On a hot Sunday afternoon outside of Austin TX I visited with a family I knew I would admire. Four out of their seven grandchildren were present. What I witnessed was commitment, humor and love between Bill and Maureen and their family. I learned how resiliency helped this family to continue on a path of love.
Listen...It's One of the Greatest Gifts We Can Give
I met Bill and his wife Maureen in the neurology office where I worked as a nurse practitioner caring for people with dementia and their families. I got to know them a little during our visits. They weren't happy to learn that I wouldn't be their nurse practitioner anymore, but when they learned I left that role to write Love Still Lives Here, they happily agreed to contribute their own story.
I make a point to put away my 'nurse's hat' for these home interviews because I want to experience the stories and our connection person to person and not person to caregiver. After all, truly listening is one of the greatest gifts we can give.
Bill is bright and happy as he met me at the door. He instantly remembered me ‘from somewhere’. It’s understandable that he wouldn’t fully recognize me given I was a guest in their home and not in the clinic where I had seen him in the past. Instead of my usual white lab coat, I carried a big camera bag. I’m so grateful and honored they agreed to meet me with me and share their story for Love Still Lives Here.
Those Things We Forgot Were so Important-
He Reminds Us
Bill’s wife, son and daughter in law and 4 out of his 7 grandchildren were there. Bill was happy to show me art projects he made with his grandchildren. The creation was simple but his explanation and interpretation of the creations were deep and meaningful. He showed me one particular item, a heart, that I was drawn to. He told me he made it because he knew he could hold to remind himself of laughter and that made him happy. It made me happy too. I can’t wait to show you some of those pictures, but you’ll have to wait for Love Still Lives Here!
Bill's history is filled with evidence his intelligence, creativity, poetic expression, professional and personal successes and a lot of love. He was very successful in banking at a young age. He continues to write poetry. His face fills with joy as he shows me the latest creations he and his grandchildren have made. He loves walking his dog to the park.
Bill has dementia, and was diagnosed with cognitive problems at the age of 56. It is believed that the problem was possibly secondary to head injuries from his high school football days. The cognitive problems have continued to worsen and the trajectory of their lives changed forever.
His son notes that they've learned resiliency.
- They've had to become familiar with dementia in general and also on how the disease has impacted Bill.
- They've learned ways to ease anxieties for both themselves and Bill. They've had to reconsider their future in a way they didn't before now.
- They're proud to note that 'we're still here' and 'everything is good.' They shared some beautiful stories of resiliency with me.
Bill is medically retired from work as a bank executive. His wife works full time and so far Bill has been able to remain at home alone during the day. They are all aware that this can change and know that he will need someone with him all the time sometime in the future.
Bill’s wife, Maureen is an energetic, kind and amazing woman. Maureen tells me she ‘feels robbed.’ Dreams were shattered and plans were changed. How they managed in spite of this is part of their beautiful story, and yes, you’ll hear more about when Love Still Lives Here is published.