Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I went to visit with Elbert this morning. Hadn't seen him in a week. He was in the day room where several of the residents were doing some activities. I had taken along a magazine 'Birds and Blooms' and he enjoyed looking at the beautiful pictures. I did a crossword puzzle and asked him questions about the clues but that was above his comprehension. We did enjoy our time together. 

Lunchtime came. Elbert was seated at the table where he always eats. Gladys soon came in her wheelchair and got in place across from him. I saw Louise coming. She looked at me, then at Elbert. Uh oh, I thought to myself. But, what happened took me by surprise and touched my heart so much. I'll never forget it. 

She asked, 'Have I seen you before?'  
I said 'Yes'.  
She poked Elbert gently on the shoulder (we were standing behind his chair). 
'Do you know him?' she asked me. 
I said 'Yes'. 
'Who is he?' she wanted to know. 
'He's my husband'. 
Gladys, who is seldom quiet, piped up, 'I thought he was my boyfriend'.  
I said, 'No, he's my husband. We've been together for 59 years'. 
Louise is standing there taking it all in. She looked confused, uncertain. 'That's time enough to get to know each other', she says. 
Then her head dropped, 'I wonder where my husband is' she said.

Wow, that got me. Here I am, my dear husband within inches of me and she no longer has hers. He died several months ago. I turned and put my arm around her shoulder and pulled her to me. 'I bet your daughter knows where he is' I said hoping that would be of some comfort. 
'I don't know what I am supposed to be doing' she said. 'Can you call my daughter?'
So I tell her it's lunchtime, why don't we sit down to eat. 
'Oh, I have no money, 'she says. 
'Guess what', I replied. 'It's a surprise. It's free today'. 

She smiles but then she again complains that she doesn't know what she is supposed to be doing. She looks so lost and tears come to my eyes. I hear in her voice the confusion of not knowing where she is, where her family is, what she will do when it gets dark, what she should do right now. 

I hate Alzheimers. I hate it for me and Elbert and I hate it for Louise and I hate it for the others that have it and their families. This is not fair. I set her down at her table and tell the nurse, 'she's confused'. DUH... what a lame statement. It meant nothing but I had to say something. Then I turned, kissed Elbert and headed home.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Alzheimer's patients have their own way of communicating. Some do not communicate at all, anymore. Some have a language all their own and some have trouble finding words to fit their thought process. Just depends on the stage of Alzheimers they are in. 

Elbert has trouble finding words. Gracie (a fellow resident of Elberts) mumbles all the time. Gladys tells everyone what to do. Louise has reverted back to her native language (Norweigan). Somehow they all get their message across.

When I visited yesterday I took Elbert over to the love seat so we could sit together and I could show him some pretty Christmas magazine pictures. He was half looking as I thumbed through, pointing out a pretty decorated tree or children with gifts. His attention span isn't the greatest in the world. But, I was trying in my own small way to make a connection.

Remember Louise... she's the sweet lady who thinks Elbert is her deceased husband. So, here comes Louise. She heads straight for the love seat jabbering Norweigan all the way. She leans down to me telling me something and I say 'speak English' but she continues as she is. Then she points for me to move. Her method of communication is quite clear. 

When I don't get up and sit in the other chair she tries to scoot down between Elbert and the arm of the loveseat. No room. I don't move. So, she sits down on the arm, takes Elbert's hand in her own. Claiming property. I just smile. Oh, she wants me to move so badly. She has made that very clear. I suggest that she sit in the nearby chair but she is not giving up. Then one of the staff spies her. 'Louise, come here'. She doesn't move. So, they get her and take her to a chair. She gets up. They place her into another chair and finally she calms down and begins to nap. 

I could have moved. I could have given her what she wanted but my time with Elbert is limited and it was my turn. Louise can sit next to him when I am home.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Woke up to a foggy morning. Didn't want to move out of bed so I lay there, my mind filled with thoughts and remembrances. I am one blessed woman. How in the world do I deserve all these wonderous things that have happened to me? I have no idea but I'd like to share a few thoughts with you today.

I remember meeting a young man who was tall, dark and handsome and filled my heart with love

I remember our wedding morning, a cold December day, and how we rode in the back seat of his cousins car on our way to my Moms house, and him pointing out mistletoe growing in a tree.

I remember sitting behind him in a military plane high over the Pacific Ocean in a terrible storm, me with the baby, he with the toddler, and somehow knowing we were going to be alright. (Our eldest was seated with sailors across the aisle). I always felt safe with him.

