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.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day was filled with thankfulness and sadness and tears and joy. What an emotional roller-coaster ride it was for me. I surely wasn't prepared for that ride. It just happened as I moved through the events of the day.

My trip over to see Elbert was the thankfulness and joy part. We had a good lunch and as always he ate it all. That man does love to eat. 
Daughter Marie came in just as Elbert and I were finishing up our meal. After lunch we went back to Elbert's room and Marie called her daughter who lives in Arizona. The phone was put up to Elbert's ear and he chatted a bit with his oldest grandchild for awhile. 
Now, here comes the sadness and tears part. Elbert and I have spent many, many Thanksgivings at Shirley and John's house with their family, extended family and yesterday I walked up those back steps alone. Brittany and Chris were helping their Mom finish up the cooking. Ken and his wife, Bethany, had come over as well. So far, so good. I was doing alright and, then Shirley asked me to bless the food and right in the middle of it I totally lost it and ran for solitude, tears streaming down my cheeks. You see, Elbert always graced our Thanksgiving meal and the realization that he could not ever do that again was more than I could bear.

John came to comfort me and we cried together because Elbert was not there. Thanksgivings and Christmases will never be the same for any of us. Ever again.

Friday, November 6, 2009


The trip to the cardiologist yesterday...................
A trip for an ultra sound today................
Seems to be a pattern in this. 

After the ultra sound was done, the nurse came out and said that 'yes, there is a blood clot in that left leg'. 

Here is what we are dealing with. The leg doesn't look as bad in the picture as it really is.
But, look at his foot. It looks like a giant yam.
Poor baby, it must be so uncomfortable. It was all I could do to get his socks and shoes on after his procedure was finished. They have started him on medication to try and dissolve that clot. 


'We have to wait on them' he says as I put Elbert into the car. We are headed to the cardiologist but he thinks his 'family at the Manor' should go with us.

'No', I said. 'it's just me and you today. We are going to the doctor.'

'We are going off and leaving them' he says and his face is filled with trepidation.

His new friends and his surroundings at Magnolia Manor are his world now. Isn't it wonderful that he isn't stressed out about being there and that he loves and looks after his fellow residents. He's such a sweetie.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Lazy Saturday

He was sitting in a wing chair, his head back, fast asleep. 
I walked up to him and put my face in front of his.
'Hello' I said
He opened his eyes, smiled and said 'Hi'

We sat side by side.
'It's Saturday' he says
'October the 3rd'.
Wow, I'm really impressed but then I see that he is reading the poster they change daily to announce to the residents what day it is. It gives the date, the day of the week and what the weather is, rain or sunny. Today is sunny. At least he can read. That's good. 

We chat a bit. A DVD of Ozzie and Harriett is playing but he's not interested. The aide brings cold water to drink and later a small cup of ice cream. I find a kleenex in my purse to wipe up the chocolate drips on his shirt and pants. He dozes off. I wake him to tell him I am leaving, again my face right in front of his.
'I'm going now,' I say.
'Bye' he says and adds 'where are you going?'  I say I have errands to run. As I leave I look back to see him fast asleep once more. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Buddy

Yesterday just after lunch I walked into the Garden. Elbert had just finished his lunch. His face lit up when he saw me and he came toward me with arms outstretched 'My buddy' he said. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Oh, those good ole songs, like 'In The Mood', 'Harbor Lights', 'Chattanooga Choo Choo' and many others that make the foot pat and the hands clap. 

That was the fun Elbert, Shirley and I had last night as Magnolia Manor celebrated their 20th anniversary. Elbert sat waiting with anticipation. He knew something was going to happen, he just wasn't sure what it would be.

The music began and Elbert got right 'into' it, smiling, patting his foot, keeping time with his hands. He even named a few of the songs as they played.

Elbert always applauded each song. Look at that slight smile on his face. 

Break time and goodies to eat. Even though Elbert had eaten his dinner already he dived right into my and Shirley's plates. 

