The Upside-Down Side

imageTwo years ago, I set a Life Change in motion and boy, oh boy, it seems to be picking up momentum.  I apologize if these blog posts seem to be stuck on this topic and understand if you prefer to skip yet another discussion about change, you are probably dealing with change in your own life. If so, I can relate.  But if I were to write a new blog post, my second for the month and in alignment with my secret New Year’s resolution, I would write about how change changes you. It’s a corny and overworked topic but when you are on the upside-down side of life, the view is a stunner. The stories themselves are not new, from Biblical tales of a tough angel beating the crap out of some guy walking down the road to a bunch of ranchers taking a national wildlife refuge hostage, good things and bad things and no things are happening to us all the time, whether we invite them or not.

I am currently back in Florida, not to live or float around in a pool while the north winds blow,  but to companion mom and dad in… (I hesitate here because my brave mother reads this blog) end-of-life issues. There is much that has been accomplished with more to go but this journey is not just about the paperwork or the positioning of stuff, doctor’s appointments or therapy sessions, it is scrabbling through the crucible of family; it is climbing through the sticky web of fear, sorrow, anger and sometimes, joy without a map or a manual.

It is grappling first hand with our version of the stories you have heard many times: The falls, the hospitals, the rehab facilities, the deliberate ignorance of a loved one trapped in a body that is failing but his spirit is not. Dad may be in an advanced stage of dementia but when I asked him the other day how to change a shower head, he told me, demonstrating with his right hand the twisting motion that removing the shower head would require.

It is getting lost in the endless jungle of papers and names and dates and numbers. It is not giving up.

We fight to stay alive as long as we can. It is our biology to do this but we have defied our biology with the science of medicine dedicated to keeping the body alive as long as possible, or at least as long as we hope it will last. We fight death at the cost of life, knowing all along that we will get there too. Someday. Maybe. Not today. Maybe.

Dad is in a good facility now, we are breathing a brief sigh of relief but it’s not like he’s going to come home. He will stay there being fed good food, going to the gym where he is hooked up to a broad strap and assisted to a walker and guided to move like he always did, then gently returned to bed in his quiet, sun-filled room for a few hours of rest. For a 92 year-old body, a body that fought in multiple major World War II Navy battles, a body that helped create and support 5 children, a body that golfed, danced, taught his children how to ride a bike, drive a car, and was a companion to his wife, my mother, for 70 years, that is not too shabby.

If I were to write a blog post, I would write about the loneliness of change, how you really walk down those dark halls alone. Whether change comes because you initiated it or arrives unwelcome and unannounced at your door, you are in your own story that no one else can understand or tell. Your visions of what may happen to someone you love, or to yourself as you contemplate making your own life change, rarely match the reality.

As change changes you, the people around you change too, from those decide they don’t care for the shape emerging from the cocoon and walk away to those who know how hard it is to learn to fly.

Every person you meet, every dawn you greet, changes you in some way. No two mornings are the same.


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