Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Love, Hope, Charity and Faith


Love and Hope keep all of us going, one step, one day at a time. But it is truly 'divine theos'and the spiritual infusion of grace, that has lifted my own spirits and given me the energy to continue to love, share and care for my own ailing parents, here in snow covered Alaska. The snow greeted me as I arrived and stayed lovely for days.

My parents are both doing unbelievably well. My father with an acute case of shingles, decades after the viral infection which strikes about 50% of us who have had childhood chickenpox. His shingles has attacked the facial nerve....which creates the mask like appearance on forehead and initially around both eyes.

Instead of the unbearable pain that most people experience, he now feels very little pain, and it is only intense itching that we seek to control, along with any further spreading of the virus into nerves or pathways.

This photo show him truly 250% better than what it was when I arrived on Saturday. I thought it was important to show a photo, because most of us don't know what the face of Shingles looks like, much like the concept of any disability, such as my mother's Alzheimer's.

Each of us has many faces, those we most often show the world, and those that we do not.....or can not. As we age, and go through the healing of all of the unseen places of our lives......the hidden pains, the old hurts, or the unfaced challenges......the trials seem to occur more rapidly, and many unseen faces and places become open...to.... and for....healing.

In ways that we don't always seem to understand, we learn to face some of our innermost pains or fears by literally being forced to see their outward projection. And as we walk the spiral path of the journey, with all of its winding ways, we learn to focus and reach with in....until eventually, life's journey seems to end......and a new unknown one begins again.

My father and my mother have faced many trials and challenges and had many different journeys. But they have faced them for 59 years, side by side, working with and through all of them together.

Now, my father is healing from this onslaught, and my mother from the constant imbalances of life brought on by battling cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's and becoming blind.

My mother, who was rushed one week ago, by 5 paramedics to the ER, (after an unbelievably low blood sugar reading of 22) not only survived by love, faith and grace, but is completely undamaged by what should have been a permanently debilitating (mentally, if not physically) onslaught. As my brother, who is a doctor up in Anchorage said, "really and truly she should have died. No one comes back normally after blood sugar that low."

But come back 'normally', she has. And yes, she still has moderately advanced Alzheimer's, and no ,she still can't play the piano ;)...but pray-ers can't always be choosers. She had Alzheimer's before the seizures (2 sets in 2 days) and the coma, and she had it now.... but as she says...'we've always been a little cuckoo in this house, anyway!' and she's right. So, a 'little cuckoo' we all are and that sense of humor has served us all, well.

We are, yet we are not, ordinary people. We have grown through a lifelong succession of extraordinary events. All 5 of us children have almost died (from disease, from a burst appendixes and then a heart stopping reaction to anesthetic, a gangrenous leg, a dry docked fishing boat falling on one brother...crushing his body, our house burned to the ground, my mom surviving stage 3b (out of 4stages) of inflammatory breast cancer, my father was lost for a week during a moose hunting trip, later to survive an almost bursting gall bladder and has also jumped off a flaming roof with two sons in his arms from a second story house during our fire.

Our lives have been high drama, all played out in pioneer territorial and then into early Statehood Alaska, with our food shipped in on barges or fished from the ocean and procured from the forests.

We grew up with Finnish speaking grandparents in Alaska and a French speaking grandmother in Louisiana. Both grandmothers with intuitive gifts that often saved the lives of their own loved ones. We have been blessed with those gifts and continue to use that grace to live our lives, day by day.

Life, I have learned, is not what it appears to be; miracles are truly natural occurrences in all of our lives, but we forget to see them around us, when in truth they are always present. And when we create the rainbow energies of love, hope and faith to find our way to use the full glory of its beautiful blessing rays, with God's grace, we for ourselves and for all those that we love.

No matter how hard life is, or the lives of those that I love, there is a purpose and a meaning to the deepest, most challenging of times. I know that our spirits grow as we are tested, and our energies only increase as we learn just how much each of us is truly capable of.

My father's shingles are disappearing visually, day by day from the surface world of appearances and the virus is ebbing from the deeper level of the nerve where they attempt to hide until you are weakened by illness or age or in my father's care giver case...absolute exhaustion.

