On cold evenings
With ownership of half her mind-
The other half having flown back to Bohemia
Spread newspapers over the porch floor
So, she said, the garden ants could crawl
As under a blanket, and keep warm,
And what shall I wish for myself,
But, being so struck by the lightning of years,
To be like her with what is left, that loving.
My mother has dementia. My father-in-law does too. In their crazy Alzheimer’s world it’s hard for me to share reality with them. Okay, it’s hard for anyone I believe to have shared realities, but even more so when the mind turns inward on itself, creating cognitive loops that by pass experience and learning. Given that it is in our family, my spouse and I wonder what our fading years will look like. Will we be who’ve we always have been, but even more so? For instance, will we be more loving and caring, or more angry and afraid? When we have so little left, will we be willing to give it to others? I don’t know the answer to that, and I imagine I will end up being a mix of outward and inward focusing just like I am now. What if, though, I do all I can to rewire my brain and lay down those pathways of compassion and interconnection so that they might endure through dementia? What if I did so now so that pathways of love could endure in the hard times of stress and not getting my needs met that will surely arise as does the sun now as I write? Today I will pick up a newspaper and as usual read it and play the jumble to ward off dementia. When I finish, may I bow deeply as I lay the paper down in gratitude, as if I were giving it to the ants and to the least of these. I may not ward off dementia or stay out of the crazy ward, but I might just see the whole world as my ward, my love.
Do you have any older mentors who have show you the way forward?