The Longest Day

2019-11-11T09:24:40-08:00Categories: brain, dementia, health & medicine|Tags: , , , , |

On the longest day of the year, the Alzheimer’s Association wants you to think. Use your precious and, God-willing, still-intact brain and think. Spend five of those one thousand glorious minutes of summer solstice daylight thinking about the people you know who are dealing with dementia and what the words “longest day” might mean to them. The Alzheimer’s Association is betting you do know someone whose spouse, parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, friend or neighbor is living with Alzheimer’s disease. Someone who knows the loneliness of caring for a person who once had so much to say and now says nothing at all, all day long. Or maybe she says the same thing over and over again. Or maybe he speaks, but it makes no sense. Maybe she or he is sundowning—there’s a good “longest-day” word—but in the dementia world, sundowning is not so pretty. It means getting agitated and cranky and sometimes even scary right when the rest of the world is getting ready for bed. The longest day. Where my ancestors came from, it was and is a day of celebration. Of joyous gratitude for summer light and warmth. And many of the people who are in the early stage of Alzheimer’s are going to be able to enjoy the longest day of the year just as much, if not more, than the rest of us, because no one is better at living in the moment than people who can’t remember. If you can no longer follow a book or a movie, then why not [...]

Solstice

2011-12-21T08:58:20-08:00Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

A ribbon of orange lifts the night-sky curtain: it’s the literal crack of dawn here in Seattle, eight minutes before eight a.m.  Welcome to the week of the winter solstice, when every day tops out at just under eight and a half hours. It’s dark.  Even during our eight hours of daylight, it’s pretty dark: the winter sun is no match for these thick winter clouds.  We were lucky, the first half of December, which local weather expert Cliff Mass says was the driest on record.  But dry or not, this is the season when we can’t take light for granted.  We have to create it ourselves. And so we do: we string lights on our houses.  We drag trees inside, and cover them with lights.  We build fires and light candles.  We go to brightly lit stores and malls.  Sometimes it feels a little manic, this chasing after light.  This denial of the 15 and a half hours of daily darkness that is really what December is about. Darkness feels dangerous. Uncomfortable. Blind.  Who wants it? Who needs it? We do.  Think of how we all started out: it took us nine solid months of darkness before we were ready to open our lungs and breathe, open our eyes and see.  Newborn babies know darkness, not light.  They only learn to fear the dark as they rely on their eyes more and more to tell them where their parents are; where safety and comfort lie. Seeds lie deep underground in the winter, content and dormant.  Their [...]