'I think I'll have one of your chicken wings, Shirley, and how about a drink of your coke?' He was having so much fun eating and enjoying himself and Shirley and I just loved watching him. 

I had requested that the band play 'Harbor Lights', a song Elbert and I had loved during our dating days when he was often at sea and I was on the shore waiting. I led him out to the hallway where there was more room and got him to dance with me but he had trouble making his feet follow the music. Oh well, he held me in his arms again. That was enough. 

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Defining Me

At age 75 I am trying to 'find myself'. With Elbert living elsewhere, the children all grown and taking care of themselves I am having a very hard time trying to find my place in this world.

I have been a caregiver for most of my life. Started out at age 18 with our first child. There followed 4 more children. During that time (following the death of Elbert's Mom) he and I also had 3 of his sisters at various time. We graduated all three of them from high school. We also kept my father-in-law part of the time. I had total care of my Mother for 12 years and then I have cared for Elbert for 9. I am not saying this in the way of getting sympathy or using a 'poor pitiful me' ploy. No, I am using this as a measuring stick, a divining rod to figure out just who I am and what am I to do with me now. My role in life has always been decided for me. Now I have the freedom to decide for myself and I don't know how.

I find myself restless, not so much outwardly but deep inside. My thoughts drift about like the seed of a dandelion floating on the wind. I just hope that the seed soon settles on the ground and takes root so that I will grow in the direction as I need to at this point in my life. I mean I'm not a teenager here and I don't have a ton of time ahead of me to figure it all out. (grin)

I feel like I want a complete change. I have lost interest in many of the things that had appealed to me in the past. I want new direction and yet I am afraid of turning loose of the old one.

My daughter says that I have a new life now and that may be so. I went to visit Elbert at the Garden today and felt absolutely useless. He read the paper that I had brought him, chatted briefly with another resident, Louise, who was trying to get him to 'take a walk' and promptly fell asleep when we tried to watch a movie. I could have been a thousand miles away for all he was concerned. He has made his life at the Garden, made new friends and he's very comfortable.

I just gotta figure out how to make my life now without taking care of someone else. Gee, that could be great.... if I ever figure it out.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dissolved to Tears

Oh, brave little me!! How sweet to find my husband holding hands with another woman. He was comforting her, I told myself. That really did not bother me during my visit on Saturday or later on that day.

But, come Sunday morning the picture in my mind changed, my forgiving and understanding heart put up a wall and the tears began to flow. It hurts. Yes, it does hurt to see your husband holding hands with someone else. Sandra Day O'Connor may say she's fine with her dementia laden husband finding a new girlfriend. But, I bet at night it gnaws at her insides and she feels lonely and abandoned. And, that is how I am feeling as I start a new week by myself.

Feeling by myself is a tough situation to be in. I've never been by myself in my life. As I grew up, Mom and I lived in the household with my grandparents and a maiden aunt. I was surrounded by love. Then I met Elbert and we married (it was just before my 17th birthday) and he moved me to California where he was stationed in the Navy. But, I now had the companionship and love of my sweet partner. Children followed in quick succession so my life was busy, filled with the ups and downs of raising a family.
Then came Elbert's retirement (and the adjustment of having him home 24/7) We did our own thing but also had some amazing trips and times with our family who was now scattered over the east coast. No, I wasn't alone ever. And, now, the house creaks and sighs with moans of loneliness. I fill my days with hobbies long neglected and wonder about Elbert as he makes new friends in a new place in his life that doesn't seem to include me.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

It was a pretty morning, a bit muggy, maybe a chance of rain later in the afternoon. Sounded like a good day to visit Elbert so I headed over to Magnolia Manor.

