Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. –Melody Beattie
If this project were a race, I might like to finish strong, pulling out all the stops, fast pace, head held high, triumphant.
But this project is not a race. It is more like a series of training sessions, a daily discipline of simply showing up and offering what I have to give.
This project will not end with a finish line or a medal or cheers from the crowd.
I feel pride and joy – and relief, too. I will miss it, because it felt so good, because it was hard but always worth the effort.
And so these final days will be my “cool down” phase. My photographs will be restful, graceful, peaceful, and thoughtful.
Maybe no words at all.
Certainly, no weighing of merit.
It will be enough to finish.
Memory triggers are a powerful phenomenon, often taking us back in time to places and events that were filled with joy or marked by deep sadness.
Making coffee, using the old Farberware percolator, I am reminded of the first days when I really knew something was seriously wrong with my mother. She had always loved her cup of morning coffee, usually accompanied by a Little Debbie donut stick. When she stopped making her own coffee and drove to the local 7-11 or McDonald’s, I figured she liked the social aspect of going out for her coffee. And she did. But there were other reasons for this change of habit.
Through a series of visits, during a snowy time when she couldn’t drive, I came to see that she could not follow the steps to make coffee. She forgot where to put the coffee and the water, how much, and which buttons to press. Hoping to solve the problem, I bought a series of simpler coffee makers for her. We tried a little version of the Faberware percolator, a mini Mr. Coffee, and finally one of the single serving Keurig coffeemakers. I wrote the instructions out in simple language using Post-It notes and called to talk her through the process. We practiced, making pot after pot of coffee.
And then she just stopped drinking coffee all together. She said she didn’t like it anymore, but when a friend or family member stopped by for a visit, they always brought her a cup. And she was happy with the treat.
I can’t look at my own coffee pot without remembering how much Mom has lost. But in just a short while I will roll into Carriage Hill Health Center and walk into Memory Lane where coffee is served to her piping hot each morning.
I recently read an excellent book on the subject of Alzheimer’s disease, Before I Forget by B. Smith and Dan Gasby. This book tops my list of must-reads on the subject. I highly recommend this book as a resource for anyone facing this struggle.
I’m reading, Present-over-Perfect, Leaving Behind Frantic For a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living, by Shauna Niequist.
I am deeply absorbed in this book, reading a little at a time so as to feel the full impact of the words, taking notes, reading passages aloud to my husband.
I cheated and skipped ahead to look at the last chapter.
The book ends with the poem, “The Journey” by Mary Oliver.
And these are my favorite lines.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
as there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.