My mother is captivating and sweet, as we laugh over the tiniest thing, to the most awful challenges and mishaps of daily life. When one works with love, than even the hardest of daily chores of cleaning up, cooking, cleaning the house, changing bedding repeatedly, medicating, giving insulin injections, toileting....all of the things we take for granted when healthy, become a lesson......and a chance to grow, simply a challenge to be surmounted and overcome, one step at a time.

The smallest events suddenly become three ring circuses and you just have to laugh until you cry that you are all able to even experience them! I left them alone for one hour yesterday as I rushed to a store to buy them some treats.

When I returned home, they'd almost dialed 911 because they couldn't get my dad out of the recliner. They were laughing their heads off over just how hard it is for two old people, working together to do something so simple and it reduced them to hysterical laughter instead of to despair or tears.

My father eventually got out of his chair, with her using her walker to help him push on its handle, as he shook and lurched to get it upright again. Then, he asked my legally blind mother to lead him (with her walker) to get to the kitchen to make coffee. "I can't see he says, bring me to the kitchen."

"Where's the kitchen?" she asked. "down the hall where it's always been' says my dad. "I don't have my memory says my mother, how am I to know where it's always been?' 'Just start pulling me, he says, we'll figure it out and find it eventually.'

Find it they did. And somehow, thank goodness, without burning themselves or the house down. They made coffee together, ate a muffin and were sitting quietly, each in their recliner, all sweet and innocent when I got home.

They were so tickled with themselves that they told and re-told the story and I was so grateful for laughter, for acceptance of change, and for the ability to know that what who we once were, is not always who we are now, and that change is growth, instead of stagnancy, which is not.

And as we look out the window of our Alaskan home, I know that while snow in October might seem a miracle, it is the three of us watching it fall that are the greatest miracles of all. Each part a part of the whole, totally perfect in its apparent imperfection. Each in place in space and in time, while seemingly out of place and out of time.

I thank each and everyone of you for your blessings and the joining of your beautiful spirits with mine. I felt each and everyone of you, all with your own unique gifts and blessings, and you have lifted me up in all ways. Blessings to all of you, as we are being blessed.

11 comments:

  1. A simply touching post Michele. How wonderful that they can still manage to laugh at these moments which might bring others to tears. Your writing is so wonderful-as always, you manage to bring words to life with it. I'm thinking of you and sending prayers for you all.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I loved reading your post this morning. The part about making the coffee is an inspiration for all of us in our journey. Thank you for sharing these times with such emotion and love.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give." (Eleanor Roosevelt)

    Thank you, dear Michele, for sharing your journey with us...

    ReplyDelete
  4. I was very touched by your note. We think we're the only ones suffering or having problems. My father is in the first stages of Alzheimer's and sometimes it's so overwhelming. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You are such a beautiful spirit! All three of you!! Thank you so much for sharing this post with us. It is truly so inspiring and filled with love.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow I didn't know about all the death defying in your family. The coffee story is truly priceless. You need to write a book.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm so glad I got to read your story, it is so uplifting.It is nice to see that the 3 of you can focus on the good and not the bad. You have such a sweet caring soul, as sad as it may be your words made me smile.

    ReplyDelete
  8. You are so blessed, thank you for blessing me with your story.

    ReplyDelete
  9. michele,
    What an amazing set of parents you have- their love spills forth from the page. Humor is a marvellous thing- it does keep one spirits and energy positive- what a great way to live life.
    The story of the coffee reminds me of young children feeling very pleased with themselves over their accomplishments.
    Your family is living proof that life can work in mysterious ways - true miracles.
    I hope that your father is soon totally recovered without any lasting damage.

    Another beautiful touching post...
    thank you for sharing...
    Hugs,
    Anna

    ReplyDelete
  10. you write so well and so touching in telling your story and your parents-it is heartbreaking and heart uplifting which is life-the circle continues. thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  11. thinking of you and your family at this time, you have a wonderful heart, and so caring,

    take care

    ReplyDelete

Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.