dementia · Faith · family

Flowers and Weeds

Monday was not a great day.

I had taken my father to meet with his brother.

It was great to see my uncle and my cousin. While my father was so happy to see his brother, I was struck by my father’s struggle to engage in conversation.

A few months ago, at a doctor’s visit, his doctor asked him social questions about the family and his daily activities. When he didn’t answer immediately, I jumped in to help supply the answers. She looked at me and said, “I’m interested in the family and all, but this is also part of my assessment.”

She actually said it much nicer than that, but that was the gist of it. Stop answering for him. I need to get a handle on what he’s able to comprehend.

Since then, I’ve very consciously placed myself on the outskirts of his conversations.

At lunch with his brother, the conversation floundered.

Uncle Stewart: So, Don, what books are you reading these days?

Dad: Oh, I don’t know, a little of this, and — I guess I don’t read many books.

I stayed out if it. Nearly every day my father pulls new books off the shelf and starts reading them. Out loud. I put away eight books yesterday.  Everything from Outlander to the Book of Occasional Services to Murder at Fenway Park to Scotland Forever Home.

My uncle also tried talking to my father about the Red Sox.

Uncle Stewart: Who’s your favorite player on the Red Sox, Don?

Dad: Favorite player? Uh…

My father couldn’t come up with any names, so I jumped in. “How about Mookie Betts?”

He smiled broadly. “Yes, I like Mookie Betts.”

I felt sad afterwards — grieving a loss that was in progress, like watching a thief steal valued possessions and not being able to do anything about it.

Maybe that led me to my action later that day. You see, I broke one of three rules I have for dealing with a person who leaves unkind comments on my blog.

My rules are simple:

  1. Don’t engage. This includes responding in any way or acknowledging anything.
  2. Document everything. This is based on legal advice.
  3. Don’t change. This is also based on a discussion with my lawyer. I asked him, “Should I stop blogging?” “Absolutely not,” he said. “Don’t change your life to comply with a bully.”

I wrote a since-deleted password-protected post that bordered on engaging (Rule #1). Mostly the post bemoaned the lack of civility in our engagement with others. Still, I deleted it.

Yesterday, as I tended the flower garden, I found myself marveling at the way the more I cut the flowers back, the more blossoms they produce.

Look at all the daisies yet to come!

I moved to another garden where I’m in my third year of trying to eradicate Japanese Knotweed. I use a combination of Round-Up and hand-weeding. Surely, it will eventually die out. It’s so persistent, though.

As I prayed while weeding, one of Sunday’s scriptures came flooding through my mind.

“…a thorn was given me in the flesh, … to harass me … Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me, but He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” … For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (from 2 Corinthians 12)

It’s all a gift. The weeds, the thorns, the pruning, the losses.

The first dahlia of summer opened last night and I’m content.


12 thoughts on “Flowers and Weeds

  1. The weeds and thorns can make us appreciate the beauty of the flowers more deeply, but it doesn’t mean we don’t hurt when the thorn sticks. Praying for you as you plant and prune (both figuratively and literally)with beauty and grace. Please don’t forget to extend that grace to yourself.

  2. Sally, I just emailed you – you will understand that I read this AFTER I wrote the note!

    My third daughter works with low-functioning autistic adult men. She recants how hard it is to strike the balance between ensuring that her clients are encouraged and enabled to do things for themselves and intervening when they are clearly struggling or lost for the correct response. To not take over and answer for them but to know when to prompt them. When the person is your father and that father was once really high functioning I cannot begin to imagine how tough it is. And for his brother too. My heart is heavy.

    I read of this bully who goads and attempts to provoke you for absolutely no discernable nor acceptable reason. Who has forced you to take legal advice and who is a persistent barb in your life. My heart is heavy.

    I read of your gardening and your battle with the Japanese Knotweed which is indeed virulent and absolutely persistent, I see your beautiful happiest of happy daisies (my youngest daughter is Daisy) and I see that Dahlia. My heart lightens.

    All really shall be well and if we accept that everything, every experience however hard and hurtful is a gift to our learning then we are blessed indeed. And you are.

    1. And I emailed you back 🙂

      The analogy with your daughter’s clients is good. I compare it when a child is learning to tie his shoelaces. Sometimes we need to watch them struggle through, but sometimes it’s so much more easier to tie the shoes for them. Except a child is getting better at shoe-tying, and my father is going the opposite way down that road.

      But yes, yes, yes — all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

  3. Oh, Sally, I’m sorry — I had no idea you were experiencing bullying here. ❤ As for the aged, my husband used to accompany his aunt to latter appointments in life, and he stayed quiet when the Doc asked, "Have you had any colds this past winter, Jean?" She thought for a moment, said, "I don't know," and turned to my husband to ask, "Have I?" A formerly dynamic school principal and world traveler, she. It seemed outrageous to the max, and then worse: Eventually, this lifelong saintly soul didn't know what her Communion host was, pocketed it. "I'll have it later; I'm not hungry just now." Such a sad time. I think maybe we are sadder than are they. From all I've seen as an LNA, too, that's usually been the case. Prayers for all of you today.

    1. I agree — I think it’s harder on those of us who see what’s happening.

      The situation with your husband and his aunt at the doctor — yes! That happens a lot. Sometimes when we go out to eat, the waitress will come and my father will ask me, “What do I want?” and I tell him what he ordered last time. The Communion host story — so sad.

      Thank you for your prayers.

  4. Dear Sally, I’ve been reading you for years. I cannot tell you how much comfort and insight I have gained from your writing. Your honesty is refreshing and encouraging to me.

    Thank you for your gifts of courage and please, keep on keeping on. Very Sincerely, Pam Salisbury in Washington state

    Sent from my iPad


  5. Beautiful post. My humble apologies for the lessons of life you are being vented through.
    I understand that it’s a phase of life that we all are to witness someday or the other.
    However, what makes it profound is your will power and the ability to take obstacles head on without a whine.

    I am glad to have been reading your wisdomous posts. Stay strong.

    Best regards,

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