“Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forwards.”
“Hind sight is 20/20 after all.”
“Your bag is lighter when you don’t carry the past with you.”
“Don’t look back; you’re not goin’ that way.”
On the longest day of the year last weekend, Summer Solstice (which ironically fell on Father’s Day), every single phrase surfaced. While I’m uncertain of the official origin for each, these simple, yet profound phrases continued to fall effortlessly from his wise mouth…
On really good days, we have deep and meaningful conversation in snippets, with daddy easily verbalizing his thought processes. Stories, family lore, past vacations, dog show adventures, friendships, and more tumble into vibrant snippets of delightful conversation. He can easily speak with friends or family on the phone, follow a pattern of conversation, and so forth. I do my best on these days to soak up all I can with him, especially when his sense of humor and teasing take over.
On the harder days, we help him dig deep inside his mental well to encourage him onward…take that shower, use his cane or walker, tell a joke, take a short walk with us, sketch, or “read” in his newest book. Often times, especially during our ongoing home quarantine, he simply chooses to quietly sit on our screened porch watching the birds at the feeder as he listens to nature hard at work all around him. As Daddy likes to remind on occasion: “I haven’t forgotten, Bethy; I just can’t remember most of the time.”
Sometimes, without warning, he looks deep into my eyes, straight inside my soul, and says, “When I forget, thank you for remembering for me.” Those moments of clarity are a divine gift of JOY! Gratefully, he is still at a point where he usually understands how we see his needs as we continue to find ways to help him fill them. While never easy, walking this path with him as the keeper of his memories in his greatest time of need is a gift to both of us.
Alzheimer’s may be taking away the vibrancy of Daddy’s mind, but for now, he has us and we have him; we continue to forge ahead on this unique journey together. We are reminded how some things in life cannot be fixed, but are shouldered with love, help, and strength of others. Make no mistake; his heart and soul continue to hold what his mind simply cannot, so we choose to follow his lead and “take what you’re given with grace and dignity and move on because we’re not goin’ back…” 🙂
Personal note: June is National Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Thanks to the thousands who hosted and supported fundraising activities on the Summer Solstice (the longest day of the year) to continue shining the light of hope for a future without ALZ. Go to alz.org for more information on how you can support this effort.