FOR GREGORY. He was not a VICTIM of ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE, he was a HERO!
PLEASE NOTE: Even though this blog is now dormant there are many useful, insightful posts. Scroll back from the end or forward from the beginning. Also, check out my writer's blog. Periodically I will add posts here if they provide additional information about living well with Dementia / Alzheimer's Disease.
Thursday, December 31, 2015
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Son: "Where are you going?"
The son looks thoughtful for a moment, puts his arm around his father, pulls him in with a hug and kisses his head ...
Helped me. Hope it helps you.
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
2) The Candle
3) The Dream
4) The Meeting
5) The Bear
6) The Christmas Moon
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Monday, December 28, 2015
Sunday, December 27, 2015
Every time I think I have a hold on this beast called grief, it bites me, it grabs me in its jaws and thrashes me around until I am beat up, broken, and bloody. The more I grieve the more obvious the obvious becomes. My grief has nothing to do with Gregory it has to do with me. My pain, my sorrow, my fears, my loneliness.
I am not so much grieving his death as I am grieving the future of my life. I don't mean to bring you down with me. I will feel better in an hour, later today, or tomorrow. But right now the tears flow freely, and I am sad. I am not sorry that Gregory has died, I am sorry that I continue to have to live without him.
This is not a suicide thought, taking my own life is not what I mean here. More painful than that is having to wake up each morning to face the day and find meaning, purpose, and love in my life when the person who meant the most to me can no longer be part of that except in my thoughts and in my memories.
I read recently somewhere, "Can one have a love affair, a love relationship with someone else when it does not involve the human body?" I am not sure but I sure have been having trouble finding peace in myself without Gregory's presence even though he is at peace.
Saturday, December 26, 2015
I began a meditation practice by being aware of what my body was physically feeling. I felt the chill air being pulled into my mouth and the warmed air being expelled. I could hear a gentle hum of some motor running elsewhere in the condo. I could hear the emptiness of no talking, no noise in my ears. I felt my feet firmly resting on the floor. I felt my back supported by the pillow.
This is the pillow which Isaac made for me out of a shirt he took from Gregory's room at the Lieberman Center after Gregory had died. It was one of my favorite shirts, which when I outgrew it became one of Gregory's favorite shirts.
As I thought about the support of the pillow, a number of metaphors started playing in my mind. Since my meditation was spontaneous, and since I did not have any particular intention for it, I let my mind play with pillow metaphors.
The pillow is soft. It feels smooth to the skin and warm. It gives the back support. When the head is resting on the pillow, it can raise the head and therefore the mind to a higher level. A pillow can be hugged, or cried into, or just held gently or firmly. A pillow can be joyfully, playfully tossed or batted at another person.
The pillow elevates. The pillow soothes. The pillow comforts. The pillow supports. The pillow protects. The pillow loves. The pillow remembers.
This pillow in particular is the love of Gregory and Isaac and Michael and the world of love and life.
Friday, December 25, 2015
Dr. Greenberg was able to celebrate Christmas surrounded by his students, Christmas Carols, and a letter from Santa. He passed away at 3pm today, December 26. He died peacefully in his apartment surrounded by his loved ones. One of his favorite quotes was: "The person who gives life to knowledge is not dead."
She knew that I appeared as Santa periodically and the client who was dying had a request, even though he was Jewish, for Christmas caroling and a visit from Santa.
The client, Philip Greenberg, is a physics teacher who apparently has no family so his students are keeping vigil and helping him through his passage. A Jewish professor, requesting Christian carols, a visit from Santa, and being helped by his Muslim students.
Unfortunately I was not available to drive the two hours there and two hours back across Chicago to where Dr. Greenberg lives so I came up with this creative way of helping to fill his wishes. I wrote the following letter and Facebooked it to one of the students who in turn printed it out and read it to Philip
I have been very busy as you must imagine getting ready for tonights delivery of presents to all the good little boys and girls around the world!
I have been checking my list and then checking it twice and your name pops up for all the wonderful time and energy you give your Physics students and others who love you so.
