Feeling at Home and Going Home!!

What a week it has been …. a true emotional roller coaster!

On Tuesday, Mom turned 91 and what an amazing celebration we had!! I found a beautiful cake for Mom, and added only two orange candles to represent Tim and how much he loved celebrating birthdays!! We not only had lots of cake and ice cream but there was plenty of dancing too!!! I danced with Mom and the caregivers danced with the other residents…I asked Mom if she was having a good time and her response was “I’m feeling right at home”! I don’t think Mom has ever said that before and she may never say it again…. BUT it sure made my heart happy!! She’s content and at peace and with this disease, and if there is anything better I don’t know what it is….

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On Wednesday I headed over the Bay Bridge to Easton, Maryland to give a presentation at Candle Light Cove, an assisted living and memory care facility. I walked for an hour before my presentation through the quaint town and was inspired and relaxed at the end of my walk. As soon as I walked into the facility, it was like being at home. People rushed to great me, made me coffee (they also had wine!!), filled me up with many chef delicacies and the group that listened to my presentation was simply awesome! I was really sad when it was time to return home!

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On Friday night, I had the pleasure of seeing the One-Woman Show by one of my newest friends Elizabeth McCain! The show is called “A Lesbian Belle Tells” and it was simply fabulous!! It was funny (as she gave us wonderful impressions of all of her relatives) and painful (being estranged from family members after coming out), and brutally honest (sharing her deepest feelings of love and pain). The evening was stunning, and as a speaker myself, I learned so much from Elizabeth… Throughout the show she virtually “took us home” to where she grew up in the deep south! One of the things I took away from that powerful night was that after a long journey of soul searching, spirituality and finding true love with her spouse Marie, Elizabeth is as “at home” in her own skin as anyone I’ve ever met. I’m in awe of her! I felt empowered and emotional at the end of the night, thrilled by everything I took away from her show.

It was Saturday that was the most emotional of the week. I was supposed to work a LEGO shift at the National Cathedral but got a substitute instead so I could be with my dear friend Wendi who has over the period of more than 20 years absolutely become part of my family. Her Mom Harriet passed on Valentine’s Day and I was heartbroken for her. I made the three hour trip at the crack of dawn to Courtland, VA, a place that I’d not been before, but felt I knew from all the stories Wendi had shared of it. The drive was beautiful and peaceful and because it has snowed the day before, the snow had stuck to the trees making them glisten! When I got to Harriet’s home, it was warm and inviting and of course filled with family members prior to the start of the funeral. The long line of cars that went from the house to the church was somber, but what struck me the most was the respect that all the other drivers showed to the procession. Even if they were on the other side of the road, they pulled to the side and waited for the procession to pass by. Some people got out of their cars and put their hands over their hearts, which brought me to tears. Bryant Baptist Church where the funeral was held was small but beautiful and filled to capacity with some folks even standing in the back. The eulogy was given by Harriet’s nephew and was entitled “You CAN go home again” and had us laughing and crying! Harriet had spent almost 40 years in DC throughout high school and a long Federal career, BUT had returned home to her beloved Courtland in 2007. I loved that she was so loved in DC and in her beloved Courtland! And I loved that she was able to go back home and that she actually died in her home as opposed to a hospital. To be able to go back home to the place you were born and raised and be so happy with that choice, and then to be called home to be with God filled me with sorrow for her family who will miss her dearly, but also with love and hope and the belief that you really CAN go home again. On the three hour drive back to DC, I thought about my Mom and the two homes in DC she lived in for the first 77 years of her life. My Mom won’t ever be able to go “home” again as Harriet did, BUT the fact that she’s found a home in her group home brings me much joy!

Today my goal was to spend the day filling my spirit. I went to the early service at church where there was both baptisms and confirmation and a visit from our Bishop. After church I attended a class I was so excited to take. It’s a five-week Sisterhood class, that most of the participants are looking forward to as a starting point for building deep relationships with other women who worship in the same place. For me, the older I get the more I feel the need for more meaningful relationships. After the very empowering and enlightening class, I had two hours to spend before the start of a Liturgical Dance Festival I was to attend. So I went to the Frederick Douglass home, one of my favorite places to go and reflect (even when it’s not African American History Month), not to mention the fact that it is the perfect vantage point from which to see almost all of DC. I walked around the gorgeous property for an hour in the beautiful sun, and looked out over the city reflecting on this past week.

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Attending the Liturgical Dance Festival was absolutely the BEST way to end this very emotional week. I had bought the ticket as part of my observance of African-American History Month and though it was the first time I’d ever attended the event, it surpassed my expectations!! I was stunned by the beauty and spirit of the event!! What an incredibly powerful and inspiring two hours and several of the dances brought me to tears!! The dancers were of all sizes and ages, which I LOVED – AND they all moved like they were on cloud nine!!!

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I can’t think of a recent week where I cried so much, both from Joy and Sadness – YET I’ve come away feeling like I’ve grown a mile, and that makes me feel right at home!! I hope you all have a Blessed Week and are in a space where you feel “at home” wherever you are!

6 thoughts on “Feeling at Home and Going Home!!

  1. Dear Loretta,

    Your life is so rich and full, and I know it is because you are so completely open to the beauty, the joy, the sorrow, the whole panoply of days lived with the full range of human emotions and relationships. Thank you for sharing the fullness of your experiences and learnings. You never hold back, which is a remarkable and wonderful thing.

    I’m so glad your mother had a wonderful birthday and that you and the staff celebrated so joyfully with her. I love the pictures. The Sisterhood class, the Frederick Douglass home, and the Liturgical Dance Festival: all so meaningful and rewarding and so very much the kind of events and places you embrace with gusto. You choose blessing, and then you in turn bless us all with your stories. I am grateful for that each time I read a post of yours.

    I hope you have a great week, Loretta. Thank you for taking advantage of what this remarkable world has to offer. And thanks for sharing.

    Much love,

    Karen

    • Hey Karen!!

      I’m definitely trying to embrace ALL of the Joy of this life that I can!! And I don’t know where I’d be without writing my thoughts down!! It started with my fear of gettining dementia and I’d have my writings to look back on, but then progressed to writing being so healing and freeing for me!!

      The week was so emotional but exhilarating too!! And I do love sharing my stories!! I’m thrilled my Mom is doing so well and she absolutely loves seeing the photos I take. Showing the pics of us and our activities in my presentations gives hope to others that there are likely still plenty of things that their loved ones can do in spite of their dementia.

      I’m hoping this week will be much more laid back so I can catch my breath!!

      Much love to you Karen!! I truly appreciate having you in my life!!

      Loretta

  2. I’ve just discovered your website, and blog – this is the first post I’ve read. I look forward to savoring the rest of your writing, and learning from you and your experiences. I’m also an Alzheimer’s daughter.

    • Hey Annie!! I absolutely LOVE to write!! Thanks for your comments and for reading my blog!! I find it sooooo freeing not only to write but to also be able to look back at past blogs to get a great sense of what I was thinking and feeling at the time!!

      Thanks again!! There are a lot of us Alzheimer’s daughters out there!!

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