A long time ago I told Jon that when Bo left me, I would travel … he and his family could live on at the house and take care of Emma dog and Charlie cat. And so, I’m in Arizona near Tucson visiting our closest friends. Blizzard Joshua arrived the day my flight home was scheduled, so American Airlines asked me to stay an extra four days. Not bad.
I can’t believe that I managed to be away for one of the biggest snowstorms on record. I love snow. I love sitting inside the house watching it snow, a fire in the fireplace, a cup of hot chocolate and some great music or a good movie. Snow days make me want to bake. Even sitting here in Tucson watching the storm on the weather channel made me want to bake cookies. And make soup and roast vegetables, which I did. We had a snow dinner in the desert.
Nine years ago Bo and I visited here together. He had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about four months earlier, so traveling was already beginning to be more of a chore than a joy for him. I remember one day when he went for a walk by himself. The development where our friends live has similar houses and winding streets — no straight lines. Bo was gone quite a long time and I began to worry. Then the phone rang. He had gotten lost, but eventually found a Walgreen’s and called for someone to pick him up.
When he arrived home he was visibly upset — upset with himself, saying he never got lost anywhere, upset with his condition, realizing that it was advancing. I recall him going straight into our bedroom and lying on the bed for hours; wouldn’t talk about what happened, even when I said anyone could get lost here, it could have been me. I can still feel his sadness and frustration.
And from then on, travel gradually became more and more difficult for him. It wasn’t just the travel itself, it was thinking about it, knowing he needed to pack, to organize his things. I think it loomed large for him. He became depressed. I recall one evening going into our bedroom where he was trying to put things together for his suitcase. He was just standing there, head down.
He looked up at me, so sad. “Do we have to go?”
“No, it’s OK, Boris. We don’t have to go. ” He was visibly relieved, his mood changed immediately and he relaxed.
Then I thought if I did the packing it would be easier for him. In fact, when we visited our sister-in-law in Boston, I packed without him knowing about it, put everything into the car at night, and when we got up the next morning, I said we were going for a ride. That worked better, but then when we were at our destination, he got lost inside the building a couple of times going from our room to Rose’s apartment. Again he was upset and frustrated, and I knew I couldn’t do this to him any more; I knew we wouldn’t go anywhere again.
When I look back now, I can see that even before Bo was diagnosed, perhaps before he had any inkling that something was wrong, he had begun to demur when I talked about travel. He would say to me, “You go without me. You have a better time.”
So now my time has come to travel alone again. I have a new plan: I won’t say no to any good ideas. First, there are family members to visit, then my hometown, and then …. who knows? Emma dog’s ready for the long car rides. And I’ve already bought a ticket to Paris in May.
(My original blog about Bo and travel was written in 2010: The Train to Boston.)