Life Changes

I like to start a talk with a joke. Today we did that with a funny song. Thank you Carole. I originally heard the song “Get Up and Go” sung by Pete Seeger. So thank you Pete.


Benjamin Franklin said, “We will not appreciate water until the well runs dry.” In a similar way, we may not appreciate the Sacred Space in our Church until we cannot meet there. So here is a meditation to help us create and protect Sacred Space, as well as join us together on other dimensions:


Meditation: Sacred Space (connecting with Love and including Kay)


The title of today’s talk is Life Changes. On January 3, 2022, we moved my wife Kay from Home to a care facility. Kay and I have been married for over 52 years. So this is a Life Change. One that I knew was coming and I knew was at the right time. So I got through it pretty good until I was telling a neighbor and he asked, “Is she ever coming home?” I had to take a deep breath, pause to recover, and then say, “No.” I started to tear up and almost cried.


One of the things that I decided long ago was that I wanted to keep Kay at home as long as I could. We designed our new house to support this. Without it, I could not have kept Kay at home as long as I did. We also built our new house as close to our daughters as we could, so that we could call on their help. I also put boundaries on what I could do and was ready to call in help, if needed. First I would call our daughters, or my 6’-5” EMT Fireman son-in-law, and then 911. We maintained a landline with plug in telephones and cell phones so that we could call for help even if one system was not working, or the power was out. Not cordless telephones. Cordless telephones do not work when the electrical power is out.


We found help through “Martha and Mary at Home” which brings skilled caregivers in the home to help. And the Knights of Columbus will loan care equipment for free. This is how we got a shower chair, a wheel chair, and a hospital bed.


I saw an attorney in 2009 to learn what I needed to do to qualify for Medicaid. I started to transfer, change, and sell assets so we could qualify when the time came. In 2017, we took a tour of care facilities.


Those are some of the physical ways that I prepared. The purpose of my talk is to discuss the Spiritual Ways.


I previously gave a talk titled Meeting Adversity in Spiritual Ways. I want to mention that my talks are posted on my website, SerendipitySeminars.com. The text of this talk will be added in a few days. So if you would like to read this talk, or a previous one, just email the Church or me and we will send you a link. The Church will also post the video of this talk. However, some of us can find what we are looking for faster if it is printed. I like to point out that the posted talk is what I intended to say.


So is this Life Change adversity? Yes, it is. In the talk on Adversity, I listed ten Spiritual methods that I used. Here are six of the ten that I used for this Life Change:


1. If I become fearful, I use the Violet Flame of St. Germaine. To use this method, I go into mediation and see myself surrounded and infused with the Violet Flame.

2. I use intuition to make decisions and to seek answers. I use a scale to measure the relative value of an answer. I start with the number ten. Then I ask for a number for the answer I seek. If it is higher, it the answer is better. If it is lower, the answer is not as good. I will give an example in a few minutes.

3. I remember and seek the Light within. To me, that is part of what today’s opening prayer was. A reminder of the Peace that I believe is always within.

4. I remember how important it is to be Happy. And I strive to be happy in the moment. I also remember to connect to Spirit and be grateful. I ask for the Highest Good and reminded myself that it might not be what I expect. And sometimes it is not. My father taught me that there is Good in everything. We find what we look for. So I intentionally look for good.

5. I seek Information from guides, and others. I often do this through meditation.

6. I really don’t know what is going on. I need to accept and be grateful for what happens. Even if it first appears to be adverse. As an example, our truck was stolen in June and this appeared to be bad. However, after the truck was found, we received money from our insurance company and were also able to sell the truck to our friend, Vanessa in Oregon. This money paid for moving Kay into Brookdale and her first month there. I was very glad to have this money in hand. So actually having the truck stolen turned out to be good.


This life change is different in some ways than the adversity that I spoke of before. Here are some of the ways:


1. It took place over a long period of time. I started being a caregiver for Kay over 12 years ago.

2. It was predictable. We could see it coming and take steps.

3. It was an increasing burden. Being a caregiver is a gradual, unpredictable but increasing amount of work. I am reminded of the old saying, “That was the straw that broke the camels back.” What this means to me, is that more and more straws can be added over time without a change, but finally a straw is added to the load and the camel’s back breaks. So it is not the weight of what is added that counts, it is it the total weight. In a similar way, a caregiver can just be looking at a new thing, and it does not seem like much. So it is easy to add it. But this happens again and again. Sometimes without being noticed.

4. It was critical to have the help of Family and friends. It is difficult to see how one is doing, what one needs to do, or sometimes even to communicate with Kay. This is where family and friends can really help. Friends and especially our daughters have helped identify and make changes that were huge. They also stepped in and took over so I could have a break, go on vacation, or focus on doing something. For example, this will be the first talk in recent times that one of them will not have to be with Kay. Our friend Mike Albright works as a professional caregiver. When he would ask about Kay, he would say, “Is she still showering without help?” I would say, “Yes,” and think, “Ah ha, that must be a defining test.” I would be grateful that she was showering without help.


How are those of us taking care of a family member doing? I once heard that “70% of caregivers die before the person that they are taking care of.” I didn’t believe this when I first heard it, but now I do. If this is true, we are not doing very well.


Here are some examples of how Spiritual methods have helped me:


Timing: It is a decision to move someone into a care facility. There is the time before, when the question is, “Is it time?” And the time after, when the question is, “Did I do it too soon?” These were the questions for me.


To answer the question, “Is it time?” I would check with my intuition. The answer kept coming back that it was less than a ten. For example, if keeping her at home was a ten, moving her to a facility was a seven. However, with time, the second number got closer to ten. Starting in October, Kay was no longer showering on her own. I had to help her shower. And where she had happily been showering every other day, she didn’t want to shower at all. I started keeping track of when we did showers so I could be sure she was doing them often enough. On her own, she would have simply stopped showering.


