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Janet Rosen 10-22-2012 08:50 PM

True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
1 Attachment(s)
This month's "The Mirror" column was written by Janet Rosen © 2012, all rights reserved.
1. "Yes, I'm wearing it so I remember to take it off."
- Mom, on being prompted to take her watch off for a medical procedure
My mother is slowly losing not just her ability to recall events, but her ability to process information and activities.Having always been a positive thinker, one of her best coping mechanisms is to find the positive spin on things, now including confabulation of actions never taken, events that never happened.

Me: "The Audubon meeting next week is on woodpeckers. I can't take you but I think Stu might be interested, so the two of you can talk about him taking you."
Mom: "Yes, I know! I already made myself a note on the, uh, thing, to ask him about it!"

Me: "Since we haven't been here before, I need to keep an eye out for the restaurant parking lot."
Mom: "Yes, I know! It's just right up here."
2. "Irimi doesn't just encompass a physical entry; it includes already being ‘in' when the attack comes and disrupting the attack as it unfolds."
- my understanding of what I've learned from George Ledyard Sensei
In her forgetfulness she becomes fixated on something she can't find or that she believes isn't working correctly, or forgets the proper sequence of events to make something happen. If my reaction questions her reasoning or makes her feel rushed, it provokes a rising panic or defensive outburst.

Instead of waiting to react, I now enter each call or visit with the assumption I have to be "in." I'm alert for anything in her voice or body language that indicates she's gone down the rabbit hole and that I need to leap into her reality headfirst to help her come back up:
help her articulate her understanding of the problem
reassure her that I'm with her
give her time to formulate a tentative solution, or propose one if she's stuck
redirect her immediately if she goes into a repetitive or obsessive cycle
let the solution be something simple that makes sense to her, even if it's less then perfect
let her know she is loved.
3. "All my music is purely music of love"
- Albert Ayler
Mom: "I can't understand why you're so nice to me...I hate myself...why does anybody bother with me anymore?"

Me: "You've always worked with and been a champion for the disabled. Well, this is a disability you have. If you lost your leg, we'd still love you. If you lost your hair, well, we might make fun of you for looking funny, but we'd still love you. You're losing your memory, which is just a different disability, and so of course we still love you."

Mom: "But I'm not me."

Me: "You feel you're losing yourself. But the rest of us see you; you haven't turned into a mean or evil person and you didn't ask to be like this, so there's really no reason for anybody to stop loving you."

Mom: "I just hate myself like this."

Me: "...you didn't choose this so I hope at least you can forgive yourself."

Sometimes all I can do is take her in my arms and hold her tight.
"The Mirror" is a collaborative column written by a group of women who describe themselves as:

We comprise mothers, spouses, scientists, artists, teachers, healers, and yes, of course, writers. We range in age from 30s through 50s, we are kyu ranked and yudansha and from various parts of the United States and styles of aikido. What we have in common is a love for budo that keeps it an integral part of our busy lives, both curiosity about and a commonsense approach to life and aikido, and an inveterate tendency to write about these explorations.

lbb 10-23-2012 02:44 PM

Re: True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
Quote:

"...you didn't choose this so I hope at least you can forgive yourself."
Sometimes, in a difficult situation, you pray for the right words...and sometime they come.

Thanks for this, Janet.

Rob Watson 10-23-2012 02:55 PM

Re: True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
Quote:

Sometimes all I can do is take her in my arms and hold her tight.
That's good medicine right there.

Susan Dalton 10-23-2012 06:28 PM

Re: True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
Thanks for sharing this story, Janet.

Janet Rosen 10-23-2012 10:43 PM

Re: True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
Thank you all.
My years as a geriatric nurse case manager for a local nonprofit have been amazing practice for this challenge and I continually give silent thanks my clients and their families/caregivers.

Diana Frese 10-24-2012 02:09 PM

Re: True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
Wow Janet, even though you have the background, now this is YOUR mom, and how beautifully you put your arts into action to reassure, comfort and show your love heart to heart. Thanks so much for the insight for any or all of us whenever we need it, whomever we are with....

