Beware being caught unawares

When you live with someone day in and day out you really don't notice minor changes until you are at the point where you know in your heart of hearts that something vital has changed.  I knew that Ash was permanently anxious, I knew that he was acting out of character and I knew that life was different but I wasn't really aware how much we had both changed until very recently.  Today he had left a message on my phone asking what he should do with a washing machine full of wet clothes.  He asked me to let him know and then said that if he didn't hear from me he would leave them in the machine to deal with when I got home.  I listened to his voicemail and then phoned him.  What took me unawares was the message on our home phone saying that no-one was there to take my call.  Ash recorded this message at least five years ago and I hadn't listened to it since then as, usually, when I realise he's not there I hang up. Today for some reason I carried on listening and what I heard made me catch my breath.  This was the moment when I went from listening to a message recorded today when we're well into the journey through dementia to one recorded before dementia was even thought of when Ash was bright, confident and full of life.  The difference was profound.  If ever I needed evidence of how much everything has changed it was right there in those two messages.