My mother has dementia. I hate that word with a passion. Not sure why, I just do. You probably won’t read that word again in this blogpost. The more I talk about it with others, the more I discover people of my age group handling the difficult tasks of caring for their parents with this disease. It’s a community. We need to lean on one another for support, share and learn new tools for handling different situations, see things from different perspectives; we all have different strengths, and our parents are all at different stages. My husband once asked me “does it really help to talk about it?” and my answer was an emphatic YES.
Yoga has taught me that when I’m unhappy or frustrated, to ask myself
“What can i learn from this situation?”
My mothers disease makes me very nervous. Just being with her, the mother I love so much, is often very stressful. A major part of it is the disease itself; the constant circular discussions, the repetition, the 30 phone calls a day. Another part of it is acceptance; I still try to remind her of things, jog her memory. This is not her issue, its mine. Acceptance of what is. Another part of the stress is fear. Will I have this dreaded disease as well? I think of my kids dealing with me in this state and I shudder.
For my mother, every day is a new day. I don’t mean that figuratively – like those memes that remind us that every day, with every breath, we have a new opportunity to choose our way forward. I mean it literally.
Every. Day. Is. A. New. Day.
Everything is new. Where to eat your meals is new. Where to go for your activities is new. Every time she sees me, it’s (kind of) new; like she hasn’t seen me in a long time. Every time she asks about the kids, it’s new. Every phone call she makes, it’s the first one. This CAN be so difficult for a caregiver.
So what can I learn from this?
The good news is this;
Every time she partakes in an activity she loves, its SUPERB.
Every time she goes for a fresh cappuccino, its the most EXQUISITE she’s ever had.
Every time she hears about the kids, and what they’re up to, she is ECSTATIC.
Every time she goes for a simple drive around town, its an ADVENTURE.
Every time she sees family, its like she’s WON THE LOTTERY.
And maybe she has. Maybe I should have a fresh perspective on every thing I do, every single day?
Maybe if everything was new, every day, we could let go of the anger, the disappointment, the old stories, the grudges, the prejudices, the judgements….. that doesn’t sound SO bad.
Don’t get me wrong … memories are what shape us … I don’t wish to lose that.
But what if we could learn from this dreaded disease? Be thankful for the memories we have, but choose to see every activity as SUPERB. Every cappuccino as EXQUISITE. Every drive an ADVENTURE, every moment with family like WINNING THE LOTTERY. In yoga, we encourage people to embrace a “beginner’s mind” . Asking ourselves in every pose, though we may have practiced it 1000 times, what can I learn in this posture? Something new about the pose, or about myself in the pose? The beginner’s mind starts with the premise that everything (everything) is impermanent. Everything is in constant flux. This moment is not the same as the next moment. Tomorrow will be different that today. Therefore every time we practice, we are a different person. Learning to embrace this concept of impermanence, of accepting constant change, can help keep us focused on *this* very moment.
This is where the growth is. This is where peace resides. This is where we can find SUPERB, EXQUISITE, ECSTATIC ADVENTURES.
If we can accept and appreciate the moment we are in, we have WON THE LOTTERY.