And nice pic. Pic of Budobabes was great (many months ago) but now, in practice clothes you typify serenity and energy at the same time. How come you look about twenty? Must be because you have kept practicing Aikido:)

Best to you and your mom, love, Daian from Connecticut

Cady Goldfield 10-24-2012 05:24 PM

Re: True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
Thank you, Janet. This is lovely and poignant. I'm going through similar times with my mother, but without the nursing background and wisdom. It is a challenge in every sense of the word, and I can appreciate what you are experiencing now. Sometimes we just have to be daughters and women and do the best we can for those we love.

R.A. Robertson 11-09-2012 11:57 AM

Re: True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
Wow.
I'm sorry for the circumstances of your present training, but you bring great lessons to us all.
Your mother is lucky to have you, we're lucky to have you, and you're lucky to have you.

mathewjgano 11-14-2012 06:49 PM

Re: True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
That was amazingly beautiful! Thank you very much, Janet!
...I think I got some dust in my eye...

Janet Rosen 11-14-2012 07:42 PM

Re: True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
Thank you folks...between the mom stuff and the plunging into darkness feeling from resetting the clocks, it's been hard to get to the dojo much the past couple of weeks. I'm too tired to stay up late enough to get home from the dojo, wash up, change, have a snack, unwind and then go to bed - not if I'm going to get up for work....so just reading the comments is a help right now. Thank you all.

Cady Goldfield 11-14-2012 10:38 PM

Re: True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
My mom passed away early this morning, and I just went back and read your column again, Janet. It helped me realize that I have no regrets at all for the day to day things encountered while helping to care for her -- the very human things ... frustration, annoyance, even anger and guilt ... that are inevitable when caring for a person who was changing in many ways and yet still the person I love.

I hope that you continue to treasure the time you have with your mother, and the person she is.

aikishihan 11-15-2012 10:18 AM

Re: True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
Thank you, Janet Rosen, for reminding us that the beginnings of learning Aiki Principles, begin at home, and continue to flow endlessly from this rich resource for us all.

So sorry to learn of your recent loss, Cady Goldfield. May your mom rest in well deserved peace.

akiy 11-15-2012 11:11 AM

Re: True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
Cady, I'm sorry to hear about your loss. My condolences to you and your family.

-- Jun

lbb 11-15-2012 11:22 AM

Re: True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
Ah, Cady, I'm so sorry for your loss. Wishing you strength and comfort and many good memories of your mother.

MM 11-15-2012 11:22 AM

Re: True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
Cady, so sorry to hear about your mom. My condolences.

Janet Rosen 11-15-2012 11:30 AM

Re: True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
Cady, I'm so very sorry. I'm glad you had time with her, with all the messiness that love brings. Hold her close in your heart, accept the cloud that is grief will linger over your head even at times you don't expect it, but that with time it will slowly dissipate, and its reappearances be less often....

Cady Goldfield 11-16-2012 10:58 PM

Re: True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
Thank you all for your words of comfort.

Janet Rosen 11-16-2012 11:53 PM

Re: True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
Quote:

Cady Goldfield wrote: (Post 319278)
Thank you all for your words of comfort.

Times like this I wish it was easier to just say, hey I'm coming over, put on the kettle....hugs.

Marc Abrams 11-17-2012 12:08 PM

Re: True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
Cady:

The mourner's kaddish talks only about live and the living. It serves as a reminder to us about the precious and fragile nature of life itself. It also sets us on a path of keeping the departed alive by allowing their memories and influences in us to continue to live as we live.

Marc Abrams

Cady Goldfield 11-17-2012 01:41 PM

Re: True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
Marc, and Janet, thank you.

Marc -- Yes, I was reflecting on that at the funeral yesterday. We always reaffirm and emphatically embrace life, even when mourning.

My mom's obit (one error in it says she retired in 1982... she actually retired at the age of 82, in 2003): http://www.salemnews.com/obituaries/...s-Goldfield-91

Janet, do you remember when you took me to meet your mom and dad in their Brooklyn home, many years ago? Within five minutes of meeting your mom, I knew EXACTLY where you got your sense of humor! :) That's a legacy to treasure for a lifetime.

Mary Eastland 11-17-2012 04:20 PM

Re: True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
I am sorry for your loss, Cady.

Peter Goldsbury 11-17-2012 08:53 PM

Re: True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
To Cady and Janet,

Cady,

Condolences to you and your family members on your loss. I read the obituary and it somehow reminded me of Frank Regan, who also came from your part of the world. I used to train with Frank when I lived in Cambridge and was shocked that he died at a relatively young age.

