Dementia – A Spiritual Journey

I went to long and arduous meditation courses to learn to stay in the moment. To observe the ingoing and the outgoing breath. To be present in the Now. I don’t need to go any more. My teacher lives with me.

Poppies
Photo by Derek Mack on Unsplash

He Is My Teacher

by Amor Fati

The Buddhist monk and lifelong peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh tells us to look deeply into things. To see the cloud in the tea. To smile at the cloud in the tea. So I look deeply, and what do I see? 

James has moved from his head into his heart. Reason and logic no longer matter. Past and future no longer matter. James sees and perceives the world with his heart. 

He loves to watch small children at play, listen to birdsong, observe hummingbirds at the feeders, enjoy grand sunsets most evenings. When my mind goes a-wandering, he reminds me to look at this tree, that flower. Every morning he walks around the house and checks on the rose bushes, telling me about the newly opened rosebuds, and the hawk that came to visit.

James lives in the present moment. I went to long and arduous meditation courses to learn to stay in the moment. To observe the ingoing and the outgoing breath. To be present in the Now. I don’t need to go any more. My teacher lives with me and teaches me every day. 

I take care of the things associated with daily living, paying bills, tending to house and garden, shopping, preparation of meals – the mundane things. James teaches me about the important and intangible things. Like love, unconditional love. 

Our love has grown so deep, sometimes it takes my breath away. We assure each other of our love many times a day. Whenever we look at each other, we smile, and we tell each other how much we love one another. When he becomes discouraged, I whisper in his ear that he still is my knight in shining armor, my soul mate, my every thing. Always has been, always will be. We are both so grateful to have each other. We put into words now things we always took for granted, to make sure the other one truly knows how we feel.

Our love for each other extends to nature. Nature is all around us, calms us, keeps us grounded and in the present moment. This spring we go for daily drives to enjoy our lovely rural county. Majestic oaks adorned with fresh green leaves, providing shade for the grazing cattle. Wildflowers blanketing the hills and meadows. Songbirds building nests, and hawks and ravens circling above us. We pack picnic lunches and pay homage to expanses of yellow and orange poppies, their flowers turned to the sun and nodding in the breeze. So lovely, so serene. No need to find words, just taking it all in. So much beauty. 

I will do my very best to make dementia a meaningful journey for both of us—not just surviving it, but to actually find some joy along the way and discover hidden blessings. When we are asked to surrender things and abilities that came naturally in the past, we look deeply to see what has been given to us in return. God is good—always. We put our trust and faith in Him and walk with love and assurance this sacred journey.

April 2015

OUR STORY. YOURS TO SHARE

The Care Combine comments:

In a world full of bad news, this story reminds us of the strength and endurance of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

Does it view the world through rosebud-coloured glasses?

I’m sure Amor and James will be the first to admit that they have bad days as well as good ones. And they would never have invited dementia into their lives if they’d had any choice in the matter.

But we can all find beauty in the most unexpected times and places. We just need to open our eyes and start looking.  

James and Amor live in a small town in California. James was formally diagnosed with Alzheimers in 2013, after displaying symptoms for 10 years. We’re grateful that they’ve allowed us to share their story and look forward to further updates.

 

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