The arrival of the holidays brings a flood of competing emotions for me. Exactly two years ago today, we brought hospice on board. It was a time of both despair and relief; things were changing moment to moment, and we had reached a whole new level of helplessness and desperation.
No matter how hard we fought, it seemed as though Alzheimer’s might be winning. Engaging compassionate hospice professionals brought a measure of comfort to a very uncomfortable situation – comfort in knowing we were surrounded by angels who were not only knowledgable, but also caring and empathetic. They were “all in” from the moment they arrived, and I felt like we were the most important family in the world to them.
Two years ago, we still held onto hope that with the intensive support, loving care, and indisputable expertise of hospice, mom might rebound one more time. However, that wasn’t meant to be. So, Thanksgiving remains a powerful, heart wrenching reminder of those final few weeks…
But this is also a time to reflect on the many blessings that have enriched my life over the past year. First and foremost, of course, are my family, faith, friends, and health. Without these, none of the rest would be possible.
I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to touch and be touched by so many caregivers and advocates through this blog, my Facebook page, the USAgainstAlzheimer’s Support Group, and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias.
I’m grateful to have attended the WomenAgainstAlzheimer’s Out of the Shadows Summit this fall in Washington, DC, to be a founding member of ClergyAgainstAlzheimer’s and a contributor to the group’s first book, Seasons of Caring (December 2014). I’m thankful to have been a member of the steering committee for our local Walk to End Alzheimer’s and for the friends and supporters that generously contributed to our team, Marilyn’s Mighty Memory Makers.
I’ve crossed paths with some of the most passionate, inspiring people on the planet and been presented with countless opportunities to make a difference over the past year. I took a leap of faith, leaving the company I’d been with for almost 27 years, to join an organization with a strong mission I believe in. Five months later, I can say with confidence it was the right move and I’m finally where I was meant to be. For those things, I’m grateful.
I’m thankful I have been able to keep my mom’s memory alive, and that her spirit shines brightly on the world every single day. I’m thankful she’s still teaching me new lessons, inspiring me, and that she continues to touch thousands of lives. And I’m thankful to feel her presence on a regular basis.
To say I’m blessed is an understatement, but oh how I miss my mama.
Lisabeth Stelz Riach said:
Beautiful, may you continue to soar and inspire Ann
Ann Napoletan said:
I think of you so often… sending you love, my friend. I know how hard this holiday season is going to be for you. You’re in my prayers.
Janet Yano said:
You’ve accomplished so. You have a lot to be thankful for and so do others you’ve helped.
Ann Napoletan said:
Thank you for the kind words, Janet – you have no idea how much that means. Happy Holidays to you and yours…
Silvia Venus said:
Thank you for your post, Ann.
Yes, competing emotions … I’m going through such a difficult time with my parents, having ‘uprooted’ them from the family home last year due to a fall that my dad encountered , resulting in hip surgery. My parents were not able to live together, according to the Quebec medical system.
So, after relocating them over 3,000 miles close to my home in B.C., the struggles continue.
Dad is not getting better and relies too much on his walker. The motorized scooter that I bought for his birthday seems like too much of an effort for him.
My mother fell about a month ago and has not been the same since. She cries daily.
My only sibling has passed away in May this year, due to a long battle with diabetes and her husband, my brother-in-law, has since depleted one of their bank account of over $30,000 (a fraud case that is ‘pending’ with the police) and has left the country.
Though I’ve gotten them into the ‘caregiver’ system, I feel overwhelmed with all that needs to be done. One day is not better than the last.
I am truly grateful for my parents and appreciate all that they have done for me in the past.
In summary, I thank you for your post and, like you felt, I feel that things are changing from moment to moment, but not for the better. and I am reaching a whole new level of helplessness and desperation.
Many caregivers pass through the doors of my parents’ suite … I tend to concentrate on the one ”angel’ that truly care for my parents … she brings so much comfort to my parents. This woman has become a member of my family, through her caring and going ‘beyond’.
I give thanks on a daily basis for the ‘good’ that I encounter … I have to keep a stiff upper lip, as my parents depend upon my visits and I don’t want to see them in more despair.
I can’t imagine my life without them … unfortunately, I feel the day is coming soon. I will be all alone and I have no idea of how difficult it will ‘hit’ me. Yes, I do have a support system … that only goes so far, as you know.
Thank you once again for your post. Happy Thanksgiving to you.
Ann Napoletan said:
Thank you for your heartfelt words. I’m sorry you’re dealing with so much… your sister’s passing on top of everything else. It sounds like you’re doing an amazing job of being there and caring for your dear parents.
I completely understand your comments about that one “angel” caregiver who, it sounds like, provides so much more than just basic care. We, too, were blessed to have angels like that in our lives. It takes a special person – they will always be family to me, and I’ll never forget how much they loved my mom.
It’s difficult, but try to live for today and enjoy each of the moments you have with your mom and dad. Cross each bridge as you come to it… Sending you lots of love and many prayers this holiday season…
Silvia Venus said:
Thank you, Ann, for your kind and wise words.
Yes, I will cherish each visit that I have with my parents and will try to be patient and caring. I know it will not get better, so it’s a matter of adjusting my mentality to cope with what’s next.
My best wishes are coming your way for a holiday season that is ‘peaceful’ and full of comfort in the memory of the love that you’ve shared with your family.
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