NBA great Bob Cousy’s wife passed away recently. And this story is about that. But it’s also about how he cared for her through years of dementia.
It’s quite a wonderful story. I think the writers at Get Religion would ask if the writer had missed a religion angle on this story and they’re right. Cousy is a Catholic but the story doesn’t mention it. But apparent in the story is the love this man had for his wife. It’s quite inspiring and moving.
“Our marriage was somewhat contrary to tradition,” he said. “Most couples have the most intensity in the beginning. But I was always working. So we had the best and most romantic part of our marriage at the end. We literally held hands for the last 20 years.”
Missie’s cognitive decline was gradual and began a dozen years ago, Cousy said. She would ask him the same question, over and over. She hallucinated, grew disoriented and struggled with balance. But she always knew her husband, and she bristled at any suggestion that she suffered from dementia.
So Cousy worked hard to create the perception that his once-independent wife was vital and healthy. Because she believed she could still drive, he shipped her station wagon to their place in Florida each winter so she could see it in the driveway. Artificial red flowers were planted in her garden. He did all the household chores and let her think she performed them herself.
“My dad provided an environment that allowed her, in her mind, to be a fully functioning adult,” said daughter Marie. “It was amazing to watch.”
The couple’s social life vanished as Missie’s symptoms worsened. Other than a Thursday night “out with the boys” and some quick rounds of golf, Cousy spent all of his time alone with his bride. He watched “General Hospital” with Missie and patiently answered the same questions. He stocked the fridge with her favorite candy, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. At night, she’d cover him with a blanket and he’d stroke her arm.
“I love you honey,” he’d say.
“I love you, too,” Missie would always reply.
The sports legend who led the Celtics to six World Championships said he never felt defeated by the challenge of caring full time for his ailing spouse.
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