I manage the blog for the Friendship Centers here in Sarasota and I shared the post below last Thursday. The video is only a minute long, but it left me with hours of wonderful memories. It's haunted me in a very positive way for the last few days.
There are so many of you who have family members dealing with the challenge of Alzheimer's. My mother fought the battle for seven years, and was the primary reason we moved to Sarasota five years ago this week. We lost Mom two years ago, but I still cherish those those special moments when Alzheimer's took a break and we got her back, sometimes only for a few minutes.
I miss her a lot, but when I look back, even when the tears start to flow, there's still a small smile on my face. This is one of my favorite pictures of my folks, taken just before Alzheimer's took hold. Both her and my Dad are never far from my thoughts. I can often feel her presence around me. She wanders in and out of my dreams, like a walk-on part from a Hollywood movie.
My mother and I were never that close from my teen years through early adulthood. Moving to Florida, it was the first time since high school that I was living just a few miles away. As a result, we saw Mom several times a week. As Alzheimer's stole more and more from us, with Sheila's help I learned to preserve those bright spots.
So, here's my point on this wonderful Sunday morning - life is simply too short and if you're dealing with Alzheimer's too painful as well. You've got to look for those special moments and embrace the hell out of them. I remember my Dad once saying about this last chapter with Mom, "We've been together over sixty years and I'm going to squeeze the juice out of every good moment that comes along!"
Wishing all of you a wonderful Sunday and a day filled with family, friends and those special loved ones who have helped define your life and who you are. Go for an eleven-second hug with at least one person today and, if you're fighting the Alzheimer's battle, remember you're not alone. Find those special moments and simply squeeze every "drop of juice" you can get!
Wandering through YouTube this morning I typed in "Alzheimer's" and discovered this little gem. It truly defines the words "heart-melting".
My mother fought the battle with Alzheimer's for seven years, and in fact, it's because of Mom, my Dad and I started going to the Care Giver Support Group every Thursday. That's where the relationship with the Friendship Centers started.
We learned a lot in those sessions. Most important of all was being reminded we weren't alone with our frustrations and sadness. But in spite of all the sadness there were some very special moments over the years. It's those moments of sharing love with Mom that Sheila and I define today as priceless memories.
This video reminded of something we learned, that I still hang on to, learning to cherish those special moments when Alzheimer's took a break and Mom came shining through. We used to call it "the sun peeking through the clouds." And, just like the sun, how long we felt its warmth was always changing.
The picture to the right is Sheila with Mom on her birthday in 2013. The "sun came shining through" in a moment where Mom was worried about time simply passing too quickly as she looked at her birthday card.
Sheila had a unique relationship with my mother, because she never argued with whatever Mom said. If Mom commented on how green the sky was, Sheila just rolled with it and told her it matched her beautiful eyes. (They were brown by the way!) They'd both laugh and Mom would squeeze her hand. As a result of Sheila simply being a friend, Mom lit up every time Sheila came into the room.
Every battle with Alzheimer's is different for every family. I have no lofty advice, except to say, join a support group and learn to cherish those special moments of love, which just like this video become heart-melting.
More information on the Caregiver Resource Center is just a click away.