Paradox Found

Ten years ago, the world as I’d previously known it began crumbling before my very eyes. With Alzheimer’s disease slowly sinking its insidious teeth into the flesh of two of the most important people in my life, I could barely hang on.

My interpretation of the world surrounding me was one of suffocation and predicated horror as I watched two innocent lives wither away; their “golden” years sucked into an invisible vortex of utter blackness.
There would be no vacations for them; no candlelight dinners, anniversaries, holidays, spontaneous I-love-you’s and oddly enough no tears for what ultimately should have been.

The blackboards of their lives had been virtually erased, their accumulated memories falling away like the New England autumn leaves my mother so loved.

Back then, I was filled with bitterness like I’d never known.

I was mad at everyone: God, the mailman, the guy that pumped my gas, the moon and the stars, my girls, my wife and a life that was spiraling out of control.
I was mad at the incomprehensibility and odds of the total clusterfuck I was in.
Close friends knew I was not doing well.
Advice was offered and thrown away, unused and scattered like junk mail.

One day, someone close to me said, “He’s trying to teach you something. Maybe you should listen.”
They were pointing upwards towards the heavens when they said it.

After a particularly heart-shattering day I found myself once again mentally “on the ropes”. I recall having a pen in my hand. I looked at it, scratched my head and began writing. There was no planning on my part, it just kind of happened.

Thousands of words and feelings later I looked up.
Over two hours of my soul were permanently on paper and I felt good.
The inner voices were gone and the world was quiet.
I was given a way out of this thing.

I think of all the people I’ve been blessed to know because of my writing; Annie, Moe, Kel, Fuzz, Evyl, Matty, Lolly, Bella, Spaz, Carnealian, Snot, Lass, Deb, Kelsey, Kim, Melanie, and Red . . .
{I love everyone on my blogroll, I really do}

But, how do you spell “sacred moment”?

Maybe He was trying to teach me something after all; I just had to discover it on my own.

Through my writing I was doing something that my mom and dad could no longer do; I was learning how to remember them.
Paradox is occasionally a bittersweet thing.
At least I like to think of it in that way.

~m

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21 thoughts on “Paradox Found

  1. Bittersweet is so much better than just bitter. It’s a good thing about stringing words together. They can bring back memories that are so oft forgotten. Glad that you have came through the other side. I have heard it said that prayers are answered but in their own sweet time.

    You got that right, Fuzz.
    Nice to hear from you stranger. . . ;0)
    ~m

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  2. oh michael…i hear you so clearly on this! very, very much so….
    as to fuzz’s comment…well, i hope that last sentence is true for many, many reasons..
    great little post 😉

    I guess we’ll just have to wait and see . . .
    Thanks, Moe.
    ~m

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  3. Agh! And thank you for so often putting even my feelings into words when I don’t seem to know the words. I have been blessed to have discovered this wonderful blog and all of the thoughts here. And you know all of the folks on who regularly visited and comment love you, too, ~m!

    You never know what a help you’ve been to someone else when you’re just sorting through your own life and its problems. And writing is such a cathartic but stoic way of doing it. Blogging is kind of like screaming out how you feel over an abyss, wondering if anyone even hears…and sometimes other souls on their own cliffs echo back to remind you that you’re not alone.

    Your parents have been blessed you’ve been their son, and to have your family, as well. God bless.

    That this writing of mine has helped anyone was one of the biggest surprises to me.
    I was writing mainly to help myself.
    Nice when it works out for others, too.
    Thanks, Mel
    ~m

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  4. I can relate so much with how you started blogging. I started my blog originally because I was at a point where I felt bitter, angry and overwhelmed. I needed a way of being able to get it out and make sense of my thoughts. While talking with a friend during that time, they suggested I try writing it out. I honestly didn’t expect it to help any, but several thousand words later and I finally felt like I’d been able to get it all out. I was able to be angry, heartbroken and gut wrenchingly honest on paper in a way I wasn’t able to be with anyone else. It’s amazing how much writing can help.

