Sunday, August 12, 2018

Stay Strong through Adversity

I walked to the mailbox a few days ago and noticed that our apple tree had some apples on it. Isn’t that what apple trees are supposed to do? Well, yes, but our apple tree had served as chow for the Japanese beetles again this year. Last year, the tree didn’t have any apples when the beetles finished eating the blossoms and made lace out of its leaves.

The apples seemed to me to be a symbol of strength. They had faced potential destruction, but they survived.

I’ve heard people say you never know how strong you can be until being strong is the only option. Sometimes, people surprise me. I knew a shy, timid woman who when faced with a life-threatening disease showed amazing strength through a series of disappointing doctor reports. I’ve also known people who give up at the first sign of a problem, and dissolve into a lengthy pity party.

Alzheimer’s caregivers are, for the most part, notoriously strong people. Caregiving can be overwhelming, frustrating, and extremely saddening. Losing a loved one to a relentless, incurable disease is life changing for the family. The person hardest hit is the one responsible for the well-being of the person with dementia.

A caregiver has to work her way through the grief and pick up the pieces of a life that has fallen apart. He has to make a conscious choice to be strong and choose quality of life over quantity. She has to make the tough decisions about finances, healthcare, and personal safety. It takes strength to survive, and super powers to thrive.

Life after dementia becomes difficult, but not impossible. It is important to take advantage of the early stages to continue living life as normally as possible. Keep up activities that you and your loved one enjoy.

Jim and I used to enjoy playing pitch. Uncle Johnny and I played Jim and Aunt Nita. They were wild and crazy bidders and beat us on a regular basis. At first, Jim could still play cards, but when it became too difficult for him, his mom helped him decide which cards to keep and when to play them. With her help, he was able to enjoy the game long after he would have had to quit.

I even tried to play Super Mario Karts with him, but he laughed at me when I got my kart turned around backwards and told me, “You’re going the wrong way!” As if I hadn’t figured that out on my own. I just couldn’t seem to get my hands coordinated with my eyes.

Any day you can put your cares aside and recapture joyfulness is a good day. It may be harder to have fun than it would be to sink into despair, but it is well worth the effort.

When adversity attacks our lives, we have to decide if we are going to be a leaf or an apple.

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Copyright © Aug 2018 by L.S. Fisher

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