Contrasts

Looking for some light TV entertainment a couple of weeks ago, I decided to watch an episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a 1969-1974 BBC television series I hadn’t watched in many years. It was just what I remembered: zany, high-energy, silly… British humour on steroids! Did I mention silly? It was great fun to watch.


Monty Python was back in my life today, but for a very different reason. While reading our local newspaper, I saw this short item:

The idea of a Monty Python founder fading gently away is such a Contrast with the person I’ve seen in television and film for much of my life. FTD – Frontotemporal Dementia – brings radical change to a person’s life and the people around them. Over time, usually a relatively short time, the person with FTD changes, eventually to the point of needing constant care. From what I’ve seen and learned, the impact on marriages and families tends to lead to one of three responses:

    • Support — Caregiving by family and friends, even when the personality and behavior of the person with FTD becomes challenging as the disease worsens
    • Denial — Family members and friends don’t accept the reality of the person’s FTD, saying the symptoms and behaviors are caused by something less serious
    • Destruction — Breakup, abandonment of marriages, families who can’t cope with their new reality

In the 10 years since Vicki’s FTD diagnosis, she’s experienced significant changes in her life. Most of the time, she’s doing what she can to fight the disease, to slow it down. (There is no cure.) I love her strength in not wanting to give up and give in. But honestly, there are also many days and seasons when she gets tired of the fight and wonders if she can keep it up. Papa, prayers, and caring family and a few friends keep her going. Vicki is truly blessed. Even at times when it’s hard to find the blessing.

Coming back around to Monty Python and Terry Jones’s recent death because of FTD, as I write this I don’t know details of Terry Jones’s struggle with FTD and subsequent passing. I’ve met people after the passing of a spouse or family member who’ve shared a positive experience of being with their loved one even though it was a difficult and heartbreaking experience. I also know people with FTD who have experienced isolation and suffering without any support after their marriages or family relationships tragically ended.

I hope that Terry Jones was supported and cared for as his life was ending, and that he’s now experiencing true peace.

And I am profoundly grateful for the Grace and support that Vicki experiences in our long journey with FTD.

Thank you, Papa.

Jim

Permanent link to this article: https://soncountry.net/voice/2020/01/contrasts/

Del Webb, Anyone?

Sun City, Arizona Home

A home in Sun City, Arizona. Sun City is the original development by Del Webb “For Active Adults 55+” and opened in 1960.

It doesn’t matter whether you choose a luxurious house like those found in a Del Webb community, or a low-income Senior housing situation. It’s all the same.

At some point you will realize you are in your final act. You can learn to make sushi rolls with a bamboo mat, sit on residential boards, do the daily morning news at your PA system, but it’s all the same.

This is your Last Act.

Last week, in my retirement villa, a woman I had known from a distance was found in her apartment. Dead. Two weeks before I was with her at a beginning crochet class. I asked to take photos of us, to prove to my kids I had actually left my apartment. She ducked her head. In a bit, since we were next to one another and she clearly was a wonderful crocheter, she mumbled she made lap afghans for the Veterans home. After that she was silent.

Only after that afternoon did she acknowledge my presence as we passed in the hall. She would look up, blink, and we moved on.

I called her, in my mind, the little country mouse – like in my childhood stories. Tiny. Quiet.

And before I got to know her, she was gone.

It could have been Del Webb’s. Or my retirement home. Or on the street, where I think Bonnie came from.

Rest In Peace, dearest soul.  Where you are now I pray supersedes anything you knew here.

I know you passed in a warm home, well fed, with the promise of better days ahead. I believe you finally have those days.

Save me a place…

Vicki

Permanent link to this article: https://soncountry.net/voice/2020/01/del-webb-anyone/

I’ve Missed You

I’ve missed you. This past year has been a bit of a challenge for me. I moved from a home and town I loved, to a new town and a new way of life — a retirement community! My choice.

