REFLECTIONS ON “IT”S A SPARROW”

February 23, 2013 –This is a first for me.  With winter almost over I have acquired a beastly bug which has left me bed-bound and looking forward to a week’s rest reading something wonderful until this thing which has knocked me for a loop is gone.  I am so grateful for Ben and Crizaldo and their care for Ken so I can rest and recover.  Therefore, I have re-posted a very early blog, and one of my favorites.  I do hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
GOOD THINGS ON THE INTERNET
sparrow on a fence

Reflecting on a video I saw on line.  As a caregiver I am reminded of a most important element to the peace and mind of caregivers and the well-being of our AD loved one:  that of patience.

I have found the Internet to be filled with information that goes far and beyond email.  We all know that, but it’s usually the email we go to first. It’s like long ago when we checked the mailbox for personal mail. Remember people writing letters? Now, to receive something with your name handwritten at your front door is unusual — if not downright thrilling. Most of what the mailman delivers is junk or bills, and email is often like that as well. No bills, some junk to delete, and at times I’m disappointed to see only forwards. However, I have come to appreciate even some of those.

There are LOLs (and that’s the text jargon meaning laugh out loud, and like or not it’s here to stay). Some I read and delete and others are good enough to forward. They can be funny, inspirational, nostalgic, political, informative, enlightening, spiritual, sights to see beyond description, travels that can take your breath away, and fabulous photographs from all over the world, under the sea and outer space. Yes, even those pesky forwards can be worth the time.
THE SOUND OF A BIRD
A special one, which I recently watched and was drawn to immediately was simply titled “The Sparrow,” and could best be described as a Public Service Announcement (PSA). It was, however, in a foreign language with English subtitles. The scene was a country garden where two men were sitting on a bench. The younger man was reading a newspaper, the older man just sitting. Peace and tranquility prevailed with only the rustle of a newspaper and the sound of a bird.
“What’s that?” asked the old man. “A sparrow,” replied the young man, probably a son. Again the old man listened and heard the bird. “What’s that?” he repeated. The answer: “A sparrow!” The young man returned to his paper and one more time the old man asked, “What’s that?” Rumpling the newspaper in annoyance the younger man said again, his voice resonating with irritation, “A sparrow. How many times do I have to tell you?”
A TATTERED JOURNAL
The old man left the bench, went into the house and returned with a book. Turning the tattered pages he found a passage handed the book to his son who read it aloud. It had been the father’s journal from long ago when his own small son sat with him in a garden and the sound of a bird was heard. The small boy asked his father, “What’s that?” and the father answered, “A sparrow.” Sparrow: a new word in the boy’s vocabulary which was soon forgotten until he heard the sound again. “What’s that?” he repeated. And the father wrote of the experience explaining that the boy asked about the sound over and over. “Each time,” the father wrote, “I told the boy it was a sparrow and each time I gave him a hug.” The grown son, no longer holding the newspaper reached over and gave his demented father a hug.
A TOUCH OF THE CYNIC  

With strong identification, I watched and a tear rolled down my cheek. But years of living with Alzheimer’s has added a necessary toughness — perhaps a better word is strength — to sentiment, and by putting a hold on sentiment there might be a tendency toward cynicism. So as a little of the cynic crept into my thoughts I had to conclude that if the old man remembered his journal entry about a sparrow, he should have remembered the word sparrow. But I also know that cognitive loss is different in every Alzheimer’s patient, and short-term memory is the first to go. Long-term memory comes and goes and often plays tricks so I put my cynic self to rest and appreciated the message for what it was. It was loud and clear and didn’t have to be spelled out: patience. Alzheimer’s victims deserve patience.

Mike is married to my husband’s sister Loretta (also an AD victim). He and I have often lamented together about how difficult it is to be continually patient with the forgetfulness and constant repetition. “That’s the hard part,” he says, “the same questions over and over.” I couldn’t agree with him more, knowing with certainty that the two of us identify with the irritable son even though we strive our utmost to be patient.
LESSONS LEARNED

When the father in the PSA wrote of teaching his son about the sparrow, it was easy to be patient for the end result was knowledge for the boy and joy for the father as he watched his son grow to manhood with life stretching before him. For the grown boy, and for all caregivers of AD patients, there is little joy and even less hope for the future of the ailing victim. However, there is compensation which comes with a good day, a good evening, a good hour, or even a good moment when the patient is lucid and a spark of memory rushes forth, a moment of tenderness or a familiar smile from the past. Then the caregiver feels gratitude and patience is rejuvenated — at least for a while.

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