Tag Archive | Love

Easier Than Love

I feel like I need to apologize, because this post has nothing to do with caregiving. Or, maybe it does, in a way. As a parent, I am responsible for raising morally just human beings. And there is a great deal of care and giving that goes into that tough job (that lasts a lifetime).

Raising young kids is sometimes disheartening, in this culture, which worships so-called “reproductive freedom”. I wonder, how much has this so-called “freedom” cost us? We tell ourselves that we are in control, and that we can do whatever we want with our bodies, and that no one owns us. Really? You can say this as your government is requiring you to buy products whose purposes are not to actually save any lives, say like cancer or heart healing drugs, but drugs that destroy and prevent life instead. If that’s not control, than I don’t know what is. This kind of control and influence tells our youth that anything goes and that you never really need to commit to anything, because your choices are reversible and discardable.

Sex has become just a fun past time, a commodity, and a currency…a means to buy and sell tv shows, movies, music, and exciting products. We can trade a future of potential lasting love, meaning, and hope, for the seemingly more important intense needs of the moment. These “choices” prevent us from authentically believing in ourselves and in our capacity for being more fully alive, deeply loved, and understood. When we invest most of our time and money on things and strategies that tear down instead of build up doesn’t there need to be any moral consequences?

Our kids watch “Reality” shows that display woman after woman dating men in an assembly line of pleasure and anticipation, desperately searching for “The One”. There is competition, jealously, back stabbing, and heartbreak all on display for our joyous entertainment. And everyone so-called “wins”, as they get a chance at the painted prize and get to have their 15 minutes of fulfilling fame.And then, they are always wondering why they are unsatisfied and left wanting more.

In this “reality show” age, how much reality are our children really getting? Show after show tells them what they need to do to become thinner, sexier, funnier, and less of who they really are, and more of what others think they should be. Go here, and you’ll lose 100 pounds, and get that dream job and finally be HAPPY! Date this guy, and you’ll see a new world open up for you…you will go to far off exotic places and travel by helicopters and hot air balloons with some super hot guy you barely know (but who you THINK you know after going on 5 dates), and who recently went on 20 or so other dates with 20 or so other women. Just think of how truly “special” you will feel!

Yeah, now that’s some sad reality for you.

Because utlitmiatley; when sex, love, and life cease being sacred, precious, and real…than nothing can be

“Easier Than Love”

Ah La La La La La La,
Ah La La La La La La

Sex is currency
She sells cars,
She sells magazines
Addictive bittersweet, clap your hands,
with the hopeless nicotines

Everyone’s a lost romantic,
Since our love became a kissing show
Everyone’s a Casanova,
Come and pass me the mistletoe

Everyone’s been scared to death of dying here alone

She is easier than love
Is easier than life
It’s easier to fake and smile and bribe

It’s easier to leave
It’s easier to lie
It’s harder to face ourselves at night
Feeling alone,
What have we done?
What is the monster we’ve become?

Where is my soul?

Numb

Sex is industry,
The CEO, of corporate policy
Skin-deep ministry,
Suburban youth, hail your so-called liberty

Every advertising antic,
Our banner waves with a neon glow
War and love become pedantic,
We wage love with a mistletoe

Everyone’s been scared to death of dying here alone

She is easier than love
Is easier than life
It’s easier to fake and smile and bribe

It’s easier to leave
It’s easier to lie
It’s harder to face ourselves at night
Feeling alone,
What have we done?
What is the monster we’ve become?

Where is my soul?

Ah, la, la, la, la,
(Yeah!)
La la la la la la la,

La, la, la, la, oh,
(Yeah!)
La, la, la, la, no!

It’s easier to love,
It’s easier to love

It’s easier to love,
It’s easier to love

She is easier than love,
It’s easier to love

Everyone’s been scared to death of,
Everyone’s been scared to death of,
Everyone’s been scared to death of dying here alone,
alone

[Sing]
Sex is easier than love,
It’s easier than love,
It’s easier to fake and smile and brag

It’s easier to leave,
It’s easier to lie,
It’s harder to face ourselves at night
Feeling alone,
What have we done?
What is the monster we’ve become?

Where is my soul? (Where is my?)
Where is my soul?

The Long Goodbye…

I love poetry. I love it for its simplicity and depth. I love rhyme, metaphor, and alliteration. So often, poetry can capture thoughts and emotions that other types of writing can not. I love the idea of using just a few words to say so much.

Dementia is often called “The Long Goodbye”. That is because hour by hour, day by day, month by month, and year by year, we watch our loved ones with dementia very slowly fade away before our eyes. There are so many moments of letting go, deep grief, and also countless opportunities to embrace the “now” of those moments. A person with dementia primarily lives in the present moment. They have no choice. They can not remember specific experiences from the past, and when they do, they often get the realities of those moments confused or misplaced. Sometimes, the act of remembering hurts them, as they forget long-held, precious memories. On the other hand, not remembering certain painful moments can be a nice relief. I wrote this poem a few nights ago.

