Disappearing of a Man

I visited an elderly client yesterday with advance dementia. He had come back from the dentist and had a tooth extracted. There was still blood on his lips.

I kissed his forehead although immediately by his gaze I could tell he didn’t recognize me.

“How are you feeling after your dentist appointment?” I asked while holding his hand. I had knelt to his eye level.

“I haven’t gone to the dentist.” He answered confused.

“Oh, darling! My bad. I thought you went out today.” I smiled.

“I did,” he said. “I went on a drive through the mountains. (He paused)…with you!”

I smiled and hugged him.

We haven’t gone out on a drive in months because he has not been well. But at that moment he remembered me just a little bit. I don’t correct them when they share. I go with the flow and we return to the moment again.

I sat with him until he felt an ache in his mouth and asked if I would come back another day. I hugged and kissed him. I told him that I would.

“But you promise to come see me again, right?!” He asked like a little boy.

“I will, darling.”

I had to go to the facility’s restroom and let the heartache come out. I sat in there and cried. He has declined so much. And to witness his confusion is usually not this drastic. It’s life. It’s his life. And he’s pretty much alone except for the staff and me. He has me and will continue to have me for however long he needs a friendly smile.

I have learned so much working with dementia clients. I have learned to be mindful and present. I have learned to go with the flow. I have learned to embrace the moments of joy and laughter because they do disappear quickly. I have learned so much from each one of my elderly folks. I have heard stories of love, loss and regrets. I’ve been present when they return to another era and I get to be transported there through their words and actions. Sometimes it’s been like being inside of a time machine. Because…whenever they go back in time they are right there. And I can ask about smells, colors, music and feel their hallucinations as strongly as them. We get to feel the moments together.

They are aha moments. For both of us.

My life has been enriched by these powerful moments. I’ve been truly blessed by the connections that will forever be a part of my own stories.

Take advantage of your mental health today. Right now. Feel the blessings for being here. Tomorrow is not promised. I love you.

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You Are Fire

I admit yesterday was a challenging day: emotionally and spiritually. Some personal matters got to me in a way that surprised me. Later, before coming home from work, I visited a sweet elderly client who will be 85 next week.

He is in the middle stages of dementia, in between recognizing that he’s slipping and shifting, and accepting that his mind will be completely gone in no time. Watching him struggle is not an easy feast.

He sat trying to tell me about his deceased wife. He got frustrated and in that moment his tears swelled. Mine began to let go. All I could do was sit holding his hands in mine. I told him it was alright. But the truth is that it’s not alright. And he knew it. It sucks. It’s pure yuckiness.

So we sat there. In silence. Crying. Wiping each other’s tears. Then eventually voices returned to the room. I broke the silence with sarcastic humor and he laughed.

We cannot deny our truths. I remembered at that moment how I felt when I lost my memories and I had to go home with a man I didn’t know after my accident. My brain injury was literally a wake up call. I remember staring at pictures of us and the anger and frustration of not recognizing the moments, or the person. It was excruciating and debilitating.

My client held the picture of his wedding day. He couldn’t understand the white dress or where it was. He recognized his gorgeous wife but he didn’t know what was happening. I took the photograph and traced her dress and told him they were the loveliest couple ever. He smiled. He agreed. He doesn’t remember her name anymore. This is the part that hits him hard.

This was the end of an emotional day. I got him up from his recliner and hugged him tightly. By the time I was leaving he was on to something else. The moments came and went. I believe the visit was truly cathartic for me. I needed the release…and so did he.

This morning I woke clear and free of the inner critic scolding me. The chaos was gone. A gust of wind pushed outside and woke all of us up. Our daughter slept over 12 hours. We all slept great.

Each day I am thankful for long nights that turn into mornings, friends that turn into amazing family members, dreams that turn into reality, challenges that turn into blessings, and likes that surprisingly turn into love in the most unexpected manner.

It’s a great day to have a magical one. Embrace all the emotions and allow for the visitations to come and go. You are a freaking fire. I love you.

Live Fully

Sometime ago I read somewhere that studies showed Dementia and Alzheimer’s were linked to regrets and living an unfulfilled life. When I look back at the folks in my life who have suffered I can see this to be true.

Last night I was at one of the elderly facilities attending a Christmas party and being with my sweet clients. I shared a table with a kind Alzheimer’s patient and her sister. The sister and I spoke a lot about the disease. She told me that her sister was diagnosed at the age of 55 and progressively got worst in a short time.

