Bob DeMarco lays down his life

February 22, 2012

"I
have a life that is rich in experience, and is now rich in spirit." This is how
Bob DeMarco opened the new year on his blog.
At 61, DeMarco is sole caretaker of his 96-year-old mom, Dotty.

At
one time he was an institutional salesman of derivatives, futures, options and
mortgages; at another time he was chief executive of a small software company.
He was once married and is now divorced. But according
to Jane Gross
, DeMarco always knew he would drop it all to
care for his mother when the time came.

That
time came eight years ago. Dotty has advanced AD. (Twenty-five percent or more
of the population aged 70 or older have dementia or are at risk of developing
dementia in the near future. Seventy to 80 percent of all dementia cases will
be attributable to AD.) As a full-time caretaker, Bob doesn't have much of a
life; he seldom gets out, doesn't date and makes no plans that don't include
his mother.

What he does do
is blog, at Alzheimer's Reading Room. Here he hosts what he calls

the number one
source of life news for the entire Alzheimer's community. Our goal is to
Educate, sometimes Entertain, and Empower Alzheimers caregivers and their
families worldwide.

He also
corresponds with the thousands of readers who e-mail him.

In that first post of 2012, DeMarco responded to this comment
posted on another blog:

I think it is
insane to even consider--sacrificing the rest of our life in its
entirety--work; marriage; friendship; any other leisure pursuits EVER--to care
for an elder who needs round-the-clock care.

"I have a life
that is rich in experience," DeMarco declared, "and is now rich in spirit." The
statement and the post are a testimony to an inexhaustible love for his mother,
to the commitment he's made to give himself to this work and to the way that
decision and work continually change and shape him.

I recommend the
post to others who agree that it is insane--or frightening, or financially
impossible, unfair or unrealistic--to do the kind of work Bob DeMarco is doing.
Yet at the same time we feel a tug because we've been taught, especially by
Henri Nouwen in Return to Daybreak,
that the most humbling work is the work that brings us out of ourselves and
closer to God.

DeMarco hasn't
given his entire life for Dotty. He experienced a lot of life before he came to
care for her, and he will likely experience more when his time as caregiver
ends. Yet I think of John 15:13: "No one has greater love than this, to lay
down one's life for one's friends." I'm thinking suddenly that this verse
suggests not necessarily dying for
one's friend, but putting aside oneself and one's world in order to be with
another person day to day in this most radical way.

Comments

Helpful for the "Greying" Church

As the pastor of a church with many aging members, I see this dilemma frequently.  Thank you for framing the discission in light of Christ's laying down his life for his friends.  This indeed is what many of us will do in the years ahead as members of our church families age in place, relying on the community of faith for care and support often not abvailable through biological families.

Helpful for the "Greying" Church

As the pastor of a church with many aging members, I see this dilemma frequently.  Thank you for framing the discission in light of Christ's laying down his life for his friends.  This indeed is what many of us will do in the years ahead as members of our church families age in place, relying on the community of faith for care and support often not abvailable through biological families.