    It’s been such a blessing being able to read your blog, Michael. There’s something so encouraging about feeling like you’ve found a kindred spirit walking down the same road dark brought on by dementia.

    Lately, it’s become increasingly clear that both of my grandfathers are at the beginning of Alzheimer’s. Even though I’ve been dealing with dementia with my dad for the past few years, and I’ve always been much closer to him than to my extended family, it’s still heartbreaking and overwhelming to know all three of them are at exactly the same point. I sympathize so much with you having to deal with both of your parents. Even just having to watch one person you care about slowly slip away from view is one too many.

    Keep writing, Michael. Keep writing.

    ~Kelsey

    And you as well, Kelsey.
    You know my door is always open should ever you need me.
    Keep the faith . . .
    ~m

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  5. What an amazing affirmation! I’ve never had to personally go through what you’ve experienced and my heart goes out to you. I’m sure your writing is helping others who are going through the same thing. Thanks for sharing and also, I’m honored to be a part of your group! Just so glad I have found you all as well.

    There really are some amazing people that visit me.
    Some days I just shake my head knowing how fortunate I am.
    Nice to have you here, Bella.
    ~m

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  6. Hi, Michael. 🙂

    I enjoy reading your blog on many levels. While I haven’t experienced dealing with a parent with Alzheimers, I have been dealing with one that is mentally ill. Both scenarios are tough to deal with. I admire your courage and your strength. I think I’ve said this before.

    I’ve always used writing to cope with the hardships in my life. But I didn’t start writing fiction until after I lost my brother. That became my ultimate outlet until I discovered blogging in 2004. At first, I thought it would be a great way to practice and promote my writing. Two years later, I’ve come to realize that it’s so much more. I’ve met some fantastic people.

    I hope you publish this blog one day, Michael. Not for me, but for those girls of yours.

    I know I’ve said this before: you’re a writing inspiration for me in terms of your ethic and your undying love for the art of writing.
    I don’t visit you as much as I really should but know that when I do, I’m always amazed.
    Thanks, Deb
    ~m

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  7. *sigh* Michael . . . Wow, that brought tears. It did, because Ive never had to deal with such a thing as Alzheimers, and you’ve been strong enough to deal with it twice, two different people, two people that mean the absolutel world to you. And you’re still alive. And you’re still sane. Words can not express how proud I am to know you. And I’m glad I do. I’m glad I’ve taken the time to see into your world, and I’m glad you’ve taken the time to share it with us.

    Oh, and I love how you said clusterfuck. *sorry, can’t stay too sensitive for too long*

    You take care of yourself,
    Sam

    I was wondering who would be the first to notice my “bad” word. 😆
    For me, sometimes they work.
    The situation I was in was that nasty word to a T, and though I don’t use it often I secretly love it.
    Tanks, Red.
    Love when you visit me.
    ~m

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  8. Michael,
    And in helping yourself…you have helped so many others. This post had me in tears..no I didn’t know your parents…but your words made me think of these 2 wonderful people and how their lives were erased….in a blink. Thankfully they are alive and vibrant in your mind and heart. I know the anger and I have felt your frustration. That’s how I feel right now not knowing what tomorrow will bring for my grandson. I want to kick some serious ass…..I want to yell to the high heavens…..’he’s just a 12 yr old kid…lay the hell off.’
    I am so fortunate that my wonderful mom of 86 knows my face when I walk into the long-term center and greets me with her wonderful smile. She may not recognize all the great-grandkids, too many & they grow so fast…but she knows her kids.
    And for that I am so thankful.
    You have a wonderful soul Michael and the ability to express yourself so well., and make us feel your emotions, your hopes and dreams. Very good genes. Have a good weekend.

    Your insights into my writing have helped me to learn a bit more about myself actually.
    Betcha didn’t know that. :0)
    I always love logging on and seeing a comment from “Matty” because I know it’s honest and straight from the heart.
    Thanks, kiddo
    ~m

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  9. You have suffered. I have witnessed your suffering firsthand. But I’ve also seen how you’ve dealt with, and never let it eat you up. Your sorrow will always be a part of you, but so will the strength you’ve gained from all this.

