Who Will I Be?

I know myself as the sum of many experiences, relationships and desires. I was born into a loving family and lived the self-indulgent life of a middle class childhood in a safe and loving environment.  As an adult, I have lived in the city and in the wilderness – gleaning understanding and hints of wisdom from the rhythms of each.  I have taken lessons in both staking claim to my territory and sharing my space from urban density and experienced the rewards and challenges of both self-reliance and community living in the wilderness.

I am currently raising a family and building a career in rural New England.  Everything I do is about attachment.  I am attentive to maintaining strong relationships with my pre-teen sons, deeply in love with my husband and interested in supporting him as his career flourishes.  I provide a backbone of support to great educators and administrators at work, consistently seeking ways to enable others to do their best work while also putting forth mine.

In my newest role, I am maintaining a web of communication between my siblings and aunt as we navigate the changes necessary to keep my Dad safe, healthy and happy as dementia alters his perceptions, connections and ability to function autonomously.   As past and future fade away in Dad’s world, he has become more and more of himself.  Unencumbered by past or future, my Dad is flourishing.  He is kind and caring, attentive to others, gentle and deliberate in every action.  He may not know you or me. He may not know that he travelled the world in childhood, worked tirelessly in adulthood and dreamed of a golden retirement.  He may not remember the joys and challenges of raising 4 children or know the value in the comfort of the stability he created.

But he knows each moment and gives to each moment his earnest goodness.

It makes me wonder, who would I be if dementia robbed me of my past and future.  My sense of self is so deeply intertwined with the people who bring meaning to my days.  When I am untethered from relationships, past experiences and future aspirations, what will be left of me?  Who will I be?