I parked, gathered up my things (some wrapped candy for E., a couple more pair of socks, my quilting and my purse), pushed in the code and started down the hall of the Garden. I could see Elbert sitting at a table in the dining/tv room. A woman was sitting next to him.... and they were holding hands.
That just sort of puts a knot in your stomach but I knew it meant nothing so I smiled and said hello to them both. I sat down and started to chat, 'who's your friend?' I asked.  'I don't know', Elbert said. He had never turned loose of her hand. The music from the tv picked up tempo and he started moving their hands in time to the music. I had gotten out my camera and snapped a shot or two and that seemed to please Elbert. 'Back up a little', he suggested. 'Oh, you want me to take a picture of the two of you?' I asked. He nodded and pointed toward his friend. The scene was one of comfort, I think. The woman was in bad shape in her journey through Alzheimers and here my husband was, holding her hand so she wouldn't be alone or afraid. I wanted to cry, not for jealousy sake but for the memories of the man I had known over 60 years. That caring, loving, kind, gentle human being that I had fallen in love with still lived in the body taken over by this dread disease. I was so grateful that I could still get glimpses of who he was (and still is).

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Visit Before My Surgery.

Eye surgery was Tuesday. Had no idea how long it would be until I could drive. Probably not long but I didn't know so I made sure I got to over to see Elbert on Monday afternoon.

When Shirley, Michael and I walked in, there he was sound asleep in a chair in the day room.
Shirley shook him' 'Hey Dad... you have company'. He slowly opened his eyes and looked at us with a sort of surprised look. 'Come on... let's go down to your room and visit'. Shirley is fantastic in getting action out of her Dad. She sat down on the floor next to his rocker and started a dialog about first one thing, then the other.
She showed him a card that his New York grandsons had sent and he loved that. Michael was tired and stretched out on his Dad's bed so Elbert teased that perhaps Michael could get a room at Magnolia Manor. Or they could be room mates. Shirley suggested bunk beds and Elbert laughed about that. He talked a good deal, Shirley pulling things out of him if he drooped his head to nod off. Too soon Martha showed up announcing Trivia time in the day room so we walked Elbert back down and left him in her care. I would have loved to have stayed out of the way and just watched to see how well he participated but it was time to go home and get ready for my surgery. I hated the thought of being incapacitated for a few days. But, if I was a good girl and did what the dr. said then I can soon go back to see Elbert soon and we can have a good visit.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sunday visit and then a cookout

Folks, I have to tell you that my world feels upside down. I love the freedom but I miss my hubby. It is odd to sleep all night, go outside to putter in the flower bed, run to the post office. I have not had that freedom in a very long time. I actually feel embarrassed or ashamed to say that. I guess that is a normal reaction to giving up the caregiving and being on my own to come and go as I please. It would be much tougher if Elbert wasn't adjusting as well as he is.

And, Elbert.... ah, that Elbert. The eternal optimist, the forever happy, whistling guy, the roll with the punch sort of man that I married. I am so blessed that he has given me all these years of joy and love and now he is giving me peace and the ability to do what I need to do right now in my life. He's some sort of special person.

I went to see him yesterday after church. Daughter Marie and her grandson, Cane were with me. We had a good visit. I read him some jokes out of the Readers Digest and then I picked up a little book (can't remember the name of it right now) that has a quote on each page. He sat and read the entire thing aloud to us. Some quotes brought a chuckle out of him, some he said were so true. We took him back to the day room before we left so he wouldn't be alone.

Later in the afternoon Shirley (our birthday girl) called to invite us over for a cookout. They were making hobo packs and cooking them over hot coals in the yard. I sat there watching everyone enjoying the food and each other and was remembering the last time we had a hobo pack cookout at her house. Elbert had been with us and we had all had such a good time. Now we are in a new phase of our lives and making new memories. We won't forget the old ones but will add to them some special times in our lives now and in the future.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tuesday Changed Everything

This week has been a very difficult week for the Barton family. Elbert and I have been married 58 1/2 years. A long, long time. And, this week I moved him into Magnolia Manor, into the memory wing. Hard decision and a heart breaking one.

