509. How we treat the vulnerable is how we define ourselves as a species. ~Russell Brand

What is it to grow old?
Is it to lose the glory of the form,
The lustre of the eye?
Is it for beauty to forego her wreath?
Yes, but not for this alone.

Is it to feel our strength –
Not our bloom only, but our strength -decay?
Is it to feel each limb
Grow stiffer, every function less exact,
Each nerve more weakly strung?

Yes, this, and more!

Screen shot 2014-10-06 at 2.39.31 PM

It is to spend long days
And not once feel that we were ever young.
It is to add, immured
In the hot prison of the present, month
To month with weary pain.

It is to suffer this,
And feel but half, and feebly, what we feel:
Deep in our hidden heart
Festers the dull remembrance of a change,
But no emotion -none.

It is -last stage of all –
When we are frozen up within, and quite
The phantom of ourselves…
~Excerpted lines from a poem by Matthew Arnold

Echoes, echoes of the past–voices, so many familiar voices gone, now silenced by the closing of their life’s doors–memories, memories mingling with the present, all bringing the dark clouds that move in across her brain where the fury of raging storms begin on unfamiliar shores. The echoes, the voices, and the memories become scrambled in her dementia so that things and people once cherished create anxiety, anguish, and at times torment. Her mind, once sharp and clear, is now befuddled as she becomes more and more lost inside herself and her fears. Her family raised, her labors done, there is nothing left now but the lonely silence of her worsening deafness and the rapid waning of her vision. Soon she will be ever so far away from me, the one in whose womb my life began. Will she then still know my face and the feel of my touch? Will the skies ever again clear in her head and cast her weary, but back on familiar shores? Or has she begun the final journey of her dreaded aloneness? Please Lord, be with my mother as she struggles to navigate these dark passages of uncharted waters. Bring her comfort and peace, and if not mine, then let her recognize Your touch and know Your face. Let the child she has again become blindly trust as she once did that all is well with her soul and that You will care for her always. And let Your sweet benedictions steal into her senescent heart and fragile mind that’s becoming so profoundly confused, wounded, and betrayed by her aged, earthly body.

One of my followers commented yesterday on my memory post about the sadness of dealing with an aging parent who has Alzheimer’s, and I know that others of you are caring for elderly parents whose memories are failing. In those situations there are two or more people affected by the circumstances; both the aged and their caregiver(s) are profoundly impacted by this passage. So I decided to share the above with all of you.  It is something I wrote in my journal during a long, hard night when I was caring for my 92-year-old mother before she passed away.

 

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. ~Isaiah 46:4   ✝

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Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. ~Isaiah 46:4 ✝

31 thoughts on “509. How we treat the vulnerable is how we define ourselves as a species. ~Russell Brand

  1. Natalie me Pa passed 3 years ago had Alzheimer’s and I was his caregiver! I wrote about it a couple of days ago and also he’s one of the reasons why I started blogging. See his family moved on and grieved but I never did! Plus taking care of my sick daughter really there was no outlet for me so I started blogging a year 1/2 ago! I’ve met so many wonderful sweet friends that have shared their experiences with me and reached out such as yourself and it seems like you know exactly what to say always! I love this post! I know several have loved ones and I love how sensitive your sweet heart is to those that call you friend! Much love to you and blessings to you Natalie! 💗💗

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    • Wow, Michelle what a wonderful comment. I do hope you have grieved since or will soon. My dad died when I was 18 and a pastor at the church told me since I was the oldest child, I’d have to be the one to put my grieving on hold for the sake of my mom and younger sisters! What ill advice that was because it took me decades and a mentor to finally grieve that tragic and gut-wrenching loss. Thank you for you kind and loving words always. I’m so glad to call you friend, missy. Much love and huge hugs, N 🙂 ❤

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      • Oh girl I am grieving! I’ve also never grieved the illness of my daughter as it’s an ongoing issue. I think sometimes I am always delayed because like you said I am the oldest and also I’m the fixer of broken things! I will share I am grieving I wonder sometimes if I’ll ever feel ok personally! But I know God grace will get me through! Thank you sweet friend I can hardly wait to see what you share next! Hugs right back agaiN MM 💗

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  2. let your sweet benedictions steal into her senescent heart and fragile mind…that’s becoming so profound and confused, wounded,betrayed by her aged,earthly body, very emotional, so deep…yet undefinable anguish in those sentences, may god bless’em and take into their care and give freedom to that soul…beautiful one dear Natalie….have a great evening 🙂

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    • There was undefinable anguish in those events both for my mom and for me. You are very wise to have discerned that, Radha. Thank you, as always, for your very kind and loving comments. I pray you have a wonderful evening too. Love and hugs, N 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Natalie, it’s as though we were one mind tonight. I hadn’t finished it yet, in fact, had only written but 2 mere lines, which of course will be rewritten many times until I finish my story, but it was that of aging – looking into the mirror and seeing my true form, not through the eyes of my former self – but through the eyes of who I am today … the differences, the changes. I won’t go on, because I’m not quite sure yet which way my story will go, but I found it very soothing and warmly connecting, that we had like minds/thoughts this evening.

    Age and all that comes with it, is something language can’t truly describe until you yourself “are there” – or you’re standing witness to someone you love who “is there.” There’s so much to be said and felt about aging, the passage of time, becoming more aware of time than ever before. I don’t perceive it as a sadness, but more of a surreal type of feeling. Once again, I started my day off writing – here I am, ending my comment to you on the subject of “change.”

