Bob talks of the joy of his world as a caretaker who left Wall Street to care for his mother stricken with our disease. He has been doing that for some time and has withdrawn from a successful career and so many of his work and social acquaintances. Dedication, concentration and geographical separation have produced this which could be considered a rather lonely plight.
His article posted is about how it is not!
His article posted is about how it is more. As such it is satisfying. Above all it is full!
How can that be?
Yesterday in one of my AA Day Books I read the following.
We grow in time to trust the future for our answers
- Ruth Benedict
When we first started in recovery, we approached it like we did our codependent and addictive behaviors, wanting to possess it all quickly and totally - and to do it right. Some of us thought we could learn all we needed to know about recovery in a few weeks. In living with this program, we begin to see we are engaged in a lifelong process. We are in a maturing process and this program is our guide. We can't rush it or move on to the next stage too soon. An apple tree does not blossom in the fall, and we do not expect the newly forming apples to ripen before they've grown.
Our existence in this world is like walking through the woods on a rambling path. We can only see as far ahead as the next bend. We no longer seek some big moment when we finally get the outcome or a "cure" for life's experiences. The experience along the way is all we need.
Today, I will think about the tasks and rewards of this day and trust the future for what is unanswered.
This was a start to the answer of the question: How can that be?
Always I have in life, in whatever stage, tried to do it right. I followed what guide posts there were and endeavored at what I was doing, always wanting to get it right. I knew try as I did, success as there was, it always fell short. It ended with an unfulfilled void. Something unknown was missing.
I see the answer to the void that I repeatedly ended up with explained in the forgoing reading, viz: "we are engaged in a lifelong process... like walking through the woods on a rambling path. We can only see as far ahead as the next bend...The experience along the way is all we need."
As I entered my senior years, (became an old fart) I started to see I had more answers then questions. The answers came, not from success, but from failures, reverses and calamities. Soon I started to get an inkling of “What it is all About!”
AD was my final indignity, my final catastrophe. For all that went before I was able to see promptly AD like so many past experiences was opportunity, in fact blessing, forcing me to give, to share, to concentrate on others to survive this too.
In this acceptance I found peace, fulfillment and a sense finally, this is my opportunity to make a difference with my life.
Having lived the successes (of which there were many); having lived the happiness I had (of which there was much); having endured the failures and painful events (which also counted up); I came to know they were all secondary. AD was my main event.
My comment left with Bob’s Post is as follows:
My name is Mike Donohue. I am an Alzheimer's Afflicted. I am alone a lot but I am not lonely. I have spent a life time trying to do what it was I was supposed to do. When I became Alzheimer's Disease (AD) Afflicted I no longer had any thing left I was supposed to do.
AD took that all away. Was this a loss? I thought it would be. I then learned I was wrong. It was a relief. I no longer had all those masters to serve.
What masters you ask? First it was my parents, then my teachers, then myself . I added a wife, children, job, associates and friends then it was clients of mine, judges, other lawyers, it just didn't stop. The masters never quit adding on, I could never do enough for them.
My worst master was myself. As I went along serving on the levels to which I aspired I recognized what I had become defined. I was a husband, father, lawyer, committed community member, co-worker, friend, with expectations about me. Having recognized this I strove so hard to be just that and do it well.
I was so tired when life discharged me, mustered me out, said "You have AD leave these halls and go!"
My God what an order, out the door, alone, uncared for by the vast community I had served so well.
My wife understood, she undertook the care of me. Blessed Be her love and just her! My children kind of figured it out, gave it what understanding they were able to come up with. Friends stayed, new associates came, Nonetheless the quality of all of it degraded horribly.
Alone is what I was, a shell of what I was. This is all that was left. That was true until I knew what it was I should do. I had a disease I did not want. I had a disease that shunned me into oblivion because it was feared and misunderstood.
No one knew there is life after Alzheimer's. I learned this and decided I could share this because I could still think, could still read, could still speak, could in fact speak out! I decided to do just that. I would make my disease worth having hate it as I did.
I started advocating for AD, writing about and sharing my experience of it. I want people to know, "Having it is not near so bad as worrying about getting it!" What a paradox!
Bob, in your article to which I make this comment you express precisely that which I have learned. Like you I am not lonely. My disease is the gift of my Higher Power, given me to do something good with it. Your mother, your commitment, these are your gifts. Your care for her and this wonderful column you produce are not only a testament to her but a blessing to all of us. Thank you, Mike Donohue