I meditate every day. As part of my meditation, I ask for the Highest Good. I also take time to listen to my guides, my Higher Self, my ancestors, Holy Spirit, etc. Not individually, but usually as a group. One day when I was worrying about moving Kay into a facility. I heard in my meditation, “When the time comes, we will be there to help you.” I didn’t have an idea of where it came from, but I felt comforted. I also started to get a word or phrase for the day. I made the decision on Wednesday, Dec. 22 and my word for the day was “Flow.” And that is what happened. Everything flowed. I also checked my intuition Dec. 22. On a scale of ten, it was a thirty to move her. So I said, “It is time to move Kay.” And we started the process. My daughters thought that it should be as soon as possible, but I decided that “moving day” would be after the Holidays, on Monday, January 3. So I had over a week to “say goodbye.” And we had our last Christmas together at home. I valued that time. I also was fearful because sometimes just my help was not enough. I had to figure out a different way to do things or call for help. I remember the Monday before thinking, “I don’t think that I make it a week!” I also remember, hearing in meditation “You always ask for the Highest Good. This is the Highest Good.” So I used my intuition to check and it was the Highest Good for everyone including Kay. With staying home being a ten, for me it was a thirty, for Kay it was a thirty, and for one person it was a seventy.


We could not get a call back from the facility that we had chosen. Instead everything worked magically to have us select Brookdale in Poulsbo. She needed to be in the Memory Care unit because she has dementia. Fortunately they had an available room. They even had a special on that helped reduce the cost. I kept remembering what I heard in meditation, “When the time comes, we will be there to help you.” I remember asking for help years ago and hearing “What makes you think that you are not getting help?” And I had to answer, “I guess because it is not showing up the way that I expect.” Sometimes my part is to accept what is.


On Moving Day, January 3, the word I heard in meditation was “Peace.” This was very comforting as I had been agonizing over how to handle Moving Day, including when to tell Kay and what to tell her. I didn’t think that I could get Kay up out of a chair by myself, she had been having trouble walking very far, and it was difficult to get her in and out of a car. I had invited our oldest daughter and our grandson over to help. Three generations would go with her to her new home. So we had lunch together and as we finished up, we told her that we were going to look at a facility that our daughters want us to see. She keep asking why we were doing this and if we were trying to snooker her, but she kept moving. I was totally amazed. I kept remembering, “When the time comes, we will be there to help you.” We were definitely getting help.


One of the stipulations from Brookdale was that we not visit or contact Kay for a week. When I first heard this, my mind went blank. I stopped thinking. I now realize that is an indication of how overloaded I was. This stipulation was so that Kay would switch from depending on us to depending on the staff at Brookdale. It made sense to me, but still I was in shock. I wondered what would I do with all that time? I imagine that others were wondering too. It turned out that it takes a lot of work to complete the move into a facility. I also am realizing that I have put off a lot of things that now need doing.


I have to say that Kay actually did much better the first weeks than any of us had expected. She was better than if she had stayed at home.


I tend to live in the future. Kay tends to live in the present. Lao Tzu wrote, “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” I think that is an over simplification, but it seems to apply in this case. Since Kay has lost much of her short-term memory, she definitely is living in the present.


Here is a photo taken at Brookdale of Kay and our daughters, Lisa (L) and Suzanne (R).


I would like to share with you some notes from friends and family:


From Vanessa Riley: Gale, you are going through big change, just like me... we are redefining our roles/selves all I can say is, if you would like my thoughts, is please be kind to yourself, we are not superhuman (Yet!) one day, one hour at a time... gratitude in the good moments seek strength in the tough moments and I find that thinking is overrated and for me fear sets in when I over think.


From Debbie Clay: In this temporal world, things change, and sometimes it feels like the changes are coming fast and furiously. … I know that your spiritual resources will carry you through this time of change and adjustment. You have the loving embrace of family, and that’s a blessing.


From our Daughter, Suzanne Tapper: I am so happy to see you doing better! I know you are adjusting and adapting, and probably still feel like you are just trying to get stuff done. But I feel like we got our Dad back. You are back to your happy, wonderful self even if you may not see it yet. We were so worried about you and I don’t see that anymore now! I am so grateful. It really is the “Highest Good.


From Mike Albright, who is a professional caregiver, Now that Kay is in a care facility, you can stop being her caregivers and be her family.


From Ed Olmstead: Time flows quickly and change happens whether we are ready or not.


I would like to end the talk at this point, because it is a happy point. However, as Ed pointed out, “… change happens whether we are ready or not.” And changes are happening which require action and there are unknowns. While I don’t know what to do, I do know that what Debbie wrote is true, ‘…(our) spiritual resources will carry (us) through…” And I know that this Church and our Church family are part of our spiritual resources.


As I mentioned, I first heard the opening song sung by Pete Seeger. He is one of my heroes and was involved in many worthy causes in his lifetime. Public Television had a series titled “11th Hour.” The idea was to allow famous people that were close to the end of their lives, to give the message they would like people to remember. Pete Seeger was on one episode recorded on May 4, 1991. His message was “Don’t give up.” No matter how bad things look. “Don’t give up.” Pete believed in this message and he lived another 23 years.


And that is what I would say. When going through a Life Change, use your spiritual resources and don’t give up.


To lead into the meditation, Carole will sing Turn, Turn, Turn. A song written by Pete Seeger.


Meditation: This talk has stirred up a lot of emotions for me and I need to release and smooth them out. So I will play a didgeridoo that I associate with time and then one that tends to smooth things out.


Return to Past Events