1800's Farmhouse where I grew up

Monday, February 14, 2011

With Everything Changing...

Nothing stays the same.  It is a fact of living and of life. There is a comfort in the old, the familiar, the tried and true.  We cling to traditions, customs, and our heritage for holidays and throughout the year.  It is in these things and the people we share them with that we tend to be our most content. Change signals our fear centers, demanding attention be paid to the moments that send our hearts racing. At these times I have visions of the robot from the old TV show, Lost in Space, chanting, "Danger! Danger Will Robinson!",  as his slinky-like arms thrashed at the air. Our bodies send a rush of adrenalin and kick into high gear to absorb and deal with something new.  Remember those nervous first days of school, or the interview that meant everything?  How about the excitement of preparing for a new baby, or getting a call that you are a grandparent. All wonderful, scary, stressful, and ever changing affirmations of life.
This past week, change came banging at our door.  My father-in-law began experiencing mini-strokes that left him confused and literally unable to find words to express himself.  The once eloquent man, who still loves to "hold court", telling stories few could even hope to beat, has changed forever.  Brain synapses no longer connect the way they have in the past, leaving catalogued information trapped behind speech centers that cannot open the flood gates to let the ideas flow freely.  We have all had moments of being unable to remember a word, or to describe what we want to.  The word or phrase eventually comes to us, and we laugh that we couldn't remember it in the first place.  A stroke, on the other hand, steals the ability on a permanent level, if not immediately, then over the course of repeated instances of stroke.
The fear and sadness that comes in knowing what is happening is all too real.  I have had years of experience in dealing with these symptoms in my mom. Although not from stroke, the aphasia that occurs along with Alzheimer's is just as real, and I know it all too well. 
My husband is struggling to understand and accept the changes that are just beginning to occur with his father's current condition. My advice? Enjoy the moments you share together, you will remember them even if he doesn't.  Don't rush through the end of his life, take the time to savor and treasure the days or minutes of clarity, of laughter and love that will soon be a memory.  Write down family history and stories he can share, before the opportunity is gone. Finally, find the humor in life, and tell his story to future generations. Even the one where he thought he was being discharged from the Marines, and set about packing socks, a radio, and flashlights wearing only his PJ top, fur hat, red socks..... and skivvies.  
In telling their stories, and in remembering, our loved ones live on forever. In our hearts and in our minds
.... until we lose it ourselves. *wink wink*
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

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