"You're here!" says Paul Lovell, greeting his wife of 41 years as she walks into his room. "Don't go away!"
She has come, as she does every day, to be with him at lunch.
"You look so beautiful today," she says.
"No, the guy in back of you," she says. "You look really good. You got your blue sweater on. Your blue pants. Your blue eyes."
"Thank you.," says Paul. "I gotta keep up with you."
Paul is 89. Anita is 85. She lives in their tidy home in Morton Grove. He lives in Room 222 at the Presence Sister Bonaventure Rehabilitation Center in Park Ridge,
Their conversation is a blend of teasing affection.
"He can hear; I can't hear," she says. "I told him he can hear two worms making love in the yard. I can't hear anything."
"The reason you can't hear is because you're talking too much," Paul says
They both laugh.
"That's true," she admits.
About 1.4 million Americans live in nursing homes; half for dementia-related reasons. One is Paul Lovell.
"It's sad, about my husband," Anita says. "Even though he has dementia, he's so aware of everything. He'll say 'Where you're going?' I say 'I'm going home.' I've been there all morning. He says, 'Aren't you home now?" I say "No. This is your home." He says, 'Are you going to leave me here all alone?" I say, 'You're not alone Paul. You have people taking care of you."
She picks up a large book celebrating the 2006 centennial of Park Ridge Country Club.
"I was the only Jew in the whole country club, don't you know?" she says. "I got nervous before we got married. He said, 'Don't worry about it."
She finds a section about Paul.
"Oldest man ever to win a club championship," she says.
"Did I ever see that?" he asks.
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