July 2, 2010

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Being able to understand those who are aging

Shirley Vogler MeisterShortly after I completed a sleep apnea test in April, my husband, Paul, and I were looking through copies of papers that I had filled out prior to the overnight procedure.

We both noticed that in the line for my age I wrote 72. However, in the line for my birth date I wrote July 11, 1936.

My husband laughed and pointed out that age 72 wasn’t accurate. I am nearly two years older. I laughed with him, but was also embarrassed! Later, I wondered if that was a subconscious way to deny the aging process. If so, then I had better come to terms with reality.

The more I thought about this, the more I examined my feelings toward aging. I first recalled the old joke that it is a woman’s prerogative to “fudge a little bit” about her age. Since I have never bought into that idea and have never before been irked by the passing of years, I knew my error was inadvertent, although certainly “telling.”

Of course, because my mother suffered with Alzheimer’s disease for many years, I must admit to having moments of fear, too. Could I be “slipping” and not realize it? Of course!

However, earlier this year I confessed to my doctor that the idea of slipping into Alzheimer’s or similar brain-related problems was, genetically speaking, a distinct concern. He laughed and said if that happened, he would tell me—and he sees no signs of a problem. How reassuring!

I also prayed and meditated about this in many different ways, finally realizing that dwelling on the subject can only make things worse. I remembered very simple advice from long ago that I have tried to live by for many years: “Let go and let God.” For a long time, that was a type of mantra for me.

Coincidentally, while pondering all of this, I came across a stack of books that I had set aside for a better time to read them. One book fell out as I began to sort through them. It was published two years ago.

Please Get to Know Me, by Virginia Garberding and Cecil Murphey, is published by Pleasant Word, a division of The Wine Press Group. The Web site is www.pleasegettoknowme.com. If you order it online, the $13.99 book is available for $3.78 less.

Garberding is a registered nurse certified in restorative nursing, and a nurse educator in Illinois caring for persons with Alzheimer’s and related dementia.

Murphey is a former pastor and hospital chaplain who has authored more than 100 books, including My Children: Spiritual Help for Caregivers and Aging Is an Attitude.

My second “Faithful Lines” column this month will present additional information about the Please Get to Know Me book, which so impressed me.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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