In his final years my brilliant, articulate, professorial father had dementia. He retained a remarkable vocabulary and usually seemed to be logical and insightful even when he was cobbling together events from his distant past with random and odd bits from books and movies.
Although it was heartbreaking to witness his mental deterioration, there were also heart-opening gifts. In his last years Dad became less angry, judgmental and critical and far more openly loving and kind.
He knew he loved me and he expressed that love more freely and more clearly than ever -even though he couldn’t quite remember who I was.
Visiting him on the morning I turned 55, I told him, “Dad, today is my birthday.”
“Really, honey that’s great. Happy birthday. How old are you?”
“Ohh,” he said and paused. “I think I’m 55 too. That’s pretty neat isn’t it?”
At a hospital after he had a stroke the nurse asked him who was with him. “Well,” he said pointing to me, “That’s my sister and,” pointing to his wife of 56 years, “this is my mother.”
Each time left him, I said “ I love you, Dad.” He heartily replied “ I love you too, baby!”
I did my best to meet him right where he was at any moment and I choose to believe his words of appreciation. It felt right to receive his love for me as the essence of our connection- rich and real and lasting - even though the details were hazy. The dementia, I believe, stripped him down to essence- and his soul was still shining, in some ways more clearly than before.
Dementia is heartbreaking, puzzling and poorly understood. And the process can have gifts if we, as family and care-givers, show up to receive them.
Listen to The Dementia Sherpa on We Are More Radio for soulful and professional insights and support in dealing with dementia. In my interview with Christy Turner, speaker, consultant and the founder of Dementia Sherpa you will learn:
- A 15’ Shift in perception that makes room for all kinds of miracles.
- The superpower you can tap into when dealing with a loved one’s dementia
- What we misunderstand about dementia
- How dementia can help us, as family members and caregivers, remember who we really are - and step into that more fully
If you or anyone you love is dealing with dementia be sure to tune in Monday August 20 at 10 am pdt for my interview with Christy Turner. I love this interview and want everyone to hear it.
Dementia in a funny children’s novel? Yes! My grandson Charlie, soon to be 9, recommended Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams because it is a rocking adventure story. I love the way it deals with the grandfather’s dementia. Grandpa believes he is a fighter pilot in WWII.
“All the people in Grandpa’s life found this very difficult to understand.
Except one person.
His grandson Jack.
Like all children, the boy loved to play and it seemed to him that his grandfather was playing.
Jack realized all you had to do was play too.”
Have you dealt with dementia in your family? Did you discover any gifts in the challenges?
Want support and guidance in discovering the gifts and the growth in your challenges? Email me with Let's Talk in the subject line.
"My work with Lea has been the most important core work I’ve done in my life. It is transformative on both an energetic and spiritual level." ~ Denise Hughes, MA, Author, Speaker, Financial Consultant