I remember the whistling as he came in the back door, always. The whistling has stopped now. Oh, how I miss it.

I remember how much he always loved our children .... and all children. Now, when nothing else will, the sight of a small child brings a smile to his face. 

I remember how he would walk up behind me when I was at the sink washing dishes, to slip his arms around me to kiss me. 

I remember how he looked in his Navy uniform. That always made my heart go pitty-patter. 

I remember the raisin cake he baked for me when I was sick once.

I remember our 50th wedding anniversary and how excited he was buying and presenting me with an anniversary ring.  

I remember him coming into the house early in the springtime with a tiny bluette flower held between his large fingers. I'd find my thimble to put it in. 

I, too, remember the day we took him to Magnolia Manor. But, I won't go there with that memory today. Instead I will head over to see him. 

Yes, what memories. Those are just a few. At least I have those to hang onto.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Fifty nine years ago today it was a cold and clear day in Mississippi. Elbert and I were married by a justice of the peace in Columbus and then we headed back to Alabama. We were such youngsters, didn't know a thing about life and could care less. We've learned a lot throughout these years. 

Today I bought myself a burger and fries (and a drink) just before I got to Magnolia Manor. It was in a little brown paper bag. I walked into the end door and Elbert was there, with a bunch of residents having just enjoyed a Christmas program. He and I walked back to The Garden and I kissed him on the cheek and asked him if he knew what day it was. Nope. It was just another day for him. It was just another day for me, too, but at least we were spending it together. 
The girls came around putting place mats on the tables and the food cart was wheeled in. Today's meal was fried chicken, scalloped potatoes and green beans. Smelled great. I reached over and dragged my little brown paper bag in front of me. My burger and fries were a tad cold by now. I cut Elbert's chicken up for him and we sat together and ate our anniversary meal. 

Following lunch we had entertainment. I'd like to think that it was 'just for us', you know, in celebration of our big day but it was in celebration of Christmas and Christ's birth. The Isle of Wight Glee Club sang songs for us. 

Halfway through the performance Elbert nodded off. Poor thing. He just has his days and nights mixed up. When the last song was sung I led Elbert back into the Garden wing and deposited him in a comfy wingback chair, kissed him on the top of his head and came home. 

Fifty nine years.... as he would say... 'and with the same woman'. and he'd grin when he'd say it. I asked him today if he'd do it again and he said yes he would. That's celebration enough for me.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Reflections on 59 years

I'm having a little bit of trouble of late. Trying so hard to take care of everything, mostly by myself. Bills to pay, pills to take, floors to sweep and beds to make. It's hard when you are all alone to think about why you have to do things for people, living out a life in solitude yet connected to others outside these walls. 

Who cares if the floors are dusty and I sometimes do not make my bed. I might want to crawl back into it. My toes get cold and I shiver so the quilts I have made cover me to make me warm. Elbert was always like a heater and I could snuggle close to feel his love and his warmth but he isn't here to keep me warm. He's nice and toasty where he lives these days. Why, I ask myself. Why try so hard to do so much. It all seems useless and then I know the answer. 

Generations before me are gone but generations are coming behind me. The children, the grandchildren and the great-grands. I must struggle on to set an example for them, to show them that love is abiding even though Elbert and I are apart. That we are going to celebrate 59 years of a wonderful marriage this coming Thursday.

Has it been 59 years, Lord? It seems like yesterday that we eloped. In todays world this younger generation needs to know that 'through sickness and in health' means just that. Now, Elbert and I are aging and the years are adding up but I must get busy..... pay my bills, take my pills, sweep my floors and even make my bed. The younger generation is watching.
1950                                                                                    2009                        

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas party at Magnolia.

What a sweet evening to spend with my hubby. The food was great, 
the music fantastic (as Elbert said, 'they are doing great') and Marie and I were very happy that Elbert was alert and having the time of his life. 
Elbert and I even danced to Hogie Carmichael's 'Stardust'. Now, you young folks aren't gonna know who Hogie was but that's ok. He wrote some really great dance music in his time.
A trip to the dr. earlier in the afternoon was good news. The medication for the blood clot (and swelling) is working. Doc says he'll check Elbert again 'after the weather gets warmer... maybe springtime,' he says.

You just can't have it much better than that. As the evening wore on I'd look at Elbert and just want to slip him out the door and bring him home. Then, I'd remember that doing such a thing would not be the best idea I've ever had. However, I will have the memories of last night and the Magnolia Manor Christmas party with me forever.