By Susun Coleman Miller
The Joy of Forgetting
By Susun Coleman
(As Published in The Art of Well Being, Summer Edition 07)
I am 54 years-old and find that many of my peers, co-workers and family members have
navigated the sometimes choppy waters of loving and care-giving someone with
dementia. I am a busy artist, mother, grandmother, daughter, woman in a good long-
term relationship, and a woman with friends. Over the years, I have helped care for my
grandmother and my mother; now, my story is about caring for a friend with dementia.
Most of us experience forgetfulness in varying degrees. Stress alone can be a direct
catalyst for us to forget things, and we lament why we just put the milk in the pantry with
the cereal and lo and behold, the car keys, too. Most of us have families, and let me tell
you, we are collectively pretty darn smart at covering up our family problems to the
outside world, especially when dementia starts sneaking in. Like the loving co-
dependents we humans can be – often to the distraction of our therapists – we aid and
abet as we cover up the ‘dysfunction’ for the glorious sake of denial.
What is the Spiritual Journey of forgetting and are we herding ourselves there together,
on both sides of the fence, for some cosmic lesson? What makes it difficult? What
makes it a joyful experience? Why do numerous healings and/or medications and many
different modalities and practitioners fail to ‘cure’ dementia? What is its lesson? Do we
exhaust every avenue to ‘correct’ it? Or can we accept it, right where it is, day by day?
The experience of dementia eventually takes its toll on everyone, in one way or another.
At what point do we jump in and participate as a ‘village’ to care for our aging population
so that fear, hunger, and sadness do not have to be the norm? How do we really assist
in a Spiritual way and love a forgetful person?
Imagine the stressors as I share my story of Miss Pie, 70, who is experiencing the deluge of 50-100 pieces of mail
coming in her mailbox every day as she develops a habitual mouth ‘click click’ sound while she reads the
envelopes, over and over, knowing she is supposed to DO something with them. There are the bills that she has
already paid once or twice or not at all. There is a stack of paid bills and gifts to charities, stamped and ready to
mail, three months old, hiding under a stack of newspapers on the ottoman - along with a monthly income check
that never made it to the bank. She does remember to go outside and feed the birds before she starts her
check writing. God’s creatures always come first
She doesn’t answer the phone anymore because of all the telemarketers that barrage her day and night. The
bank tries to call Miss Pie repeatedly and sends her notices to come in and manage her overdrawn checking
account. She is so worried and fretful. She doesn’t know what to do.
Then, there are the 40-plus something sticky notes all over the kitchen that repeat their messages: buy cat food,
clean litter box, order oil for the furnace, get honey, tea and gala apples, get car inspected, and on and on.
There are over 15 partially used bottles of various brands of Ginkgo Biloba and dozens of bottles of other
supplements from the health food store. On the refrigerator there is a year-old appointment card from the
dentist to install a crown, which has already been paid for. The temporary crown is causing her pain.
The grocery store trip she knows she needs to make looms frightening in her mind; what is the name of it and
where is it? Does she take a right or a left out of the driveway?
This is Miss Pie’s story. She has no siblings, no children, no close relatives; just very hungry cats. And friends.
Good friends! They have visited her and begged to help her, knowing something is wrong but not wishing to
overstep a boundary. Miss Pie has been an intelligent, highly Spiritual, creative and meticulous woman all her
life, and has managed and juggled every aspect well. She has no clue how to ask for help because she has
rarely asked for personal help.
Then one day, Miss Pie finally did call and say, “I am broke, please take me to the bank?” (She wasn’t broke it
turns out, but her checking account was never linked to her one remaining money market accounts so all her
checks had been bouncing for weeks.)
When I walked in to Miss Pie’s house that day, I decided to try to see things from a different perspective. I
replaced “Holy Cow!” doubts with the choice to make this mine, and then asked the Universe to help me. We
took it one day at a time. She agreed to accept help and once that bridge was crossed, everything began to fall
We started with the biggest problems; her safety and general well-being, and worked our way down the long long
list. I called friends and together, we took turns taking her to lunch, doing laundry, cleaning and getting supplies
in the house, until we could get an attorney, assess her financially, and get her into an assisted living situation.
It was difficult for her, but kind people adopted her cats. Her new apartment is small and wonderful, facing the
woods. Her meals are provided. The workers are loving and kind. She loves her new home!
And here is where miracles – or manifestations of our intended realities – started to appear! Together, Miss Pie
and I were led to great practitioners, wonderful people at the attorney’s office, and a great new doctor. Incredible
things happened every day. The best part was her smile and the laughter that returned, even in the face of
difficult days. It takes a village indeed.
Miss Pie works on small projects, and is very happy residing with new friends. It’s no longer so important to
remember what day of the week it is, or who the President is, or what she had for breakfast, so she takes a walk
and feeds the birds. When she sees me, she can hug me without feeling afraid I will leave her. We can laugh
and cut up. I take her to the grocery up the street, and she enjoys it now. She is back, in her words, to being ‘a
high Being of God’, as she feels we all are, “When we can connect to Spirit and do our good works.”
It is my belief that the ‘work’ is done by pulling our resources together. Even in forgetfulness, there are places of
laughter and fun. We can forget the past and still be present for any single moment. If we are safe and cared
for, where can the mind and heart actually go? If we are afforded the luxury to forget pain and despair, can this
be a time to connect to Spirit in a unique way? Can we love forgetfulness, and embrace a different reality there?
I do believe a positive and loving environment can show us another story behind dementia. The healing of her
anxiety has begun and had more to do with loving her than ‘fixing’ her. I ask Miss Pie to take my hand and show
me her world. I ask you to embrace the world of care-giving; may you receive it in return someday, if need be,
and experience your best life miracles.
A native of Greensboro, NC, Susun Coleman has been involved in art all her life. She began her formal training at
East Carolina University, where she was a Dean’s list student. She transferred to the Ringling School of Art in
Sarasota, Florida, receiving the school's RSA Full Scholarship Award; two of her works were chosen for the
school’s permanent collection. Susun introduces her vision of energy fields and auras into her work and has been
working on a new Venus Mirror series as well making a Movie from a book she has written.
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