They say that a bright star shines on a person’s birthday and for that reason, birthdays are the merriest day of the year. In spite of being one year older and having stopped counting the years, this birthday had to be one of the saddest ever.
I was not prepared to cry most of my birthday and wake up crying this morning over the loss of a friend that I haven’t yet lost. I knew that my newest friend, Dar, had memory challenges but thought it possibly to be because of depression due to losing her husband a little less than a year ago.
After receiving a recent telephone call from Dar reporting that her dog was missing and then to discover Buddy was chained in the yard, made me suspect something was amiss besides clinical depression. It was after making a couple of drives to her house over near-emergency situations, that I rang up her son-in-law. He and his wife have regular routines of transiting to our city to check on Dar and other family members a few times a week. KC just happened to be close to our city when I called to check on some things.
The son-in-law of Dar explained that his parents have full-blown cases of Alzheimer’s disease and that Dar’s may be in early or mid stage. For me, it’s just one of those things I would rather deny until it is certain a diagnosis has been made. Undoubtedly, however, I have seen a steady and rapid decline in just a couple of months.
I came to the rescue and started walking Buddy for Dar because of her looming fear of falling as a result of Buddy tangling his leash around her legs. I could understand that completely with an elderly person possessing challenges in walking for whatever reasons, but Buddy on the other hand can get quite rambunctious despite his age when it comes to taking his walks. I do not believe the two of them are quite the match it was hoped they would be after Dar and her late husband traded in a younger Border Collie for the older Beagle.
My emotions could have partially peaked yesterday because of having experienced a traumatic day several years back while doing a shut-in ministry where one of the assignments consisted of visiting a patient who had Alzheimer’s disease. This particular patient had advanced stages of the disease and was in a locked ward at a nearby medical facility.
I became dreadfully frightened when in this locked ward and in not being able to exit without a pass code. Fright does not come easy for me about anything, but this particular incident ended my ministry. I could not continue after that gloomy day.
I’ve also heard horrific reports since that time from a close friend who has a friend with Alzheimer’s and has become violent on occasions.
God does bring us to mountains and climbs to the top of them with us, but am I ready to climb another mountain just yet? The neighborhood situation has just recently gotten better. I am still holding my breath and have many times in the past.
When talking to Dar’s son-in-law, did I detect a note of uncertainty on whether or not my involvement in Dar’s life was wanted now or ever? A gratitude was expressed for what they think may exist in friendship ties.
I do see things in a different light and it is in wondering if Dar is capable most recently of initiating or making the decision to start a friendship without the permission of her family? Perhaps, while talking with KC, we both arrived at an understanding of things in general and/or on how things are progressing/changing. He did mention that he thought his mother-in-law needed to be walking more, when to the contrary I thought Dar should be taking it easy because of a recent injury from a fall. From my experience, it generally takes a while before it is wise and/or advantageous to become engaged in any physical activity other than routine stretching and/or therapy.
Perhaps, this is a perfect opportunity for my friend to face her fear of walking Buddy on that long and winding road in the neighborhood in which she lives and for me to face letting go. Dar’s mental and physical health may improve dramatically with more exercise and doing things her family‘s way.
I am just going to let God lead the way. If He keeps the door open, then we will walk through it together.
It is my belief that we can be certain of three things:
1. There will be continual change and ongoing challenges in most areas of our lives;
2. We do not get any younger or healthier by spending too little or less time with our friends; and
3. That a social network brings more contentment than having kids or grand-kids
May we all make a new friend today, cherish the friends we have, the friends we’ve lost and embrace those who may have walked in and out of our lives for a meaningful purpose.
May God especially bless our friends who are facing health challenges and fears.