This week I have taken a lot more time to attempt to find cooperation within myself. I have come to a conclusion that my 6 roles of people I love, as well as elements of my health puzzle, are both tied to something in me that prevents elements from cooperating and working together. There is something, some belief, that has caused a chain reaction of things I love failing to work together properly. Examples would be: the flavors I love failing to be what my pancreas and digestive system want, the people I have attracted and love so dearly failing to accept all of me including my Nathan and kids, Etc.
So, despite not feeling like I really trust myself or my intuition, I am determined I will figure it out. In the meantime I’m choosing to focus on things that already work or produce happy thoughts. It takes the sting out of the puzzle and my self-isolation. It smoothes out the rough edges of my otherwise uneventful days of self-induced lonliness (some things must be experienced and resolved alone).
Anyway, after having my stroll of love down memory lane in my last post, I began to remember all of the resident stories that have helped me to see the permanence of love.
As I’ve mentioned previously, I work with elderly through contracts with multiple facilities ranging from Independent Living 55+ apartments to high security dementia facilities. Over nearly a decade I’ve come in contact with many people that have little to no memory, but all of those which are still able to speak have always shared stories of love.
I remember many stories from my one lady who is now well over 100. Her husband was a pilot and she had 4 kids with him. She tells me all the time how wonderful a man he was and how she spent all her time trying to keep up with the boys. At this point she’s lost so much of her memory that she frequently forgets he’s already passed away, and will often ask if he’s on his way to pick her up. I always go along with the story, but find it amazing when after all the years without him, and having so little memory left she can remember how much love they shared.
Yet she is not alone. I have had many just like her.
Mrs. A would always look at her husband’s picture and tell me how he was a good looking guy that all the girls wanted, but he was hers. He was her good man. He was absolutely the best she could have hoped for. She used to long just to be with him again and prayed for her life to end so she could rejoin him. I think she has.
One of my ladies had 3 husbands. One was no good she said. She loved him, but he didn’t take care of himself and died leaving her a single parent to 3 kids. The second was a scoundrel that upon his death left her and the kids with massive debt to repay, and the 3rd she loved, but there was a prenuptial agreement that protected them both. They entered marriage independent and when his kids put him in a memory care facility she filed for divorce to again ensure independence. She would rather be completely on her own than greedy step-kids possibly harming her for her life savings. She always said “I did it my way” but would still tell me stories of her moments of love with each of the men, and get weepy over romantic love songs. My favorite was her story of being in Ireland with husband 3 staying at a little cottage in the countryside, I pictured a very charming man, suave yet very down-to-earth. I think of her and her 3 husbands and hope one day I’ll be telling stories of my poly-family and admitting the worst problems were overcome with a little patience.
I’ve had the privilege of being around several couples which even after multiple decades married still got along extremely well.
There was Mr. & Mrs. S who traveled the world together, spoke multiple languages, and would make dirty jokes even though they were in their upper 80’s. He was a charmer and she was very independent but aimiable. They took turns teasing or scolding each other. It was quite adorable. They told me many stories of their travels together and some awfully funny moments that are the kind that only happen to seasoned partners in love (probably because they would break immature relationships).
Then there was Mr. and Mrs. A. They were both very quiet, but always glued at the hip. She told me of when they first got married. She said he wouldn’t have made it through basic training if it weren’t for her doing his laundry and getting him ready every day. He would just smile sheepishly and say “that’s no lie”. They were so sweet, still are. I only see them once in a while, but every time I do it warms my heart.
One couple, the husband had very severe dementia, and his wife would visit 2 to 3 times a week, sometimes more. She would say he doesn’t remember me, but I told her what I saw. I watched a man that couldn’t find her name on the tip of his tongue, but would light up with joy when she visited. I watched the same man cry after she left and get angry with staff when they wouldn’t let him follow her. He just knew he loved her even though his brain wouldn’t remember how to make the words work to convey it. I know that feeling. I have been there when my allergen induced depression prevented words and all I could do was cry. It’s the love behind it all that matters.
My own dad, just beginning to really show dementia, can’t understand why mom left. He only remembers the good things. He only remembers the loving moments. He doesn’t understand that she remembers the other not-so-good moments because her memory is still fresh. He wants her back, but she’s not able to do that because she was hurt and the wounds still sting. My dad still loves her, and she admits she loves him, but just can’t be hurt anymore. She says she’s too old to put up with the hurts just because she loves him. She does better alone, she swears, but I know her lonliness sometimes makes her wonder.
There are so many stories like these, and I’ve only worked with elderly for 7 years. I can’t imagine how many stories more seasoned staff have. It is a huge comfort to me, a wonderful reminder, that at the end of everything, love always prevails, even when hurts have happened.
The human spirit is resilient, but love is the most resilient of all.
May you feel love, for yourself, for a significant other (or 2 or 3 or 4); for children, pets, and extended family. May that love carry with it many many good memories that last until your dieing day. May you always find those memories of love within reach and easy to recall. May you always be able to express your love easily and have it accepted by those hearing your words. May you love yourself as much as any other. May you always find the perfect way to express your love, and may you always trust yourself and your intuition.
Siva Hir Su