Sunday, April 17, 2016

Lost and Found

When I left for the Alzheimer’s Forum in D.C., I decided to hide some of my electronics. There’s no use in making life easier for a pesky burglar who might try to make a dime off my personal property.

I suppose if my PC was stolen, I could buy a new one. More important to me are the external drives that hold my photos and data files. I took one camera with me and hid the other. Also, before I travel, I lighten my purse. There’s no point in taking all my credit cards or gift cards. Heaven forbid that a thief would snatch my purse and abscond with my library card.

If you are going to hide something, even in a house as big as this one, you have to tuck away valuables somewhere other than the usual places: bathroom cabinets, back of underwear drawer, etc. My bad that I didn’t write down the creative hidey-holes I found. After all, I was going to be gone for nearly a week, and my mind was going to be spinning like a Texas tornado on a sultry summer day.

Sure enough, I spent an action packed time in D.C. Being around caregivers and persons living with the disease flooded my heart with memories. The Alzheimer’s forum was emotionally draining this year because of the timing. April 5 was Jim’s homecoming from Vietnam. It was a special day for us, and we always celebrated.

Then, the trip home seemed more grueling than usual. I really had no complaints other than the plane ride was a little bumpy, and we landed in a forty mile-an-hour wind. I’m not nervous about flying at all, but I did breathe a small sigh of relief when the plane stopped, and the flight attendant said, “Ta-da!” By the time I picked up my car and drove home, it was bedtime and I was exhausted.

After I caught up on my rest, it was time to gather up my hidden treasures. I couldn’t for the life of me remember where I had hidden my camera. I kept returning to a place where I thought I’d hidden it, only to come up empty. As I wandered aimlessly through the house, I saw something that triggered my memory and suddenly knew where it was.

Three days later, I remembered all the cards I’d taken out of my purse. After a moment of sheer panic, I re-checked the place where I thought I’d hidden my camera, now looking for something smaller. Whew! I could mentally check off the last item on my lost and found list.

I couldn’t help but think about another April anniversary. Eleven years ago, we lost Jim. That loss was so great that even though my mind knew it was coming, my heart wasn’t ready. As time ticks by today, I can’t help but think about those last moments of holding Jim’s hand, playing his favorite songs, and watching the light go out of his eyes. In the early morning hours of April 18, he left us.

Anger was the emotion that surprised me the most when Jim died. I was so angry that this horrible disease happened to him, to us, to our family. I was furious that he had lost ten years of being Jim before the disease took life itself from him.

I couldn’t stay angry forever, and eventually I found peace. I knew that given the choice, Jim would not have wanted to live the last decade of his life lost in the world of dementia. He would have much rather have spent the last years of his life strumming his guitar, fishing, playing with our grandkids, and camping out at Moraine Park in the Rocky Mountain National Forest. He would have preferred going out in a blaze of glory.

Jim was lost to this world, but I rediscovered my memories of him. You might say that I found them. As for Jim, I believe he found that cabin in the corner of Glory Land he used to sing about, and he walks a well-worn path to his favorite fishing hole.

Copyright © April 2016 by L.S. Fisher

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