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red clay ponderings

Hmmm… what shall I ponder on today?

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Alzheimers

Kodak Moments

One day, you’ll wake up to some unexpected news.

You’ll receive word that while you were sleeping…running…playing…working…

someone who loves you, quietly left your world.

You’ll stand in disbelief. Even though, all along, you had told yourself to expect it. And perhaps you had, somewhat. But the finality of it will encircle you swiftly and tightly, and with such force, you’ll believe it will crush you. The loss will press heavy against your heart and lungs, so mightily, that it will push the breath out of you.

Emptiness like this is something you have never felt before. You won’t be able to put words to it.

And then, the If Only Chorus will begin to sing to you.

It’s a loud, boisterous chorus, too.

You’ll mentally kick yourself.

There will be no more chances to say or do a nice thing… No more opportunities for a “Kodak Moment” photograph. No chance to say “thank you for loving me”.

Your casualness will mock you:

“Come see me sometime”, they said.

“Ok, soon as I can…”

You will long to hear those old, often told stories, just one more time.

You will replay the last time you saw them, and you’ll wish for one more day to do things differently. One more chance to be more attentive, to stay in the moment.

But one more day is done.

So, this upcoming year, let’s find time for them. Pick up the phone and call them. Even if they’re old and quirky.

Go visit them. Even if you know that five minutes from now, they won’t remember being in the room with you.

Take a minute for a photo; a conversation. Ask them questions about their life.

Right now, the gift of your time is for them.

In the future, it will be a healing memory for you.

One day, when your own days begin to slow down, you will regret all the seemingly insignificant moments of life you let slip away. Capture as many moments as is possible.

I hope you create a lifetime of memories, everyday.

Sincerely,

Danita

“The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination.” M Angelou

The Thief

He snuck in quietly, unseen. No one in the house was aware of his presence. He hid behind familiar things, in plain sight, and stole from us. He took art and music, stories. He stole a little everyday, yet we didn’t notice.
We were all so busy with our own lives, seldom taking time to stop by the familiar white house. So busy. When we managed to find time… Christmas, Thanksgiving…. we were in the holiday hustle, and didn’t notice what was missing. We didn’t see the thief, even while he sat down at the table, and ate Christmas cake. We didn’t see him.

But she…. she had become aware of the thief. She tried to hide him, cover his tracks. She hoped he would leave, without taking more, for his sake…for hers. Ours. She didn’t want us to know he was there. She wanted him to go away, the thief. But he refused to leave. He stayed. He has moved in.
And it’s heartbreaking.

My brain doesn’t work right anymore “, he told her.
It’s as close as he’s come to acknowledging the thief.

Alzheimer’s, dementia…. may be the cruelest of all diseases. The body can remain healthy, muscle memory still remembers how to mow the lawn and split firewood. Drive a car. The face looks the same, but the brain has changed, memories shifted. The person no longer fully there. He has been stolen. Both people in the house… robbed of their golden years.

My dad had not played his guitar for many years. But on Thanksgiving, this year, he agreed to play and sing for us. And in a short span of time, mere minutes, he began to resemble the music man I grew up with. I was amazed at the transformation made by music, and I want to share the video here for you to see. I want to preserve it, so I can watch again, and remember.

NannyPoppy
Cindy Harter Sims took this photo of my parents a few years ago, as The Thief was moving in. At the time, my dad told Cindy, speaking of my mom, “I just feel better when I’m with her”. She is his comfort zone.

NP4
Photo taken by Garrett Able, Thanksgiving 2017

NP2
Photo courtesy of Garrett Able, Thanksgiving 2017

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