George sat quietly beside his wife, Chung Perng, as she slowly calmed down, closed her eyes, and drifted into deep slumber. A difficult day was coming to an end. Maybe next morning, things would be better. Or worse. With Chung Perng in dementia, George could only pray.
Prayers didn’t work that morning. Chung Perng’s eyes were ice cold as she stared at George. “Who are you? Where is my husband?”
“I’m here, girl, I’m here! Remember me?”
Chung Perng looked away. The day dragged on, and she would not speak another word.
Her silence pierced his heart like a thousand knives.
Almost 60 years ago, 16-year-old George fell in love with a sweet young lady with smiley eyes and curly hair. Till today, George can’t explain why he was so attracted to Chung Perng. “Maybe some chemical reaction”, he laughed. In 1962, Chung Perng became his wife, family, teacher, and friend. For the next 53 years, they were inseparable.
Even as Chung Perng’s hair greyed, and her body frailed. Even when her memory betrayed her and threatened to tear them apart.
“There’s no such thing as no recovery from dementia”, George snapped at our question, his eyes cold as steel. “Nothing is impossible. I will try. Just do whatever I can, until my last day.”
George looked up, and his lips trembled. “I love her. I fear that one day, she will not remember me anymore.”
George knows he cannot be saddened by such things. He must remain patient and open-minded, even though his wife changes to a different person everyday. George will be 76 this year, but his body is strong, and his memory crystal clear. He intends to remain this way for as long as possible. Chung Perng needs him.
For now, George continues to pray for the good days, when they share a walk together and talk like old times. Days when Chung Perng wakes up in the morning and says to George:
“I remember you.”