When Jack met Sue
How We Met
I was a very happy woman on my birthday in 2001. I had a loving family, treasured friends, a job I was passionate about, money in the bank, gratitude for what I had, and activities I enjoyed. I could have been a great spokesperson for the Life is Good brand!
If you’re my best friend, what do you give me for my 46th birthday? How about a husband? While my friend Peg wasn’t trying to set me up with anyone, she had invited her boss, Jack Ryan, to the party. His wife had passed away two years before and she wanted him to begin socializing again. She had not told him it was my birthday and when he got to the party, he felt bad about not having brought a card or gift.
Jack called me the next day to apologize and offered to take me out. I had never been married and was quite content with my life the way it was – until I went out with Jack Ryan on May 12, 2001!
In my thirties, my treasured neighbors, Bob and Mary, who were like family to me, journeyed through what was my first exposure to caregiving. Although none of us had any experience with types of Dementia, or dementia care, our neighborhood came together with love to provide care support for Bob, Mary, and their three daughters as we journeyed the stages of Mary’s diagnosis together.
My grandmother (I always called her Grambet, a combination of Grandmother and Betty), is one of the strongest women I have ever known. A leader in industry before it was commonly accepted, she taught me lessons of independence, strength, courage, and going after what I believed in. When she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, we began a journey of love that lasted more than ten years. Her son Bill, daughter-in-law Rhonda, and grandson Alex, were her loving and constant caregivers and I learned valuable insights about being a care partner and caregiver. I learned about compassion, acceptance, and living the truth that serves our care receivers.
During that time, my Daddy – my hero – was diagnosed with a type of Dementia. Our journey was much different than that of Grambet’s. I had been talking with my Daddy almost every day for my entire life, learning from him and sharing with him. I learned valuable insights into myself, how to love purely, how to make difficult decisions out of love, and how to be a supportive partner in care. My Mother-in-love, Donna, included me in Daddy’s journey, even when it was challenging. Honoring her journey, challenges, and moments of joy, taught me how much that means to the caregiver and the care partner. Daddy’s journey lasted for about eight years and, during that time, we received Jack’s first diagnosis.
I have participated in communities, formal and informal, throughout my life. Horseback riding, sorority, theater, karate, dance, business, photography, church, friends. Different communities with different focuses and wonderful experiences. It was not until we were embraced by spiritual, recovery, and now dementia communities, I began to realize the power of, and powerful impact of community in my life. I am realizing my opportunity to impact the lives of others, and, more importantly, the opportunity for communities to impact our lives.
In each of these communities, we are learning to truly lean in, to share of ourselves for the good of others when they need us, and to be receptive to accepting their care and support when we need it. Another powerful lesson is that of the power of acceptance. Through massive acceptance we receive openly and without judgement, from each person who wants to lean in, in the ways that support their capacity.
My goal is to lean into as many people as possible, to positively touch their lives through sharing my perspective of massive acceptance, radical presence, perspective, open-mindedness and not accepting labels. If even one thing I say or do makes a positive impact in someone’s life, my entire journey is worth it. This is so important to me that throughout the content I share, I include ‘leaning in’ examples, tips and stories people have shared along our journey that touch our life.
One dream I have with Our Journey of Love and through the messages of Our Journey of Love, 5 Steps to Navigate Your Caregiving Journey, is that if you are touched by anything we are creating, you will pass it along to someone else in case it can help them too.
Together we can support each other on our journeys of love with caregiving.
Please Contact Me Today!
To more positively navigate your journey – for you, your care receiver, and those around you.
Massive acceptance awakens me to the potential of my experience.
Radical presence gives me clarity in the fullness of my experience.
~ Susan J. Ryan