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Recently, a poster from the National Alzheimer's Association features two people on it. The one in the foreground was a perky looking young woman, briht eyed and staring in the eyes of the viewer. In the background, was an older woman, fuzzy faced, looking a bit bewildered and sad, more than a bit out of focus. It would be reasonable to conclude the perky one was the daughter and the fuzzy one was her mom. Subtle way of portraying the stigma that people living with Alzheimer's disease and other related Dementias are fading away from their family and the rest of the human race. Subtle way to remind people that everyone will die who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's (author's note: as well everyone die who does not have Alzheimer's, eventually die tha is).
Now, the Mom still apparently had all her parts. You could not see her appendages, but since her eyes were open and I had the impression she was alive, but not well. When you are not feeling well, do folks conclude you are fading away? When you are forgetful and confused, more so than others your age, should folks conclude you are actually physically fading away?
No, and of course Hell No. You as a Mother, as a person, as a human being are always all here utnil about two mintues after you draw your last breath. Are you really fading away as a human because you cannot remember a family member's name? Are you on the road to losing your soul when you get lost and cannot find your way home?
As we approach the moment of death, is our humanity, our need for affection, self-esteem, security fading away as our heat slows down, as it is more difficult for us to keep our eyes open? Of course not, for those who have experienced a near death experience or those who have returned from being clinically dead - when they come back, do they come back a new and unique human being, o do they sometimes but not always change what they think/believe, what they remember, how proficient they are at counting backwards by 7s from 91.4?
Drugs, Alcohol, the death of a loved one can all change who we are - but do any of these profound experiences diminish our still being full human, still being fully a human being? Of course no. We slip away from reality when we label someone as fading away. It is our way of letting go of them - because we claim they are letting go of us. We have to do it, we argue. It is true my Mother is no longer my mother. And how do you know? Well, she cannot remember my name or her own name. She thinks she is somehwere other than where I think she is. And she will not listen to me. She makes decisions I do not like. I get to decide who is and is not my mother. And this person is not my Mom. Don't all people with Dementia fade away? I saw it happening on the above-poster from the National Alzheimer's Association.
Just because we see something, does not make it real. We are the only ones that think Mom is not really Mom, not really a human being. She has gone, you know.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
"In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true." - Buddha