Thursday, October 28, 2010

I wasn't prepared

There's a lot about life that I wasn't prepared for. The early stuff just seemed to happen and we were a happy family and didn't give a hoot about anything.

Then age slips up on you and you find you aren't prepared for anything. Ah, those good ole days when we didn't think about getting old, being sick, having to worry about so much.

I was thinking about my grandmother the other day... I remember her sitting in her rocking chair watching the traffic go by. My aunt cooked, cleaned (she was never married so the task of caregiving fell in her lap) and 'Ma' just sat, content with her life as it went on down that road. She was a cute little ole woman and lived to be 100.

And, my own mother... She was my age now (76) when my step-dad passed away and we moved her into a mobile home across our little driveway. In the beginning Mom did a little cooking for herself, she still drove to the grocery store occassionally and to church on Sunday but I can't remember her being bogged down with all the cares of the world. One of my memories is of her watching Elbert mow her grass and she'd run out with a drink of water for him, or he'd take her over a piece of pie or some food when she couldn't get out... or her sitting on her front porch watching butterflies in her yard.

I haven't sat and watched a butterfly in ages. No time. I am really feeling all the pressure of this Alzheimers disease. Now, that's something no one is ever prepared for, Alzheimer's I mean.

 Remember when everyone was talking about the Big C (meaning cancer). It was during John Wayne's cancer that we started hearing the term Big C. a lot and we all began to wonder and worry and perhaps we did a few things to help prevent the disease, at least for a little while.

No one to my knowledge has called Alzheimers the Big A. and no one prepared us for what lay ahead if a loved one got it. We wouldn't have believed them if they had told us. Nope, I wasn't prepared Big Time.

Over the last few years I have met many challenges that I wasn't prepared for... the sleepless nights, the chasing after Elbert in the middle of the night after he escaped the house, the cleaning up constant Poop (sorry, that may be offensive but it's the truth), the trying to get him up off the floor after his daily falls, the answering the same question a kazillion times a day. And finally after it all became overwhelming he did move into a nursing home.... and here comes the financial part of it. Worry, worry, worry.  The last few months have been tremendously trying (and thank God, for Shirley without whom I could not wade my way through all this financial mess) She's my ray of sunshine!!

Today I would like to thank my Shirley.... it hasn't been easy.... but you have been amazing. I thank God for you, for you are a true blessing. And, geez, you can be so funny right when I am at my lowest.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cool Memories

As I was driving to the nursing home yesterday my mind wandered back to other long ago Fall days when the air was crisp and the sun was lemon yellow. I recalled a special time with my Mother, who has been gone since 1996. Elbert loved my Mom and the feeling was mutual. She lived across the driveway from us in her mobile home (so I could keep an eye on her) and Elbert looked after her just like I did.

It was cool that day, the leaves had turned and Elbert knew that Mom would enjoy a brief trip down to the pasture. The grazing land was edged with maple, oak, dogwood, sourwood, everything to make some beautiful colors that time of the year.

'Let's take your Mom for a spin'. he said

So, we put her in the truck, he opened the pasture gate and away we went, bumpy, bumpy. The cows were used to him feeding them hay from the back of the truck so naturally they all came running. Elbert rode as close to the trees as he could and then he took off across the pasture. He knew where a persimmon tree was

and since we'd had a frost the persimmons ought to be good and sweet. Mom was delighted to see the heavily loaded tree and she got out and ate just about as many as a possum would!!

That's just the sweet, kind-hearted kind of man Elbert was. Special times indeed. I don't see that side of his personality now. He's struggling to stay Elbert but it sure is hard. Yesterday, he was very unfocused. Maybe tomorrow will be a better day.

Gee, I wonder if that persimmon tree is still down in what used to be our pasture?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I promised you a post on my resolve to turn a new page in my life, So, here it is. I am working hard on maintaining that resolve. Old habits are hard to break. Sometimes you just can't turn the page all at once. Things on the preceeding pages hold our attention. But, like I say.... I am trying.

