Tag Archives: love

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.

What Do We Pray For?

18 Jun

My dilemma since Ernie has gone further down the “rabbit hole” of Alzheimer’s Disease is, What words do I use when praying for him? 

My prayer for a long period of time has been, “Let Ernie live with dignity and with quality of life.”  Then, after dignity was taken from him, my prayer became, “Let Ernie live with quality of life and let him feel the love.”  Today, with his inability to take care of himself, recognize his loved ones, his lack of verbal capabilities, frustration, and exhaustion from insomnia,  asking for quality of life becomes ludicrous.

I spoke to a colleague who has a family member suffering with A.D. and she shared that she, too, had the quandary of what to pray for  and now asks God to take her mother.  I fully understand and respect her choice in prayer wording.   I know that when Ernie goes it will be a blessing for him and for me but, at this time, I am not comfortable with asking God to take him — I would rather leave that choice for God to make on His time.  I continue to ask for guidance for whatever is meant to be — but I find it isn’t quite enough.

 I am a Christian who is comfortable with Unity Church’s beliefs and considers myself a spiritual person.  Although I am not Catholic, I reached out to a good friend who is a priest, author, and a lovely human being.  “How can I appropriately word my prayer for my dear husband who is physically but not mentally here with us?” I asked.  Knowing that Andy, who writes, presents inspirational homilies, presides over weddings, christenings, and funerals, would have the appropriate words. He did. 

I would like to share this prayer with others who might find these words comforting:

ERNIE’S PRAYER

Lord, I need words – or do I?

Lord, better, I need gasps,

breaths, moments, holding

my past, my love, better our:

our stories, our memories,

trips, meals, moments, dates,

laughs, resting in each other’s

arms and his scent and sounds.

Who knows what’s next? I don’t.

So I’ll take each moment with

my Ernie. now – the times

he recognizes me and

the times he doesn’t. I do.

That’s all that counts. 
I thank You and I thank him

for the gift  he was / is /

will be to me and Lord,

I thank you for this chance

to serve him, to hold him

and to love him. till the end –

till today, tomorrow and

forever and ever. Amen.

–Fr. Andrew  Costello, good friend and spiritual being

 Need I say more? 

Amen and thank you, Andy.


More Than Words…

19 Mar

Ernie is speaking “word salad” these days.  There is no logic to his words yet he often speaks with energy and expressive body language.  He seems to know exactly what he is saying and I pretend to follow.  I have learned to laugh at his stories and agree with his muddled statements as he points to something I don’t see or recognize.  His verbal attempts give me mixed emotions:  Joy from his fervor and desire to talk; and sadness over the devastating loss of his well-educated Cambridge vocabulary.

My husband is losing ground and I see his disease taking hold of his ability to connect more and more.  Each week, I see him going downhill and I am frightened.  Last weekend, I decided that I wanted to try to bring him home for dinner — perhaps for his last visit.  I am so glad I did.  Although he showed little recognition of home, he recognized Missy, our cat, and sat down on the bed to pet and “converse” with her as he used to do.

Ernie seemed relaxed as we had dinner at our normal places at the table and silently enjoyed being together.  After dinner, we joined Missy on our bed — where Ernie seemed most comfortable.   I yearned to hold him and tell him how much I loved him and did just that.   Ernie responded as if he understood every word and held me tightly.  Our eyes met and I cried and thanked him for being the wonderful husband he had been to me.  He answered with a tear in his eye in a sentence that made no sense but was loaded with love and affection.  He understood.  We deeply connected without the need for words at that moment and seconds passed in silence. Then, surprisingly,  Ernie turned to me and stated in perfect English, “We love each other in a very nice way.”

I am not sure Ernie will remember last night but the connection we shared and his well-spoken, heart-felt words that found their way to me at that moment  will remain in my memory for the rest of my life.  I don’t understand what exactly happens to the brain with Alzheimer’s but I do know that love still remains in tact no matter how much of the cognitive piece is gone.   Love is energy and feeling and means so much more than words.