Yesterday I spent the day going through a box of photos, planning on putting them into some type of order in photo sleeves and putting them into binders. This took me on an emotional journey that found me, laughing and smiling and falling apart and breaking down and crying, crying like I haven’t for a very long time. Waves of sadness washing over me. It had me looking at my life suddenly through a different lens. So many mixed emotions, so much happiness in those photos, yet great sadness at all that was, yet deep gratitude for despite all the hardships endured, I feel as though I have had a life well lived. Many things did not and were not part of my plan, but one thing I know is it is exactly as its meant to be. I cried for relationships, whether it was with a partner or friendships or family that failed, understanding now that they were never meant to be forever, that being thankful for what they brought to your life or you to theirs is what it was meant to be. It took me back to A Reason, A Season, A Lifetime. I will always miss some of those people, some of those relationships, and for those who are still alive and well, I thank them all for the lifetime of memories good and bad for they will be forever part of the life events that shaped me into who I am today.
My Dementia has most certainly allowed me to feel my emotions, perhaps I even operate from more of an emotional/ feeling place. So though many think people with dementia don’t remember, in fact they do, they may not remember the name or place or different places of things but they will remember how they felt. I was flooded with different feelings today, anger, joy, sheer delight, and sadness at some aspects of things that brought such peace and fulfillment that I no longer do, one of those things is gardening, planning, designing and doing all the hard work, hauling soil, hauling bricks, back breaking work, but happy to build beautiful seating areas, areas that were peaceful, relaxing places to be.It wasn’t just the end results, it was the digging in the soil, watching and nurturing things, how each place I created was allowed to take on its own personality, I miss it so much, I cried a lot about that aspect of things.
But then somewhere in all those tears I realized how fortunate and blessed I was to have been able to leave something beautiful every where I lived for others to enjoy, how grateful that I am that I was strong enough to work a full time job, work a second to fund all my lovely projects, and physically strong enough to do all the back breaking work without ever hiring anyone. I can, when I look at the photos still feel how it felt while I was doing it. So I sit in gratitude, for all those people, places and events. When I am missing having that place to be creative while connecting with nature, naturing my heart and soul, I think thats the hard part is not being able to feed my soul in the ways that brought me so much joy. However I do believe I have found other ways, like all my walks in nature, all my drives out to the forest to sit with nature. Its not my own little patch of earth but it is something, and I can be grateful that I can still find joy in it. I will post below a collage of pictures of some of my projects and gardens to give you a taste of the things that have brought joy to my life.
The second thing is about a program I watched last night on our W5 program, it was about the MAID ( medical assistance in dying), program here in Canada. It is something I fully support, I am glad to see BC, ( the province where I live, leads the way here in Canada). This program was well done, They followed a couple through to the final moment, and listening to them both, I totally related to what they had to say, perhaps why I have been such a believer in the MAID program. i believe we often, because of the winders of medicine keep people alive with no quality of life because we can, because it allows us to hang on, instead of being able to accept and honour death as much as we do new life. If we embraced and honoured death and the one lost instead of trying to prevent ever having to deal with feeling the loss, we would all be better for it. I want the maid program as well, however living alone, makes it a bit more of a challenge. My biggest concern is that I will suffer that debilitating stroke, and that I won’t have the ability to say I want this or that day to be the final one. Its likely my absolute biggest fear, being forced to be alive, being forced to continue to breathe with no quality of life, forced to be at the mercy of others, in a system that prompts the doing of tasks over the person and care and quality of life. Its why I speak out so loudly against A system that is so broken, it is in part all of us in societies fault we allowed and contributed to a society where $$$$, trump everything, including doing things that are the humanly decent thing to do. I have letters dating back to the early 2000’s, between myself and CEO’s of health authorities, where it is admitted, they weren’t listening, they still aren’t, because everything is still based on $$$$ and nothing else. Human cost is less important than the ability to make money. I wont quit fighting and again I will say, I know and respect a lot of people working in this sector, they are good people, great people, trying their best to do their best in a system that fights against it. I feel for them, I understand their stress and frustration, so when I advocate for changes, it is for those in care, but also for those working in care, that one day they actually again can provide the care they so want too.
So today I will go for an early morning walk, while the weather allows, then I will busy myself preparing for a pre recording on Tuesday of my speech for the ADI conference, I will work on another that happens in May which is really important as it is directly related to our long term Care in Canada, so you can rest assured a will spend a great deal of time on it. I will also be spending the day with a couple of classes of students who will eventually work in Long term care, something else I have been doing for years and will continue to for as long as possible.
As I leave you all today with this crazy mixed up jumbling of thoughts, as promised a collage of some of my works, along with leaving you with one photo that made me smile and laugh at the fondness of this day. It was taken in 1982. Oh the fun of it all.