Today is Thanksgiving, and I’ve spent a wonderful day with my family. Try as I might to let the sun shine fully upon the holiday, a shadow has been cast upon the day as I reflect tonight. This was the first year that all of my parents, biological and in-laws, have been absent from the family celebration. Four Thanksgivings have come and gone since my mother died, but my father-in-law was not in attendance this year for the first time because he is in the hospital, his health in a precarious state for an eighty-eight year old. Suddenly my generation is the one responsible for the continuation of our family traditions.
As I consider all that I have to be thankful for this year, and there is so much, my thoughts eventually turn to the disease that claimed my mother’s life in 2009. Is there any reason to be thankful for Alzheimer’s disease and the extreme difficulties my family faced during my mother’s battle with dementia?
I’ve detested Alzheimer’s disease for so long now, since 1996 to be exact. It is strange to even consider that there might be a reason to appreciate Alzheimer’s disease. This disease is the worst and most devastating thing I have faced so far, and for that reason I have learned more from it than anything else. There is reason to be thankful for this monster entering my life, because Alzheimer’s has taught me things that it might have otherwise taken me a lot longer to figure out.
So tonight I am thankful that Alzheimer’s disease has opened my eyes to some very important truths. I will carry these dementia lessons with me for the rest of my life, and for that I am grateful. Thanks to Alzheimer’s disease, I have learned that:
- Life is too short to be unhappy.
- It’s better to listen than to shout.
- You will never regret helping those you love.
- The simple things are truly the most important things in life.
- Family is all important, even a family with strained relationships and impossible differences.
- It’s never too late to accept your mistakes and apologize.
- Forgiveness and compassion are required to find happiness and peace.
While these discoveries may seem obvious, sometimes the hardest things to learn are the least complicated. What about you? Has Alzheimer’s disease given you anything to be thankful for?
Image courtesy of Kevin Dooley