Daughter Susan (the baby of our family) flew down from New York and the night before the move she and her Dad sat at the dining room table looking at an album of pictures and stories about a trip the three of us made to Europe 18 years ago (when things were wonderful and we thought they always would be). The next morning (Tuesday) we left the house and headed for Smithfield. Here is Susan and Tammie (the sitter) helping Elbert out to the car.

But.... first.... we had lunch together to celebrate Shirley's birthday. Her birthday is Sunday and she wanted to share her birthday with her Dad.

A picture with our hands all joined in support and solidarity. Grandson Christopher (who is left handed and has to sit where he doesn't elbow his lunch neighbor) was at the end of the table and you about can't see him.
Elbert and me at lunch.
Susan feeding her Dad some of her lunch.
We left the restaurant and drove over to Magnolia Manor. All of us walked down the hall to his room and he went in, sat down in his rocking chair and was soon taking a nap. Guess lunch wore him out.
After a short nap we heard him singing an old 50s tune under his breath. Can't remember now what it was. We asked him how he liked the room and he said he liked it, it was a very nice room. He didn't seem stressed, seemed more at home than we imagined he would. Then it was time to leave. The director said she'd bring a gentleman down from the assisted living wing to talk to Elbert while we left so it wouldn't leave Elbert so alone. The man had been military and also a school teacher just like Elbert. So, we said our goodbyes.
The next morning (yesterday/Wednesday) the director called. She had called from her home back to Magnolia Manor two or three times during the night to check on her newest resident. And, she reported he had a good night, ate a big breakfast and was in exercise class when she called me.

Later in the day Susan wanted to go by and see her Dad before she left this morning early to go back to NY and her family. She and Shirley visited him for awhile. I elected not to go in with them as I felt three was a crowd and might be overwhelming to him. So, I sat in the lobby and ran into the head nurse who reported some great news. The head nurse said that this morning as she walked down the hall she saw him outside his room so she went to him, helped him put his shoes on and took him to breakfast. Later in the morning he went with the rest of the residents out into the courtyard where they talked, sang songs and had juice. She says he's learning his way around, has learned who are the talkers and who won't talk to him and he acts like he has been there months and months, not just two days.

That report just lifted a huge burden off my shoulders. He is happy, he is doing more than he would do for me. OH.... and when the girls went down to see him he was watching an old Clark Gable movie. He's already picked out a favorite chair to sit in when he goes into the common room where the group gathers for activities and tv watching. I am so thrilled that the transition is going so well and that is making my transition so much easier. He always was a sweetheart... he still is.

Monday, June 8, 2009


We had a very quiet weekend. Well, quiet for us although the weekend is over and things are back to normal (getting out of bed in the middle of the night, getting up early, dozing in his chair) but it was a nice weekend. We sat outside yesterday for awhile to enjoy the cool breeze.

Earlier in the day daughter Shirley had come by and we all went to have lunch at Dairy Queen. Elbert enjoyed that but was totally amazed at the 'crowd' in the place. He kept saying 'look at that line' or 'sure is noisy in here, isn't it?' He is more comfortable in his own chair in the peace of our sunroom. He sure did enjoy those chicken strips and fries, though.

I am faced with a ton of work. I had no idea so much would be involved in moving him to Magnolia Manor. Paperwork to fill out, a TB test to be done, getting forms to the dr. to fax to M.M., choices to make on what to take with him, all the laundry, name tags (although they say you don't need them I may do some) and preparing myself inside my head and my heart for the 22nd.

How do you mark things like eye glasses so that they won't get lost? What about shoes? I remember my Mom, after she had finished her meal, would take her false teeth out and wrap them in a napkin, lay it on the tray and away they went into the trash. We couldn't afford to replace them but a couple times and then that was over.

He loves having his watch but I am afraid that won't be possible. It would get lost or he'd take a shower with it on. So, I guess that stays home with me. And, a billfold.... no, I guess not.

