I have had many mentors over the last 50-some years, mentors that made me laugh, made me cry, made me run like hell. For the last few years, one of my mentors has been Alzheimer's. It may seem an odd thought, but that makes it no less true. I would even dare to say it has been my best mentor, the things I learn easily spilling over into my life the way important notions often do.
This week, I returned to Memory Care after a two week hiatus. Care giver burn out. Burnout that had started to ooze into my body causing unruly pain. Burnout oozing into the writing causing general malaise. So I took two weeks. Two weeks that I needed. No apologies. Unlike my sibs, I gave people a heads up and asked that they step up their game. Whether they responded or not, is not my concern. Or as my new saying goes - Not my circus. Not my monkeys. And at the end of that break I felt so much better. Saying no has been hard for me. I was pleased with how much easier it was to say no and keep to my two week break.
Mostly, these days I am learning how to live in the moment. Even more than that, how to celebrate what is. It may not be what it once was, but what is there is still really good and worth celebrating. So much easier to do when I stop mourning what there was and really see what is. Saturday evenings have become simple. We do dinner. I help her shower and wash her hair. I do her nails. We play crazy eights. All the while we are talking. Round and round. Same four questions. Tonight they don't bother me. Instead, I fall in love with her hair. For 87 she has a full thick head of silvery hair. When it's clean it gleams like moonlight on snow and neither myself nor the staff can resist running our hands over it. My mom has always hated her hair. So this gives me an opportunity to change her thinking about one tiny thing. I tell her it looks like angel wings and when she looks in the mirror, I can see that she sees it differently, possessed of less self-loathing. And as she does, she becomes lighter, more fairy-like in her long nightgown. She is the most beautiful being on the planet.