21st Century Living
This is such disappointing news to the Alzheimer’s community which at its heart includes those suffering with the disease and the family caregivers suffering right along with them.
As someone who in the past has been personally involved with this disease as a caregiver for my father, I have experienced elation at the start of new drug trials – and defeat when those trials failed. This disease just seems to be one that evades all goodhearted and extensive attempts to slow down the disease.
A cure? That doesn’t even seem to be on any horizon I’ll see before the end of my days. But this insidious disease can’t even be slowed down, for heaven’s sake, so that the patient and all of his/her family can enjoy a better, longer, and less-impaired life.
What a said bit of news indeed.
Will Shakespeare’s age-honored words, spoken by Polonius to his son Laertes in Act I of Hamlet, stand on their own – seemingly not needing any explanation whatsoever:
“This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
Michael Singer, author of the book, The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, begs to differ.
If Laertes were to be totally honest with himself, he would realize that his father may as well have told him to catch the wind. After all, to which ‘self’ are we to be true? Is it the one that shows up when we’re in a bad mood, or the one that is present when we feel humbled by our mistakes? Is it the one who speaks from the dark recesses of the heart when we’re depressed or upset, or the one that appears during those fleeting moments when life seems so fanciful and light?
Mr. Singer’s statement really gave me pause because so often, my “authentic self” is hidden away. By that I don’t mean that I’m being fake – I try as hard as I can to present an accurate image of who I am – but let’s face it, some days we’re out of wack and what comes forward on any given day, in any given hour, is just one aspect of the split personalities of our being.
I think all in all I’m a pretty decent person, and on my best days I’m far more thoughtful towards others than I am towards myself, but I am an imperfect being who has lived on this earth for 59 years so I’m quite sure that I’ve missed the mark more often than I would have wanted to. But as I reflected in my article, “The complexities and joys of feeling deeply,” I am VERY hard on myself and I tend to be less hard on others.
But not always – and therein lies the dilemma. If I go out of my way for 100 people in a single day – a virtual Mother Teresa wannabe – and get infuriated at a driver on the road who I have perceived as inciting a road rage anger that I pretend not to have, I have not been true to the person I was during the earlier part of my day. In this particular example, I would have been hearing a voice to which I submitted with feelings of anger and personal affront, instead of asking myself whether or not the voice is giving me good advice. Is that voice helpful? Probably not. There could have been higher/better ways to deal with that perceived slight. I can make a choice to be reactive – which is what the mind does – or lean way from the emotion – which is what the spirit and/or soul does.
With the imperfection that I embody, I will try to do the latter.
A guest checks out of the hotel:
“What’s this daily charge for ‘fruit’?” the hotel patron asked the front-desk manager. “We didn’t eat any.”
“But the fruit was placed in your room every day, sir. It isn’t our fault you didn’t take advantage of it.”
“I see,” said the man as he then subtracted $150 from his hotel bill.
“What are you doing?” sputtered the manager.
“I’m subtracting $50 a day for your kissing my wife.”
“What?” said the manager, “I didn’t kiss your wife!”
“Ah,” replied the man, “but she was there.”
I love this blog posting from a fellow blogger who happens to live in Australia. Her blog web address is: www.restyleingyourlife.com. As implied in her Blog, there are so many maxims by which to live and I thoroughly enjoy receiving nuggets of wisdom from those maxims, be they a quote from someone famous, or a sentiment from an unknown. I’ve been keeping a list of quotes/sentiments on my computer which I call:
Quotes of Note.
Please read the article attached at the top of this post and if you feel the urge to read further, I provide just a few quotes that have great meaning to me in my quest to get better with age (where author is known, his/her name is noted):
Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest. – Mark Twain Also by Mr. Twain: The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
Don’t be concerned with the consequences of choices other people have made. Worry only about the consequences of your own choices.
Believe you might be a light for someone else. Albert Einstein provided a similar sentiment: Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being.
Being helpless isn’t really a state of being. A person who feels helpless simply needs help – there’s a big difference.
Life doesn’t have to be about chasing butterflies. It can be about swatting flies with a smile on your face. (And God knows there are more flies than butterflies in the world!)
