The human spirit is a tenacious little beast, isn’t it? It enabled Amanda Berry, who was kidnapped ten years ago, to never forget that she had a home and did not belong where she was. It gave Aron Ralston the strength to cut off his own arm to free himself when he was stuck between two boulders (fun fact – I googled “guy stuck in rocks” to find his name because I could not remember it).
I think this strength of the human spirit comes in many forms besides amazing acts of self-preservation. I am reminded of people like firefighters who run towards danger to help others, and all those at the Boston Marathon who, after hearing the blasts and seeing the injured people, continued to run to the hospital to give blood.
We, as people, have an amazing propensity to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to help ourselves and others.
I have said before that my mother is strong, and she is. I watched her take care of my dad after his leg was amputated because of complications from diabetes. My dad pretty much gave up after the amputation, and decided to take himself off of dialysis, and chose to die. At the time I thought his choice was a surprising one because he was SO stubborn. I wanted him to fight to live. It is difficult to explain why my dad chose to let go, other than saying that to him, his life was over, so that is what he chose to do, and it was his right to do that.
To say my dad was a difficult man to deal with sometimes would be like saying Gary Bussey is sometimes a little erratic. My dad was hilarious and brilliant and very much a pain in the ass for a large part of the latter part of his life. I love the old codger and I miss him every day, but he was not an easy man to care for and I saw my mom do it daily from going to the store 20 times a day because dad was in the mood for a Vidalia onion,then he wanted some Klondike bars, then a grapefruit would hit the spot, to bathing him, to assisting him in the bathroom.
My mom cared for him while working full-time and cleaning up the wreckage of failed business deals that my dad left. Amazingly, after he died, she took off and joined the Peace Corps and headed to Jamaica. It was something she had always wanted to do and she did it.
My sister and brother-in-law show an incredible amount of strength and spirit acting as caregivers for my brother in law’s father, Dennis, as he literally wastes away before their eyes from ALS. I told my sister that it is like she is living inside the feel bad movie of the year, and she added that there is no happy ending for this awful movie. He will be dead within the next few months. That is not me being harsh, that is me being realistic. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis , or ALS, also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” is a progressive disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. This is from the ALS Association -
As motor neurons degenerate, they can no longer send impulses to the muscle fibers that normally result in muscle movement. Early symptoms of ALS often include increasing muscle weakness, especially involving the arms and legs, speech, swallowing or breathing. When muscles no longer receive the messages from the motor neurons that they require to function, the muscles begin to atrophy (become smaller). Limbs begin to look “thinner” as muscle tissue atrophies.
Dennis is fighting death with every ounce of strength he has to live because he is afraid of what lies beyond this realm. I used to think that my dad was weak because he chose to end his life rather than learn to adapt.
Call it perspective or wisdom with age but I see things differently now then I did when my dad died 12 years ago. I see strength in letting go. I see a beauty in moving from one stage to the next, even when the next is unknown and scary. I hope that Dennis will find that strength and as flaky as it might sound, I hope my dad can help him move to the other side, whatever that means. I hope he can do it for himself, and I hope he can do it for my sister and brother-in-law.
There is strength in letting go, and strength in holding on. Figuring out what needs to be done at what time is the tricky part it seems.
*The picture was on a site that said “no picture credit available”