August 16, 2018 § 3 Comments
I recently found a notepad with handwritten text. When my husband was cared for at home, Sundays were for oatmeal breakfast, library writing practice in the afternoon promised by ice cream afterwards. This is the last intelligible text that he wrote, copied from a children’s book. Please, if you can identify the author, comment below. He no longer has language skills but I hear his voice and thoughts in my head. I can feel his snores in my sleep too. I am grateful for the love and trust we have and like Alexander Hamilton’s wife, I will tell his story. One lifetime is not enough.
August 11, 2018 § Leave a comment
You know that this post is not about sex, it’s about love and living fully. I’ve read many books through Audible, listening to professionals read aloud but this summer, I read a book the old-fashioned way, visually, clinging to its dust jacket. It has profoundly changed my understanding of what it means to be human. I had never read anything so simply written inviting me to “welcome everything, push away nothing,” Ostaseski’s words, to accept life as it is and give up my yearning for life to be different.
I have a fantasy that someday my sweet husband will greet me at the facility, put his arm around me, and clearly say, ‘let’s go home, I’m all better now and I miss you. ‘ I will always suffer from witnessing my sweet husband ‘s descent into dementia.
Suffering is part of everyone’s life. Aging is suffering. I struggled for years feeling part of humanity but somehow disconnected by despair. I took disappointments to heart. I would use up all of my energy searching for hope and finding sadness. By reading this book, I understood how important it is to live life fully, on its terms and found mature hope and love.
With 17 months of experience, my perspective has become more thoughtful about life in an assisted living facility. No matter how attentive the staff, a person feels isolated, without purpose or choices as they near the end of life. Suffering is their constant companion. Simple acts of kindness have made a huge impact on my heart, love as mentor.
At The Kensington Senior Living, I saw an elderly resident whom we know, sitting in the common area, alone. She is often at that spot by the front table. When I use the elevator, I am reassured seeing the back of her wheelchair. Recently my husband and I sat down with her to keep her company for a few minutes. He has little language; does not understand or speak. Ten minutes of chat includes relaxed smiles and easy laughter, we rise to go and here’s the ‘punch line.’ She says to me while I was looking straight into her watery eyes: “Thank you for sitting down to talk with me. Would you believe that I was here all day yesterday and no one said hello to me. How can that be?”
The same day, I purchased some beignets in the building’s new cafe and asked the Director if I could offer one to a resident who I know has not been eating very much, part of dementia’s severe decline. Recently, this resident has been sounding off, not using her words. She eagerly accepted the sugared petite donut and after eating half, politely thanked me for offering one, in a clear, calm voice, from deep within.
I recently saw the play “Hamilton.” At the very end, Hamilton’s wife sings a song that took my breath away, “when you are gone, who remembers your name, who keeps your flame, who tells your story…” One lifetime is not enough time.