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NATIONAL ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE MONTH – November 2020

The Pain of Learning Your Friend Has Early Onset Dementia

by G G Collins         Copyright 2020

When my incredibly smart and talented friend told me she had early onset dementia, I didn’t know what to think except I was suddenly very afraid for her and wanted to protect her. In her gentle way, she tried to tell me it would be okay. Okay?! How could anything this devastating be okay?

She methodically told me what was going to happen in a detached way as though she were talking about someone else. The disease would first take her memory and then turn her into a combative, maybe violent sick person. She had already lost interest in using her computer and cell phone. And worse, she had been fired for messing up a work project.

This was the last time I would see her because she had to give up driving, having gotten lost several times already, and she wanted me to remember her as she is now. But she told me she would love me for eternity even if she didn’t remember me. I’m sitting there listening in horror and wondering how this could happen to my vibrant, loving friend of 20-some years who could do anything.

As someone who works with words for a living, I tried to come up with words to reassure her, reassure me, stop this from happening. But there are no words for anything so horrible. And how do you change the subject from this to how pretty the fall foliage is? She tried and I tried, but I couldn’t think of anything else but I was losing my friend forever. She had absorbed some of the implications already while I was staggering around thinking of the unfairness and the loss that was coming, was already here. And then we hugged for the last time and said, “See you later,” knowing it wasn’t true.

She went home to ride out the gathering storm and I drove home fighting tears, already grieving her impending loss.

 

For more information: https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers/younger-early-onset

These books are helpful:

      

 

Girls and Horses

There’s Nothing Quite Like a Horse

by G G Collins          (Copyright 2017)

Click on the book to buy. KindleUnlimited Title.

I remember: the musky odor of horses, the saddle soap, creaking leather and hooves settling comfortably in straw. I loved my horses, especially one special grey gelding. He was reincarnated as Pepper in my recently released book for teens, Flying Change. My pets frequently appear in my books. Sometimes their names change, sometimes not.

Girls who love horses almost have an extra growth period in their lives. It’s wedged between being a toddler and discovering boys. We read everything we can get our hands on that tells us how to care for and train horses. Every minute away from school was spent in the stable mucking out stalls, grooming and riding. Riding almost came last because it was more a reward for all the work we did to make our best friend comfortable and healthy.

Horses are the most wonderful creatures. They go beyond beautiful, graceful and playful. They listen without judgment; their elegant necks soak up our tears and their soft lips lap at our fingers seeking out treats. They are a pure presence in girls’ lives. We’re always young girls around horses.

A Faded Photograph of My Horse

When he was born, I was nine years old. I got up early and ran out to meet him. He came right up to me, but his mother had other ideas and shooed him away. That didn’t last long. This little guy loved the body brush. As a colt he would lean toward me as I brushed his neck until he almost fell over!

I began placing a saddle blanket on his back when he was about a year old. Slowly, as he grew, I added a saddle. Later on, I’d cinch it lightly. There was plenty of time back then. Finally, the day for the bridle came. He mouthed the bit and accepted it. He didn’t have any of the temper his mother had, although he did buck me off once. I don’t know why.

Some of us stay horsey our whole lives, even if we don’t have the privilege of a companion horse. The day he died, a little bit of me died too, along with my childhood dreams of becoming a great equestrian. He was buried in the field where he fell. Another family lives there now and they have horses so his spirit isn’t lonely.

If there were ever a moment in time I could revisit, it would be an afternoon with my horses.

Gilda Evans — Girl Talk

The Last Time by G G Collins

How many last times have you experienced? What year did you last believe in Santa Claus? How old were you the last time you played with dolls? When was the last time you said “See you later” to a friend and you never saw her again? This happened to me. . .

To read the rest of the post: http://www.gildaevans.com/the-last-time-by-g-g-collins

Gilda Evans, Author & Speaker

Gilda Evans, Author & Speaker

Enjoy Gilda’s other posts on Girl Talk which range from relationships to writing. There is something wise and wonderful for everyone.  Gilda likes to say, “I have a PhD in relationships from the school of life!” She’s also a 3-time Emmy award winner and a motivational speaker.Gilda writes the Girl Talk Book Series.