Unfortunately I checked the list a little too late this season so I have not been able to get you a gift but I wanted to send this note, and my photograph and to wish you a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah, and a Joyful Christukah and Hanukahmas!
Santa always appreciates it when his old friends still remember and believe in him!
The full moon which will occur tonight, just past Christmas Day, at exactly 5:11 a.m., Central Standard Time, last occurred forty years ago in 1977 which is when Gregory and I celebrated our first Christmas knowing each other. For the first time in 40 years, there will be a full moon on Christmas!
We actually met on January 10, 1976 and during that first year courted like couples did in the old fashioned days. He was married to Barbara and I was in a committed relationship with Robert.
By the next year, both Barbara and Robert would be out of the picture and Gregory and I would have consummated our relationship and been behaving like two very foolish young people in love.
I certainly would not have had any slight inkling at that time that I would end up here, during our 40th year, alone and grieving Gregory's passing with both of us living and loving so strongly and successfully dealing with Dementia/ Alzheimer's for 12 years.
I was able to get through Christmas pretty easily, emotionally, with friends last night and with my God-Son today. I was able to sit with Gregory's ashes and speak of my love for him and how grateful I am and will continue to be for having known and for having loved him and for his having loved me so strongly.
New Years will be the next hurdle over which to hurtle but I will face that when I get there, followed by Gregory and my 41st anniversary on January 10th. Ironically there is HURT in HURTle! Anyway Merry Christmas to you my readers. Thanks for being here!
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Of course it made me think of Gregory and today's grief. Suddenly without much effort, I pictured some of our first encounters after we first meet almost 41 years ago, January 10th.
I close my eyes and clearly picture his study, upstairs in the house at Riverwoods Forest Preserve, where his wife was director of the Lake County Forest Preserve Edward L. Ryerson Conservation Area which included the original house, working farm, and its many acred grounds.
I remember driving up the narrow path through the woods, sometimes at night through the pitch black except for my car's headlights on high, when finally the house would come into view. It was a long, low federal style house and while the Ryerson's were a wealthy family who made their fortunes in steel, the house while substantial was not showy.
Gregory and Barbara, his wife of then seven years, lived upstairs. She married him knowing he was bi-sexual and his first lover Peter lived in Boston. Gregory was lonely for male company and we met at the "Men's Gathering" a sensitivity and encounter group for men of all persuasions to share, unload, and find support.
In those first months of knowing each other I would visit and have dinner with Gregory and Barbara and after dinner he and I would retire to his study for some alone time. Barbara was very understanding and cooperative in the beginning.
I see and feel his grand piano, a red oriental rug in the center of the room, the mahogany with bronze tipped legs desk, a wooden office chair on wheels, several double door closets with doors removed and filled with shelves loaded with books.
I remember the quiet times we spent together without words, or chatting about this or that, or exchanging back rubs, or dozing off in each other's arms all the while with classical Chopin, Beethoven, Bach, or Mozart playing in the background. We would sip Celestial Seasons herbal teas. I have Gregory to thank for introducing me to the classical composers and to herbal tea.
The joy of this experience today in the car is that my emotions were as out of control with love for him then as they are out of control with love for and my missing him now. I am grateful for having had his love for so many years. I will never be the same nor would I want to be.
I can just as easily feel the joy and excitement of our newly beginning love as I can feel the stability and support it became to the final easy for him but difficult for me goodbye.
If my great feelings of grief were not as strong as they are now, what would that say about our love then?
By: Tracey Chapman
Ther're no words to say
No words to convey
This feeling inside I have for you
Deep in my heart
Safe from the guards
Of intellect and reason
Leaving me at a loss
For words to express my feelings
Deep in my heart
Look at me losing control
Thinking I had a hold
But with feelings this strong
I'm no longer the master
Of my emotions
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Monday, December 21, 2015
Sunday, December 20, 2015
Meanwhile, I rediscovered a number of Sumi Paintings that he did during 2009. He loved working with the black Japanese ink and various brushes to achieve these effects. I am amazed, in looking back at them, at how varied the intensities, shapes, and lines are. Most of the paintings are abstract but a few feature objects. He used a book to help him learn about Sumi so some of the "figures" may mean something in Japanese.