My father suffered his first stroke while on a business trip in Moscow. He vaguely remembered struggling to walk down the hall of his hotel to get help. Bystanders snickered at what they thought was just another American who couldn’t handle his Vodka.
Years later, he was lying in a Ft. Lauderdale hospital bed recovering from yet another one. I walked into his room as the specialists were busy trying to determine the extent of any possible brain damage. He was in the middle of recounting a grand story about one of his crazy adventures; the nurse looked puzzled and was obviously growing deeply concerned about his mental state.
I think he was at the point in the tale where he paid for gas with gold. I tapped on the doctor’s shoulder and whispered, “Just so you know, this stuff is actually true..he’s had quite a life.”
My dad really was Indiana Jones; the world adventurer, the brash Westerner who got into scrapes and took risks, met with success and failure regularly and was always plotting his next big “thing”..And yet here he was now, just another old man in a blue gown with his butt exposed, flirting with a pretty nurse.
Maybe he was telling his life story to impress her, maybe he was telling it to remind himself who he was..no matter, he was clearly enjoying the memories and the attention.
My mom talks a lot about the past too these days, but sadly, her focus is strictly on the recent past.. as in yesterday or last week. Her stories highlight the pain and inconvenience and depressing realities of old age. I recently had to (pretty rudely) interrupt her “runaway complain-train” to remind her of how utterly amazing her life has actually been. She paused for a moment, agreed it was true, but quickly resumed her dissertation on the pros and cons of milk of magnesia…
Chugga, chugga, choo, choo! 😧
I get it..I get it.. I GET IT!!!!!- Old age sucks..but chances are your whole life didn’t. Why not think about the good times? Why not review the awesome moments, the great experiences, the life lessons, the blessings and share those instead?
Memories basically live in the salad bar of our brain and we have the tongs in our hand. Unless we are stricken with dementia, we get to choose – we get to pick what we focus on! It’s so important to create a “balanced mental meal” …and not just for our own good, but for the good of our friends and family! For sure it can’t be all cool whip all the time, but it certainly doesn’t have to be all dried up raisins either!