Anyone with ideas please help me out here. I'd appreciate it. You girls have been my strength and support and I love you for it.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Room, a Date

Yesterday Shirley got a call from Magnolia Manor that a room would be ready for Elbert on June 22nd. Wow, it's done. How do I feel? A bunch of emotions swirling around. Relief that a decision has been made for Elbert's best interest, good care ahead for him, sadness that our life in the same household will come to an end.

But, I am telling myself that the 'ship' he is on is going on deployment on June 22nd. You see, for 20 years of our married life it was a Navy life and I was very used to him being at sea for long periods of time. So, this is just a deployment. When he was on a real ship I couldn't go see him but with him on this 'ship' I can see him every day. I know, it's weird talking like that, thinking strange things but whatever it takes to get me through, hey, I'm all for it.

The next two weeks will be filled with a lot of work, going through things, getting clothes washed and ironed. Yes, I still iron!! I know we will take some personal items for him, like that picture of me and him taken just after we were married. He used to look at it and say, 'that's a good looking couple'. As he got worse, he'd often say it several times a day. Now, he is asking me who is that in the picture with him. 'Some good looking young lady you picked up somewhere' I say.This is the next transition that we have to make. I am at peace about it. I've done about all I can do and I just trust the Lord to look after the both of us.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Visit to Magnolia Manor

Martha, the director of Magnolia Manor, says she always likes to meet new prospective residents so Tuesday Shirley and I took Elbert over to meet Martha. It went well. Elbert was steady and walked more than he has walked in some time so we were pleased about that.

Martha asked Elbert several questions during our conversation and noticed that 'yes, he knows some things and no, he doesn't remember most things'. We then walked down to the memory unit and met some of the other people living there. The rooms are really nice, there is a big closet, a mahogany poster bed and people can bring in favorite furniture or decorations if they like. It was a far cry from the other places we had investigated.

After the little tour we all met in Martha's office along with the memory unit head of nurses. Again observations were being made as we talked. I know that this is a traumatic move for all of us to have to face. Having Elbert in one place and me in another seems so strange but I do know that his best interest is at stake here, as is mine.

Elbert did not grasp where we were or why we were there. He told Martha that she had a nice place (and that was after she asked him what he thought). But, generally he was very quiet and said nothing.

We went to lunch at Smithfield Bakery afterward. They have amazing food. We were joined by Shirley's best friend, Kate, so we had a nice time. By the time we had finished eating I could tell Elbert had about gotten to the end of his rope so we headed home. He slept the rest of the afternoon.

Martha gave no indication of when or if Elbert would have a room. So, we wait and wonder but I have a good feeling that things went well and one day soon I will get a call that there is a room. How will I react? No one knows, certainly not me. But, I do know that I cried after bedtime Tuesday night just remembering what we had seen and what lay ahead for us.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Walk In the Woods

Saturday, warm and sunny and the day started out really good for Elbert (and for me, too). Too nice to stay inside so I popped in over at daughter Shirleys and asked if she wanted to go to lunch with us. The words were not out of my mouth before she was crawling into the car with us. She's a Daddy's girl and I have found out in these last few years, a great Mommy's girl, as well. We love spending time together. So, off we headed to Hardees. Those two cut up and I love this picture of them laughing. Then I had a bright idea. I'd read about the Nature Conversancy opening up a walking trail not far out of town. So, we set out searching for it. Soon, we saw a sign pointing us in the right direction. Shirley took off down the trail. She and son Michael have missed being able to walk in the woods. They did that a lot on our farm in Alabama and now we live in town. So, here is a great spot for them to escape to. Elbert and I were sitting in the car and I thought, ' he's pretty steady today and I bet he'd love to take a small walk enjoying nature' and sure enough, he piled out of the car and we headed down the gravel lane.

We all had a wonderful little hike. He's restless this afternoon but we did have a super morning.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May 27, 2009

I finally caught up with the current journaling so todays post is about what happened today, May 27th.

