The more I learn, the further, deeper, and wider my blessings seem to stretch.
The realization came to me last week. In adult neurogenics we started watching a documentary on Alzheimer’s disease. The documentary portrays everyday moments of individuals affected by the disease. For those who aren’t as familiar, here are a few facts about Alzheimer’s: it affects approximately 1 out of every 8 older adults. It’s a progressive disease, beginning with minor memory loss and after 6-10 years, progressing to debilitating brain deterioration. The causes of this disease are not curable – and its manifestations can vary. One individual from the documentary could only repeat telegraphic-like speech and couldn’t remember his wife’s face; another thought rocks and cat food were people food. As speech-pathologists, we’re taught to work to preserve/scaffold memory for as long as possible, but nothing can alleviate that toll that family members have to pay of “saying goodbye, without saying goodbye,” as their loved one slowly loses all that’s familiar.
I think of how many times I’ve heard friends say a grandparent has Alzheimer’s, and I remember how often I’ve brushed it off as just another struggle in the general aging process. But the more I know about this disease, the more real it becomes to me and the more value I’ve found in my simple memories, in my ability to communicate, my in-tact personality, my relationship with my family – and most specifically, l begin to grow SO undeniably thankful for each of my grandparents. And parents. And Bryan’s family. Sharp as can be, my grandmother kept up with everything us grandchildren did up until her very last day. My grandfather still keeps up with us all.
I never realized the blessing of these things until I knew the real possibility that it didn’t have to be like this. My goodbye with Nana came when I physically had to say goodbye – and not before.
I don’t know if you’ve known family member or friend with Alzheimer’s, but my heart goes out to you. you are in my thoughts right now.
Taking that to heart, I want to recognize some other blessings that my ‘schooling’ has made me thankful for:
From Marriage Counseling:
I am thankful for conflict resolution grounded in forgiveness.
We talked this week about how forgiveness in arguments is hard to rid of resentment. But that’s easily mediated when I begin to see petty arguments in light of Christ’s sacrifice and forgiveness for my failures every single day. Such is the parable of the man who owed ten thousand talents.
Our mentors said it best, “How do people stay married without Christ?”
I am also thankful for these mentors.
As I learn more about their marriage, I’m relieved that I’m not talking to our pastor; but I’m talking with two people who strive to live out their marriage in God’s grace.
From Clinical Placement:
I’m continually reminded of their unselfishness in sacrificing their wants, needs, and time in raising us. You think I’m kidding, but I’ve seen too many parents who don’t do that for their children.
From the Law profession:
Bryan has accepted a paid job offer for the summer – and we could not be praising God anymore. The more Bryan’s told me about how competitive it is to find work as a summer intern after your first year, the more I realize how Bryan has been blessed with this opportunity. And how thankful we should be for it.
From Adult Neurogenic Disorders:
My grandparents’ lucidity.
I’m thankful that they know me. 1 in every 8 older adult has Alzheimer’s.