“Roots” www.photographedbybrandon.com (my son)
“When life’s seasons change…”
I started this blog with a goal: I wanted to make a safe place for those, like me, who found themselves becoming caregivers instead of empty-nesters. I thought it would give me hope to write with a purpose and turn my time with Dad and his Alzheimer world into something good for others. I thought I might make a difference. So I faced the challenge like I do a cold lake swim, and I raced in – fast and furious.
Turns out, however, that I had no idea at the time how much I would want to escape my new life of caregiving and Alzheimer’s – not embrace it. Turns out that writing about white-strangling plaque and the destruction it leaves in its wake is indeed depressing. And it turns out what I really needed was the hope of morning. Consequently caregiving and Alzheimers became the infamous ‘elephant’ in this little blog’s living room.
Well, life’s seasons are changing again… and we’re moving Dad to a home and I’m not gonna kid you: it’s been a long two years, three months and five days… Tack on three weeks of crisis for Chris while retrieving Dad from Arizona, and a crazy first year that played out like a soap opera filled with sordid players and unreal scenarios: crazy in-laws who were con men and thieves, fearful lucid notes written by Dad fearing for his life, adult protective services called on us… Well, you get the idea.)
Yep, it’s felt crAAzy long and just like that, BOOM! Today it’s over. Dad’s leaving and suddenly I’m feeling whip-lashed and pan-flashed into a numbing tiredness I had no idea I felt. Maybe even left a little lost like him. Facing our own identity crisis of sorts, dropped smack in the middle of a new and bigger empty nest.
No worries. I know it’s just a transition, and I know it’s all good. And mostly I know God’s got this.
But still, hard is hard.
And a new chapter begins. So I write and address this living room ‘elephant’ one more time:
I wish it all felt warm and fuzzy, these changes of life. I wish there were more full circle lessons of hope and peaceful closure. I wish all lives had happy endings. One thing I know for sure: I will be cheering when this hideous disease is thrown back to the pit of hell… but until then:
A Few Things I learned from our Elephant in the room
1. Childhood memories are powerful.
2. Keep short accounts with family… you never know when it may be too late to taste the freedom of forgiveness.
3. Habits are inevitable, we best make them count for Good and for God, because we’ll be stuck with them for a long time.
4. No one may really want to hear our life stories; it’s time to learn to make a habit of asking others about theirs.
5. Charm is an unsung hero; more so if it runs deep and true.
6. There’s innocent beauty in only knowing one day at a time.
7. Reading, music, and are are desperately important in the end. Don’t neglect them.
8. When all is said and done, we remember most, what we loved the best.
9. Who we are in Life today, is most likely who’ll we’ll be in Death tomorrow, we would be wise to consider that.
And who we are, has very little to do with what we do for a living, or make on a paycheck, or what we did in some distant memory.
Who we are has everything to do with the here and now choices we make every moment with every thought.
10. The whole of Life can be summed up in one overarching memory:
I was loved, and I loved. Everything else is fluff.
You are loved, Dad.