A few quotes/comments that line up with my life philosophy:
Do all the good that you can, in all the places you can, in all the ways that you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, for as long as you can. – John Wesley And perhaps the following comment can be the catalyst for following Mr. Wesley’s thought: A siren is the sound of a society taking care of its citizens.
And I’ll leave you with a few comical statements found in books I recently read:
Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been forty-six years since my last confession. My how time flies.
The gym I belong to could more accurately be called my favorite charity.
And that’s it for now on this Friday in Redmond, Washington. See you soon!
The article above reflects what is offered by Pauline Boss in her book Ambiguous Loss. I highly recommend the above Alzheimer’s Reading Room article as well as Ms. Boss’s book for any spouse who is taking care of their wife/husband at home or if your spouse is already living in a dementia care unit.
The author, Pauline Boss, explains it this way: when a loved one dies, we mourn the loss; we take comfort in the rituals that mark the passing, and we turn to those around us for support. That doesn’t happen when a loved one is still alive, but the losing occurs nonetheless. And this period of loss may go on for years prior to the spouse’s final departure through death.
One of the statements that Ms. Boss introduces is that “it is o.k. to love a shell.” Anyone who is married to someone with dementia knows that, in essence, a shell is what their spouse becomes with advanced dementia. But if the “surviving spouse” is able to draw on the memories of their marriage, they find themselves able to love their spouse regardless of the disease. Unfortunately, the memories remembered are no longer shared memories; joint reminiscing no longer occurs. Your wedding anniversary passes without any acknowledgement by your spouse, and although that’s just one of the burdens during this long period of loss, it’s a difficult one to bear.
Caregiving is a difficult, 24/7 task. I honor you on your journey, and I hope you find comfort and direction in the above resources, as well as the resources that the Alzheimer’s Association provides.
You know how people sometimes say, “I’m tall, because I got all the extra height that no one else got in my family,” or “Everyone else got the smarts in the family – I got what was left over.”
Well, for me, I think I received all the leftover emotions and feelings of every person born on May 18, 1953 because I have such deep feelings about all that goes on around me. I’m delighted that I’m sensitive, yet I’m aggrieved as well.
How does this trait manifest itself in my life?
I can’t readily clear my mind when disturbing global or local events occur because I’m wondering how those affected are doing.
How are the survivors of a mass murder handling the mundane task of waking up each morning and putting one foot in front of the other?
How does a mother carry on after burying her child who was killed in the same car accident she was in when, through no fault of her own, a semi-truck lost its brakes and careened into her little Volkswagen?
How can anyone claim victory when a bomb takes out some enemy insurgents, and in doing so, innocent men, women, and children lose their lives?
I know I’m no different than you. I’m certainly not special; many people experience feelings deeply. But sometimes for me, it gets in the way of rational behavior, manifested in the following way:
When I say something to someone, I rethink and rethink, and rethink yet again whether or not I said it the right way, or with the right voice.
Or knowing that I’ll be having an important conversation with someone, I might even practice saying what needs to be said prior to offering my thoughts to someone else – and God help me, sometimes I even write it down.
Arrrggggh! That was certainly something I inherited from my father – God rest his soul. In my eyes, my father had the quintessential talent of preparing his words in such a way as to make the greatest positive impact on others. Regrettably, it’s that attention to detail that sometimes gets in the way of spontaneity.
And sometimes, even when I’m convinced that what I’ve done or said is correct, I’m still very hard on myself, feeling that I’ve done or said something wrong, even when what I was trying to do was something right.
Maya Angelou has a wonderful saying that Oprah Winfrey often borrows:
“When you know better, you do better.”
Which I’ll take a step further:
When you do the best you can – with what you know – you’ve done the best you can.
I’ll take comfort in that statement and continue to be the sensitive, somewhat paranoid, person that I am. For the most part it has worked for me, but more importantly, I hope it has worked for others.
“I’ll need to see your license and registration,” says the highway patrolman after stopping a middle-aged couple. “You were speeding.”
“But, officer,” says the husband, “I was way under the speed limit!”
“Sir, you were doing 63 in a 55 zone.”
“I was not speeding!” insists the man. “Your radar gun must be broken.”
At this point, the wife leans over,
“It’s no use arguing with him officer,” she says apologetically. “He always gets this stubborn when he’s been drinking.”