Life's been a trip lately, a trip over very rocky roads. I've had to deal with a ton of guilt for a long time but one night about 6 weeks ago I stayed awake all night and God spoke to me, 'it's time to quit feeling guilty. You can turn loose of your care'. Since that time we have been investigating memory units (Alzheimers wings) in various asst. living and nursing homes in the area. A distressingly big job.

The more we looked, the more people we talked to, the more I became confused. I had a terrible weight on my shoulders and could not separate one fact from another. Was it time to go with medicaid, could I do private pay, which was best for Elbert, which was best for me, if I went private pay right now how would that affect the plans we had put in place for the medicaid later on and it went on and on. I became so confused that I started doing stupid things, like not paying my electric bill on time, like losing a newly refilled bottle of my anti-depresant. And, heaven only knows where my Medicare card is.. I was just becoming unglued at the seams.

Michael and Shirley (the only two children here right now) took over the major part of the decision making. I accused them of cutting me out of the loop but they explained that I didn't need all the confusion, they were just weeding out all the chaff and presenting me with the facts that we needed to deal with. God Bless them. What would I do with those precious, wonderful and caring children.

Today we went to Lake Prince facility and checked it out. Had already been to Magnolia Manor and Consulate. After that visit the three of us went to Applebees and sat down with fact spreadsheets that Shirley had done comparing all three and we decided to do Magnolia Manor. It was the cheapest for private pay and was the nicest.

A decision had been made. I felt that weight being lifted off my shoulders. Elbert will be in a good place and be well taken care of and the family and I can go visit and enjoy ourselves and not worry about all the problems his care is entailing. It was hard to come to this point and I know the day we take him there it will break my heart. That day is still ahead of us. But, I know it's the best for all of us. He's not going to get any better and nothing I can do will change that. It's time to let others take over. Please pray for us as we go through this transition period. A room will be available (if all goes well) within the next two weeks.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sitter is back - May 2009

Lordy mercy.... I can't believe it. Things just never stay the same around here. The sitter kept telling me she was very unhappy in her new job and she just up and quit so she's back with us. That means that I can go to the wedding.

So, here I am in Camden, S. C. It's May 9th. Most of my children are here, part of the grandchildren. It's a grand feeling, us all together. I am in a hotel room with my youngest daughter, Susan. After the rehearsal dinner was over I announced that anyone that wanted to was welcome to congregate in my room. Some came and we stayed up until 1 p.m. That was when they left, then it took awhile to get to bed and asleep. I didn't care, I was one happy dude.

The day of the wedding we just lolly-gagged around, stopping by the historic courthouse where the wedding and reception would be held. Middle daughter Shirley (she is the mother of the groom) was busy at work in the courthouse catering room getting the wedding cake all decorated. Nieces came in from Tennessee. When Shirley had finished the cake we all went to the neatest restaurant called Carolina and a nice lunch to the live music of a sax player.

The ceremony was really sweet. I had on a pretty pink linen dress and that made me feel good. Geez, I need to lose some weight. Saw the pictures !!! The reception was a lot of fun. We danced to a DJ until 11 p.m. so once again it was after midnight when I got to bed. This is going to catch up with me, I can just feel it.I'd checked home to see how Elbert was doing. Tammie had never spent the night with him before and after I got home she told me it gave her a real appreciation for what I do all the time. So, I had three days and two nights of relaxed, enjoyable time with family and friends. Then back home we headed!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

April 15, 2009

I am so frustrated I could cry a bucket of tears. Elberts been on a rampage all afternoon and way into the night, something about someone getting his billfold and taking his money. He still carries his wallet but I don't put much money in it. Still it is a very important part of his identity and we can't take everything away from him. After a long time of fretting about his lost money he then changed it to having lost a box that had his clothes in it. It seems he wanted to catch a bus and now he couldn't because he didn't have any money and no clothes. They had been stolen, didn't I remember and could I not fixed it?

