A Dharma Glimpse by Frankie
Bamboo wind chime-
she even forgets
her own child’s death.
Mitsu Suzuki – A White Tea Bowl
Soon I’ll forget that my son is a murderer
Soon I’ll forget that I have a son.
Nigel Havers/Andrew Wilding in Midsomer Murders
Last week my aunt was diagnosed as being in the early stages of Alzheimers. Despite all evidence to the contrary, my cousin and I still had difficulty believing this could happen to Pat. Full of youth and vigor, lively minded, active every single day, she has been the matriarch and life force of us all, reminding us always to take care of ourselves, eat good healthy food, stay fit. She has followed her own rules always, the rest of us not so much!
I can’t get my head around any of this – in the last few days everything seems to have been about memory – Streisand and Redford in The Way We Were on TV; an episode of Midsomer Murders about Alzheimers and memory, even browsing one of my favourite Haiku collections, all of these fingers pointing to a large clouded ominous moon.
Acceptance and grief seem to sit within me in equal measures. I allow grief to be, we aren’t strangers. Familiar narratives have emerged naturally and without being sought – nothing is permanent, change is inevitable, the brevity of our fleeting lives in this floating world, and I see in this moment how this journey, this Dharma, my teachers and companions are supporting me in the face of my knee-jerk anger, my me-centred weakness, my resistance.
Something comes up again and again – I find consolation in the fact that my Aunt and Uncle are in their early 90’s and find myself hoping that they leave this world before their memories desert them completely. I hope that having been married for more than 70 years, they will never be strangers to one another. I feel guilty thinking about their deaths, but I weigh it up against compassion, against love. Not wishing it upon them, but wishing for kindness, calling upon Amitabha Buddha and Kannon for their compassion, to hear and guide not just me but all of us, my family and all families confronting similar journeys.
Namo Quan Shi Yin Bosat