This is the story of Pam and John; she in her early 50’s and John is 62. Pam is a college professor. John taught at a local community college until diagnosed with Parkinson’s in March 2008, then Lewy Body Dementia in April.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Reclaiming myself

For the last week of the journaling workshop, we are supposed to write about reclaiming ourselves.

Reclaiming myself:

How much of me is going to be left, after what I am guessing will be 10 years of caregiving? I’m hoping not to have to give up my job, but I worry whether that will work. Right now John is pretty functional, and yet I already feel my freedom to follow my own path has been taken away from me.

A priest suggested that I ask myself where I would have hoped to be in 10 years if John hadn’t become ill, and then see if there was any small part of that dream I can hold on to. I would hope to have written a more important scholarly book and to have served a term as president of one of my professional societies. I would hope to have done an Ironman triathlon. I would hope to have built the program I run into a major. I would hope to live a simpler life, to have reduced chaos in my house and made my life more peaceful.

I guess I need to take that last one more seriously, because it is the one I can have. And in fact we are making plans to move in a year to a smaller house. As the appraiser commented today, the problem with a house with lots of storage space is that one accumulates lots of stuff. I keep clothes because they are classics or because I might wear that size again. I keep books because isn’t that what one does with books? I stock up on food and office supplies so I will have on hand anything I might need. I keep bills and bank statements and the like because it is too much trouble to sort out what should be kept. I keep china and decorative objects because my kids might want them. I need to change my thinking.

A friend’s mother used to tell her: “Someone else could be enjoying that right now.” Instead of holding onto things because I might need them in the future, I would like to learn to let go of anything that I haven’t used in years. I imagine that doing so is a step on the road towards becoming a person who radiates peace.

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