Time to examine my personal motto, by Mary Beth Wighton

Mary Beth having fun! Photo credit: Elaine Wiersma
Mary Beth having fun!
Photo credit: Elaine Weirsma 2016

DAI member and a founding member of the Ontario Dementia Advisory Group (ODAG), Mary Beth Wight shares a story with us for World Alzheimer’s Month 2016 #WAM2016 #DAM2016 that she wrote about living with dementia in 2013. Thank you Mary Beth, and keep up your amazing work with your friends and colleagues of the ODAG in Canada. We will share a video about their work later in the month.

Time to Examine My Personal Motto

By Mary Beth Wighton, Person with Dementia Date: September 8th, 2013

“It was one year ago, on September 5th, that my life changed forever. It was on that day I was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Lobe Dementia (FTD). I suppose you can call it a one year anniversary. But, I associate anniversaries with parties and champagne. I partook in neither.

What I have done is a lot of reflection on this past year. It is a bit strange as it seems longer than a year. I think that perhaps the lengthy time it took to be diagnosed with FTD feeds into this time line. At minimum, that tacks on another four years.

As many people will tell you who are diagnosed after a long struggle, it was a relief. I finally have something to call this “thing.” It now gives me the ability to put a plan together and adjust my life accordingly. I now know the kind of help me and my family need. I can now refer in concrete terms (as much as that means) to symptoms, medications, tests, and future plans.

I have always been a person who does not like too much grey. I prefer black and white. It provides sound boundaries that I know I am to operate in. Little room for confusion or error. Having dementia means that I now live in the grey. Boundaries can change quickly and easily. I have tried to learn to adopt to these changes. It has been quite the learning curve.

It wasn’t long after my diagnosis, that I was introduced to and adopted for my personal motto: carpe diem. In loose translation, this Latin phrase means “size the day;” be spontaneous; just go for it. I have not kept this motto to myself but rather have shared it with anyone who will listen to me. I have publicly spoken and written about carp diem.

While I was in the corporate world, at the key milestones and at the end of projects, the team took the time to evaluate our effort. We would compare our results to the intended objectives and determine our success. We would challenge ourselves on how we could improve so future projects would benefit from our learning of the previous project. I found this to be an excellent methodology for project management.

I consider my life not as a project but as a journey. However, I feel I can still use this methodology of evaluating how successful I feel I am in my life.

With that said, I bring you back to one year ago when my goal was to live carpe diem. I now am at a milestone point, where I am reflecting on if this has been successful. Remembering the definition of carpe diem, I am quite happy to state I believe I have been very successful.

I changed when I was diagnosed. I made a decision to be an advocate for those with dementia. I want to help dispel stigma and educate all those who will listen. I want to be proactive in obtaining support and putting my “ducks-in-a-row.” I want to step into the lime -light and stand up to speak for those who are unable. I want to share my journey by writing journals and promoting them. But more importantly than all of that, I want to be a better spouse, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. I have searched and found a deeper relationship with God. I have renewed relationships and enjoyed meeting new people and making new friends.

Carpe diem is not just my personal motto, it has become my families. We try not to take things for granted anymore. We work hard to try and speak more gently with each other and be more encouraging. We have done a wonderful job at making new memories and jumping at chances for adventures. We are more apt to try new foods and restaurants. And each day, we tell each other of our love for them.

So when I compare what carpe diem means to how I have lived my life this past year, I must say it has been a wonderful success. But this is success as a team, not just myself. My Dawn and Brianna have had a stellar performance. Support has come from all different avenues that have helped me in achieving living for the day.

I have yet to define goals for myself for this coming year. For the new few days, I think I am just going to enjoy the wonderful feeling of all the successes.

Thank you to each and everyone of you who have helped me live with dignity and carpe diem.”

Copyright 2013 Mary Beth Wighton