There’s nothing like getting away. Far away. A river cruise to France helped me relax. It was hard to come home and find that Mom had worsened, had become less “with it,” was more confused. I need to shift my thinking now, need to figure out how to deal with this shift in her thinking. Alzheimer’s is a horrible illness. On one had it’s predictable. On the other, it’s devastating in its path to a complete break with reality. I keep fooling myself, thinking I can do something or fix her. But it’s coming. It’s coming.
“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”
― Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum
We are in the last third of our lives. That sounds a little scary, a little limiting, slightly stressful. But not really.
Retirement is allowing us to do exactly what we want. Whether it’s traveling with friends or spending time walking the beach in Rhode Island, David and I find these slower moments help us know how we want to spend this time.
Soon we will head to France, meeting friends from North Carolina that we happened to meet on our first trip three years ago. What a joy to travel with them, sharing our experiences, and making memories.
Mom is in a good place, truly living in the moment, not worrying about the past or the future. Alzheimer’s does that. But we could all learn from this. All we really have is the present.
Enough by David Whyte
Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
This scene never changes.
I am spending time in Rhode Island as I have done my entire life– a summer of rest, of memories, of gratitude.
It’s a little more difficult as I can’t bring Mom. So we don’t tell her we are coming– it would be too difficult for her to understand why she can’t be here. But she is doing well, and I needed some time off.
So we sleep, read, take walks, and enjoy family and friends.
Mom loves to have her head rubbed. When she used to go to beauty shops, she picked them based on how long the person shampooed her hair.
Alia, at a great place around the corner , not only gives fabulous shampoos, but she also begins treatment with a neck rub. Mom loved it, though she wouldn’t let Alia cut more than a 1/4 inch off her long gray hair!
Mom does seem more settled these days. She remembers for about 15 minutes, which means when she has an event that brings her joy, it is only in the moment. Experts say even that helps Alzheimer’s patients as the “sense” of joy helps keep their emotions balanced. I try not to be hurt when she forgets that I’ve spent the day with her. As long as she seems relatively stable and content, my own stress levels are lower.
Speaking of stress levels– somehow I’ve developed bouts of diverticulitis, in spite of all my good eating habits. I am hoping this doesn’t lead to surgery, but I haven’t managed to keep them from occurring. I am practicing deep breathing and belly massage to see if that helps.
I still haven’t figured out how to eat low fiber foods for the Div but eat high fiber foods to maintain good digestion! Seems impossible, right?
Once this all clears, I’m back to the FODMAP plan, which showed great promise before this all started.
For today, I am remembering meeting my sweet pal Heidi over the weekend, while I was also attending a funeral for my Dad’s brother. Seeing Heidi brought back such fun memories of when we worked together in Fredericksburg.
We picked up like we’d never been apart all those years. That’s friendship.