I am so blessed. Even while going through the most difficult time in my life, I cannot help but feel a tremendous sense of indelible love and support. I have friends that seem to rally to my rescue when needed. Sometimes when I am not even aware that it is needed. I have two children that show me true and unconditional love. They forgive me for all of my faults as a Mom, a Wife and a Caretaker. And I have my parents. I realize that at the age of 44, I am fortunate to still have both of my parents with me. I am doubly fortunate to have both of my parents not only a few hours away, but of the mindset they will do whatever they can to help me, the kids and Jim out. They will re-arrange their schedule, they will listen, they will cry, they will listen, they will read about this horrific disease to understand better, they will offer guidance, they will come to help out and they will listen some more.
I am headed out early in the morning to be part of the Annual Conference of the American Society on Aging in San Diego. I was asked to participate as a Younger Onset Alzheimer’s caretaker. I will be speaking out for all of us going through this yucky mess and letting others know what we need to keep our heads not just above water, but our whole body as well. I take this very seriously and I realize that I have a lot of families to speak out for and a lot of different stories to meld together. I will do my best for everyone that is needing their voices heard.
But I wouldn’t be able to leave my home, my kids and Jim without knowing they would all be ok. Along comes my Mom and Dad to the rescue. As soon as I asked them if they could come help out so I could go to the conference, there was no hesitation. “Yes. We would be more than happy to watch the kids.” One less thing for me to worry about.
I know I will not have them both with me forever. It crushes me to think about the day when I will have to tell them “goodbye”. I don’t know if I can. Not anytime soon. I rely on them so much for support. Who else REALLY wants to hear every last detail about my kids? Who else REALLY wants to hear over and over again about my unfolding tragedy? Dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease, I hear so many stories and heartbreak from children taking care of and losing their parents. When I put myself in those shoes, tears spring up and I am again immensely grateful that I can pick up the phone and speak to my Mom and Dad. There is an acute awareness that each day I grow older so do they.
Our relationship wasn’t always so close or so good. We were close until I was about 12 or 13 and then we became close again in my mid twenties. I regret those years in between. We all must grow and learn but why must we always hurt our parents and lose precious time with them in the process? We still don’t always see eye to eye 100% of the time. I know they bite their tongues and I am sure there are plenty of discussions about what I should or shouldn’t do or have done. But there is an underlying rule of always being there for each other and making sure we know how much we are loved and cared about.
When people tell me now how strong I am or how brave I am or how great it is that I share our story, I hope they know they are really complimenting my parents. There is absolutely no way I would even be close to the person I am today without them. I am able to write this blog, advocate, speak out and move forward only because I have my two biggest fans quietly pushing me from behind. Just as they have done my whole life.
Yes, I am so very, very blessed.