The first time Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair came into our office, I was deeply moved by this man's love for his wife. He called her "My Valentine." I observed that Mrs. Sinclair walked a little slowly, although she managed quite well while I cleaned her teeth. When it was time to leave, Mr. Sinclair said, "Let's go, Valley." It took me a moment to realize that "Valley" was his nickname for "My Valentine."
At their recall appointments six months later, Mrs. Sinclair moved very slowly and didn't talk much. That was OK because Mr. Sinclair kept up the chatter during both their procedures. He explained that his Valentine was tiring more easily now, but that he was going to take good care of her. He assured me she would be just fine. They left the office holding hands.
Mr. Sinclair and his Valentine returned six months later and, to my surprise, Valley was in a wheelchair. It was obvious she was deteriorating both mentally and physically; but Mr. Sinclair was, as always, devoted and optimistic. He let me know that the doctors said Valley had Alzheimer's, but he would be there to help her "all the way."
During each visit, he shared with me the joys and triumphs of caring for his wife. He took great pride in attending to her needs, because she'd always been supportive of him in the years when she had been healthy. He told me how he helped her wash and dress; he even brushed her teeth. For that visit, Valley required only a little assistance getting out of her wheelchair and into my patient chair.
At their next appointments, Mrs. Sinclair had more difficulty moving around, so I cleaned her teeth while she sat in the wheelchair. Mr. Sinclair patted her hands and reassured her during the entire procedure. Mrs. Sinclair responded with a few grunts, but there was no verbalization.
As usual, Mr. Sinclair was upbeat and stressed that Valley had some really good days and would be getting better real soon. He always told me what he had fed her for breakfast and how well she had eaten. From time to time during the procedure, he rubbed her cheek and called her "My Valentine."
Mr. Sinclair arrived alone for his next visit. He said Valley wasn't up to coming in anymore; he had a neighbor sitting with her while he was gone. He took pride in telling me that Valley's eyes would still light up when she saw him. He knew she loved him and would have cared for him just as attentively if their roles had been reversed. But, for now, he did everything for her. He bathed, dressed, and fed her; though he confided he found it easier to leave Valley in her nightgown than dress her, so that's what he did. He explained that his wife didn't sleep well, so he'd have to get up several times each night. But he didn't mind; he was happy to be there for his beloved Valley. The next time I saw Mr. Sinclair, he told me right away, "The Good Lord has taken my Valentine to Heaven; and one day I'm going to join her." He told me not to be sad, though. He was happy he'd been able to know and love someone as special as the woman he called "My Valentine."
"My Valentine" was written by Mary S. Pelletier, RDH, BS. "Extras" are great Chicken Soup for the Dental Soul stories edited by co-author and keynote speaker, Don Dible, for which there simply wasn't enough room in the book. Not sold in stores, Chicken Soup for the Dental Soul is available by phone toll-free at (800) 247-6553 or by mail from DMD House, 1250 Oakmead Parkway, Suite 210, Sunnyvale, CA 94085 for $12.95 plus $4 shipping. Quantity discounts are available.You may contact Don Dible at [email protected].