The Long Goodbye

You reach out

your frail hand

unsure

alone

on this unforgiving,

precarious land.

 

Wishing you had built

on sturdy rocks,

instead of unsteady

sinking sand.

 

Your synapses

fire at random.

At times, there is sense.

We never know what

we will get.

 

Your illusions

confuse you

“Is Nana still alive?”

“Did we have a funeral?”

“Did Bapa go before her?”

 

I answer the best I can.

“Nana passed 12 years ago, mom.

She had a beautiful funeral.

I spoke part of her eulogy.”

“You did?”

You seemed surprised by this.

I wonder why.

 

I will hold tight

to this frail

hand and mind.

Leading, as I try,

through the darkness,

on a road slowly fading,

a bitter-sweet journey

The Long Goodbye…

The following clip is of Bono, the lead singer from U2, reciting a poem titled “The Mother of God” written by William Butler Yeats. It is beautiful.

 

 

 

 

Love is a Gift

Anna and Nana

 
Authentic love is not a vague sentiment or a blind passion. It is an inner attitude that involves the whole human being. It is looking at others, not to use them but to serve them. It is the ability to rejoice with those who are rejoicing and to suffer with those who are suffering. It is sharing what one possesses so that no one may continue to be deprived of what he needs. Love, in a word, is the gift of self.
 
~ Blessed Pope John Paul II
 
 
 
Grandparents
 
Grandparents bestow upon their grandchildren
The strength and wisdom that time
And experience have given them.
 
Grandchildren bless their grandparents
With a youthful vitality and innocence
That help them stay young at heart forever.
 
Together they create a chain of love
Linking the past with the future.
The chain may lengthen,
But it will never part….
 
 

Fall in Love
Attributed to Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ (1907–1991)

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

– See more at: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/prayers-by-st-ignatius-and-others/fall-in-love/#sthash.nTKtSwvu.dpuf

 
 

Groundhog Day and My Mom’s Birthday

Last week was Groundhog Day, which always falls on the day before my mother’s birthday. Dealing with Dementia feels a lot like you have stepped into the movie,”Groundhog Day”, which is a funny movie about a guy who repeats the same day over and over again. Sometimes I try new lines in the old conversations with my mom just to mix things up a little. But most of the time I repeat the old lines, because I know familiarity brings comfort to her. I wanted to give you a glimpse into a day of what dealing with Dementia looks like. This was my visit with my mom today, and some of what we talked about are among the top 3 conversations that we have on a regular basis. The words in parentheses were things that I thought out in my head, and were not actually said. Although, believe me,I would like to say them at times!

Conversation # 1.

Mom:  “When am I going to get out of here?”

Me: “Well, mom, you know we need to wait until your legs get stronger so that you can walk on your own.”

Mom: “Well, I was doing physical therapy and now they don’t give me that anymore, do you know why?”

Me: “Well, they seem to think that if you would practice walking with the walker more often to meal times, that this could greatly improve your walking. So why don’t you give that a try more?” “Physical therapy is $100 a week (on top of the $8,000 a month that it costs for you to live here) and they don’t seem to think that it does anything positive to get you closer to being able to walk again.”

Mom: “Did you tell them to cancel that?” Because that was none of your business, and I want you to tell them to start it again because I want to walk again someday.”(I am strongly tempted here to tell her that, actually, IT IS MY BUSINESS BECAUSE I AM YOUR LEGAL GUARDIAN and YOUR DAUGHTER, WHO HAS LOVINGLY CARED FOR YOU FOR MOST OF YOUR ADULT LIFE)

Me: “OK, mom, I will talk with them, OK? (therapeutic fibbing here, which is a dementia term that means you tell them what they want to hear, so you can “meet them where they are at”)

Conversation #2

Mom: “Aren’t those flowers just gorgeous over there?”

Me: “Yes, they are! I gave them to you last week for your birthday!”

Mom: “Oh, that’s right, it was my birthday, wasn’t it? Those flowers are beautiful, and your brother gave me the most beautiful outfit that he said he picked out himself!” (yes, I know you have told me and shown it to me 5 times already!) I think that he is making up for his father’s behavior.”

Me: “Well, maybe, but I think that it’s just because that he loves you a lot.”

Conversation # 3

Mom: “Did you know that your father left me? Can you believe that?”

Me:. “Yes, mom, he left about 5 years ago now.”

Mom: “No….it hasn’t been that long, it’s only been about 2 years”

Me: “No, mom, actually it has been about 5 years or so since dad left. Do you know why he left?”