Janet,

My mother died of Pick's Disease, which I gather is a rarer form of Alzheimer's. I used to be just a little concerned at the lengthy telephone conversations we used to have (the bills, of course). My mother always had loads of questions about Japan. The summer before she died, things became very odd indeed--she no longer initiated conversations with questions, just responded when I did. Things got worse and my father had to put her in hospital, which was a very bad mistake. The doctor insisted that she was getting better, when all the evidence pointed in the opposite direction. I returned from Japan on extended leave and used to visit her. I brought some work from Japan and would sit and do this while she talked. She became unable to finish any sentence she uttered, since she had forgotten what she had said. But she knew that something was very odd.

This was December 1983 and we brought her home for Christmas. My sister and I organized the social services. After she died (early in January), I threatened to sue the hospital for the quality of care she received and this prompted a very speedy response from the consultant, who told me he suspected Pick's Disease, mainly because of the (thankfully) rapid onset of the illness. Of course, I felt somewhat guilty that I was too far away to play my fair share in the work of looking after her.

There was a distinct personality change, but I never directly experienced the effects of this. She always knew who I was and clearly wanted to talk. I sometimes use the film version of Fitzgerald's The Curious History of Benjamin Button in my culture classes and the poignant ending of the film was a reminder of those abortive conversations nearly 30 years ago.

Best wishes,

PAG

Cady Goldfield 11-17-2012 11:21 PM

Re: True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
Quote:

Peter A Goldsbury wrote: (Post 319315)
To Cady and Janet,

Cady,

Condolences to you and your family members on your loss. I read the obituary and it somehow reminded me of Frank Regan, who also came from your part of the world. I used to train with Frank when I lived in Cambridge and was shocked that he died at a relatively young age.

Peter,
Thank you for your condolences (and Mary Eastland, thank you too). In fact I did know Frank Regan, although "tangentially" as he lived in the town where I grew up and ran a coffee house called The King's Rook, which was a popular hangout, especially for highschoolers too young for alcoholic beverages. His death was tragic and untimely. Frank's widow still lives there and is, I believe on the town board of selectmen. I also visited Kanai's dojo in Cambridge several times, many years ago when I was taking graduate courses @ Harvard, and trained a while with Bernie Mulligan, one of his earliest U.S. students.

Janet Rosen 11-29-2012 08:32 PM

Re: True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
Mom: I'm getting much worse
Me: In what way?
Mom: Forgetting things!
Me: Actually, you've been pretty stable the past three months.
Mom: It certainly doesn't feel that way.
Me: That's because you can't remember how you were three months ago.
Mom: (laughs)
....we have had this verbatim conversation twice in the past three days...

Diana Frese 12-03-2012 10:56 AM

Re: True Budo is a Work of Love, Even Down the Rabbit Hole
 
A very inspirational column, both from Janet's sharing of her love and understanding for her mother to us, and the many heartfelt comments from others. And then Cady's sharing of the news of her mother's passing and the responses to that sad news.

Cady, I am so sorry. I feel that I know you, from your posts on Japan and horticulture and other topics and from the kind PM's that you have sent from time to time, some of which mentioned you caring for your mother. Thank you for including the link to the obituary, her life is truly inspiring. Especially inspiring is Marc's comment on the Mourner's Kaddish. Cady's mom's legacy must have already started to influence many of us for the better, at least speaking for myself. It was Cady who gently gave me, and through me, my friend Ginny in Swampscott, the news of Frank's passing. I will mention to Ginny that Frank's widow is on the board of selectmen in Swampscott. She will be pleased to know that. She may even meet her some day.

And Marc's post reminded me that when I was living in New York I went to some concerts with friends to hear Rabbi Carlebach and we were invited to his late father's synagogue in New York (my husband while driving a limo saw that it is still there and his daughter now gives concerts around the world!)
Not Jewish myself, still I was impressed by the beauty of the songs and prayers. I can almost hear the words Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh, which I am sure were borrowed by Christianity which repeats "Holy, holy, holy...."

Thank you Janet and Cady and all the others on this thread for sharing deep and holy feelings. I was in awe so I am adding my expressions of sympathy for Cady a bit belatedly.

All the best for the future and please keep in touch.

Sincerely, Daian


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