    That was a beautiful post, a beautiful share, and a beautiful sentiment. thank you for filling our hearts with yours.

    Much love and enormous gratitude for you ending up in my journey, or me in yours. ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ Your loving friend Kimberly.

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    • First, I just found 6 of your comments in my spam file. I have no idea why they would be going there, but I wanted you to know that I’m sorry I hadn’t checked it sooner so that I could reply. I’m so glad you enjoyed my post and my thoughts on aging. Thank you for all your kind and encouraging words, my friend.
      Huge hugs and much love, Natalie 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your dear Mama was blessed to have a loving, caring daughter by her side as her life ebbed away. The Bible verse you quoted is great comfort–knowing that when we lose all, we still have God who knows us and loves us and gives us strength. Blessings ~ Laura

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    • Thank you, Laura, for your sweet comment. We aren’t implored to honor our father and mother, aren’t we?! Where would any of us be without the love and strength the Lord bestows upon us. Love and hugs, N 🙂 ❤

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  5. Very moving post Natalie. What you tell us confirm you’re an angel on Earth… I agree with Lljostes’ comment: “Your dear Mama was blessed to have a loving, caring daughter by her side as her life ebbed away. And Russel Brand’s quote is so true! Much love to you dear Natalie. ♥♥

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  6. My granny is getting old these days.She is 82 now. She doesn’t have alzheimers, but she is getting more and more needy and dependent and more and more ” I want it my way and I want it now!”. She is sad a lot, but I find what is the best thing to do is to make her laugh. And I do know how to make her laugh 🙂 I made her tell me a story of the time she went with her father to the city and she had to come with him while he bough underwear for himself 😀 That stroy is hilarious, and my granny laughed a lot, that also made her look younger and it softened her face a lot 🙂 I am also taking care of another elderly here in india at the moment, but that is much more challenging as this person is very demanding and very little appreciative. It doesn’t hurt to smile some times! 🙂 But I guess its much much more easier to take care of someone you have loved your whole life than someone who is practically a stranger! Big hug and lots of Love to you dearest natalie! ❤ ❤ ❤

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    • When folks got on up there in years, it is a very sad time for them in many ways. All of mom’s siblings had died and all of her friends but one had died the last 5 years or so of her life.
      She became terribly lonely and that’s why we built onto our house after I retired and she moved in with us. Sadly her dementia set in almost immediately after that and she lived here only 5 months before she passed away. My mother seldom laughed much even in her younger days and then hardly at all in her later years. I laugh a lot and easily and she almost treated me as if that were some kind of flaw in me. I loved my mom and she loved me but we were two
      very different individuals. Hugs and love to you too, Trini.
      N 🙂 ❤

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  7. Thank you so much for this post. The hardest thing seeing your parents deteriorate is all the memories you have of them being your strength when you were young. Now it is the realisation that the time is coming when you have to be the strong one and stand on your own and be the strength for your own children. As well as being the strong one for your parents. 😀

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  8. Thank you Natalie for sharing. My 87 year old aunt suffers from Alzheimer’s. My parents cared for her as long as they could, but eventually had no choice but to find residential care. It breaks my heart to see the woman who faithfully prayed for me (along with an army of her friends) when I was a young man serving at sea, now left as an unhappy shell of her former self confined to a chair, and with little recollection of the past. Without those prayers who knows where I might be now. Blessings, David

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    • It is so hard to see such strong people diminished so profoundly. We kept mom with us the last five months of her life, but she knew things were getting bad and asked to go the a care facility. The night before we were to take her there her mind splintered completely and for the next week she never opened her eyes again, she never spoke, she never ate. She just lay there in that bed and we waited for her body to stop functioning. My mom was only about 5’4″
      and weighed only 90 lbs, but she had always been one of the strongest people I’ve ever known. She was always a feisty little fighter, but her mind at the end sorely betrayed her .
      Blessings, Natalie 🙂

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  9. Oh wow, Natalie. This is so sad. Yet, the fierce reality that faces all of us – death. I don’t buy into the ‘lightness’ that many make of death at times. That it’s a beautiful thing and all. Some people, or faiths believe that. For me, I believe that death was never meant to be, and for this reason, it’s so difficult dealing with it. There’s great sadness, pain and grief that comes along with it. I can’t possible fathom the day that I will have to see my mom in the winter of her life. Oh God, give me strength and allow me the opportunity to be there with her and to hold her hand and to let her know how loved she is.
    Beautiful N.
    🙂 ❤

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    • It was very sad and a very hard time for me and my immediate family! Without going into many of the sordid details I’ll add to the story a bit. Because of some of my mom’s end of life choices and decisions, my two sisters became at odds with me because I defended mom’s right to make her own choices as she was still of sound mind and body at the time she made them. So they abandoned her to my care entirely the last five months of her life. And almost the moment mom came to live with me and James, her dementia got underway and worsened rapidly. (There was some reason to believe that a slow growing cancer that had been in her lungs for about 20 years may have spread to her brain which brought on the dementia.) As the days went by she eventually accused me of stealing from her and me, my husband, daughter, and son-in-law of attempting to kill her among other things. So her death was definitely NOT “lightness.” I pray that you never have to go through anything like this with your mom too, Staci. Hugs and love, N 🙂 ❤

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      • Oh my Natalie. This is heart-wrenching. I can’t possible imagine how tough that would have been. I’m so sorry you had to go through that. I can totally understand that there was no ‘lightness’ at all there.
        Blessings and hugs N
        🙂 ❤

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