Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Rainy Weekend, Holding On, Letting Go

Saturday we held our routine lunch at the nursing home with our Dad. My family and I are trying to maintain a new normalcy, meeting with Dad weekly during lunch time and having as much of a family meal as we can under these circumstances. These moments are even more precious now that my Father has been diagnosed with late stage Alzheimer's. I don't know how much awareness he has of our relationship to him at this point, but I do believe he understands he is surrounded by people who love him.

Bahá'u'lláh (Prophet founder of the Bahá'í Faith) has written about illness and its effect on the soul, and these words have been a consolation to me. He says:

Know thou that the soul of man is exalted above, and is independent of all infirmities of body or mind. That a sick person showeth signs of weakness is due to the hindrances that interpose themselves between his soul and his body, for the soul itself remaineth unaffected by any bodily ailments. Consider the light of the lamp. Though an external object may interfere with its radiance, the light itself continueth to shine with undiminished power. In like manner, every malady afflicting the body of man is an impediment that preventeth the soul from manifesting its inherent might and power.

I understand this to mean that my Dad's spirit is just as strong as always, even though it seems to be hidden from us (and even from him possibly). So we still love to be in his presence and enjoy his companionship, and hope to assist him in his journey and provide comfort in whatever small way we can, even though we cannot be aware of how it is received. Also, in more medical writing on Alzheimer's, I have read that although the intellect may be impaired, the emotions are very much intact, and a person with Alzhemier's definitely benefits from the love and care of family and close ones.

When I came home I felt like I needed some physical activity, so I did a few rounds of Sun Salutations (a yoga sequence) to the Gayatri Mantra. I forgot how comforting yoga has been to me in my life! I definitely plan to incoporate it more into my weekly activities.

I planned to go hiking on Sunday, but unfortunately, the day was cold and rainy. I don't mind a few sprinkles on a hike, but I was not in the mood for a cold driving rain! So, once again, the hiking boots remained unlaced for yet another week.

I used the day for a bit of long overdue uncluttering, tackling my closet and dresser drawers. In the past, I have been comforted sometimes by wearing my husband's sweaters. Now, of course, I don't really enjoy dressing like a man, so it felt like the appropriate time to let them go. As I packed up the bag for donation, I was surprised to find that I was crying! Doesn't grief have an expiration date? I went ahead with my plan anyway and donated the clothing, because it felt like the right thing to do. After all, it's not the physical possessions that give comfort, because they are merely material. The spiritual relationships we form and the love we foster endure.

I love all the seasons, even the sometimes rainy cold weekends of late winter. The rhythm of activities is different. We share moments with those we love, use the time for some introspection, soul searching, and healing, and clear away remnants to make room for the fresh growth of Spring.


At 1:25 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

Anne, I'm so sorry that you're dealing with so much right now. You're in my thoughts and prayers

At 4:20 PM, Blogger Racn4acure said...

Anne - this is so beautifully expressed. I am saddened for what you are going through. I love the thought that our spirit / soul is still right there even if we are ill, even if we do not know it ourselves much less those around us. I bet your dad has some awareness as you say. I think your feelings of grief are very understandable, and I believe that for some things, grief does not have an expiration date. It can fade but then something will remind us. Maybe the thought that your husband's things can give comfort and warmth to someone in need will be of some comfort. Best wishes - Art

At 9:07 PM, Blogger Anne said...

Thank you Sarah, that's very kind, I really appreciate it.

Thank you Art. Yes, I believe my Dad's essence is still in there somewhere, he just can't express it right now. Yes my Dad is still aware and responds to us, and as I mentioned in my post I think the emotions are always there. You're right, grief doesn't have an expiration date, but luckily it is no longer an ache but a gentle reminder.

At 9:48 PM, Anonymous Laura Hanson said...

Beautiful and touching. You are a gifted writer, Anne.

At 10:32 PM, Blogger Anne said...

Thank you so much Laura...


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