Monday, April 19, 2010

ReVisiting Old Thoughts

Some 20 years ago, before Mike was diagnosed, we tried to visit Mike's grandmother as much as possible. She lived locally and she lived alone. We tried to keep Courtney and Brandon close to their Great-Grandmother, but there were times that Mike and I dreaded the visits.
You see, when her daughter Barbara (Mike's mom) got sick and eventually passed away, her world ended. As a young mother myself at the time, my heart broke for her. No parent should bury their child. After her daughter's death, days turned into weeks, weeks turned to months and months turned into years, yet she remained as emotional as she was the day she passed away. There was not one time that we visited Mike's grandmother, when she did not break down and cry. On one particular visit, I remember saying to Mike "Instead of her focusing on what she DOESN'T have, she should focus on what she DOES have. If I should be blessed to live to her age, I hope I will see things differently".

She lost her only daughter to a cruel disease - yet she still had two sons who loved her very much and remained in her life. One lived out of state and called her every week. He and his wife would visit a few times a year. Her other son lived locally and he called her every day. She also had Mike and his two brothers, along with their respective wives and children. I saw an older woman blessed by being surrounded my family and instead of being thankful for the family she did have, she continually mourned the person she lost.

Lately, I've been finding myself repeating my own words of wisdom...I need to be thankful for what I have, instead of dwelling on all I lost.

I've been feeling sadder than usual lately, for me, Mike and the kids and all that we have missed out on as a family because of this disease. The other day at work, an attorney left work early to take his young son to the Yankee opening game. When they walked out of the office, I teared up. The thought that Mike and Brandon will never share another ball game together hit me hard.

When Courtney gets upset because she cannot go to the college of her choice due to Mike's illness and the financial impact it's had on us - I feel like I've let her down as a parent.

When I hear co-workers talk about holidays, vacations etc. I think of all that we "could have" done.

I need to remind myself constantly:
- I should be thankful for the fact that at least Mike and Brandon did attend one Yankee game when he was well (other children haven't been so lucky).
- I should be thankful that Courtney earned scholarships that allow her to attend college (which other children don't have).
- I should be thankful for all the holidays and vacations we DID have when Mike was well (allbeit the kids were often too young to remember them). We were blessed.

What I need to do is revisit my own thoughts every now and again. Sometimes the best advise you can take is your own. Instead of mourning the life we lost, I should appreciate the life that we now have.


Kerry said...

Good for you. Stay strong. You are amazing.

Anonymous said...


Yes, focus on the positive! Many of the issues you mentioned are faced by many other people in sickness and health as well, everyone has their problems no two alike but everyone just the same. Financial issues exist for most families with college age children...not just ones with are blessed in many ways others are not, but it is often difficult to see the forest through the trees. Yes you have been given a huge challenge but seem to be doing a great job. I wish you continued vision for the many blessings you have and the life lessons you and more importantly your children are learning albeit the hard way.

Karen said...

Yes, I am very blessed - sometimes in ways I wish I wasn't. I write this blog so people can walk with me in my shoes. While there are MANY horrific diseases, there are none like Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease. I was pleased that NEWSDAY was able to show the general public how "blessed" we really are. I firmly believe there are MANY people out there that just don't "get it". While there are many families struggling with their day to day problems, I challenge them to take a moment and think about how easy they have it compared to others. Even with all our emotional, physical and financial hardships, I know there will always be others out there worse off then we are. Unfortnately, not everyone thinks the way I do.

Courtney Henley said...

Dear Anonymous, whoever you may be-

My mom is totally aware that other people have it worse than she does. In fact, she says this so much at home that it's kind of frustrating sometimes ;)

My mom uses this blog as a way to vent. She needs it. She doesn't do much for herself because she's always focusing on my dad. And as for the financial issues with college, trust me, we are TOTALLY aware that this is the case. I DO have other friends in college too, and they're also experiencing financial difficulties. HOWEVER - the difference here is that this financial difficulty with college costs is NOW piled on top of everything else that my mom has to worry about, so it's just an extra little thing she doesn't need to deal with.

Trust me- we all thank God every day for everything He's blessed us with. Just the fact that my dad is still healthy and with us at home is enough. But sometimes, like I said before, my mom just needs a place to vent, and she uses this blog as a place to do that. Without venting, she'd probably explode, and nobody wants that! :)

I'm done :)