Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Wistful Celebration

When my book, Dueling With Dementia, was published on Wednesday, I felt happy, nervous, excited, vulnerable. This is my first book, and I wanted to celebrate. Alas, each of my children was busy with work, school, or a girlfriend. Mollie, my dog, was happy, but she's always happy. I showed her the book, but she was not impressed. I sent out an email to my friends and received many positive comments in response,  but what I wanted to do was CELEBRATE with someone who cares about me.

Of course, the obvious choice should have been my husband, but he's the subject of my book, and he's no longer able to appreciate my accomplishment because of his dementia. All of a sudden, in the midst of feeling a bit sorry for myself being all alone on publication day, I remembered one of Gordon's first gifts to me. Gordon's preference for gifts was jewelry, though I'm not much of a jewelry person. However, for Christmas 1982, Gordon gave me an IBM Selectric II typewriter so that I could more easily write my plays and stories. While I loved the typewriter, the more important gift was Gordon's belief in me and my writing. 

Sadly, my beloved typewriter was destroyed in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. My bricks and board bookcases collapsed on it, crushing it. Out of sentimentality, I kept the twisted machine for years because of what it represented--Gordon's belief in me.

With four young children, I had no time to write, but the idea that one day I would write was always in the back of my mind. I would have to get another typewriter, but that could wait, I thought, until the children were much older.

But Gordon had another idea. On Mother's Day 1993, Gordon bought me my first Apple computer based on the recommendation of our friend, Rob, who worked for Apple. Gordon said that he knew I had no time for writing then, and that the computer would most probably be used for children's school software, but he wanted me to have it in case I found time to write because he was looking forward to seeing my work published, having spent years listening to me read to him the scenes from plays, short stories, and essays that I wrote. Again, while I loved my Apple computer, the greatest treasure was Gordon's belief in me, and I cried tears of joy.

While the gifts of the typewriter and computer were long ago, the memories of those two gifts and Gordon's belief in me are still in my head and heart. 

So, to celebrate my book being published, I took out those two memories from my treasure chest of memories and polished them, while I baked a batch of celebratory cookies and toasted my book with a glass of chilled white wine. A wistful celebration to be sure, but a fitting one too.

Take care,


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Monday, April 16, 2012

Two Can Be The Loneliest Number

Today I've been musing on the difference between solitude and loneliness. I believe solitude is a positive experience. I have always loved being by myself. I never get lonely or bored. I enjoy my own company. For me, time alone is a time for growth and reflection; my thoughts are free to roam hither and yon with no one putting a kibosh on them. Solitude promotes feelings of joy and serenity. However, because I am a sharer, I do not want to be alone too long or too often, or my brain will explode with all the thoughts I want to share and get some feedback on, but some alone time definitely uplifts my spirits.

Loneliness, on the other hand, crushes my spirit. Loneliness is the flip side of solitude. It is a painful aloneness. I've found that the loneliest place can be, paradoxically, when I am with someone. 

And I think that I've finally figured out why. Our family's current situation results in me spending much too much time at home alone with my husband who has dementia. Dementia destroys the possibility of meaningful interaction; there can be no sharing, no connection, no shared laughter. Yet, because my husband sits in a chair in the living room or at the dinner table, there is the presumption that the possibility of meaningful interaction can occur. So, night after night, I feel a desperate, despairing loneliness when I want to share a thought, or a comment about our children, or a laugh at something on TV, but I can't share because my husband sits in his own world, uninterested in and often oblivious to my world. When it is just the two of us, our house is no longer a home. It is a lonely, empty, hollow shell.

I often feel like running from the house like Edvard Munch's screamer, channeling Conrad's Kurtz's "the horror, the horror." But I don't. Instead, I try valiantly to find slivers of solitude in the unbearable loneliness, slivers that will keep me going until one of my children or friends walks through my door, and all my thoughts, ideas, and feelings that I've been storing up can pour forth and be shared. In that moment of sharing, loneliness is vanquished, and our house once again becomes a home that is full of love and laughter and connection.

Take care,


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