When I hear the words “circle of life,” my brain clicks to Elton John belting out,
It's the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life
and I picture Simba’s dad from the Lion King holding him up with pride, presenting him to the entire world. This is so sweet and sentimental, how can you not love it?
One afternoon, the words “circle of life” took on a whole new meaning. The circle of life was not only sweet and sentimental, but could also be downright hilarious.
Our family was over at my parent's house. I don’t remember the particular reason for the visit, but it is the same scene each time. The eight grandchildren were running around playing, arguing and playing some more. The adults were finished with the meal, sitting around lazily in the living room on the good couches, which coincidentally, were always covered with an old quilt when my family came over. We sat there watching the game, chatting and deliberately trying to keep my dad from steering the conversation to politics.
On this occasion, my Grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, was with us. I always found the similarities between her and Lizzie interesting. Lizzie was about 4-years old and did not interact much with anyone; neither did my grandmother. Her grip on reality had been slowly sucked out of her as the Alzheimer’s took its toll on her mind. Both Lizzie and my Grandma were often in their own worlds. Lizzie would flap her arms and loudly script all the words from a Dora movie. My Grandma would rub some sort of fabric in between her fingers and script from an earlier time in her life when she still had young children at home. They both seemed to wander around without a sense of purpose.
As the adults were chatting in the living room, I realized things had gotten very quiet. Eerily quiet. Too quiet. Lizzie has either gotten into something she isn’t suppose to or gotten out-of-the-house quiet.
I immediately jumped up and began my search.
Den? Not there.
Bathroom? Oops, wrong person. Sorry.
Then I heard giggling. The sweet sound of young and old giggling together in unison. I peek around the corner and what did I see . . . .
Lizzie and Grandma had found the remote control for a lamp in the bedroom. They would walk into the bedroom, push the button, watch the light turn on and off and break into laughter. After they completed their immediate cause and effect thrill, they would walk out, and Lizzie would pull Grandma back in again. They would do it all over again and again and again. Each time the light flipped on, they would laugh hysterically as if they had never experienced this phenomenon before.
Repetition brought Lizzie so much joy, and she had found her perfect playmate – a sweet old lady with no short term memory!
Just like in the song, the circle of life continues to move us all. It brought despair when the Alzheimer’s completely took my grandmother’s mind, and hope as each day Lizzie becomes more and more functional and in touch with our world.
I know each circle of life is just a tiny part of a much bigger plan. Knowing this brings me peace in times of despair and also hope and joy in the smallest steps of progress with Lizzie.
Julie Hornok has been married to her wonderful husband, Greg, for 14 years and is the mother of three children, Andrew, Lizzie and Noah. Lizzie was diagnosed with moderate autism at 2 years old and now, at age 9, is mainstreamed in school and enthusiastically enjoys relationships with friends and family. Julie feels blessed that her daughter has come so far and enjoys spending her free time helping moms with a new autism diagnosis and sharing the small bits of wisdom she has learned along the way. Julie also loves to give back to the community by putting together special needs events. Feel free to see Lizzie’s progress on video on her blog www.lizziehornok.blogspot.com.