I adore this word. I like repeating its three syllables; they sound strong as I say them aloud, and unconsciously I find myself standing straighter. I easily recall my Mother’s fortitude when she was dying of stomach cancer. No complaints, whining or feeling sorry for herself. No, she was strong and stoic. I so want to follow her example as I face this challenging path of memory loss and cognitive decline. I want to be strong of will and character. I don’t want to complain about what I’ve lost; complaining doesn’t change anything, it just makes me feel worse. I have no control over my continued decline. What I do have control over is how I carry myself with head up; how I approach hurdles and challenges with positive strength; how I speak about my condition—which means I offer my diagnosis without shame. It is. What it is. Similar to the luck of the draw.
A useless monster I do my best to ignore, even as it raises its dreary head nearly every day. But one can’t really waste time or rely on forecasting when there’s no clear, predictable path when dealing with dementia. So I do my best to ignore the beast, and try to catch myself, as much as possible, when I start to dwell on the what if’s or the when’s. When I do start down that path, I remind myself of how vulnerable all humans are. How fragile life is. I remind myself of the four close loved ones I’ve lost to unexpected tragedies. How live can veer in a new direction without warning. No matter what we think we know, we simply cannot truly know. This brings me to:
I’m now in my seventies, and I feel how my life has been full of love, laughter, and joy, and it will continue in that vein, at least for a while. I’m the mother of two smart, kind, generous children—a daughter and son—and their spouses. I have four grandsons and one granddaughter, a granddaughter in-law and one great granddaughter, who is now at the beautiful age of four. I’ve traveled to Europe and lived in Middle East, the Midwest, the South and North of the United States. I’ve explored practices such as yoga, tai chi, silence, and solitude. I obtained a master’s degree in human relations and started my own consulting business. After practicing Christianity for more than thirty years I became a member of the Baha’i Faith, which answered so many of my unanswered spiritual and religious questions. And I have lived in a scenic valley along the Mississippi River, which fills my soul with the beauty of the seasons, nature, and wildlife.
My life has been and is rich, and full. I am content.
The future can come at any time. I’m ready whenever the Universe wants me.