A Dear Friend is Gone

Season of Loss: For Tawna

by G G Collins          Copyright 2015

Candles for Tawna

Candles for Tawna, Copyright 2015 G G Collins

I rarely talk about anything personal on these pages, but I’ve lost someone very dear to me. She was a great friend, one of those people who accept others for who they are and never tried to change them. She “got” me on a level that amazed me. Her intuitive skills were finely honed. And she was the love of her husband’s life. They had been sweethearts since high school. Her family was enviable. They told one another “I love you” before they left the room! I once asked her, what do you do in your family when you have a disagreement? She answered softly, “We don’t have them.” When any one family member was threatened, they circled the wagons and they were all solidly there for that person as long as needed. She loved and was loved.

Tawna was a writing muse if there ever was one; both writer and collaborator. Her columns were a delight; the kind you looked forward to and read first. She could brainstorm with the best. We met a couple of decades ago with writing being our connection. But there was more. She was a horsey girl too; had thrived in the dressage ring. Tawna was a candle lighter. I loved it and began doing so myself. There is nothing like lighting a candle for someone. It is almost magical as the flame leaps to life and flickers with devotion.

In the fall of 2010 we met for lunch and a movie. The movie? Secretariat. Just two horsey girls watching a movie about a horse; tears and cheers. Over lunch at our favorite restaurant, Tawna told me “I love you and that’s for a lifetime.” She has always been a demonstrative person, so I didn’t realize she was saying goodbye. But her hug lingered. She knew.

Now I have to say goodbye and it’s hard. Endings always are.

♦           ♦          ♦

To light a candle for someone you love, go to: http://www.gratefulness.org/candles/enter.cfm?l=eng  Or light one for Tawna.

My favorite song after loss is “Life is Eternal,” sung by Carly Simon. These are two beautifully done videos of the song:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1eR1ni6sZK4

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTd0UlvTCiQ

Copyscape Do Not Copy

 

Candle Lighting: A Spiritual Exercise

Lighting Candles for Yourself and Others

by G G Collins (Copyright 2013)

Our earliest experience with candles is usually one placed on top of our first birthday cake. Can’t remember? Me either. But candles come to symbolize many things as we make our journeys through life.

Candles at St Francis Cathedral, Santa Fe, NMCopyright G G Collins

Candles at St Francis Cathedral, Santa Fe, NM
Copyright G G Collins

Candles have been used in religious ceremonies for centuries. Catholic Churches frequently have tiers of candles. If I’m traveling and learn that a friend is ill or suffered a tragedy, I will find the nearest church and light one for that person. On acatholiclife.blogspot.com, Matthew posted that Catholics light candles for several reasons, but the original purpose was to remember the words: “I am the Light of the World.” Vigil candles are lit to “wait” with someone who may need us and can be accompanied by prayers.

On Friday evening, 18 minutes before sunset, Jewish women light at least two candles for Shabbat. After lighting the candles—for harmony at home—the woman covers her eyes, moves her hands around the candles several times and says the blessing: “Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with commandments, and commanded us to light Shabbat candles.”

Couple Lighting Unity Candle, Wikipedia Commons

Couple Lighting Unity Candle, Wikipedia Commons

But candles are used in many religious ceremonies around the world, from customary services to baptismal and memorial services. At some weddings, family members light two candles for the bride and groom. Once the official vows have been declared, the couple take the lighted candles and together they bring the flame to the Unity candle, symbolizing the union they have just formed.

For me, I like to light candles for people I know who are going through illness or misfortune or traveling. Whenever possible, I’ll add a sage bundle or a stone to my grouping. The ritual helps me focus on this person and send them good thoughts.  I may meditate for a few minutes watching the flame. I’ve collected a number of photos and drawings of candles which I send to my friends letting them know I’m thinking of them. If I know their favorite color, I’ll send a candle of the same.

Always place candles in a safe location and never leave them burning if you are going to sleep. A friend uses battery operated candles to rule out the possibility of a fire. The bonus, you can drop off to sleep watching it. I’ve also moved on from wax to soy, which burns cleaner.

Candles for FriendsCopyright G G Collins

Candles for Friends
Copyright G G Collins

Lighting candles is a comforting thing to do when there is nothing else you can do. My dear friend Tawna got me started. She said when I was about to leave on a long trip: “I’m going to light a candle for you every day until you return.” That was followed by a big hug. It was so thoughtful and honestly, I kept the picture of her candle in my mind throughout the trip. I’ve followed her lead ever since. Thanks Tawna, you’re a true and loving friend.

If you would like to light a candle, but don’t want to use a real one, here’s a Web site where you can light one virtually:

http://www.gratefulness.org/candles/enter.cfm?l=eng

— G G Collins

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