I’ve been trying to write this post for the past week, but the words wouldn’t come until now. This last month, from February 18th through today, has been one of the most emotional 4 1/2 weeks I’ve had since Tim died. On February 18th my Mom turned 89 and we had a joyful birthday celebration with her best friend in the world, Mrs. Adams who I’ve known my entire life. We laughed and laughed and laughed after a KFC lunch, which had been our once a month dinner treat when I was a kid. Yet in spite of all the joy and cake and ice cream, after I dropped off Mrs. Adams at home tears started to flow and I had to pull over until I could see well enough again to drive. I couldn’t really say why I was crying.
The very next week, I was in St. Croix, with the Virgin Island Family Caregiver Group, where I was the keynote speaker for a conference that was postponed for five months due to the hurricane. The caregivers, who fell in love with me when they met me in September 2016 six weeks after Tim died, were stunned to see me again and cheered loudly when their “favorite speaker in the whole-wide world” was once again the highlight of their respite weekend. Even though the damage to the island and lack of hotel rooms reduced the respite event from a weekend to one day, it was a powerful day of reconnection and love. At the end of the day when I got back to my hotel room, I cried and cried, but just like on Mom’s birthday I had no idea why…
After the Virgin Islands, I gave presentations at a DC area hospital, and a joint Home Instead and Alzheimer’s Association event that was called “Loretta Day” in Frederick, Md. At the Frederick, MD event I gave my debut of my presentation “Amazing Tools to Lighten the Caregiver’s Load”, and it was a huge hit. I was so proud of myself, and at the end of the presentation I was near tears.
Then came last week when I traveled to Ohio, a place I’ve been to six times now for presentations. I was the keynote speaker in Cincinnati for the Council on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Associations Dimensions of Dementia conference in Dayton. Between both events, for which I gave two sessions to each group, I spoke to almost 1,000 people. I had mailed a total of six boxes of books to Ohio, but only five arrived. I was so busy with my presentations and book signings that I couldn’t worry about the missing box. The only thing I’ve learned to date is that it is somewhere floating through Ohio. While in Cincinnati I had a mini meltdown when I met the morning keynote speaker and her husband. He was helping her sell her books by running the credit card app on her phone and chatting with customers just as Tim did for me. Before I knew it, I was crying… I explained why I was crying and they both gave me a hug. I was surprised that I had cried in front of others something I’m careful not to do. When I got out of Ohio last Friday night ahead of a big freezing rain storm, I was excited. I had met and chatted with so many people over my three days in Ohio that I was emotionally spent when I arrived home. I fell into the bed with my clothes on and burst into tears.
I regrouped over the weekend in spite of attending a very emotional funeral at church and working on Monday. The weather report was ominous for today, so I headed down to Salisbury, MD Monday night to ensure I was present and ready for today’s Alzheimer’s Association presentation. On the two-hour ride down to Salisbury I “uncovered” why I’ve been so emotional over the last month. I’ve FINALLY started to say out loud that this work, speaking to and encouraging caregivers, is the work I was meant to do. This is my calling…. It can sometimes be tough, sharing my vulnerable self, and then listening to the sharing of others. I’ve been crying because I’ve thoroughly embraced the fact that I AM inspiring and encouraging others to continue to serve as caregivers even when it isn’t always easy!! I’ve been crying because people are hearing me and responding and embracing me…. more than ever before. Even in the middle of my grief of losing Tim, I’m strong enough to carry this work and to hold up others and myself in the process. I’ve finally figured out that all my tears of late, are tears of PRIDE and JOY!
Mrs V. When I saw the title of your blog post I immediately wanted to read it. The work you do as always inspires sooo many others. You give so much of yourself. I’m definitely PROUD of you. God bless you always….
Thank you Lt. Col. Gen!!!! I soooooo appreciate your love and support for all of these years!! I’m so glad I’ve made you proud!!!
Dear Loretta, I am glad that you see yourself anew, I am glad that you are doing this work and I am so proud that you are taking care of your fine self and that good and tender heart of yours. Take care and spread that Joy.
Thank you Michele!!!!!! I’m so glad it’s all starting to make sense to me now!! It’s become a really joyful journey!!! So grateful for your support my friend!!
Good Morning Loretta,
Praises to God our Father for the Revelations He reveals through our ‘tears.’
Yes, indeed you know this is your calling, yes it will bring tears; but my dear friend it also brings blessings, joy and laughter to all who are fortunate to sit in your presence. Continue to do the work, continue to enjoy what He has bless you with. For the Joy of the Lord is your strength!
Happy for your mother celebrating another birthday, ‘how great is our God!
Love, Belinda >
Thank you so much Belinda!!! I was soooo lucky to meet you on the road along this journey and you’ve been there ever since!! sooooo glad you’re with me!!! YES I’m still amazed at how well Mom is doing!!! Her two favorite words right now are “Jesus Christ” and you can’t go wrong with that!!! I think it’s her way of saying I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing….
I can’t thank you enough for listening to and following your Calling! You are truly transformational and I know the Salisbury audience felt the Grace and Love that was pouring out of you all day- not just during your talk! We were so Blessed to have you attend and speak at our event for dementia caregivers and professionals. I can’t wait to work with you again! With much love and sincere appreciation, Cyndi Prud’homme, Alzheimer’s Association
For anyone who is concerned about a loved one or friend, please know caring, professional help is available- only a phone call away- 24 hours a day through our Helpline. Please call 1-800-272-3900. you are NOT ALONE. HELP is available! No question is too big or too small.
WOW Cyndi!! Thank you so very much for reading and responding to my blog!! I appreciate your comments so much!! My blog is such an amazing outlet for me!!
You’re an absolute dream to work with so I too look forward to many more opportunities to work with you!!