The weather is cold for April so I crawled into bed, covered up and prayed that I could sleep, and more importantly, Elbert would sleep.

The following day Elbert got obsessed with his hunting dogs. Our son who is living with us has a yellow lab named Casey and all of a sudden Casey was the only dog Elbert had left, the rest were all gone, he didn't know where they were, so he wanted to put Casey into the trunk of our car so he could take her home. I know he is getting glimpses of the thousands of nights he loaded up his truck with his Walker foxhounds and head off to the woods for a good nights hunt. Those days are gone forever.

So things were rough around here and lo and behold I get a call that there is an available private room at a nursing home just 20 minutes from the house. But, Elbert would have to go into the hospital for the customary 3 day stay before he could be transferred to the nursing home. Far as I know Elbert's healthy as a horse, it's his mind that's sick so I had my doubts that we could do anything with this news. As it turned out, our doctor was sympathetic but her hands were tied.

However, that made us realize that a new home for Elbert was a heck of a lot closer than we had imagined. We needed to get off our duff and get prepared. After I had heard that we could have a room the reality of Elbert possibly never being home again really hit me. As I put him to bed the night before the doctors visit he kept telling me he loved me. I started to cry and I cried myself to sleep. So, when the dr. said she couldn't put Elbert in the hospital, Elbert and I went out for an ice cream to celebrate his staying home.


I know eventually the opportunity and the time will come but not right now. I am just not ready.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fun memories, then and now

I recently ran across a picture of Elbert, son in law John, grandson Chris and son Michael when they went white water rafting in the Smokey Mts. Elbert hadn't been too eager to join the other guys on this adventure but they insisted. It is difficult to capture a certain look sometimes with a camera but someone did it. There was Elbert with this happy, gleeful grin on his face, one I had seen over and over again during our years together. And, I started to cry. That one darn picture just made me sad the rest of my afternoon!!

One afternoon after supper Elbert was standing at the counter near the fridge. I needed to put his exelon patch on so I took the opportunity to take care of that little chore. I ran my hand down his shirt to attach the sticker and my hand must have been cold because he turned around and said, 'okay, you're next'. He opened the freezer door (he remember where the freezer was!!) and took out an ice cube and started for me with it and I started running with him close behind. He was going to put that ice cube down my blouse. I was squealing as I ran and soon son Michael came downstairs with a concerned look on his face... It had been years since his parents had acted in such a playful manner. At least in the worst of times we can find some moments of fun. I wouldn't trade that chase around the kitchen for the world.

(no pictures of this ha)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Okay Doctor, give up on us

April 8, 2009
Elbert had a neurologist appointment. Seems all they do anymore is give him new prescription refills. I really expected a little more in the way of care but we am not getting it. Perhaps they are doing all they can but it just doesn't make sense to me. Things are getting much tougher for him, looks like the care from a doctor would be more intense.

The nurse asked a lot of questions as she usually does. "Are there any changes, any this, any that" She entered my responses on the computer. Yes, Elbert's memory is worse, No he is no longer falling... blah, blah, blah.

The doctor comes in, listens to his heart, has him walk from the chair to the door and back, all of 5 or 6 steps each way. So, what does he think that will do?

The wedding is looming ever nearer and I still don't know what to do. Should I take Elbert and risk his total confusion and my inability to concentrate on anything but his care? Or should I get someone to watch him? So, I asked the doctor what to do. 'Oh, he'll do fine. He'll be around people he knows and that will work out'. Okay.... we are traveling 600 miles round trip and will be surrounded by people we don't know. The doctors opinion was useless in my book.

Then, the doctor shakes our hand and says, 'I'll see you in a year. If there is a crisis or you need medicine call me'. I am thinking, 'Okay, buster, you are basically abandoning us. The medicine you are prescribing is just prolonging the illness so you decide you are out of here leaving me to deal with it all. I was ticked big time. Well, actually ticked wasn't the word I used but since this is public.. ticked will do.

