Sunday, July 12, 2009

...but not forgotten!

Earlier today, I went to a Memorial gathering for a friend of mine who passed away on Thursday . I first spoke of this friend, Murray, in an earlier post called, Yesterday's Memories. Murray was suffering from Alzheimer's Disease but actually succumbed to heart failure. He would have been 80 years young in September. In speaking with his wife of 55 years, she said it was better for him to go now than to continue to endure the horrors of this dreaded disease. I couldn't have agreed more. There are a few things on my mind here tonight as I sit and reflect on some of the days events. One of them is Murray himself and the various passions and interests he held onto throughout his life. One of the smartest people I knew, Murray graduated as a Civil Engineer back in 1952. As a Consulting Engineer, Murray's stamp is on many of Southern Ontario's municipal projects. He was also involved in some of our community's largest civil infrastructure projects of his time.

Outside of his professional duties, Murray had a diverse range of interests from music, engineering, Canadian History and his love of gardening. Not to mention his close relationships he had with his dogs over the years. Believe me, Murray never failed to mention Odie and Annie every chance he got. I never really knew Murray as a family man as I only met him about 14 years ago. I met a couple of his children a couple of years ago at a small birthday celebration we had for him. There was something definitely lacking that was not hard to notice. Over the years, we did speak about that part of his life and there were regrets. A lot of them. But that is not my story to tell. That is his family's story. However there are things that I do know, especially in the past three years that I can tell you. Up until three years ago there was a lot of bitterness about the relationship between Murray and his family.

Today, when I had an opportunity to speak with his wife, 3 daughters and his son, I was pleasantly surprised that they did not try to cover up that part of Murray. If you can understand that. Most of the time, when a loved one passes away, those dark things are usually buried with the person. And, in a way, it was refreshing to hear this honesty coming from them. I also don't think they wanted to hear what a really nice guy he was because they had a different story. But Murray knew he was a difficult man and he never failed to reveal that to me. For years, there was a lot of bitterness and finger pointing about things long past but all I was getting was one side of the picture. With my history, I knew that there were two side to every story and didn't really need to hear the other side to know what was going on. But as I said, about three years ago, something began to happen.

Murray, in his own way, never forgot about the professional privileges he once held. And so, when Murray spoke, you listened. But suddenly, Murray shut up and began listening. Not just to me but to others around him and I think this started to have a dramatic affect on his consciousness. He started coming back with stories of reconciliation with his son and daughters. Albeit small stories but there was hope. Gradually they became more of a regular part of his repertoire and there was also a lot less anger. Today, hearing what they had to say, I had an opportunity to tell them what I had witnessed over the past three years. They were pleasantly surprised to hear what I had to tell them and I could see the pained and puzzled look on their faces. I also spoke to Murray's Daughter-in-law who filled me in on the impact the estranged relationship that was there between father and son over the years. When I told her of the stories of love and pride Murray shared with me about his children, she began to cry which naturally brought tears immediately to my eyes. All I can hope for is that they can now relinquish the pain that is embedded in their hearts and move on with their lives.
Another thing that was on my mind today which in a way has a link to the above, is a post I read by Rosaria of sixtyifvewhatnow. Rosaria is planning on a few posts as a kind of mentoring program into what we can look forward to as we get older. It would be interesting if we can all get involved. As for the Alzheimer's Disease, it is probably my least favourite of all diseases. I'm not a fan of any diseases to be honest with you, but this one just freaks me out with what it does to a human being. An estimated 26.6 million people worldwide had Alzheimer's in 2006; this number may quadruple by 2050.! With most diseases, you have some kind of a fighting chance, with this one, it's only a matter of time before you succumb to it. If we can share the knowledge of what to look for, not only with this disease but other disease that we can look forward to as we age. I guess what I am suggesting here is that you follow Rosaria's blog and get involved in a little Participaction!


Amel's Realm said...

This post has given me a mixture of feelings. As you know, my father-in-law has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease about 2 years ago. It's scary indeed to think about this disease...

When it comes to Murray's's great that you had a chance to talk to his family members and share with them what Murray told you over the last 3 years of his life.

James said...

I'm with you Bogey Alzheimer's Disease is tragic and scary. It's really nice that you were able to share with his family. I'm sure it must have been a blessing, especially coming from a genuinely nice guy like you.

Lori ann said...

That is good advice Bogey. I'm sure Rosaria will have some interesting posts coming up.

sorry about your day, that sounds difficult. They are lucky they had you to talk to.

hope your feeling better.

oh,and Alzheimer's is my least favorite too :(

Cynthia said...

Yes, Murray's life teaches us that we should take time to be receptive and listen. Thanks for sharing and may the family feel the healing that they need.

I will be sure to read Rosaria's upcoming posts. She is a wise, kind and humorous person. And you are an excellent blog buddy. I admire the way you celebrate other bloggers...and other people. Thanks for being who you are, Bogey.<3

Hilary said...

I'm sorry for your loss, Bogey. I hope his family can find peace. So wonderful that you were able to offer them some insight at this time.

lakeviewer said...

You are a wonderful blog buddy, especially with this story. It adds to our understanding of how we age, how we heal, how we can help each other be better. Thanks.

Michelle said...

Yes indeed. Very scary.

Bogey, I will often post stuff that I have been thinking about as it relates to my past.....key word being past here :) There is no way I would not recognise abuse these days, nor would I tolerate it either.

I'm not beating me up about smoking, I am well aware of the pitfalls of that, and I while I sometimes doubt me, its not for long. That's why I blog this stuff, not to whinge, but to share the fact that there is another side to it all, if you dare to allow change. I like myself now, I like my life, in spite of the difficulties amd I like you too, for caring.

I put this response on my blog comments then I decided I wanted to make sure you saw it, so here it is...


Shammickite said...

What a sad story. But I'm glad that you were able to speak to his family and let them know some of the family stories he spoke about during his last years.

Bogey said...

Amel, I hope the progression of this disease is slower in your Father-in Law than what I saw with Murray. It was amazingly quick and devastating.

Thanks for the warm sentiments James. Always appreciated.

Thanks for your continued support Lori Ann. It is very much appreciated.

Thank you Cynthia for your kind comments and support. I agree with your sentiments about Rosaria, she is still a great teacher and well worth paying attention to.

Thank you for your comments Hilary. I just couldn't let it pass without them knowing the feelings he shared with me over the years. They deserved to hear it. I hope they can have some peace.

Thank you Rosaria. We all definitely learn from each other if we open our eyes, our ears and our hearts to each other.

Michelle, I guess it is difficult for me to tell sometimes whether what I am reading is in the present or the past. Being an emotional person, I feel more of the pain behind the words whether they occured today or yesterday. You are very courageous for sharing your journey with all of us. And thank you for letting me know this.

Thank you for your kind thoughts Shammickite. Always appreciated.