Apologia for these journals:
They are not about taking care of a relative with moderate to severe Alzheimer's/senile dementia.
For an explanation of what these journals are about, click the link above.
For internet sources that are about caring for relatives with moderate to severe
Alzheimer's/senile dementia, click through the Honorable Alzheimer's Blogs in my
links section to the right.
"I'll never write about this online,"...
...I tell my sister, and as soon as I utter those words, just as happens as soon as I think them (and, believe me, I think them a lot), I know I will have to write about this online.
The subject of my embarrassment? A movie about which I'm sure most of you have heard, if not viewed, City of Angels. Mom and I watched this movie a long, long time ago. It's not a part of "our" (I put that in parentheses because, as of a few days ago, it's become a part of "my") movie collection. As Roger Ebert mentions in his review of the movie (linked to the name of the movie, above), it's a knock off of an earlier movie, Wings of Desire. Both movies haunt me, although to different degrees. Both movies are filled with yearning, although the yearning is handled with much less glibness and sentimentality in the older version. I've seen both, so had Mom. I loved the older one and remembered, with embarrassed fondness, the newer one. Mom's preference was for the newer one, probably because it's easier to look at; it's brighter and more colorful throughout the entire movie. The difference that led me to acquire a copy of the newer version is that I was able to easily and very cheaply purchase it about a week ago when I found myself remembering it and needing to watch it. Well, not the whole thing, although I did watch the entire movie when it appeared on a TV channel at the same time I hankered for it. What I found myself needing to do was to watch all the scenes featuring primarily or exclusively the angels over and over and over...
It's not that I believe in angels, although, on the level of believing in supernatural beings, well, I have my irrational moments, many, in fact. Since I can remember I've felt "protected", which I know I've mentioned occasionally in this journal. It's an unreasonable, capricious feeling. I don't even know from what I'm "protected", frankly, because plenty of things have happened to me that, well, if I am, indeed, protected, you'd think they wouldn't have happened. I've occasionally mentioned this "protection" to people, when I'm trying to convince people not to worry about me or about themselves when they are in my presence, but I don't mention it nearly as often as I feel it. Almost two decades ago, though, I was startled one day when I was at a local car insurance company office paying my bi-yearly bill and reviewing my coverage. I sat across an officious desk from a man I'd never met and would never again meet. He was in a suit and tie, I was in an acceptably appointed work outfit. We were in the middle of a coverage by coverage examination of my policy, deciding what items to raise, lower and keep retain. Suddenly the man raised his head, focused behind me and announced, "You have two guardians. Did you know that? Oh, wait a minute, there's another. Make that three."
I was stunned. I didn't respond immediately. When I finally recovered my wits I said, "Oh. Thank you for telling me. I've suspected for years that I'm 'protected', but, you know, I had no idea about the specifics."
"You're welcome," he said. We continued with our discussion of my auto insurance coverage.
Truth is, I still don't think of my "protection" in terms of supernatural, trifold guardianship. I don't even think of it in terms of beings. I can't actually define how I think of it, since, when I think of it, it has to do with feeling, not linguistics.
Anyway, back to the movie. The first couple of times I watched selected angel scenes of the movie, I didn't think about why viewing them comforted me, I just luxuriated in them, sometimes with the sound off. When I began to think about why I was glued to these scenes the first thing that came to mind was the panoramic perspective of most of my chosen scenes; the opening scenes of the movie; the shore scenes; the from-a-great-height shots of various locations (some shots of which do not include angels but suggest an angelic perspective). These scenes reminded me of many more scenes in the Wings of Desire movie, which, while savoring my memories, led me to decide to rent that video as soon as possible (which means, as soon as I return the videos I now have)...I haven't purchased it because the City of Angels video is far, far cheaper than used copies of Wings of Desire, which is no longer in official circulation.
I'm thinking, now, that my current addiction to these scenes has something to do with a developing need to lift myself out of my grief doldrums and replace myself in an omniscient perspective. I'm thinking this perspective will make it easier for me to negotiate life without Mom, the thought of which continues to paralyze me, at awkward, inopportune moments, with grief and yearning. For reasons I haven't delineated, nothing else is working for me: Not expressions of sympathetic, empathetic or compassionate sorrow; not reminders that my experience of grief is universal and a part of being human; not stories that insist on placing my loved one (and other dead ones) "someplace else" and somehow aware of me, even though I independently indulge myself in such stories; not occasional monologues which I imagine to be dialogues directed toward Mom and "the spirits" of others I know who've died; certainly not episodes of Touched by an Angel, which I haven't been able to watch since Mom died.
