Stella Leventoyannis Harvey


All theory dear friend, is gray, but the golden tree of life springs ever green.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I have so many theories. None are based on fact and I typically don’t have any supporting data. My notions come from a feeling, a belief, a hunch.

My thinking goes something like: if I try this, maybe that will happen. I build my own facts and data as I experiment. Some might say I’m flying by the seat of my pants. Yup. I am. But aren’t all life’s challenges dealt in this way?

It has been two weeks since my father has come to stay with us. By the way, thank you to all who read my blog and sent me notes of support. It was very kind of you and I want you all to know I appreciated your words of encouragement.

So we’ve had many challenges as you can imagine living with a 90-year old man who has what some describe as moderate vascular dementia. I’m not sure about the moderate part, but that’s another story. Adapting to another person in the house and a new schedule is only a small part of the adjustment. And really that’s the easy part.

My dad’s flagging memory is another story.

So I wondered if his memory would improve if he got out more. The weather has been cold and many times he protests, but I warm up the car (something I never do because I usually run out the door to wherever I’m going) and we go for a coffee or out for lunch most days. And when we do this, I’ve noticed he stays in the present for much longer periods of time during the day.

I think this is because he has to concentrate so hard on walking and where we are, what he’s doing, and the cold. His brain doesn’t have time to idle in the past. On the days we’re out he asks fewer questions about when he’s going home, where he is, and what has happened to his parents, siblings, and his wife.

Now again, this is early days. I know I’m grabbing at any sign I can hold onto. I was again reminded of this by one of my students, recently. She is a doctor who works with seniors. I’ve told her about my dad, how clear he can be sometimes. “I’m so encouraged,” I said.

“Yes,” she replied. “All families feel this hope when their loved one seems to recover some memory. But it doesn’t last.”

She’s probably right. But I also know, a tree and every other living thing springs to life when engaged. That is the theory I’m running with.

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