Tags: Alzheimers, family, microbanks, missionary, poinsettia
I stayed at my sister’s house for a month so I could care for Dad. He is ninety-one years old, blind, lives alone, and has Alzheimer’s. My sister is Dad’s primary carer, but was away with her husband, doing missionary work in Tanzania. They were setting up micro-banks in remote villages, so the people there can set up their own small money-making projects.
I was at her house over May and June, which is early winter here in Australia. The poinsettia in the front garden was in full brilliant colour.
One day, after a rain shower, I grabbed my camera to capture the brilliant colour and the lovely water drops.
Beauty is everywhere!
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: Alzheimers, challenges, dignity, health crises, hero status, heroism, humour, nursing home
“Some talk of Alexander
and some of Hercules,
Of Hector and Lysander
and such great names as these;
But of all the world’s great heroes
there’s none that can compare…”
from the marching song, ” The British Grenadiers”)
Hero: a man of distinguished courage or performance, admired for his noble qualities. (The Macquarie Dictionary)
In modern usage, the term ‘hero’ has been debased. It is thrown out today in many places as well as on the battlefield – on the football field and the swimming pool and in situations where no ‘heroism’ has been exhibited,.
In some cases, the term can be appropriate, as in when someone has overcome some great physical, emotional or spiritual adversity. However, in the main, the ‘noble’ aspect has been omitted, and hero status is granted to many who do not deserve it. This has led to real heroes being undervalued.
Noble: of an exalted moral character or excellence (ibid.)
That is the aspect that has been omitted in today’s definition – morality; doing the right thing, especially in the face of various pressures, which also brings in the aspect of courage.
My father is 91. He is a very independent man with a hugely strong will. He is also a loving and caring man. He is blind and now, after another bout of pneumonia, he is weak and frail.
However he has come though many crises in his life: five years as a fighter pilot in WWII; making the decision to bring his family to Australia for a better life.
He has also had many health crises: he almost died of pneumonia as a 4-year-old; he almost died of polio when he was 40; he almost died of severe and multiple infections when he was 97. Every time, he was given up for dead by those who treated him.
And every time, he made the conscious or unconscious decision that he would live. He did it again last week. He has come through all these challenges with grace and dignity.
But this time, as well as being weak and blind, Dad is well advanced in the memory loss of Alzheimers. He wants, more than anything, to go home, to the home he built for us, his beloved wife and family, almost sixty years ago. But there is nobody able to care for him 24 hours a day, and he needs that care now.
He still has his intellect thank goodness, and today, he made a momentous decision. He agreed that he must go into a care facility.
We hope that he will remember that decision tomorrow, but even if he doesn’t, he has made it at a time when he knew the facts. He made it, with grace and dignity, for the benefit of his family, and against all that he wants to do.
That, to me, is a heroic decision. He is my hero and my inspiration.
You may also like to read this previous post The Long Goodbye
© Linda Visman 9th July, 2012
Tags: Alzheimers, death, departures, illness, leaving, separation
There are many ways of leaving, and there are many ways of saying goodbye.
You couldn’t count the goodbyes in your life. Most will have been for short periods: “’bye”, as you walk out the door for a short trip; “See you again soon” as a friend leaves for a short time; the longer separation, with tears and promises to keep in touch. Then the goodbye where you know it is unlikely you will see each other again – either “Good riddance!” as you leave a bad relationship, or sorrowful tears as a friendship ends.
There are the casual goodbyes, the relieved goodbyes; those which are cheerful and those which are sad; and there are goodbyes which are left unsaid.
But the hardest goodbye of all, the one you dread the most, that will leave you bereft of a loved one forever, is the final one. But even here, there are differences.
Is it more difficult to be with a loved one at the end; to talk together, at least for a time, knowing the goodbye, though not spoken, is mutually understood? Or is it harder when the farewell is sudden, wrenching someone from you in an instant; said after the spirit has left a vibrant body that now lies in a funeral home? One at least has time to come to terms with the first.
The goodbye I have been saying for months now is drawn out and difficult; the leaving, long and uncertain, and not even understood by the one who is going. It is saying goodbye bit by bit, as his mind deteriorates more and more, as memory becomes confused and then fades.
It is a hard thing to see the body of a loved one become more and more an empty shell instead of the strong, intelligent, creative and caring man you knew. You wonder why, at 90, he clings to life, is positive about life, even as his mind progressively loses the ability to live it.
You wonder how much longer will this goodbye take? How long before the body follows the mind to oblivion? You don’t know that, but what you do know is that, no matter how long and difficult it is, you will always hold in your heart the man he once was.
You will remember his love, his hard work and struggle for his family; you will remember his positive outlook and his fighting spirit. He will be, as he always has been, your inspiration. You will always love him, no matter how long the goodbye.
(c) Linda Visman