I’m near all my children now, and my youngest grand babies who are 3 months, 3 and 5 years old. I’ve not had this privilege since my kids all lived at home and we all lived in Grayling. So that’s a big deal. (Thank you, Papa 🙏🏼)


But with that joy comes a condition I don’t do well: change. Like this image, my life has been a series of cocoons and emergence.  This year has seen many stronger cocoons, with each time taking more strength than I have on my own to break free of.

And so, I have been focused on just one thing:  To fight the prison my mind is determined to create, adapt to my new life, and have a longer period outside of the cocoon than in. Does that make sense?

With this post, and the “Prayer for the President” that was posted 3  days ago [“I Don’t Hate Anyone!”], I’m seeing a ‘breakthrough’ which gives me hope. Don’t expect miraculous results — though they truly are — I’ll still be me. A little bent, a little broken, but me.

Might be a while for the wings. Might even be a moth. But I’m still here.

And that leads me to the rest of the story.  Stick around. This may be interesting.

Love you, thank you for your patience. Your prayers.

Vicki

Permanent link to this article: https://soncountry.net/voice/2019/12/ive-missed-you/

“I Don’t Hate Anyone!”

“I Don’t Hate Anyone!” was in the headlines this morning, attributed to Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, when asked if she hated the president. “I pray for the president every day.” 

Well, Nancy, so do I. I pray my own respectfully expanded version of a prayer written in 2009 by Bishop Robert J. Baker of the Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama.*

A Prayer for Our President and Public Officials

Lord God, Author of Life and source of eternal life, move the hearts of all our public officials, and especially our president, to fulfill their responsibilities worthily and well to all entrusted to their care.

Help them in their special leadership roles, to extend the mantle of protection to the most vulnerable, especially the defenseless unborn, the poor and homeless, the elderly, our children and the infirm, the stranger, those marginalized and the abused — all of those whose lives are threatened by an indifferent society.

Guide all public officials by your wisdom and grace to cease supporting any law that fails to protect the fundamental good that is all human life itself, which is a gift from God.

You are the protector and defender of the lives of the innocent unborn and the anawim**. Change the hearts of those who compromise the call to protect and defend all life. Bring our nation to the values that have made us a great nation, a society that upholds the values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.

Mary, Mother of the Living, help us to bear witness to the Gospel of Life, with our lives and our laws, through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Of course, the prayer could be as simple as “Oh God, help our nation!”, which seems appropriate for many occasions and religions.  As well as “Thank God!”  — Which may be the most important of all.

Blessings, Vicki 


* Imprimatur: January 23, 2009 + Most Reverend Robert J. Baker, Bishop of the Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama. His prayer can be found in the Catholic Prayers: Official app, available for iOS and Android.

** Anawim (pronounced ann-a-weem) are the vulnerable people of a society.

 

Permanent link to this article: https://soncountry.net/voice/2019/12/i-dont-hate-anyone/

Winter Came. Celebrations Postponed.

I’d planned to drive to Vicki’s this week and celebrate her birthday, a little belatedly. As she wrote in a post earlier this month, Vicki has reached her 70s. Happy Birthday, my dear Friend!

But my plans, and the plans of several million other people, changed when a Polar Vortex brought extreme cold and wind and snow to the Midwest and Eastern regions of the United States. Michigan was one of the states really slammed this week. We’ve postponed my trip to celebrate Vicki’s birthday.

But the funny thing is, like so much in life, this extreme storm has also brought beauty. This is what Vicki saw this morning after sunrise:

Villa Maria Snowfall Jan 31 2019

Fresh snow at Villa Maria, January 31, 2019

Here in Steubenville, Ohio where I live, our experience of the Polar Vortex wasn’t as extreme as Vicki’s area, but it was still intense. Before and during the storm I witnessed so many people helping others in the harsh conditions. Beauty in the heart of the storm. And I’m sure Vicki will have similar stories to share when I visit.

I’ll get there pretty soon, Vicki. But, alas, not today.


And here’s a reminder that this year has much ahead for us:

Villa Maria in the Summer

Villa Maria in the Summer

Jim Coyle

Permanent link to this article: https://soncountry.net/voice/2019/01/winter-came-celebrations-postponed/