Mom: “If you say it is because of my drinking, then I am going to bop you one.” (well, then I guess you can bop me one then) (I am silent here, and just stare at her) Because, you know I remember the day that I decided to stop, and it was one day I was doing the dishes (interesting, I haven’t heard this one before), and I thought to myself, “I just don’t need to do that anymore, so I just won’t do it. It wasn’t because I went to AA (because you never actually did?) or Hazleton or anything, I just knew I didn’t need it anymore.” (UH HUH….and pigs can fly now?)

With this tired conversation, I usually switch the subject, because typically my kids around, and it’s just not “kid friendly conversation” you know what I mean?

Conversation # 4

Me: “So I have been thinking I want to surprise Eric and get a dog this spring.” (I tell her all about a breed I talked to a pet shop worker about and how much the kids want one)

Mom: “Oh, that would be so fun for the kids! We had Benny (our awesome St. Bernard) before you were born! And we loved having dogs with young kids!

(Here, we have a great conversation about the past with our old dog Benny, who was the best dog in the world.)

Mom (5 minutes later): “So, when are you going to get a dog?” (SIGH) (I pretty much repeat the whole last 5 minutes) (my experience with working with young kids comes in handy with this disease!)

Conversation #5

Me: “Well, mom, I need to get going…I have a therapist appointment (where we mostly talk about you over and over and over again)

Mom: “Oh…does that help you?” Tell your therapist that your dad left your mom and she would like to know what she can do about it.”

Me: “Well, She (me) TRIED to get you to go to Mass with me today, down your hall in the chapel, and you wouldn’t go…so she (me) is working on it!” (this is where I think, “God, you sure want me to persevere don’t you?….oh, and develop my patience!” I’m workin’ on it!)

Mom: “Oh…I know, I just didn’t want to, I just don’t feel good! But, thanks so much for coming…and next time bring the kids. You know, most grand parents don’t enjoy their young grand children as much as I do.”

Me: “I know, mom, you adore them, and they adore you, and so do I (I kiss her and give her a hug) “Good bye, love you, I will see you in a few days!” (Which will be on Sunday)

Grateful for Grace

This weekend my daughter Lauren is receiving her First Reconciliation. As one of her Catechist teachers, I am so excited and grateful to be sharing this experience with her! As Catholics, we believe that an abundance of God’s grace is received during this holy Sacrament (outward sign of God’s grace and love) . Speaking out loud our weaknesses and wrongdoings  to a representative of our Lord is a very healing and freeing experience.

There is something about hearing your sins spoken out loud to another that makes you feel so much more accountable and deeply sorry for hurting others and God. I told my students that it feels like getting a car wash for your soul.  Afterwards your heart is made clean and you feel so much joy and love from our merciful Father!  I said, “You know how you feel when you get up on Christmas morning and you are so happy you can hardly stand it? Well, receiving  God’s Grace and forgiveness after Reconciliation feels a lot like that. You feel so much lighter, and brighter, and you have a new sense of hope in your heart to try to love others, yourself, and God even better than before!

It can be painful to honestly look at our actions and motives for doing what we do in certain situations or relationships. Sometimes we see things that we don’t want to see. Sometimes we struggle with the same sins over and over, and we need to continually pray for God’s guidance. It is important for us to realize that we are not alone in our struggles, and that God’s mercy and love  is always present, no matter what. Through Reconciliation we receive the strength and courage to become who we are meant to be!

Confession is an act of honesty and courage; an act of entrusting ourselves, beyond sin, to the mercy of a loving and forgiving God. It is an act of the prodigal son who returns to his Father and is welcomed by him with the kiss of peace. 

 ~Blessed John Paul II               

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt. Taken at the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

 

 

See Me

I am sharing this beautiful poem in honor of Muriel and all of the sweet old men and woman who live with my mom at her Care Center. Muriel eats each meal with my mom and tries so hard to carry on conversations. She is losing her memory and words no longer come easy. She often forgets words that were once easily recalled. Her face lights up when she sees me and my kids though, and she loves to express how wonderful it is to see young children.

 The other day, we were decorating pumpkins with my mom, Muriel, and a few of the other residents. As I was helping some other residents, Muriel rolled herself back in her wheel chair to her room forgetting to take her new pumpkin. My daughter and I then rushed to bring her the pumpkin. We visited with her in her room for a bit, admiring all of her pictures of her kids and grandkids. When I brought over a picture of her daughters, she teared up, and said, “It’s nice to see this, I am losing my vision, so I can’t see these pictures very well”. She continued to express how she was told by her doctor that she is going blind and that she wishes it wasn’t true. She could not remember what it is that she has, but I told her I understood anyway.

