The Legacies We Leave- Featuring Billie Slater
‘God put you on Earth because you have a job to do. Never doubt that.’ Billie’s mother told her this as she saw her young daughter suffer through cancer of the jaw and intense radiation at age 4. Her mother couldn't anticipate the following 43 surgeries she would endure throughout her life. The facial deformity served as Billie's daily reminder of strength and triumph.
Billie’s mother’s words remained in her heart and guided her toward a life of service as a college teacher, a successful realtor and ultimately a hospice administrator. It wasn't as much WHAT Billie did, but HOW she did it- with love, devotion and looking for the good in every person and every situation. Her inner truth guided her to achieve wonderful successes, social good and most importantly, raise a healthy family.
Did the facial deformity bother her? Yes, of course. However, her quick wit, superior intelligence and drive lead her to make the world a better place in both big and small ways. Billie loves being around people and promoting ideals she believes in.
A Legacy of Loyalty
Her wit and drive for social justice continue even though she has dementia. Laura and David, her daughter and son made tough decisions about how to take care of their mother. They promised to never put her in ‘a home’ but given Billie’s need for social interaction and some behavior issues, she thrived in the environment created in the memory care facility. It’s a decision her daughter Laura challenges to herself every day. “Is this the right place? Should I see how she does at home with caregivers? Would she be bored?” Billie and Laura contributed to my upcoming book Love Still Lives Here so, stay tuned because it will be out by the Fall of 2017. You'll learn much more about this beautiful family when you read Love Still Lives Here.
While Billie resides at Autumn Leaves Memory Care in Northwest Austin, she believes she is at 'work.' Ever the leader, she can be found teaching workshops or running seminars with the other residents. She is quick to offer a helping hand to the staff because they are her colleagues. After much careful thought, her family believe it is best to let her believe this because she is content and happy. The pain over the decision of placement and what to tell her is piercing for her daughter Laura though. This topic is discussed more in Love Still Lives Here. I know! I know! Another teaser, BUT you can also hear a more during the Tuesday Tell All FaceBook Live on Carmen Buck Photography 4-18-17. Tuesday Tell All is your chance to hear the story behind the image every Tuesday at 12N CST.
About 10 years ago, Laura and David noticed how their mother more forgetful. Her reasoning skills weren’t as sharp as they had been. Their stepfather, Lynn was deeply devoted to Billie and her children. Being so close to Billie, he wasn’t always able to recognize the slow decline. There was also understandable dread of what he might see. We can all relate to the fear associated with seeing someone we love struggle. He cared for her with passionate loyalty for years until he fell ill and passed.
“What one word best describes your journey with relation to your mother and dementia?” I asked Laura. She was quick to say, “Loyalty. My mother taught us early on by her actions that family comes first and to always, always be there for one another. I talk to my brother several times a day, and I visit my mother every day. The tough decision about placement and our care options was all about ‘loyalty’ for her.”
Loyalty is the legacy Billie has created for her family. There is so much more I want to tell you about Billie, but you’ll have to wait! She is so clever and funny, and Laura’s love will melt your heart. It’s a story that’ll make you smile. We are left to wonder what we would do in Laura’s situation, and many of us will relate to her quandary. Most of all you’ll simply love them both like I do. Billie’s story will be featured in Love Still Lives Here which should be out by the Fall of 2017.
Austin Area Peeps!
Carmen Buck Photography- Carmen is doing what she loves so much and offering Family Photo Sessions in honor of Mother's and Father's Day. Your family photo sessions will be with your loved one with dementia at home or facility. Has the expiration date of 5/15/17 passed already? Call me anyway! More details HERE!