My Reason Why
This is a picture of my beloved Nana. This was the last time she was truly present & in the moment with me. What a blessing it was she could come to my wedding and I will forever treasure that day.
Nana was truly the most incredible woman. She was such a supportive wife, mother and nana. She made everyone feel special, all the time. Her children succeeded in being successful plastic surgeons and a teacher. Her grandchildren included 2 engineers, businessmen, a speech-language pathologist (me), and a naval aviator. She loved us just the way we were and encouraged all our dreams. She lifted us up when we were going through rough times and sent us so many wonderful letters highlighting all our strengths and letting us know she was praying for our future. Nana dedicated her life to her family and we were blessed abundantly as a result of her love.
When my grandfather retired, my grandparents both traveled all over the world. They went all over Europe, Israel, & Egypt just to name a few of the many places they visited. She volunteered, my grandfather golfed, they went to church and she had lots of get togethers with friends.
In his 80's my grandfather's health deteriorated. The last couple years of his life my nana took care of him. They had a couple extended hospital visits and she tried to nurse him back to health. As a result, she stopped volunteering, they stopped attending large gatherings like church and she stopped getting together with friends.
After my grandfather passed away, my nana isolated. She didn't go back to volunteering, she also didn't return to church or any other large group gatherings. Some of her friends moved away, and some passed away. This made her isolate more. If we only knew then what we know now, there are so many things I would've told her to do. I would've told her to go back to volunteering, to take walks around her neighborhood and chat with her neighbors, to go to a gym and get some cardiovascular exercise, to join a book club or bible study, to ask a new friend to coffee, to attend a hobby group like a knitting club, to create beautiful meals for herself and others, to talk to a grief counselor, to practice gratitude and meditation, to get outside in the sunshine, to learn a new skill, or plan another trip around the world. Her life would've become a new life and a really beautiful one.
We just didn't know. We didn't know the impact her lifestyle choices would have on her brain. We loved her from afar, visited her as often as we could, chatted with her on the phone, but that was not enough. She needed to meet new friends, to attend small and large group gatherings, to make exercise and eating well a priority, to serve others by volunteering and to discover new things that interested her.
Now we know. and this is where we change the story from one of fear to hope. My mother and I can stop "waiting" for dementia symptoms to arrive and instead take charge. We can be the author of our own story. We can stop fearing the future and instead create a beautiful one.