Tag Archives: giving thanks

The Long Journey and The Destination

31 Jan

I just talked with the staff at the facility and we feel Ernie’s long journey is slowly coming to an end in this life.  He seems to be sleeping most of the time this week and not as interested in food or anything around him.  Last week was a challenging one for me and the staff as we saw him going through a new agitated phase with being restless, anxious, biting us, and simply not at ease.  It was then that I wondered if this wasn’t his own way of trying to “separate” himself from us. 

No, none of us are God and none us  knows when his time is over in this life — but our prayers have been for Ernie’s peace, dignity and for his greatest good all along.  With God’s help, I feel the time is near.  

Interestingly, last night I had a dream about my husband and he was the man we used to know…fully alive and happy and I felt safe being with him as we laughed together on a ride in one of his favorite cars. I awoke smiling as I realized that it had been a long time since I dreamed of Ernie as he WAS.    

Then, I opened a book in my bed stand and found some personal items that Ernie cherished about which I had forgotten:

  1.    A couple of personal notes he had written to me (and to himself) about how much he loved me.
  2.    A Valentine’s card to him from me with a lovely note written, from my heart, about my being by his side for a lifetime.
  3.    A beautiful letter from his oldest son, Dave, who wrote before he passed away, thanking Ernie for being such a good dad and for always being there for him.

After my chat with the caregiver today, I would not be surprised that those precious, personal findings were not an accident.

There is so little we know about this life and beyond but my belief is that we have the power to communicate at all levels in many ways.  I feel blessed that I got these messages.

A good friend, who has walked this road with her husband’s dementia, called me after reading my email/blog and set my mind at ease with her wisdom:  His agitation is his telling you that he is ready to move on.

It’s been a long journey.  And yes, I feel a bit frightened about his next step but I also feel more prepared.   Most importantly, though, I feel at peace that Ernie, himself, is now ready to move on.  My prayer is that he transitions bravely, peacefully, painlessly and feels the love surrounding him.

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The Angels Among Us

23 Dec

I went to a Christmas party at Sunrise this week and saw a transformation take place.  My spirits were low when I arrived seeing Ernie sitting with his eyes closed in a chair in a circle around the Memory Care family room.  I couldn’t help but remember how active Ernie was the previous year for the Christmas celebration.  At that time, he danced with me and with the staff — with his great rhythm and energy.  Everyone wanted to be his partner!  But this year, there he sat, eyes closed, in his own little world.

Then, Jo Ann,  a vivacious entertainer, who volunteers her time to senior centers, arrived and began her magic.  As Jo Ann began pulling sparkling objects and bells from a basket,  greeting each and every resident with a hug, and starting the music, I watched as Ernie and all those around him came alive! Suddenly, my mood began to change, as well.  I sat and observed Jo Anne and the entire Sunrise staff  as they helped all of these dementia-stricken residents and their families smile and feel the love!  The true Christmas spirit was alive!

Ernie opened his eyes, sat up and  smiled a big grin — with an occasional giggle.  He reached out and touched my chin and nose a couple of times while the music played and others sang.  He showed an energy I had not seen in quite a while.  Jo Anne and the staff  created a festive energy in the family room which radiated around the entire center — even to those who quietly were sitting in their own “worlds.”

I stayed by Ernie’s side with my heart singing for both him and the others around us. The joy was contagious and I privately thanked  God for this transformation and for the staff who give their lives every day to those in need.  These special people truly are the angels among us and for them, I am so thankful!

At the same time, my heart sank with the realization that this moment for my husband was a “flash in the pan.”  Seeing him come alive again tended to somewhat hold me back from moving forward.  It gave me a false hope.  I have been working on “letting go” with Ernie’s serious decline but find my emotions and hopes resurfacing when I see what looks like life coming back!

This is in my life for some reason and one lesson I feel I am learning is what Buddha said:
Don’t dwell in the Past;
Don’t dream of the Future;
Concentrate the mind on the Present Moment.

These flashes are the real teaching moments.

I appreciate these precious moments and am especially thankful for these special angels among us who are here to give the love and support to our loved ones and who make a difference in our lives, as well.  They are our true teachers.

“I’m happy, happy…”

25 Apr
Ernie and I were asked to be interviewed for both a radio and 
television program for NPR - WHYY in Philadelphia last week.  
I was willing to do the interview but wondered how Ernie would 
communicate under his Alzheimer's condition.  Would the mike 
or the camera scare him? What would he say?  How much would he 
understand about what was going on? Would he say something that
would be inappropriate?
I was pleasantly surprised to find how comfortable and 
confident he was! 
I am not sure he really understood what was going on, 
but he openly shared his 
comments and laughed, teared up, and several times 
reached across the camera to tap my nose in an affectionate way.  
This very dignified gentleman who had difficulties showing his 
emotions for so many years now proudly shared his feelings -- 
for all the world to see!
Ernie lives in the moment, appreciates the small things, 
doesn't sweat the "small stuff" and 
continues to say,  "I'm happy, happy."  
Isn't that something we all can learn from?

To listen to Maiken Scott's WHYY interview on aging, go to:
http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/homepage-feature/item/37466-
living-with-dementias-costs-financial-and-otherwise&Itemid=1