The Mime No One Invited To Dinner
My name is Denisa Harvey and I am the wife of 36 years of Tim Harvey.
Which of these best describes you?
I am a caregiver - Tim and I married in 1981 and form many many years led a fun uneventful life as we raised our two children, Jamie and Andrea. As early as 2000 I realized something was going wrong with Tim's behavior and his decision making abilities. With my energies placed on raising our children and his energies placed on his ever expanding career, I never really stopped long enough to investigate WHAT might be going on in Tim's head. I wish the time had not come when I would have no choice but to stop and investigate.
If your loved one was experiencing signs of dementia, would you keep it a secret?
No - Keeping secrets was never something I was good at. Keeping Tim's illness a secret would have made me feel as if I had done something wrong to cause this. Early on, I made up my mind not to allow this tragedy to define who our family is. In the earlier days after his diagnosis, I only mentioned it to friends who might ask. To be completely honest, that was because when I did share that Tim has a terminal illness, folks were at a loss for words, which made them feel awkward in a strange way. As time has passed, I have found that sharing with those who ask about Tim is a way to help remove the stigma from his Frontotemporal Dementia diagnosis. To alleviate the awkwardness, I have grown fond of saying " I don't mind if you tell others, because the more people who know, the odds are the more prayers that will go up on our behalf". Another favorite is to respond by saying "this just isn't quite the way we planned it....but we are doing well". When facing this disease there is no energy left for hiding or misplaced shame.....I need all my energy to deal with this head on!!!
Who are you here for?
Partner - Tim always described himself as a kid in a man suite and that he never had any intention of growing up, much less growing old. His quick wit and his ability to always be ready with an applicable joke earned him friends much quicker that I was ever able to acquire them. People were quite honestly drawn to him and his infectious smile.
The thing I miss most is...
- When I met Tim at the factory where we both worked in 1979, he was so incredibly charming with energy enough for two people. We dated a couple of times, but as we fell in love, I realized he would forever be my hero in so many ways. Both of us came from humble beginnings, he with a single mother and me tossed back and forth between divorced parents. When Tim held me in his arms, for the first time in my life, I felt safe as if everything was going to be alright! And alright they were for almost 25 years. For our 25th wedding anniversary, we celebrated by renewing our vows and having the huge reception we could not afford in 1981 when we got married.
I first began to worry when...
- Tim could not seem to remember things I had just said to him. He also could not remember conversations of great detail even one day after we had them. Additionally he began going to great lengths to impress supervisors and those he answered to in his job. He had never had any problem getting along with his superiors, but suddenly he was obsessing over IF his superiors liked him or not. To me this was a silly notion as he had been with the company almost 30 years. This was happening in 2004-2005. Eventually he left that position to teach 6th, 7th and 8th grade technology. Not knowing his diagnosis, he kept working at learning all he needed to teach. He wound up teaching almost 9 years before he could no long cover up or mask his symptoms. The day he came out of school we made the necessary appointments to eventually find his diagnosis....FTD