    You learned a valuable lesson, but just as importantly, you’ve passed that lesson on to others. Consider how many people you’ve influenced. Think of how many blogs you’ve been indirectly responsible for (of course in my case you’d probably just as soon not cop to that).

    Continue to be strong; continue to inspire us.

    -smith

    I’d cop to your blog. You write well.
    As far as inspiring goes . . . SHAPE UP! 😉
    Thanks, Smith
    ~m

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  10. I had someone tell me one time that for every situation think to yourself, what have I got to learn, what have I got to teach. And I try to keep that in mind when I feel like the world is falling in on me.

    I’m sure you are a much stronger person than you were then. And look at all the lives you’ve touched and perhaps there’s a silent person out there that reads your words and can go on one more day.

    A wonderful thought, Carol.
    You are a dear friend.
    Dinner in the North End in Boston before we die, okay? 😉
    ~m

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  11. bittersweet is so apropos. clusterphuck even better. even my literary hero, s. king, can use the expletives and taboos SO effectively….(one of my personal favorites of his: “christ-in-a-sidecar”!)

    thank you for that inspirational passage. i am going through my own private hell right now, and it helped me to put things in perspective. writing is a very powerful tool, and cathartic, as you well know.

    i continue to wait for my epiphany….whatever message He is sending me has not revealed itself yet. my faith struggle revolves around the whole “when bad things happen to good people” stuff.

    life is a mystery, fer sure.

    i just thank God i have friends like you to keep me sane while i try to figure it all out.

    love and peace,
    yvonne

    Your epiphany is on the way. No doubt about that.
    (one of my personal favorites of his: “christ-in-a-sidecar”!)
    That’s King? That’s phucking brilliant!
    Thanks, Yvonne
    ~m

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  12. When I read about what you are going through I feel how fortunate I was not to have had to go through anything like it with my parents.
    Professionly I have had a lot of experience with people suffering from Alzheimer Disease.One thing that helped me and helped me to help the directly affected by it ,was that the sufferer was mostly contented in their Alzheimer world, except on the occasion of a visit from someone coming from their past that, heartbreakingly they couldn’t place. The visit might upset them for days afterwards. Sometimes I wished that they wouldn’t have anybody coming to see them because it was for both so hard.
    When I am in Thailand at the end of the month I want to visit a home that a Swiss runs in Chang Mai. His Mother suffered from the Disease and because he was so impressed by the loving care that the Thais who looked after her gave, he wanted to make it available to everybody. The fact that 24hour care was a fraction of the cost it would be in Switzerland was apparently secondary.I
    I do wish you a lot of courage for I’m sure you are suffering more than they are.
    Diru

    I appreciate your comment more than you realize.
    I have the feeling that you understand the ultimate truth: We need more love in this world
    My prayers to you on your journey
    ~m

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  13. i think your writing is amazing and i’m glad i got to come here and share some of this with you. I am so glad you have this outlet to say whatever you want. I’ve been writing since i was kid. sometimes serious, sometimes funny. but it helps no matter what.
    i’m sorry for what you had to go through. alzheimers is such and evil thing. you are stronger than you give yourself credit for!

    Writing does help, doesn’t it?
    I appreciate the comment, JB
    ~m

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  14. i recall a nursing home patient at beaumont of northborough who resided on the alzheimer’s unit. she had authored several books in her lifetime, and, when i came to know her, was unable to recall most words and often became echolaliac. her frustration was painfully palpable…searching for the right word, discarding it…..trying again, and failing…it was heatbreaking to interact with her, and she wasn’t even my family member.

    then again, aren’t we all members of this family?

