Thursday, August 7, 2014


I wrote a draft on this topic before and never posted it.  I hesitated to post about the lives of Jim's mother and my step-mother, both of whom are experiencing the dementia of old age--very old age--ages 94 and 99 respectively.  

A friend recommended "The Madonna of Leningrad" because of my interest in art and because dementia plays a role in our lives right now.  I couldn't read past the first few pages.  It was too real and painful.  The woman could not remember if she had breakfast or whose wedding they were about to attend or what her favorite dress was.  She did remember packing up the artwork in the Hermitage in preparation for the German invasion 50 years earlier.

Within the next two weeks,  Jim's mom will be moved into Crystal Woods, the center for dementia care, at her assisted living place.  We fear she will be angry but she needs more assistance.   It is so sad to see a woman who who traveled the world after Jim's dad died be so limited.  We hope and pray she will be happier when she has more care and more structure to her life.

What is the alternative to the dementia that seems to come to so many after the age of 90? (and mostly women who outlive their spouses)

Last week I read an entertaining and informative afterword by Carolyn Heilbrun to a book of Lord Peter Wimsey stories.  I wondered if Heilbrun was also known as Amanda Cross, an author of mystery novels.  My memory was right.  Heilbrun, a feminist professor at Columbia, wrote several novels set in academic settings that did not present academia favorably to say the least.

Apparently Heilbrun had written that she would commit suicide at age 70.  She made it for seven more years before she took sleeping pills and put a bag over her head, left a brief note, and died.  She was in good health and had just walked with a friend in Central Park although she did say that she was sad.  How could she have done that to her husband and her adult children?  But she did not want to grow old and feeble and under the care of others so she ended it all while she was still strong.   (There's that word "still" again.)

That's not a good alternative.  I know that would not be putting my life in God's control--as I try to pray often.  But the story haunts me.

Several months ago James Schaap wrote a very moving account of an elderly couple on The12 blog and ended with the thought that he "wanted to wish them nothing less than a loving whirlwind and a beautiful fiery chariot home." 

What a beautiful picture that would be!

No comments:

Post a Comment