I asked her if her sister had a rough life…if her personal story was painful. Her eyes grew wide and she said, “Yes! She had a truly abusive husband and a very difficult life.”

I shared with her what I have witnessed in the years overseeing elderly folks with Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. I told her about the study I had read years ago and how I can see the relationship between having unfulfilled lives and regrets. The mind starts to shut down. During all of this my client was in and out of her anxiety with so many people and I kept bringing her back to the moment with touch and lots of love.

I opt to live this life to the fullest. Because…it never fails….Whenever I enter a facility to visit an elderly person I recognize regrets staring back. I hear stories through their loss of reality and watch the expressions of souls who are just waiting for death. In their dying bed I have seen the anger and frustration of past experiences and all the should’ve, could’ve, and would’ve done statements. It puts life in a different frame of mind. Regrets, resentments, bitterness, loss, and unfulfilled dreams are on top of the lists of those histories. Stories get told and relived with sorrow and sadness. They return to those parts of their lives over and over like some distressed time machine.  It’s horrific to witness. I have seen it in my own family members and recognize that the unfulfilled life, never following their dreams, and regrets have stolen their minds.

I make sure I release any resentments, anger, regrets and unforgiving crap. I don’t carry that on my spiritual body. I know Alzheimer’s and Dementia can derive from other issues such as vascular disease, viral infections and other matters. But, if I can release and surrender the past to help establish a health mind…by God, I will do that.

If I am to live a healthy life with full capacity of my mind, I will do anything to make sure I live to the fullest. Circumstances aren’t always available. Challenges rise and fall. Love comes and goes. Hurt breaks the heart and then repairs. I haven’t much on any list of things I care to do that I haven’t done. I choose to love fully. Live openly. Laugh every day. And treat strangers as old friends. No regrets. No resentments. I choose to be present to the best of my ability. It’s a matter of being mindful. I expect to go into old age with my full wits of sarcasm and memories.

I have seen too many loved ones with Dementia and Alzheimer’s to know I will do what it takes to enjoy this life. It might not always be comfortable but that’s also a matter of perception. I get to decide what I hold on to and what I let go. Letting go is on my priority list. Forgiveness and love are the healing qualities that bring me back to a harmonious body.

Now you. You get to decide what you hold on to and hurt you, or what you release and see as beautiful life lessons. You get to use your superpower of love and forgiveness. You get to adjust your perception of what is and what isn’t.

Enjoy your life, darlings. This is a gift every single day. It doesn’t have to be so hard. It just has to be lived.

Mucho love ~ Millie

BEingness 


I went to visit one of my favorite elderly clients this afternoon. I walked into the facility and there he was whistling in his wheelchair in front of the nurses’ station. I went up to him, hugged him and kissed the top of his head.  I knelt down as he continued whistling. I held his hands. He immediately noticed my sandals, “Girl, how do you pretend to help me change motors with those shoes? If something falls on your feet I am liable for it! You can’t be coming to work with open-toe shoes!”
I smiled, holding on to his hand and said, “I’m not changing that motor today. I’m here to eat lunch with you…besides you gave me the day off. After all that work on that Chevy Impala you told me to take today off!” He looked at my toes and asked what was the glitter on them. I told him I needed some sparkles cause the world needed more shine. So he said that he whistles cause the world needs more love songs. 

He was feisty today. It made my heart dance because it’s his third or fourth or ninth wind. He’s been in and out of hospice care. Whistling is what brings him life. When I hear him through the halls I know he’s feeling better. 

I grabbed a nearby chair and we sat in the hall since he said he was not ready for lunch. He was just taking a break and was going back under the car. Years of having owned a body shop are very present these days. The only thing that lights him up are conversations about cars and races. 

Of course we went through the “loop” of mechanic duties. I listened. We exchanged car talk. He corrected me and once again fixated on my inappropriate shoes. I giggled and he stopped, then asked about so and so. I made up stories that brought him comfort. I have learned with all my clients to go with the flow. We surf stories. In his case, I become the surfboard and he is the water guiding me to shore. 

And here is the thing, sitting with him reminds me of my dad and grandfather. It reminds me of uncles and other men back in my childhood. He reminds me of me as a little girl and I remind him of someone but he can’t pin point who. So we are strangers each time I visit and I come out with full gratitude for his presence. I return to feel the breath of life in a larger scope. 

