scenario moved into our building. And they clicked. And it’s quite lovely to watch.
They are now on their way to Europe. He, too, has a second act in his seventies. That’s the end of it.
Point? Second acts have arrived. The Universe wishes for us to be joyful. Keep your eyes open and take a look around you. Don’t let Alzheimer’s or dementia kill two people at the same time. That is not something any victim would want.
And, God willing, we will one day find a cure for this dreadful sickness.
Grandpa Ernie, God bless you. And you, Dutchess, you monster! And may God bless my neighbor and his friend in their second act. Christian, I adore you.

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