Ch.25“Keep on Trucking” but “I Won’t Regret a Thing”
Shopping today, I ran into a friend I’ll call Ellie whose husband Max is currently in a nursing home trying to get well enough to return home. Both are in their upper 80’s. Ellie told me she’s selling their home of 20 years to move into smaller quarters. I said I was sure she’d miss her gardening, a hobby she’d been devoted to as long as I’ve known her. “Not at all,” Ellie replied. “I won’t regret a thing.” Her philosophy is that they’ve had a wonderful chapter of their lives in that place “but it’s just a house” and it was time to move on to the next chapter.
I’ve been wondering how well that way of thinking might apply to our Lewy Body situation. One problem is that Lewy Body is a fluctuating disease. For instance, one day Pat can write on the computer; the next day she can’t; and the day after she can again. We cannot say “Well, that skill is gone so let’s quit wishing for it.” I guess I wouldn’t apply Ellie’s model to our day to day living experiences.
“I won’t regret a thing” does work better for me on a longer perspective. Pat’s counseling career is over; so is her permission to drive. As a couple, we have lost our business partnership as owners of a counseling center (Although we are writing this journal as a team). Perhaps most of all, we’ve lost a sense of freedom or spontaneity: everything we do must be gauged against criteria like “How long until the next medicines?” and “Will Pat be able to handle the stress?” of whatever we might consider doing.
Pat and I once taught at an experimental college named Thomas Jefferson College (TJC). TJC’s informal slogan was “Keep on Trucking.” No matter what obstacles you face, keep moving toward your life’s goals. Of course, that means we must ask ourselves what those goals are at this stage of life. For me I’d immediately name three goals: 1) to preserve as much as possible of our normal life style, especially by staying in our home in the country; 2) to develop new interests and hobbies that Pat and I can enjoy; 3) to practice optimism and find joy every day.
Maybe “Keep on trucking” can merge with “I won’t regret a thing.” Together, this could be our motto: Stay determined to preserve everything that can be preserved but when we must let something go from our life we will do so without regret.
Pat’s comments on “Keep on Trucking” but “I Won’t Regret a Thing”:
I don’t understand keep on trucking but don’t regret a thing. It seems to me when I keep on trucking I’m always involved in something and I don’t want to leave it behind usually. If I do have to I can but I don’t need to. I do get ideas that I’d like to explore but they don’t automatically fit into our life now, so I don’t always bring them up. Sometimes I think if I bring them up Ron won’t like them. For example, if we had a boat, we could go exploring a little, go fishing a little, look at other areas along a waterway and have some new experiences but since we don’t it’s really hard to do. If there were places Ron felt good about my exploring, that would feel good to me. Looking for rocks or other things like that, that would feel good. Anywhere. There’s lots of places we could look but we don’t. We have friends who do that, and they seem to enjoy it. I think I would too. Also, if we decided we really wanted to garden together, for example, that could lead to lots of interesting experiences for us.
In order to keep on trucking, you have to start somewhere.