Life with Alzheimers has been, and is, a tough struggle. I've laid aside so much of who I was so that I could concentrate on taking care of Elbert. He is the # 1 priority because he is 'near and dear' and the love of my life. Each change in him means a new role for me. When he moved to Magnolia Manor Assisted Living, that involved embracing new ideas, new schedules, new ways of doing things. And, now with him in the nursing home I am opening a new chapter for myself. His care is basically out of my hands.... except, of course, what I chose to do. And, at this age, what my energy level will allow me to undertake. This new journey I am on does not mean that he is less to me or that I am abandoning our love or our commitment to each other. After all come Dec. 10th of this year we will have been married 60 years!!!

I've had so much stress on me for so long and it has taken it's toll. I've taken anti-depressants to keep me out of a deep dark hole and sometimes that did not even work. Problems (children, in-laws, grandkids, friends and people who claim to be my friend) seem to creep through  the walls of my life. Some of them recognize the need to protect me, some do not.

The two weeks that I was in New York (and I always come back from Susan's renewed) was a wake-up call for me. There was time to reflect, to plan, to figure out what Elbert would want for me now that he can no longer help me make decisions and join me in the joys of our life together. 

I decided it was time to close some doors (maybe a whole bunch of them) and open some new ones. Ones that will give me peace and joy and less stress. My taking care of Elbert and myself are the main concern. So, I need to get on with that. 

I decided I would rid myself of what I could of stress-related things. I would fill my days with joy and peace and contentment. I would find those things that opened my mind to new and exciting ventures (now, I did not say ADventures although there may be some of those, too). I want to grow and learn and be healthy (not on anti-depressants because my world is collapsing around me and I don't know how to control the collapse). 

So, I came up with this thought. I know part of it is not original... I don't know about the rest of the slogan. I think I may have heard it somewhere.... or perhaps it was my soul screaming it out to me. I try to say this (with conviction) every morning that I open my eyes.

'Today is the first day of the rest of my life... and what I do with it .... is up to me!!'

Enough said. 

Life does throw us curve balls, gives us books that we do not wish to even turn the first page, much less read a whole chapter. But, how we deal with those curves in the road is really up to us. We learn to steer clear of potholes, we take the scenic route instead of the freeway where the traffic is scary and dangerous. We find our spirituality and let God guide our every step. 

I will take time for myself.... 
I will learn new things....
I will lean on the everlasting strength that God provides....
I will not let dark corners of life engulf me...
I will stop and smell the roses...

There is bright light ahead, a dawning of a new day.  Elbert can not walk with me on much of this new path. Although he is still with me in body,  Alzheimers took the man I knew and loved away from me years ago. I cherish each and every moment I have left with him and I know that he would be the first to cheer me on as I walk into the light.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


 Let's see.... What was that you asked me?

 Well, let's see.....

Rain. You asked if we'd had rain?

 hummmm, don't recall but it's not raining today.

 You ask silly questions so...........

I guess I will just read the newspaper. Says here that Southeast Virginia had a ton of rain last week.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory

Elbert and I were in the living room waiting on lunchtime.He had been glad to see me this dreary Monday morning. So, we are sitting there and he is more talkative than he has been in a long time. But, I can't understand a word he is saying. He is inventing his own language. Sure wasn't Japanese... or Swahili or even English. Just sounds he was using to get his point across.  They were Elbert sounds and that was music to my ears. 

He grew quiet then I heard his soft voice humming a tune. I leaned nearer... yes, he was humming 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic' and he hummed it all the way through. 
 Me, I am always pushing a little harder trying to get a little more out of him so I asked him to help me sing 'Amazing Grace'. He grew up on 'Amazing Grace' and has retained the wording of that good ole hymn .... until today. 

I started it off 'Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me'.... He was singing, yes, the words were coming out. But, they were in his newly found language. Oh well, he knew the tune. That was something to rejoice about.