Haven't written for a while and always feel responsible to post SOMETHING if only to avoid an absence for those of you who faithfully follow it.
As you can imagine, life is CALM when compared to what it was between 2003 when we received Gregory's diagnosis (usually referred to as "our diagnosis") of Dementia, probably Alzheimer's and 2015 when Gregory died on October 4th.
My grief is CALMER and only rears its overwhelming presence periodically, when least expected, like it did this past Valentine's Day. Of all the holidays we celebrate, Valentine's Day is the one to celebrate with the person you most intimately love and call your sweetheart, which is probably why it is a little more difficult to face alone than birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, etc.
I bought Gregory red roses and dark chocolate (which I ate) and had a good cry sitting on the edge of the bed opposite his shrine. Gigi, the cat Gregory called his, came over to comfort me as she usually does when I am upset and that eased the pain.
I have been working on my memoirs again, trying to edit and integrate my five years worth of blog posts (1250 of them) dealing with the middle and end of our journey into the manuscript which I wrote previously about our early years living with the disease.
You can imagine that at times, at the end of a writing session, I am raw having lived once again through difficult as well as joyful times during Gregory and my journey.
The times that make me the saddest are when Gregory was upset by the limitations and losses he was facing and there was nothing I could do to help. "I only want to go back," he once said, leaving the details to his inability to any longer use language to communicate.
After a bout of tears after a recent editing session about his sadness and my feeling so helpless, I talked myself through to comfort by understanding that there may not have been anything I could do to change the course of the losses; but I was able to do a lot anyway.
I was there for him to hold his hand, hug him and cry together, make his life a little easier by taking most of the responsibility off his shoulders, and simplify his life while at the same time creating an invigorating, fun filled, good eating, safe environment for him.
We are working already on the "Second Annual MORE THAN EVER EDUCATION FUND Luncheon" that will take place on May 3 at the Orrington Hilton in Evanston. There have been several lunch meetings with La Casa Norte as we plan and work to get sponsors, raffle prize donations, and guests to attend the function have begun in earnest.
Last year we raised over $59,000 from +150 guests at the Inaugural Luncheon, awarded 10 scholarships so far (with more anticipated by the second luncheon,) and had our first annual Holiday Cohort Luncheon so the students could have yet another opportunity to be celebrated!
You will be getting a "HOLD THE DATE" announcement here, on Facebook, and/or in an e-mail blast soon as well as an invitation in the mail (if I have your address.) I sincerely hope you can join us.
During the event, guests will learn more about the work of La Casa Norte and hear a brief presentation from me as well as from our youth participants. There will be a guest speaker; Carmita Vaughn, Founder and President of the Surge Institute, bringing “light” to education for underserved youth.
The First Annual Gregory Maire Leadership Award will be presented to The North Shore Exchange of Glencoe, Illinois, for their commitment to and work with La Casa Norte and the Youth in College Program. A delicious lunch will be served
Winter 2017 has been fairly easy. Learning how to understand, deal with, and take stands on the foolishness of our new president ("Not My President") has been fairly difficult. We will prevail.
So far, the documentary Alzheimer's: A Love Story has been invited to be part of over 75 film festivals around the world and earned over 35 awards, the most prestigious of which were two from the American Pavillion at the Cannes Film Festival in France and a €1,000 award from the Florence Film Festival. The documentary is now available to rent and stream on Amazon.com and Vimeo.com.
I have been invited to speak at a number of functions, with the documentary as a feature, including the North Shore University Health Care System's Symposium on Dementia, the Methodist Church of Western Springs, the University of Chicago Lab Middle School, and the Sherman Plaza Book Club and Social Committee.
Recently I was the featured speaker for the DAI (Dementia Alliance International) Webinar which included over 50 participants, via the internet, from around the world! My comments will be available shortly on YouTube.
I am currently working on possible collection additions to Michael's Museum: A Curious Collection of Tiny Treasures, a permanent exhibit since May 2011 at Chicago Children's Museum on Navy Pier.
I traveled to visit family in TX and then on to Mexico for three weeks and am looking forward to officiating at the wedding of God Daughter Whitney who lives in Washington, D.C.
My condo and two cats continue to give me great comfort, I continue to go see opera and theater, eat out or "assemble" rather than cook like I used to when Gregory was living at home, visit with friends, and write. So all in all life is good, and I am happy that you are part of it with me!