The beginning, always a beginning

Today is the first time I am attempting to write a blog entry.   I keep thinking there must be a good place to begin, but whenever I start, I feel that I am standing in the middle of things and the beginning is  far behind me. Yet I am barely standing with my feet touching the starting line.   I want to begin this blog about Thetford House, an assisted living home in Alexandria Virginia ( Fairfax County) that I started nearly ten years ago for people with dementia.  But this is only a small fraction of the story that I want to share.   The stories that I  have to share are those that I am still living and learning from.  They are about life, about living, about getting older, and about being with people who can not longer tell their own stories.  It is about Thetford House in Alexandria, Virginia and about my work as a volunteer at a Hospice for the homeless in Washington DC.  Each activity informs the other and both activities shape my life.  What does it mean to approach life with an open heart and mind? How can I stay present with what I see.   I don’t think it is easy to grow old or to die, especially in this country.  So I am simply doing what I can to make it a little easier for those I serve and I am doing this for myself.  The people whom I serve are my teachers.   Each day I am reminded of the fragility and the preciousness of life.   In my clearest moments this awareness helps me to embrace each moment.  It is not always easy.  I am not always successful.   It is an everyday practice.  Sometimes it feels mysterious and magical.   Sometimes it is just physical labor.  Sometimes, my emotions grab hold of me and shake me.  It is extraordinary and completely ordinary.   Mostly, it centers my life.   I am here now, but one day I will be gone.  I will grow old and die.  We are all together on this journey.  It’s time to talk.

Speak Your Mind



  1. arnoldkramer says:

    so please talk more.

  2. Hi, and thanks for your post. Saw your blog just surfing around; certainly interesting.

  3. William Sanders says:

    I want to praise Jackie and her staff at Thetford House. They have what I can see are the two key primary ingredients for such work: they genuinely like people, and they have the patience of saints. Without that, all the technical training in the world is for naught.

    Thank you all; it was good to see you again last weekend.
    Bill 5/12/10

    • Bill, Thank you for your support. I want to respond to something you said, which is, actually something that Jackie and I recently spoke about. Often people refer to the staff at the house as angels or saints, but we feel that is not really the case. We see ourselves as just fellow human beings and that everyone has the capacity for deep compassion and patience. Everyone may not act in this way – but the possibility is always there.