Why are we seemingly hard-wired as adventure-seekers and not emergency-preparers? Said differently, why do we wait until the storm to prepare for the storm? Do we learn from the storm when it is finished? I was thinking through this concept yet again after church today. (Note: If there is one finger pointed at you, there are three more pointed at me.) The pastor’s message was from the Beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew and discussed peace and peacemakers. As a side-note, the pastor explained how palm trees are one of the few things remaining after large hurricanes. Psalm 92:12 says ” The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.” How do they withstand gale-force winds? They are built to get stronger the more times they are pushed hard by the wind. Experience builds resilience.
Am I like that? How about you? Are you flourishing in the current struggles? Am I? Am I too hard-headed to learn? I hope I am learning and I also hope you are. Sorry for all of the questions, but this stuff matters. 😉
Surely I am prepared… After all, I spent a couple weeks in May of 2011 in Joplin, Missouri helping them dig out of the most costly tornado in US history. It was shocking the damage. Just shocking! In late 2005 I also helped extensively with Hurricane Katrina cleanup. Heck, in May 2003 a F3 tornado ripped through 3 towns, two of which I visited in the same day (!!!) at different times. Therefore, with a resume like this and the fact that I am disaster preparedness director for my agency must mean I am ready for anything that could come my way, right? You know, I am pretty ready for natural disasters. My Ready in 3 training helped me understand even further the need and usefulness of having a disaster plan, making a disaster kit and being ready to be informed in a disaster.
With all of this self-reflection and vast experience, how on Earth did this Alzheimer’s Disease my mom has found herself engulfed in catch me off guard? I work with seniors for a living. I visit senior centers. I see nursing homes. I read and study aging all of the time. I hear the stories. I am not in the trenches, as such, but I break bread and share life with many who are. I took a gerontology class last year from Southwest Baptist University to better understand what my mom would be getting into. Why didn’t I see it coming before I did?
Alzheimer’s Disease, and dementia in general, are very hard to diagnose. The actual scientific, concrete diagnosis of the disease actually happens post-mortem. 🙁 Mom was forgetting things a lot, but I spent much more time on the phone with her than I did in person. It is hard to see the gestures of confusion while on the phone. My step-dad, living with her 24/7 as a caregiver, didn’t even truly see it coming nor did he really say much until it was pretty advanced. We all knew she had been diagnosed with a “minor dementia”, whatever in the heck THAT means, 8 years before, but the Alzheimer’s Disease diagnosis less than 2 years ago was shocking.
So, since it is too late to be more prepared beforehand and the disease is not curable nor is it particularly treatable, I commit even more to three things:
- Learning and growing vicariously through her tragedy. I will not waste the opportunity to grow by sulking and burying my head in the sand.
- Serving my family, my mom, the Sweet 17, and you, my reader. It is a terrible situation, but it is an opportunity for me to help others and to Glorify my God in each of these groups, so I will do my best to improve in this area.
- Advocate for victims and their families of this disease.
If you want to join me in this effort, donate to SeniorAge or join one of my fundraisers for them for for the Alzheimer’s Association. The Longest Day fundraiser is coming soon. Watch for more info here on that. 🙂
I can’t fix the past… it has passed. I will focus on the now and on the future, two things I can still change. And, if the winds come again, I hope to be more ready next time.