So, you know, I don't think it's the idea of angels that's captivating me about the above mentioned movie and my memories of the original version. I think it's the perspective which, despite the flaws of the newer version, and the love story, which does nothing for me, is well and achingly portrayed by the cinematography and set design.
Whatever it is, I still find it embarrassing that I will, this afternoon, at some point when I'm involved in an innocuous death business task and unexpectedly overcome by grief, switch on the DVD player and expertly select (I now have their sequence numbers memorized) scenes from City of Angels in order to jump-start me out of temporary emotional paralysis.
It's true, I guess: Do whatever it takes to get you through The Night. It's also true: Being human? Too, too weird.
Here's a great Life Story...
...a companion to the Death Story linked in the immediately previous post, written and produced by the same person who is responsible for the video (also linked in the immediately previous post) You're Going to Die, timothy furstnau. Although this Life Story is not an audio/video, it's tone is so similar to You're Going to Die that as, I read this project (link to timothy furstnau's selected projects), I was able, without effort, to imagine it being narrated by Vito Acconci. Just as timothy furstnau's Death Story made me feel, well, "good" wouldn't be the right word, probably "copacetic" would be better, about Death, this story makes me feel more accepting of life than usual.
The best Death Story I've heard...
...can be found at the end of this post at The Good Death. Read the entire post (the video appears at the end), and, if you have the time and further interest, read the Scientific American article cited and linked at the beginning of the post. It explains why even the most "extinctivist" among us have trouble thinking in terms of extinction. You might also want to read Dr. Christian Sinclair's reactions (also cited and linked in the aforementioned post) to the video in his post about it at Pallimed. He mentions, too, who was involved in the creation of the video.
Speaking of which, I've been tardy, and I'm now being apologetic, about forgetting to add Pallimed to my list, to the right, of Honorable Hospice & Death Blogs. I'm correcting this problem now. I've "tasted", with delight, all three of its editions (I think there are only three), all of which I list, since it's hard to tell, going into one, that the others exist. I don't get back to them as often as I think I'd like, but, these days, I don't get anywhere, on the web or off, as often as I think I'd like. Not sure why, since my previous reason for not getting around much is dead, but I'm not in the mood to parse that one, right now. Anyway, I've spot read, and highly recommend, all three editions of this series of blogs. I count six official contributors, all top notch thinkers and writers, and the "staff" considers readers to be contributors. All contributors, "staff" and readers, are excellent at directing visitors to interesting outbound sites, as well. Pallimed, is, by the way, the originator of Palliative Care Grand Rounds. Without further ado, I'll immediately add them to my appropriate links list.
Why do I consider the video in the post mentioned in the first paragraph, up there, the best Death Story I've ever heard? Because it is, ultimately, a Life Story...a good one.
Six Words on Elder Caregiving
Mom loved me. I loved Mom.
Surely by now you've heard of Six Word Memoirs and the companion book recently published, Not Quite What I Was Planning.
Fighting for who you are now.
I won't waste words, here, explaining the book. I haven't read it, although I understand a copy is on its way to me. I expect to love it. To give you an idea of what the book contains, here's a link to NPR's six-word memoir experiment, in which they invited readers to publish six word memoirs in the comment section of one of their blog posts.
You needing me to want you.
As you can see from my six-word statements interspersed throughout this post, the exercise of succinct, pithy linguistic thinking is addictive. You can't write just one.
Smell of life. Smell of death.
That's what gave me the idea to open up a post to my readers, inviting each of you to leave comments here containing your Six Words on Elder Caregiving. I decided to narrow the scope to Elder Caregiving, since that's what I did and that's a large part of what my journals are about. So, I invite you to write and publish as many, or as few, as you want; straightforward, oblique, just go for it. If you have trouble with the comment facility, email me with your contributions and I'll set up a separate post for publishing those. It will be understood that you will retain the copyright to your work, whether you acknowledge yourself or tag your contribution as anonymous. In order to make sure you can continue to find this post as it works its way down and into the archives, I'll publish a link to it over in the Special Posts section to the right. If I end up with a separate post of emailed contributions, I'll post that location over there, too.
[no] yes no [yes] [no yes]
Don't consider yourself out of the running (although this isn't a contest) if you think you've never been an elder caregiver. Trust me...if you've ever known An Ancient One, ever loved An Ancient One, ever been interested in An Ancient One's life, you've given care to An Ancient One.
What time is it? It's timeless.
All material, except that not written by me, copyright at time of posting by Gail Rae Hudson