a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
What do workers gain from their toil?
I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.
God has made everything beautiful in its time.
Has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.
That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.
To say this year has been a blur is an understatement… a better metaphor would be a tornado… but really what I am reluctant to write is that this year has been a hurricane with emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial flooding… ending in an actual Hurricane and 1000 year flooding. Devastating. That’s my word of the year. Fuck You Harvey – that’s the motto with which I am leaving this year behind. A pretty good indicator of how it’s gone is that this is the first and last post I will write in 2017.
This year really began around Thanksgiving 2016 – finally a medical confirmation of dementia for my mother-in-law. With the prerequisite, heartbreaking financial exploitation by a family member – we were left to sell her home, deciding that living with us would be the best option. So, our Thanksgiving holiday was cleaning out 25 years of belongings and selling a home in need of much repair to investors at rock bottom price, only to be out from under it – and the new year began with 3 generations in 2000 sq. feet. Dementia, teenagers, dogs, cats, jobs, school, boy scouts, choir, lacrosse, an hour and half commute – hello 2017.
Fab!Hubby and I have 25 years of Recovery plus the Mankind Project, Woman Within, Support Groups, our Quaker community, professional therapy, the Couples Weekend, and years in a Couples Support Group – and with all of that comes an amazing and powerful village… and still there were times we could carve out a few moments to be alone and inevitably would acknowledge that times like this are what end even the healthiest of marriages. Somehow saying it out-loud helped us find grace and gentleness with ourselves and each other – even as my boys grandmother, “Mémé”, my husband’s mom, slipped faster and faster into the throngs of her disease.
The same load of laundry was washed 5 and 6 times, other loads of expensive work clothes ruined, the dirty dishes unloaded from the dishwasher and put away – sometimes it all ended up in the oven, food was hidden in her room – spilled, spoiled, ant infested, or flushed down the toilet. Her TV ran almost 24 hours a day at blaring volume – she forgot how to change the channel, change the volume, turn it on, turn it off. The dogs were let out the front door instead of the back. She would buy and horde over the counter the medication her doctor explicitly said she was not allowed to take any more. She would steal and hide her prescriptions – taking them several times a day or not at all. We would take them back, hide them… she would rummage through our room while we were away and find them again.
All the while – the schedule keeps rolling, maintaining as much of life before as possible for our kiddos.
Fast-forward through 9 brutal months and then came the falls. That’s when we knew it was time to find a safer place.
So began the painful process of searching for a place that could serve the dual purposes of keeping someone with dementia safe and healthy while being a home for one of my favorite people on the planet. Anyone who has been through this will tell you how aggravating, desperate, and guilty this process can make you feel. Speaking from personal experience, finding the right place can bring you to tears just walking into the lobby.
The timing of The Universe is sometimes baffling and sometimes, in hindsight, miraculous.
Mémé moved into her new home on Wednesday.
On Friday, Harvey came… and then came 51 inches of rain in 12 hours… and then came the flooding.
I can write with eminence gratitude and almost unbearable survivors guilt that we did not get water in our home. The water kissed the entrance of my little, 5 street neighborhood – it left friends and neighbors with up to 8 feet of water in their homes and businesses – where is sat for days or weeks. Devastating.
And then… to work…
My husband’s work supports municipalities, refineries, public works – give any natural disaster a few hours to wane and his phone starts to ring. He’ll be gone 24/7 for weeks if not months.
My work supports individuals with Alzheimer’s, their caregivers, families, communities – dealing with dementia on the best of days is hard… it doesn’t stop because a Hurricane barrels into town leaving a wake of destruction. It only gets worse… devastating in fact.
And all our good work in made possible through fundraising, mostly through charity walks, all in the fall… in 2017, all in the wake of Harvey.
And that gets us back to Thanksgiving. Another year gone by.
To everything there is a season.
2017 was a season of devastation.
I am claiming 2018 as a season of gentleness, to nurture and to heal.
So Mote It Be.