I’ve never read a Harry Potter novel. Nor have I seen any of the films despite the promptings of my nieces and god-daughter. (You really tried Rotie!) Recently, though, I came across this quotation from J.K. Rowling:
“Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” (1)
On the surface that makes perfect sense. Unless we understand something, it can be very hard to accept it and move forward. And then I thought about Mum and Alzheimer’s. I suppose I do understand, on a very basic level, what has happened to the Mum I used to know so well. I’ve read the science, though as someone who regularly plumbed the depths of understanding in science exams at school, my “understanding” is at best rudimentary. And I’ve had to accept that Mum cannot seem to recall anything, and I mean, anything from our shared past.
The last time I saw Mum, my mobile phone chose to go on strike, permanently locked on the symbol of the forbidden fruit. The upshot is that Mum and I were unable to sing along to her favourite songs. I showed Mum a book my wife put together for my 50th birthday last year. The book is very precious – a series of photographs from the past 50 years with some very generous words from the very best of friends. Mum’s interest lasted for less than a minute and try as I might, I couldn’t re-engage her. And so to conversation, an update of my week, the mention of her upcoming birthday, a reflection on birthdays past. Nothing.
But back to the quotation. Understanding, acceptance, recovery. I “understand” Mum has dementia and accept the situation as it is, but here there can be no recovery. This is no Harry Potter story. That isn’t an admission of defeat by the way. I won’t accept that we can’t make life better for people with this horrible disease and one step towards that is sharing awareness through Dementia Friends. There are other steps, of course. A greater political will, more value placed on the care system and the carers, these would help. Greater understanding, though, it’s a start.
(1) JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Bloomsbury 2000