“We cannot live in this world if we are not willing…..” These are words from a poem written by Naomi Shihab Nye, used in one of my writing classes. The poem is titled “Shoulders.” I selected this poem – subconsciously – following shoulder surgery. But it is no coincidence to meditate on it now, as a wrap up to my original rant, “Are we ready for the dementia generation?”
Through thirty days, I have examined innovative programs related to dementia, staving it off, helping those who suffer. I have shared lessons from our friends at the Alois. Equally important, sharing the poetry painted a portrait of my mother while becoming a prayer on the path of healing from the loss of Mom as I knew her, and the physical passing of my father.
But through these various lenses, I discovered alternate ways to love my mother. To know her in this state she exists in now does not come without hard work nor without blessings. While some might find it difficult to grace the doors of an Alzheimer’s care center (and I still do), I do so now with more reverence, courage. In those moments I dare to cross the threshold, I am rewarded greatly with a glimpse of God’s purpose for humans on earth.
The Wizard of Oz bellows, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” I say, “Pull it back, and pay every attention to every man or woman you find behind the curtain of dementia.”
In the coming days, I feel a tide change in my work, as I do at the turn of each new year. These thirty days provided unfettered access to my heart’s true work.
As I ask myself the question again, “Are we ready for the dementia generation”, my honest answer is “no.” We should never be prepared to accept unequivocally a change in the human condition, for wherein would lie the struggle? In the struggle we take action, find answers. In the struggle, we become ready. Am I, or anyone who read this blog, more educated, than say, 30 days, ago? Yes. Are we more prepared? No.
Unknowingly, my mother has allowed me to see her, and others, in their most vulnerable state. Unwittingly, I too have arrived at a point in our relationship that is filled with vulnerability. Dr. Brene Brown, author, states that vulnerability requires we show up in our lives without a lot of guarantees. To my mother – my first reader, editor, audience, book reviewer, and now subject, I commit to show up at your doorstep, awaiting whatever surprise the day might bring.
2012-09-18 The Sacrament of Letting Go
I am standing over a fissure in the crusty earth.
Winds sweep through open arms.
I am trying to catch you,
not knowing which way you will fall.
I hop on one foot, then the other,
straddling, unable to sustain this act.
How long must I debate
the direction you will drop?
How will I catch you,
no longer attached?
You look down in your free fall,
with slight smile,
see beauty in the microscopic,
the dance of an ant with its load.
Are you laughing, because that is me,
trying to catch
you who is no longer weight?