I was absolutely stunned to read Pat Robertson’s supposedly sagacious counsel that a person should feel free to divorce a spouse who has Alzheimer’s Disease. His argument goes along these lines: if your mate has Alzheimer’s and therefore is utterly incapable of relating to you anymore, then your mate is essentially dead and thus you should feel free to move on.
I am utterly blown away by his perspective. To quote one reviewer of the video clip highlighted above, “So when your wife needs you most kick her to the curb. Nice moral standards Mr. Robertson.”
Of course, this is a bit personal for me. My beautiful Christa’s mother died from Alzheimer’s in 2006. We cared for her in our own home, feeding her and cleaning her and generally ensuring that she had some semblance of well-being. By the time she had arrived at that particular stage in her long journey with Alzheimer’s, a journey that lasted around twelve years or so, she had no idea at all who we were or where she was. Indeed, she died in the bedroom right across the hall from us, all of us gathered around, misty eyed, grateful, tired, and overwhelmed by God’s sustaining grace. And you know the most remarkable detail of that entire experience for Christa and me and our lovely daughters?
Christa’s dad was right there the whole time, pouring himself into his wife’s care, loving her with exceptional grace and tender mercy. Indeed, Christa’s dad is one of the greatest men I have ever known. My entire family and our friends watched as this man stayed at his wife’s side, caring for her with everything he had, until the moment she slipped into Heaven just days shy of their fifty-sixth wedding anniversary. It was a journey that took years. It was excruciating at times. The stress of it was so great that at one point he had a heart attack.
But he was there.
He told me one time something I will never forget. “Matthew,” he said, “this woman has given everything for me, standing by my side as I made a living, worked to raise a family, through all kinds of ups and downs. After all that she has been for me, there is no way I will ever leave her side.” Then he went on to add, “Life isn’t perfect. It’s hard. But when you make a vow you stick to it. Younger people today know nothing of commitment.”
Evidently neither does Pat Robertson, who, frankly, and, sadly, once again, ought to be ashamed of himself.