Simple Gifts

This song speaks to me and has ever since I visited a Shaker village with my children years ago. It spoke to Aaron Copeland as well, since he included it in his Appalachian Spring Suite and Ballet. For me, Simple Gifts speaks of earth, of flow, of rhythm. It speaks to me of harvest, because the Shakers were so phenomenal in their agricultural ingenuity. It speaks to me of seasonal changes–turn, turn, bow and bend.
“Tis a gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be free
‘Tis a gift to come down where I ought to be
And when I am in the place just right
I will be in the valley of love and delight
When true simplicity is gained
To bow and to bend I will not be ashamed
To turn, to turn will be my delight
‘Til by turning, turning, I come ’round right.”
It’s simplicity of lyric, it’s roots and it’s message speak to my philosophy of dementia care. The link between freedom and simplicity, the place just right, and the individual’s “valley of love and delight.”
I know the Shakers had a deeper spiritual message, but the simplicity of this song allows so much room for graceful dementia care. We each bow and bend to be caregivers, we simplify our expectations, and we turn, turn, turn to keep up with the flow of brain change. In support group we see the variation of “just right” for each set of care partners. And we see the changes and readjustments.
As we enter the season of gratitude in the year of 2020. We bow, we bend and we turn. Our traditional “valley of love and delight’ this year is significantly different. Either due to death, decline or the pandemic. So we simplify. We look at what is good, we adapt our expectations, our plans, our next steps.

Author: Cate
Passionate about dementia care and quality of life throughout the last days of life----sums up Cate McCarty, Dr. Cate, Dementia Coach. With close to forty years of long-term care experience in nursing and recreation, a Master's in Thanatology and a PhD in Aging Studies, Dr. Cate seizes every opportunity to translate research into quality of life for individuals with dementia and all of us who have the honor to "rub elbows" with them.

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