Editor’s note: Bobbie Lippman was unable to submit a column for this week’s edition, so we have pulled a favorite from our archives.
If you knew for sure you would develop Alzheimer's disease within five years, would you want to know? Three things happened recently that have caused me to give thought to this painful subject:
1) Another article in a major publication regarding how medical science is racing the clock to find answers — if not a cure for Alzheimer's disease, then perhaps a proven test that would show who is going to get the disease;
2) A telephone call from a friend whose beloved mother has dementia that is rapidly becoming full-blown Alzheimer's. My friend's mom no longer recognizes her daughter or any other members of the family. Just listening to my friend's pain was heartbreaking;
3) And then the third thing happened in the form of an email. It's common for those of us with computers to receive dozens of these so called “forwards” every week, and once in a rare while, something really special arrives and needs to be shared. The following, author unknown, is being printed here in its entirety. I hope it touches you as it touched me. And by the way, it came from a friend whose father had Alzheimer's for almost six terrible years.
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How to dance in the rain
It was a busy morning, about 8:30, when an elderly gentleman in his 80s arrived at the hospital to have stitches removed from his thumb. He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9 a.m.
The nurse took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would to able to see him. I saw him looking at his watch and decided since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound.
On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors and got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound. While taking care of his wound, I asked him if he had another doctor's appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry.
The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife. I inquired as to her health. He told me that she had been there for a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimer's Disease. As we talked, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late. He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in five years now. I was surprised and asked him, "And you still go every morning, even though she doesn't know who you are?" He smiled as he patted my hand and said, "She doesn't know me, but I still know who she is..."
I had to hold back tears as he left. I had goose bumps on my arm. That is the kind of love I want in my life. True love is neither physical, nor romantic. True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.
With all the jokes and fun that are in emails, some times there is one that comes along that has an important message.
The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything they have.
Life isn't about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.
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So, here's the question again, would you want to know? I would, and here's why. It would force me to quit procrastinating and give me precious time to tie up loose ends, finish what is left to do on my Bucket List and especially say the words that maybe had gone unsaid to my loved ones and friends.
I hope this column today has given you food for thought. And if someone needs to talk to you about their loved one with Alzheimer's disease, please take the time to listen. Just listen.
Bobbie Lippman is a professional writer who lives in Seal Rock with her cat, Purrfect. She is the author of “Good Grief: A Collection of Stories As One Woman Journeys From Heartbreak To Healing Through Honesty and Humor.” The book, with all proceeds going to Rotary International Foundation, is available on Amazon, at JC Market in Newport and directly from Bobbie, who can be contacted at [email protected]