I’m not sure when it happens exactly, certainly it’s different for each person. That place in your life where you cross over and realize you have less life ahead than life you have lived. Slow or sudden the realization comes to everyone at some pivotal moment.
I can’t really pinpoint it for me personally. I just know there was a sluggish and almost painful yearning deep inside me to break free of constraints that tied me. I desperately wanted to get out of bed everyday and know, if this was my last, I was leaving nothing on the table.
Some might use the cliché of “mid-life crisis”. I do not. I think of it as the age of awakening. When you realize how blessed your life is, how insignificant you are in the whole scheme of things, and what your priorities truly are. For me it was an arousal of sorts. It provoked me to let go of baggage, love myself, and put an emphasis on those I love.
I am blessed to be in a position where I am healthy in my Fab Fifties and can make these choices. Because I know this is not true for everyone as they approach their middle years. Health is the wild card in this poker game, no matter how carefully you play your hand.
And that is the message in the eloquently written memoir I just finished reading, Her Beautiful Brain by Ann Hedreen.
Ann’s own journey is chronicled in the book as she rides the life rollercoaster of family drama, career and marriage crisis, self-confidence and self-awareness, all while guiding her mother through the ravaging journey of Alzheimer’s.
Ann’s writing is honest and brutal at times, as she acknowledges the shortcomings of herself and her family, including her own mother. Her writing is moving as she takes the reader from 1969 when Ann was in Junior High School to 2006 when Ann’s mother passed away from Alzheimer’s. In that stretch of life you travel with her on the rocky and surreal journey of a daughter, a mother and a disease; a disease that sucked every conceivable memory and function from Her Beautiful Brain.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s are real issues in our society and few of us will not be touched by these afflictions in one way or another. Early on-set Alzheimer’s (patients younger than 65 like Ann’s mother Arlene) finds its way so devastatingly into lives, careers, families and can be a burden that shatters even the strongest family core. More is being learned about this disease every day, but a cure is nowhere in sight.
Her Beautiful Brain is worth a read whether you are dealing with Alzheimer’s in your life or not. It is a poignant story, engaging and written with sensitivity and reality, as well as a heartfelt tribute to a strong and fabulous woman whose life was cut short.
Hurray to Ann Hedreen for a memoir that everyone in his or her Fabulous Fifties should read.
Learn more about Her Beautiful Brain http://shewritespress.com/our-titles/her-beautiful-brain/