I’m relatively new to Facebook. I freely admit, I didn’t know what a meme was. And was never interested enough to look it up. Until this week. Meme definition: An image, video, piece of text that is copied, (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users. I knew there are sites my friends follow, then pick and share on their home page. That’s the stuff I see on my newsfeed. What they currently find interesting, newsworthy, thought provoking, or hilarious on Facebook. I don’t do that.
|Recently, this one really cracked me up…|
Some people follow folksy humor, inspirational quotes or pictures. Animals are very popular with the meme sharing masses. Cute little goats jumping sky high, or an orca whale flying out of the water, narrowly missing someone in a kayak. Yikes. Some friends lean very far left or right and assume their friend’s opinion can be swayed if they put up enough political poop about leftie’s or righty’s. These are my least favorite memes.
|I keep this meme for Landon. Don’t want the weight of the world on his handsome shoulders during basketball…|
I do follow several people whom I do not know at all, but very rarely share. I’m possessive like that. A sarcastic humorist named Tracy Lorenz. TC writes hilarious stuff while being a top notch cop for the city of Bangor, Maine. I think that’s Stephen King territory. Watch out TC. Nothing in King’s little kingdom ever sleeps at night. And I follow a lot of photographers. I’m hopeless when it comes to taking pictures, so I really appreciate their level of expertise and admire their work. Clark Little, Jeremy Church, William Reek, Dave Sandford, Jennifer Green, Joe Gee (he-he) to name a few.
|Nobody does water and waves like Clark Little…|
So when I rise, while I’m waiting for my coffee and night to become day, I peruse what my Facebook friends have deemed worthy to share on my newsfeed. I absolutely love it when something makes me laugh out loud. Almost as intriguing is something that really makes me think. Or cry. But not gross medical stuff. I have trouble stomaching that stuff and usually whip past those pictures quickly. Sometimes I save funny photos, or thought provoking quotes. Which leads me to one I saw this week. It hit me like I had been punched in the gut. And I felt Cindy’s deep pain.
|This meme that Cindy posted hit me so painfully hard…|
My friend Cindy has had a very full plate of late. Diagnosed with breast cancer last December, she’s had surgery and chemo and is doing very well. Just a couple months after she started this journey, her husband Dennis was diagnosed with cancer. When it rains, it pours. I believe he too is doing alright for now. But both their illnesses had nothing to do with the simple meme Cindy shared on her newsfeed. Cindy’s mom, Jean has Alzheimer’s. Up until a couple years ago, Jean was living on her own, in my home town of Rock Valley, Iowa. That proved to be worrisome for Cindy as her mom was getting forgetful and Cindy wasn’t nearby. After weighing their options, Cindy helped get her mom’s house spiffied up, put it on the market, sold it and moved Jean to a care facility near her in South Dakota. Occasionally Cindy posts what’s going on in her mom’s life, pictures of her with the great grandkids, or visiting her sister. I know that Jean’s health has deteriorated and she suffered a broken hip last year. But this simple morning meme on my newsfeed let me know that Cindy is losing her mom.
|Jeremy Church photo of Lake Michigan in North Muskegon…|
I saw this when I was a Parish Visitor. I’ll share 2 painful experiences. Funny, this gal’s name was Jean too. She had been happily married well over 50 years. They were an outgoing couple who belonged to a square dance group for decades. But Jean’s husband, Dick was quite confused. They went out less and less. Dick couldn’t really be trusted not to wander off anymore, even at the grocery store. Dick didn’t join Jean and I in the living room while we visited anymore. He might recognize my face from month to month, but as his current memories grew dim, he was unsure of himself and rarely said a word, though he walked through the room now and then. It was really Jean who needed my visit, encouragement and empathy. A caregiver is one of the toughest jobs you’ll ever have. You forsake friends, your health, sleep, social events or having any time to yourself. Whatsoever. Because you’re always on duty. Jean and I often discussed she needed to prepare herself for the day when Dick no longer recognized her. She thought she was ready. She was not. Thanks God, for sending me to their house that day. I knocked, Jean answered and as I stepped inside, she wrapped me in a bear hug and started to cry. I lead her to the couch where we sat side by side, holding hands. She said Dick had gone to bed the night before and she was watching TV in the family room. She had the family room door partially closed so she wouldn’t wake him. He was easily confused, and often got his days and nights mixed up. And he hadn’t been sleeping very well. It wasn’t very late when he put his head through the doorway and asked, “have you seen my wife? I can’t find her.” Even though she knew that day was coming, Jean was devastated. And rightly so. Dick was eating, sleeping, and looked like the guy she knew and loved. But he wasn’t really THERE anymore either.
|Awesome photographer Dave Sandford catching a wicked wave on Lake Superior, 2015…|
Gordy and Barb were another long married couple. Raised 4 daughters, worked hard all their lives, and had been retired for years. You knew something was a little off as they walked into church. Gordon, leading Barb, with her beautiful snow white hair by the hand to their usual pew. As her memory issues got worse, they stopped coming together. He was her primary caregiver but had lots of help from their girls. Still when it got to be too much, Gordon placed Barb in a nearby long term care facility. Gordy went to visit Barb daily, but their life and marriage as they knew it had changed dramatically.
|Gordon and Barb, around 2000…|
John and I attended the first church service many Sunday’s. This service had perks and flaws about it. It started early, a perk, but the service included no choir, solos, bells, prelude or postlude. A flaw if you love music. The first service pretty much consisted of a couple of hymns, the same scripture and sermon as the late service. Just without all the frills. If we attended the second service, went out to eat afterward, honestly half the day was gone by the time we got home. I know what you’re thinking. Gee, God gives her a whole week, she can’t give Him a half day? True enough. A lame excuse for the early service, but it’s the one we both preferred. Why did I even venture on this long, drawn out sidebar? Probably to delay the sad conversation Gordon and I had together.
|Still love anything with a clutch…|
Getting back to Gordy’s story. It’s the middle of summer and a beautiful Sunday morning. John and I are walking out of first service, headed somewhere for an omelette before going home. Gordon is walking out behind me and taps me on the shoulder. I turn around and give him a hug. Here’s what he said. “I’m going to stop at the gas station and pick up a Sunday Chronicle. Then head to McDonald’s for a cup of coffee and and sausage, egg McMuffin to go. I’m heading down to Lake Michigan (about 5 miles away) and sit on one of the benches along the Channel (deep water channel that often saw 1,000 footers glide through). Read my paper and hope a big ship comes through! Then I’ll go visit Barb and feed her lunch.” I couldn’t help it, my lip quivered and tears filled my eyes. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so bad for someone as I did for Gordy that Sunday morning. He immediately understood the full meaning of those simple sentences, and why I felt so bad for him. Gordy and Barb should have been going out to eat together after church like Hubs and I. Gordy was a devoted husband, married to the love of his life, but really he was already a widower. His wonderful wife Barb was still alive, but not THERE anymore.
|Muskegon’s deep channel with 1000 footer almost to Lake Michigan here, 2014…|
And that’s the same stab of pain I felt when I saw the meme from Cindy. She’s grieving for her mom, but her mom is still here. But only physically. My parents had a lot of health issues as they started failing. But I didn’t have to experience what Jean, Gordy, Cindy and thousands of others have. It’s painful just to think about. But this meme wasn’t necessarily just about losing a loved one to Alzheimer’s. To countless others, it might be about a losing a true love, or angry, spiteful, words thrown out during an argument in which neither party will ever recover. I’ve experienced that. But when I read this meme, it was Gordy & Barb, Jean & Dick and Cindy’s acute pain on slowly losing her mom which came to mind…
|Always a good reminder God is taking care of me…|