My lingering memory of my mom’s mom, who passed when I was still in single digits, was a picture of a beautiful lady sitting on a faded white bar-height chair in a corner – with dozens of relatives conversed around her during a Christmas gathering. Somewhat alone but still in the picture… She looked slightly buzzed, with a grin that could be categorized as a smile. Catching her twinkling eyes a few times, I made a voiceless connection that has lasted for decades and even crystallized.
As a single-digit youngster, my thought at that time, and for many years after, was grandma was just “taking it all in” and her buzz was natural and pure. It was like a turkey barn in my grandparents old farmhouse, full of emphatic chatter, and she was listening to all the conversations in one harmony. It wasn’t until much later that I found that she had dementia.
Quite often through the years, I prayerfully pondered how she felt. Was she disconnected and hopeless that she wasn’t “all in” on conversations, or was she of full heart and fulfilled that her house was bursting with family? Most of the time I slant towards the positive, the latter.
But its one of those BIG questions that I’ve never had an answer for and only she really knew. The vision of my grandma, and my lifelong pondering on how she felt at that time, was the impetus for this song, which I’ve penned for my mom, Joan. She’s doing great at 81 by the way.
We all get a little older every day, and living longer lives, which gives us more time to ponder life’s BIG questions. Longer survival on earth gives us more opportunities to share, listen, experience, and interact with other survivors. It gives us more time to ponder whats next. However, it also introduces the “yin to those yangs“, the creeping of disease, the increase of loss, the depredation of the physical and mental capabilities. Aging is a beautiful thing though, and our seniors deserve as much enjoyment and respect as possible. But as age advances, memory often declines, so make the most of what you have while you have it and appreciate the fact that you are still upside ground!
I’m releasing this song now, with June being Alzheimer’s and brain awareness month. The Alzheimer’s Association has proclaimed purple to be the color that represents the Alzheimer’s movement and has spent the month boosting awareness. Of course, being a Minnesota Vikings fan, purple is my favorite color.
On the summer solstice (June 20th, 2016) millions were raised during The Longest Day, a team event that raises funds and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association. The duration of this sunrise-to-sunset event symbolizes the challenging journey of the nearly 50 million people worldwide, 5 million in the US, living with the disease and their caregivers.
If you or a loved one is starting to experience confused thinking and memory loss more often, or has factors that cannot be controlled such as age and a history of Alzheimer’s in your family tree, there are some helpful resources here to help diagnosis the situation. I encourage you to take action sooner rather than later to maximize the benefit of available treatments, which have come a long way since back in the day – thanks to the work of ALZStars dedicated to helping!
And wear some purple, with or without the Vikings logo 🙂