Summer Solstice…the longest day of the calendar year when there is the most light available to us. Following this Solstice, the days gradually shorten and the nights lengthen. Did you know the word “Solstice” is derived from Latin meaning “standing still” (Sol + systere)? Many traditions throughout time have celebrated the Solstices; likewise western civilization celebrates the first day of summer (called Midsummer–see Shakespeare) as one of the most powerful days of the year for spiritual growth and healing.
Our day started about 4:58 am with Pop standing at my bedroom door asking if he missed coffee time. The steady rains of the last night had ceased and daylight was dawning with the sun just starting to peek into his half-open blinds on his east window (my fault for not closing the blackout curtain there last night). Startled, I jumped down, checked the clock, and softly padded to my doorway toward him. I assured him it was early and the coffee would not start for another hour. I walked him across the house back to his room to settle him back into his comfy bed, sitting in his recliner nearby until I knew he was fast asleep. Unfortunately, I was wide awake…coffee and quiet time for me…
Ironically, the first thing popping up on my social media feed a little later was an update and positive message from the Alzheimer’s Association. The organization annually uses the longest day of the year to shed more light on ALZ in hopes of raising awareness about this terminally mind-altering, life-changing, longest goodbye. Today, a favorite Fred Rogers observation surfaced once again: “Some days, doing the ‘best we can’ may still fall short of what we would like to be able to do, but life isn’t perfect–on any front–and doing what we can with what we have is the most we should expect of ourselves or anyone else…”
As a caregiver wrestling this relentless foe, I frequently find myself unexpectedly trudging deep in the trench with daddy at times. While it’s the primary goal each day to simple encourage him while gently assisting him, he unknowingly and gracefully spends just as much time helping me cope with this process by using his wit and wisdom, his laugh, and his smile.
So on this longest day of the year, we chose to seek a little spiritual growth, natural sustenance, and healing tonight by taking a short drive to a favorite lake spot down the road from our home. We stood outside wearing our purple Life Is Good shirts with the sun shining through the trees and the breeze lightly touching our faces as we ate ridiculously large bowls of homemade ice cream. As written before, daddy sticks to his philosophy to “take what you’re given with grace and dignity and move on.” It’s his profoundly simple way of dealing, growing, and healing from all of life’s challenges every single day…most especially on the longest day of the year.
Note: If you or someone you love is in need of assistance, please check out their website @ alz.org for more insight.