From the Cheap Seats: Love endures good times, Alzheimer's

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By Jeff D'Alessio

The days have just about the same routine in the Radcliff home of Russell and Alpha Knight.

They wake up, eat and wait for visitors or a phone call, Russell in his living room recliner, his bride of nearly 70 years in her living room bed. Often, with the television on or off, he will sit there and look at his wife who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

He suffers alongside her, his left hand resting on the side of her bed or on her.

It is a cruel and debilitating disease, Alzheimer’s. But without fail, the husband is by his wife’s side, caring for virtually her every need from propping a pillow just right to making sure she can digest what he cooks for her. He finally relented in the last few months as her condition worsened and sought outside help for a few hours a day to assist in duties such as bathing, getting her in and out of bed and getting her hair fixed just right.

Some days, the hours pass without much interruption, and aside from the caretakers’ brief stays, it is husband and wife alone.

Inside this Battle Training Road home, you will find an inspirational love story of unwavering commitment to a partner.

It’s not easy for Russell to care for his wife in his late 80s, but this is what nearly 70 years of marriage will get you: A love that endures and matches the vows they took long ago — in good times and bad — in Yuma, Ariz.

Come July 25, the Knights will have been married 67 years. And in this newspaper between now and then, you will see an announcement acknowledging their years of marriage, just like there has been over the last many years.

I have known the Knights for some 22 years. It didn’t take long to see for every loving jab at his wife, Russell would get one back, and if Alpha ever took ill, she knew who would faithfully be by her side.
She was right.

He cooks and cleans and always is there to help because even though the Knights have been dealt a cruel blow from Alzheimer’s, life has been good for them because, more than anything, they always have had each other — in good times and bad.

You always wonder what you would do in difficult and exhausting phases of life. I would hope most men would be there like Russell is for Alpha, but many, for one reason or another, will take an easier path.

He likes to fish, although that hasn’t happened in quite some time. We hope to drop a line or two in the fall if he feels comfortable enough to leave his wife’s side.

There are times he will ask her if she still loves him and, sometimes, she will shake her head from side to side while looking into the same eyes she has looked in for about seven decades.

That’s the Alzheimer’s talking. Their love for each other is obvious and unwavering.

Jeff D’Alessio is news editor of The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at (270) 505-1757 or jdalessio@thenewsenterprise.com.