“Do you wear these?” Mom asked earnestly while I helped her change her Depends one day. Not knowing whether to laugh or cry (hint: laugh) – I opened my mouth to respond right as she cut me off by exclaiming, “They’re WONDERFUL!”
Dementia is funny.
You might be pissed hearing me say this because all that’s running through your brain right now is:
- the hospitals
- the loss
- the fear
- the bathing
- the tears
- the bills
- the family feuds
- the anger
- the WHY WHY WHY?
But don’t tell me there haven’t been laugh-out-loud moments, where (literally) all you can do is throw your hands up and laugh (often sounding like a crazy person).
Maybe they turned to tears quickly after, but still… for that moment…you were soothed, you felt relief, you were just on the slight side of healed.
And isn’t that what we’re all looking for? To share our grief? To breathe again? To link our worn fingers together and hold on for dear life?
Erma Bombeck, my mom’s favorite humorist said, “Laughter rises out of tragedy when you need it the most, and rewards you for your courage.”
That’s what One Brave Cowgirl is all about.
We believe crazy things like:
- You’re stronger than you think.
- Laughter makes you brave.
- There is life after dementia.
- Misery is optional.
- Martyrdom is overrated.
You see, I wasn’t always this cope-y. Once upon a dark time I turned to everything but comedy to deal with my mother’s Alzheimer’s. And when I say everything, I mean everything. Use your imagination here, and one day, over coffee, I’ll tell you the gritty details.
Much like most rock bottoms, there I found solid footing on which to walk in a different direction: healed, recovered.
And that’s when I started thinking about the 35 million people in the world (thanks, Google) with some form of dementia. If the average family size is 2.5 (I never understood that half person thing), that meant there were upwards of 87 million people who are –cliché and all – Just. Like. Me.
- We’re overwhelmed on every level: financially and emotionally and logistically and physically.
- We’ve spent more hours in hospitals than most med students.
- We ping pong between guilt and relief when we take time away from our loved ones.
- We hate having to be parents to our parents.
- We’re convinced it’s not okay to take care of ourselves.
- We’re terrified that one day, we’ll wake up with dementia.
So here’s what we’re gonna do:
We’re gonna come together
We’re gonna share stories
We’re gonna learn new things about this disease, about our loved ones & about ourselves
We’re gonna stare dementia in the face, maintain eye contact, and remind him that he’s not the boss
We’re gonna laugh so we don’t cry
And then we’re probably gonna cry anyway
We’re gonna be a ragtag community full of people who give each other the strength and courage to face just one more day.
And for now, that’s exactly good enough.
Welcome to One Brave Cowgirl. Join me in battling back the best way I know – with gratitude, acceptance, and humor.
I’m not laughing at dementia, of course, I’m laughing with it. Because, admit it: the most unexpected, hilarious things happen when you’re dealing with this disease. Some might call me irreverent for thinking this way. To that, I say irreverence is bliss.
Need a little bliss? Thought so.
Because everyone knows laughter is not the best medicine for dementia. It won’t bring them back. It won’t make it all magically better. But it will help you survive. And live again.
So giddy up, we’ve got a life to get to.