Monday, November 24, 2008
My name is Willie Latane Barton. I am a caregiver. It seems I've been a caregiver of one sort or another just about all my married life.
Oh, I forgot to introduce my husband. Elbert and I have been married nearly 58 years and he's the one needing my care right now.
Elbert retired from the Navy (after 22 1/2 years) and we settled back in Walker Co, Al. so, as Elbert put it so firmly... 'our parents are getting older and need our help'. So, we bought a house, our children grew to be teens, then young adults.
Elbert retired in 1990 and I thought, wow, we can now just go and do what we want. The children were all married, we had grandchildren and they all lived away. We didn't see them nearly as much as we would have liked. Now, we could just travel and visit and have fun.....but there was my Mom who needed me.
We moved to Virginia in 1999. Got tired of all that traveling around and this location would put us near most of our kiddies.
Drum Roll....Disaster struck. In 2000 Elbert was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He had radiation which was tough but he came through it with flying colors. Then at the end of 2000 our doctor said she noticed some problems with Elberts memory. He was tested in early 2001 and we were told he had Alzheimers.
I am about to take you through our journey with Alzheimers. If you are a caregiver you will understand what our life is like. If you are not, at present, you may be someday soon and perhaps this will help you prepare for the toughest journey of your life. It has it's valleys, deep dark valleys in which you think you may not crawl out of and, it has the wondrous joys that come with just the simplest things happening. It changes how you look at life, how you come to realize what is most important and how you can turn loose of all the superficial things we clutter ourselves with, thinking it will make us happy.
God has been very good to us. I am blessed beyond measure and I thank Him every day for love, good health (Oh, I forgot to mention that in 2002 I had colon cancer and chemo) and such amazing children. And, since then, two total knee replacements.) but you know what, God was watching every move I made, every illness and His care lifted up me and carries me through each day. Some days I think I'm tough... some days I know I can't make it but He is there always, I know that and can survive.