Sunday, February 25, 2018

Glimpses of Grace

Glimpses of Grace: 'I hope you dance'

In Glimpses of Grace

By Dorothy Horne
Sept. 12, 2016 at 9:56 a.m.
Updated Sept. 12, 2016 at 9:55 a.m.

We are now inside the gate of the hard part. When Byron was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011, I wondered what the "hard part" would look like. I hoped the time would never come for me to find out. Surely there would be a cure before then. Even our neurologist said there might be. He told us the pharmaceutical companies were racing each other to come up with the drug that would once and for all end Alzheimer’s disease. That would have made the over five million people currently diagnosed with the disease in the United States very happy, along with the more than fifteen million people who are their caregivers.

But it didn’t happen. Not for them, not for us. And so far, not for future generations.

Two months ago Byron and I were sitting across from each other in a small café, eating lunch. It was there I found out what I had suspected for awhile  he doesn't remember I am his wife. (Or perhaps he does sometimes, but not all the time.) He also doesn't remember my name.  It is hard to hold the tears in sometimes, but I have gotten pretty good at it. My heart cries instead.

I told him again the short version of the story of us – that we have been married almost 40 years and have two beautiful daughters and four smart grandsons. He was quiet for a moment, then looked at me in amazement. “That’s such a surprise," he said. Then he asked, "How could I forget all that?"I told him it was OK, that it wasn’t his fault – it was the disease’s fault.

You never get used to the losses.

Byron does know all the time that I’m his “special person,” and I am thankful. He smiles and tells me he loves me multiple times a day. He hugs me and thanks me for taking care of him. I tell him I know he would have done the same for me, and that I'll always love him.
Photo by Marc Bailey

More than ever now, the small things are the big things. More than ever, we find grace in ordinary moments. Byron can’t make memories anymore, but we can create moments that leave him feeling happy, content and even joyful.

Byron’s best thing has always been music–he plays it, sings it and dances to it.
Photo by Marc Bailey

Oh, does he loves to dance.We have started dancing at home on a regular basis. Whenever I sense his brain cells (or mine) need a boost, or if he gets anxious or bored I will say, “Hey, you wanna dance?” Then I turn on the music and he immediately morphs into John Travolta and we rock around the kitchen and den. All becomes right with his world again.

We recently added “Dancing in Walmart” to our activities. One night we were shopping and it was past our bedtime. We were both dragging down the aisles. On the bread aisle for some reason it suddenly registered on my consciousness that they were playing classic rock (the employees must have been tired, too). "Byron, listen!" I said. It was one of our favorite songs– we looked at each other and started bopping around a little. Before I knew it, Byron was in full jive down the aisle. (If you know Byron, you’re not surprised; he's never been one to have many inhibitions, even before Alzheimer’s.) Some customers and employees walking past the end of the aisle smiled. Others didn’t – they just stared. That’s OK – we were having fun – they weren’t.

However, I found that dancing in Walmart can lead to other things....

Last Sunday we had just arrived at church and I asked a friend if he would wait with Byron outside the sanctuary door while I went to get something. When I came back five minutes later, the service had started and the choir was singing their opening song, a catchy, upbeat number. But Byron wasn’t standing by my friend anymore.

I asked him, “Where’s Byron?”

“I don’t know,” my friend said. “He was just here.”

I stepped inside the sanctuary door and looked around. Then...I saw him across the room. He was very joyfully dancing up the aisle towards the front of the church. Not surprisingly, everyone was watching him. Luckily, they were smiling, too. (I smiled after the initial shock wore off, but I was also thinking, oh dear, since I have never seen a Presbyterian dancing up the aisle before.)

Then I remembered we were among family and everyone knows and loves Byron, so it was OK. I (bravely) walked all the way across the church and took his hand as nonchalantly as I could. People were high-fiving him as we walked to our usual back row seat. Byron smiled all the way. This was one of those times he was filled with joy–I could sense it, as could everyone in the sanctuary.

After church, a number of people came up to me and told me what a moving experience it had been for them, seeing Byron expressing the joy he felt from the music. The choir director emailed me later.“How awesomely wonderful that Byron felt free to dance to that song,” he wrote.

Sometimes God’s grace fills us up and spills over and we just have to dance.

Sometimes we're empty, and we have a choice to sit it out or dance.

We choose to dance. Won't you join us?

Don't sit this one out! The 2016 East Texas Walk to End Alzheimer’s takes place on Sat., Sept. 24th in Longview at Heritage Plaza. Please consider walking and/or donating in honor and support of all who have suffered from Alzheimer’s. Help raise money to prevent the disease from devastating yet another generation. Go to: to donate or register for the East Texas Walk. (If you want to donate in Byron's honor, his team is "Band Together for Byron.")

"When you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance."

–Lee Ann Womack

Our grandson Case - just like his G-Daddy!



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