One of my grandsons, Patrick, is a junior at the University of California at Berkkley. He is majoring in Medieval History and is taking Latin courses. I waded through four years of Latin in High School; Hated Cicero, but loved Virgil. Patrick reminded me of the Latin term, sui generis, meaning one-of-a-kind, unique. Our recent published book, Seasons of Caring: Meditations for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregivers is sui generis, The book includes more than 130 original meditations from m 70 religious leaders and care specialists. What makes it unique is that the meditations are written by caregivers from 17 religions of the world. All religions are united in the struggle against Alzheimer’s and finding comfort and hope for beleaguered caregivers. A creative work goes beyond conventional genre boundaries, which makes it sui generis. Although there are many books on care giving, none can match this work. All proceeds go to ClergyAgainstAlzheimers. It is available at a modest price at http://www.amazon.com
Recently, I read a powerful poem by Jane Kenyon which inspired me to pen myown rendition:
I live in a secure community, supported by an wonderful staff. It might have been otherwise.
I got up out of a warm bed, standing on two fairly stable legs. It might have been otherwise.
I ate cereal with lactaid milk and blueberries. It might have been otherwise.
All morning I worked at my computer, and wrote. It might have been otherwise.
I ate lunch in a community dining room and then took a nap. It might have been otherwise.
I ate dinner with my wife and two friends, and chose from a menu. It might have been otherwise.
I watched my favorite sports team in action. It might have been otherwise.
I went to sleep, surrounded by my religious icons and pictures of my grandchildren. It might have been otherwise.
But one day I know,
It will be otherwise.
Monday was a red letter day. Our book, SEASONS OF CARING; MEDITATIONS FOR ALZHEIMER’S AND DEMENTIA CAREGIVERS Was published in a record 5 months! (See) WWW.Seasons of Caring.org). Not a day passes in this place without some encounter with a person with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia. At times it is helping find them their way to their apartment or helping them locate their “lost” walker. We ate with a lady who suffers from loss of language so she pointed to the menu and asked me to order her meal. “Its’s good,” she repeated and I had to stop her from putting butter in her coffee.
I am collecting poetry, so I my hand at writing a poem, as I tried to get inside the mind of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s.
THE FOG I AM IN
I don’t know who I or how I got here.
So every day i just exist in constant fear.
I don’t say much, but kindly smile.
I am a person without any guile.
I look in a mirror and wonder who is that
A strange old lady wearing a funny red hat.
Sometimes I can go back and remember my past,
But I’m not sure even this will last.
Please understand of who i have been,
And forgive where I am now, and the fog I am in.
Since I was a student at Davidson College, I have haunted libraries. I believe much of my success in graduate work is related to endless hours spent in libraries at graduate schools and seminaries. When I started writing in 1962, I frequented many libraries, always finding inspiration to be a wordsmith and author. Cicero was right, “if you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” I am richly blessed by the Norwin Public Library, which houses 45,000 volumes. It was my joy to be President of the Friends of the Library for a while when the new library opened in 2004.I love what Groucho Marx wrote, “The very first moment someone turns on the TV, I go to the library and read a good book.” The other day I spent three hours in the Norwin Public Library, doing research and browsing its stacks. It seems I always find a new book which captures my interest. The community owes much to Diana Falk, Director and her fantastic staff. They are always kind, courteous and quick to help the patrons. Since I am somewhat limited, deprived of driving top book store, I rely on the Norwin Library for getting books on Inter=Library Loan. Krista Brown has been of great help in finding and getting books for me. I often remember my friend Bill Kunkle, who was so instrumental in making our new library a reality. He died suddenly before he saw his vision come true. But when i pass the community room in his memory, I pause at Bill’s photo on the wall, and me there are libraries in the afterlife. If I disappear some day, you could probably find me in the stacks of a library. And, furthermore, in this noisy, wordy society, I love the silence of Libraries.
One of the new experiences in my later years is reading poetry. My brother John Crossley Morgan, is the family poet. The poems he wrote at our parent’s deaths are masterpieces. I recommend his book, THIN PLACES, to anyone who loves poetry. John claims kinship with the Welsh who are such good poets.I lead a Poetry group here. We meet once a month and share poems. Our number is small, but our spirit is strong. Sharing poetry builds community. One of our group is Dorothy Manzlak, who is 95 years old, and writes poetry. Recently she wrote the following about our group.
Ode to Redstone’s Poetry Group
In the beauty of poetry,.
We find ourselves to be.
Matriarchs and Patriarchs of gentility.
Living long, experiencing much.
Not using our age as a crutch,
We joyfully stay in touch.
Sharing Stories of days gone by,.
We find to each other they apply.
Some sad, soe glad or even bad – we never lie.
We are graced to have Richard lead our way
With loving care and without delay
we read our poems to make our day!
Dorothy Manzlak March 2014 (Used by permission)
These have been difficult times here. We have a low population of men in this community and in the last 2 weeks three men have died, and one is near death. Men are an endangered species here, with only 15 survivors in a community of 91 residents. It is like viewing a line of marching soldiers and one by one many drop off and are seen no more; and there are none to take their place. it seems as if the angel of death visits here often, 181 deaths in 14 years. My brother, Howard, was in Asia some time ago, and sent me this fantastic picture of Monks in a Sunlit Doorway from Cambodia. What strikes me is the shadowy figures of the monks, but light is streaming through the doorway ~~~ not only pointing to light outside the room, but light inside the darkness. That is the good news that even when life is difficult, there is light. I began my ministry at the Richmond Home for Ladies and it is ending at Redstone Home for Ladies (and a few men).
The 2014 baseball season has ended, and the Royals fell one run short of winning the Series. Every baseball season, I watch Field of Dreams.
It is a wonderful story of Iowa farmer, Ray Kinsella, who hears a voice saying to him, “If you build it, he will come.” He builds a baseball diamond in the field. At first Shoeless Joe Jackson appears, then other players from the the 1919 Black Sox scandals, but the climatic moment occurs when his deceased father appears and reconciliation happens. I see a strong parallel between this film and the amazing story of a new book, Seasons of Caring: Meditations foe Caregivers of Alzheimer’s and other Dementias. Some months ago, Dr. Danny Potts, a celebrated neurologist, envisioned a book of meditations, written by caregivers for caregivers. Although there is a plethora of books written by caregivers for those caring for persons with Alzheimer’s.There is a twofold uniqueness about this forthcoming book. It is the first book of its kind, written by an interfaith coalition of caregivers. There are 172 meditations, written by 72 authors representing 17 faith communities. An additional feature is the featured art in the book by Lester Potts Jr., who painted the pictures in the throes of Alzheimer’s. Our mantra could well have been “If you write it, they will come.” I am convinced this book will touch many caregivers for those suffering from this disease. Hopefully, publication date will be November 20th, so look for it!!! We have written it, so now you come and read it. More details later.