I could sense that she was so relieved and happy to be able to share this, her story, with someone who would listen. She, and the other people who live out these quiet days and nights often shut up inside themselves, just long to be seen and heard. They long to be validated, understood, and loved. They each have a story, a history, hopes and dreams. Above anything else, they just want to be loved. They want to know people still care about them and remember them.

It is a very rewarding thing to know that perhaps I was one of the few people who gave Muriel any concentrated sincere care and attention for that day, or maybe even for the entire week. God’s grace is palpable in these moments of sharing His love and compassion with someone who desperately needs it.

Muriel with Lauren

This poem was written by an old woman living in a nursing home in Ireland. It was found among her thing when she died.

 What do you see nurses, what do you see?

 Are you thinking when you look at me?

 A crabby old woman, not very wise, Uncertain of habit, with far away eyes,

Who dribbles her food and makes no reply

When you say in a loud voice, “I do wish you’d try.”

And forever is losing a sock or a shoe.

Who unresisting or not, let’s you do as you will,

With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill.

Is that what you think, Is that what you see?

Open your eyes, nurse, you’re not looking at me.

I’ll tell you who I am, as I sit here so still,

As I rest at your bidding, and eat at your will,

I’m a small child of 10, with a father and mother, Brothers and sisters who loved one another,

A young girl of 16, with wings on her feet, Dreaming that soon now a lover she’ll meet.

A bride soon at 20, my heart gave a leap. Remembering the vows that I promised to keep.

At 25 now, I have young of my own, Who need me to build a secure, happy home.

A woman at 30, my young now grow so fast, Bound to each other with ties that should last.

At 40, my young sons have grown and gone, But my man’s beside me to see I don’t mourn.

At 50, once more babies play around my knee,  Again we know children, my loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead. I look at the future and shudder with dread.

For my young are all rearing young of their own,

And I think of the years and the love that I’ve known,

I’m an old woman now and nature is cruel,

Tis her jest to make old age look like a fool.

The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor depart.

There is now a stone where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells,

And now and again, my battered heart swells,

I remember the joys and I remember the pain,

And I’m living and loving life over again,

I think of the years all too few…gone too fast,

And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.

Open your eyes, nurse, open and see.

Not an empty old woman, Look closer….see ME.

Honor your father and your mother,  so that you may live long in the land the  Lord your God is giving you Ex 20:12

Love is a Choice

Having a mother slowly fading away in a nursing home because of her chemical addictions can be very emotional and stressful. I struggle with vacillating between extreme anger and sorrow almost on a week to week basis. Sometimes I go through those complicated roller coaster emotions all on the same day. Those days really suck. On those days I am just trying to survive, and not really thriving all to well.

The hardest part throughout all of it has been trying to forgive myself. I know that sounds strange to some people. They may think, “Well, she should realize that she was innocent in it all and you can’t make someone change.” Well, I can tell myself that and I believe it most of the time on an intellectual basis. Trying to believe it emotionally and psychologically is a totally different story. It will be a long process for me to get there, but I am working on it through lots of therapy and spiritual direction. With my guides and angels helping me, I have no doubt that I will get there someday.  I wrote the following poem trying to navigate through these treacherous feelings, that sometimes threaten to sweep me under. Writing has always been a cathartic process for me. Thank God.

 

I am hemorrhaging

poisonous memories and fears

How much blood-letting

Do I need to endure?

 

All my attempts

to cure you failed.

So what does that say

About me?

I know what it says about you,

Even if you will never see it.

 

I gave you my world.

I bled my hopes and dreams

And desperate desires for you.

Hoping you would

Notice.

Hoping against all hope

You would change

For me.

 

Nothing was enough for you.

And you gave me nothing

In return.

 

I despise what you did

to this family.

I despise how you choose

To not get better.

You had it all…

The world at your fingertips,

Unlike most other addicts.

 

And now your grandkids

Will grow up

not knowing you…

The real you…

Who ever that is.

 

I have tried to paint

Picture perfect portraits

Of who we were together.

I desperately try to hold on

To those illusions

Because if they are not true

Than who am I?

 

The hardest part to all of this,

Is that I still desperately

Love you, and I continue

Looking for you.

Yet, I have loved you and loathed you

for most of my life

In equal measure.

 

You probably wonder why

I never call you.

You think your room

Is the only one without a phone.

I was forced to finally take it out

Because you were calling 911

Almost every day.

So, yet another thing

You made me take away from you.

First  it was your freedom,

 then it was your home

And finally, your phone.

I can still hear your

High pitched, “Hi Honey!”

 

I will continue on

Praying I find my way

Through these stormy

And painful thoughts

And memories.

Hoping to thrive

And not just survive.

 

If  love is a choice,

Then I will still choose it.

Because I know it is

The right thing to do.

You never chose it

For yourself.

 

But it is not to late for me.