FTD – Can You Feel It?
Love. It’s all You Need, according to Lennon and McCartney.
It’s All Around, according to the Troggs and Wet Wet Wet.
I have spoken of it many times on these pages. I speak of it frequently in my life. It’s in my head all the time. There’s no getting away from it.
Even in the deepest throes of FTD, somehow it survives – thrives even.
I happened upon this interesting article about a letter written by John Steinbeck to his son, away at boarding school. The son had written to his father about his deep love for a girl in his class. Asking advice about how he should handle his feelings. His father responded:
“There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.
Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.
The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another — but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good. “
– John Steinbeck , 1958
John certainly had a way with words didn’t he?
I especially like the parts about
“an outpouring of everything good in you”
“ (it) can release in you strength, courage and goodness and wisdom you didn’t even know you had”.
He could have written it to the caregiver of someone with FTD.
For myself, the love I had for my husband was probably the only thing that got me through those often very difficult times. Once you relinquish the fight and accept the inevitable, your love will give you the strength to handle tricky, embarrassing and downright scary situations.
If, for some reason you have lost the love you once had for them, take courage and strength from the thought that I and many other nurses like me, are able to offer compassion, caring and assistance to those that we don’t “love” in the same way as we do our families. But we love them all the same.
We love the privilege of caring for another human being. We love sharing some of their most private moments. We find the strength to overlook their unpleasantness and rudeness, which we know is driven by fear and vulnerability. I hope that even if your love for your spouse, parent or friend has waned, you can find it in your heart to do that most selfless thing and care for another person for what will probably be a relatively short episode in your life.
I know that not everyone aspires to be a nurse. I’m not saying everyone can do it. It’s not easy.
It’s not easy even when you love them.
You also have to love yourself enough to know when you can’t do it anymore. There’s no shame in that. You’re human. Not Superhuman. You’re scared. You’re angry and frustrated. That’s alright. You have my permission to scream, run away, punch the wall.
The last sentence of the Steinbeck quote leaves an indelible mark on me –
“ It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another — but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good”.
In other words, keep doing what you do – loving and caring. Your FTD’er will probably not reciprocate in a way you would want. Although even up to the end of his life, my husband would randomly kiss me, or make some kind of gesture of love. Well, I like to think so anyway. Maybe he would have kissed anyone who got that close!
When he still had occasional lucidity, he would tell me he loved me with a sadness in his eyes that broke my heart. I really believe that some part of him knew what was happening. The moments were fleeting and became less frequent as the disease progressed.
Keep your love close. It will see you through the darker times. Sometimes it’s a little hard to see and recall, but it’s still there.
Like a little firefly in the dark.