This is aging without anyone by your side. That alone is hard to comprehend. There are millions like him. It brings me joy to be touched by divine wisdom through him and others like him. 

In his BEingness I become aware of presence. I become fully aware of my own BEingness. We have this moment of unity. Holding my hand we join for a little bit and that’s all anyone wants. We just want the comfort of connections and feeling the acknowledgment of one soul to another. 

Today he was my favorite connection. What was yours? Please share. 

Live without regrets 

If you get anything from what I share I hope you get this:
Sometime ago I read somewhere that studies showed Dementia and Alzheimer’s were linked to regrets and living an unfulfilled life. When I look back at the folks in my life who have suffered I can see this to be true. SO…I opt to live this life to the fullest. My birthday month starts Saturday and, as every year, I make sure to honor my existence by doing something new every single day of the month. It’s the simple things like taking a road never traveled or eating something I’ve never tried or even learning a new word in a different language. I make a point to fulfill every day with an extra oomph of presence. By the time the last day in April arrives I am totally wiped out of ideas. April becomes the longest month of the year and I love that. 

Whenever I enter a facility to visit a sweet elderly person I recognize regrets staring back. I hear stories through their loss of reality and watch the expressions of souls who are just waiting for death. 

Regrets, resentments, bitterness, loss, and unfulfilled dreams are on top of the lists. Stories get told and relived with sorrow and sadness. 

If I am to live a healthy life with full capacity of my mind, I will do anything to make sure I live to the fullest. Circumstances aren’t always available. Challenges rise and fall. Love comes and goes. Hurt breaks the heart and then repairs. I haven’t much on any list of things I care to do that I haven’t done. I choose to love fully. Live openly. Laugh every day. And treat strangers as old friends. No regrets. No resentments. I choose to be present to the best of my ability. It’s a matter of being mindful. 

I have seen too many loved ones with Dementia and Alzheimer’s to know I will do what it takes to enjoy this life. It might not always be comfortable but that’s also a matter of perception. 

Now you. You get to decide what you hold on to and hurt you, or what you release and see as beautiful life lessons. 

Enjoy your life, darlings. This is a gift every single day. It doesn’t have to be so hard. It just has to be lived. Mucho love ~ Millie

Lost in a Moment

time

Yesterday, while sitting in a waiting room for my granddaughter to get her pediatric check-up and shots, I witnessed humility at its best. I observed a young woman with her grandfather sitting side-by-side. The woman was reading scripture to him from her phone in Spanish. His distant look was endearing, sad, yet holding the rawness of final years in humanity. I have witnessed it many times in loved ones who have suffered from Alzheimer’s and dementia. Her words gently stroked him in his state of deep thought, lost in some other realm trying to reach this one. Every so often he would ask where he was or why he was there? She would rub his arm softly with security and explained he was there to see his doctor. She would continue reading from her phone. He would stare endlessly into a space void, a time warp, with a haze over his eyes that said, “I am here but I am not,” while her words caressed every syllable and his stare carefully followed them.

I sat, almost embarrassed, through the voyeurism rocking my baby girl back and forth trying to keep her entertained in the stroller. The scene put life back into perspective. I paused often, holding back tears, as he would question her again and again in moments of complete confusion. I thought about my mother before she passed. I thought about my children, when in their toddler stages, would ask again and again the same questions expecting different answers. We enter through youth and end through similarities…waiting for the love and care of another to lovingly embrace us without anger or judgment.

And, there, holding a one year old, attempting to make sense of life now and the hours ahead I was touched by humanity at the core of vulnerability. We are humans avoiding the constant flow of deep emotions. We keep busy here and there exploring the senses without truly being present. We are in need of love, touch, acceptance, and safety. If we are as fortunate as this man we have done an amazing job with our lives. He was touched attentively by someone dear and near to him. In the end that’s all we should want and need: the love from another who can care for us and still see us human rather than a burden.

Even today the scene tugs at me.  I feel the claws of gratitude urging acknowledgment. I am grateful for health, love, and the acceptance of my humanity. I am grateful for my evolution, the things I have accomplished, the obstacles I have endured and the loved ones dear to me who return with hugs and kisses. I am humbled by those who accept my imperfections and choose to laugh through my moments of insanity. I am deeply loved! I know this.  I feel this with certainty.  I am touched by friendships, relationships, and a man who would go to the end of the world in order to make me smile. Ah…we are made from complexities but if we allow vulnerability to guide us we are touched by the Divine. Mucho love to you!