My husband and I, spent a lot of time with Mildred and Odell. For nine years we went out to dinner with them every weekend, taking it in turns to foot the bill. We spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with them most years, taking it in turns to host dinner.
For the last two years of his life, Odell was in a memory care nursing home. My husband visited him twice a week, every week of those two years, bringing him his favorite milk shake on Wednesday on his way home from work, and on Saturday or Sunday I would go with him, in the morning at first; we brought him breakfast tacos. Later we moved to lunchtime and brought chicken nuggets or steak fingers with fries as these were easier for him to eat as his motor skills deteriorated. We would sit and chat with him, until Mildred arrived. She spent all day every day with him for those two years, so our visits gave her a short break.
Shortly after Odell went into the nursing home we moved Mildred into our home. I covered that in a previous post. As a result, we could see up close, the toll it took on her. It was amazing to me that the few close friends they had left, completely abandoned them. The only regular visitors Odell ever had were Mildred, me and my husband, and my stepson when his work allowed.
I am grateful that I had the opportunity to get to know him. He was an incredibly hardworking man with a great sense of humor. I once told him that I considered him to be the epitome of a successful man. He was one of a large family, from rural Kentucky. Before retiring, he worked four jobs at the same time, owned his own home and had provided for his wife and two sons. Mildred never had to work and they enjoyed a full retirement, traveling the country in their RV.
Of course, because Mildred lived with us for almost 9 years, I knew her very much better than I did Odell. Sadly, Mildred passed away in February 2021. My memories of her are much deeper, as this post covers. Nonetheless, I miss him and often think of him. I took that photograph of him during one of our earlier visits to the nursing home, Mildred often said it was a photo of his last smile. He stopped smiling as his condition deteriorated, and failed to recognize anyone but Mildred, Larry and I am glad to say, me.