    you do what you can, and hope that the people that care for your person are loving and understanding. i used to provide her with pen and paper when she got so agitated trying to speak, nothing but frantic gibberish coming forth. familiar things are somehow comforting, even when you are not capable of writing anything that makes sense to anyone else anymore. i used to thank God that he placed someone so wonderful as donna denommee to be unit manager of that floor. to this day she has no idea what an amazing person she is.

    my heart goes out to you, michael m.

    love and peace,
    y

    Oddly enough (or not), you too, are one of the angels. I just know it.
    CPR class soon, okay? :0)
    ~m

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  15. Michael,
    I would give anything if I could somehow make the suffering go away for you. I truly would. But we don’t get to wave magic wands and make the bad stuff go away. Instead, we face it and find a way to assimilate it into our own lives and make it part of who and what we are. I’ve no idea if this hadn’t happened to you if you would have picked up that pen and we would have met – and become friends. The seed was certainly there, inside you. You’re the real deal. Always were and always will be. Maybe the seed was planted so you could find the way to cope with this or a gift that you found a way to use to bestow dignity and longevity to parents who deserve that and more.

    Your parents continue to live through your writing and your many stories of them both happy and heartbreaking. Your pen gives them more breaths than they would have had otherwise. And that’s a wonderful thing.
    Annie

    My mom and dad do continue to live through me. Kinda cool, yes?
    And calling me the “real deal”?
    God, I just love that.
    Thanks, Annie.
    As far as us meeting, would it have happened were it not for their sickness?
    I’d almost like to say yes. But maybe that doesn’t really matter . . .
    I just feel real lucky we did.
    Thanks, sis
    ~m

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  16. You’re welcome my friend! Although my blog has been lacking the last few months, I make it a point to stop by yours several times a week and take a peek. You’re a magnificent writer Michael. I believe that the events we experience regardless of how bad they may be at the time, make us stronger and create alternative forks in our roads. Good things CAN come from the bad and your writing is a perfect example. Keep on keeping on!
    Snot


    Miss reading your stuff, Snot.
    Maybe in time, huh?
    Hoping you and the better half are well.
    Any little ones on the way yet? 😉
    A private email is fine for an answer.
    Thanks so much for stopping by, bud . . .
    ~m

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  17. What more could I add to the beautiful comments that have been left already?
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    A hug ((((((((~m))))))))))

    I’ve been through something very similar and I know the pain and the sense of loss. It’s no easy thing to go through and I hope that you have plenty of help. Caregivers need care too.

    ~ RubyShooZ ~

    Peace, love and underanding to all.


    Thanks, Shooz
    Yeah, some great comments.
    I’m lucky to have so many caring readers.
    It helps more than you know.
    ~m

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  18. Posts like this, stories like this, life unfolding like this is why I think I have been on a perpetual head banging the wall quest for the answers…………sorry you are going through so much pain. Blessings.

    This is what sometimes amazes me about blogging: blessings from a perfect stranger
    I thank you, SE and wish you the same
    ~m

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  19. My uncle is trying to do that now. Write down as many stories from my grandaddy as he can. My grandaddy lived the life of adventure that I’ve always craved. South America, the Middle East (before it all blew up), China, Africa. Passports full of visas and entry stamps. Anyplace that had oil that needed discovering. Plane landings and take-offs from slivers of land so small you would soil yourself imagining the danger. And Europe during WWII. And now he’s losing those stories. I haven’t gotten the straight story on an official diagnosis. I don’t know if it’s Alzheimers or some kind of dementia. All I know is that his mind is going. He still knows people, but his stories are fading, he’s crossing streams of places, characters and timelines. As you know, it’s so painful to watch. In his day the man was brilliant. An engineer. Spoke 5 languages. Raised 5 children. Could fix anything you handed to him. And now he can’t take care of himself. I haven’t seen him recently because I don’t know if I can handle it. A shitty, selfish excuse. I’m glad you’ve written down your stories. Keep at it my friend.

    You’re much stronger than you let on, Lass.
    Somehow I feel I know that.
    Chronicle the days ahead. It helps you “understand” down the road . . .
    ~m

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