That afternoon son Michael and I went to check out an assisted living facility. I came away from there knowing I could place Elbert there and be satisfied. It didn't feel like a nursing home because it is not. It was very clean, no odor and no noise. Everyone was clean and looked happy and well fed. But, it was private pay. I couldn't see how I could afford it. Two of the children said they'd help me but, the more I thought about it the more I knew that Elbert was progressed past assisted living. So, we agreed that we should visit a nursing home with an Alzheimers wing and see what they had to offer.

It's a heart wrenching decision, placing a loved one in a nursing home. I have dealt with guilt (which now I think I have come to terms with), I've worked for years to see he was cared for but I can't do that forever. Sadness fills every inch of me and yet in the back of my mind is a wee thought that the help I prayed for is within reach. Decisions, decisions...so many to make but I can do it.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Pow Wow

April 1, 2009

Tension has been building inside me for quite some time. The anti-depressant I am taking doesn't seem to be enough to handle what I am going through. I feel so burdened, so depressed, on the verge of tears. I just wanted to unload my burden, life some of the cares and so I called a pow wow with two of the children, Michael and Shirley, the two that were nearby.

We sat down in the living room, the three of us, and I started crying and pretty much lost it. Through my sobs the words tumbled out of my mouth, deep from within me. 'I just feel so trapped', I said. 'I can't even go out the back door. I don't bat an eyelash at night until he's sound asleep and then I sleep lightly and awaken at the slightest sound.' I kept saying 'I am so tired' over and over again.

I am crying and they are trying to console me. Shirley has seen me have meltdowns before but this was the first time my son had seen me like this. I could tell he was uncomfortable and didn't know what to say or do. But, in his male awkwardness, (males usually don't handle tears very well) he arose from his seat to come over and sit beside me and hold my hand. Shirley, who was sitting on the other side, reached for the other hand and we sat connected by thought, love, and skin. They reassured me but we all know that life isn't going to get any better. However, I did release all the tension, hugged my dear children and felt better.

Things would be better if I had some help. Tammy had taken other employment so I started interviewing people who might work out as sitters. One woman came. I just didn't connect with her at all so I told her I'd just have to let her know something next week. There were others whom I saw but it was first one problem then another. and I did not find anyone.

We need to do something about Elbert for the first weekend of May. Our Grandson is getting married and I'd give anything to have Elbert there. But... the wedding is 300 miles away. Elbert would be totally confused, needing constant attention and riding with him that far would be like riding with a very unruly child. 'How much farther is it?' 'When will we get there?' 'Do you know where you are going?' and 'How much gas do we have?' Just taking him 30 miles to the doctor brings on a barrage of questions. Imagine being cooped up in the car for 5 hours hearing that over and over and knowing he was so desperately confused. No, I couldn't do it. But, what would I do with him?

Michael and I met with the Family Services director at the Alzheimers office and we set about getting a respite bed at a nursing home for three days and four nights. I didn't know we could do such a thing. Amazing.

We also talked about a permanent placement in an assisted living facility or a nursing home. Susan, the Family Services director, put in a call and set up an appointment for us to meet with the Magnolia Manor Assisted Living home. If I can't get help in the home, then I have to start preparing myself for the placement process. I can't do everything I need to do to take care of Elbert and still keep my sanity. Big decisions, Big steps. Can I do it?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Who is he today?

Elbert just can't figure out who he is. That must be awful to have lost your identity. Many characters are dancing around in his head and he becomes one or many. I bought a newspaper from a nearby town and on the front page there was an article about identifying MIA's from the Korean War using DNA. Isn't DNA wonderful? So, Elbert starts talking about some guy (the one in the article) being his buddy and they (whomever THEY are) were going to shoot him. Elbert said he knew all about it and couldn't do anything to stop it. He went on and on and on about this scenerio. To hear him tell it he had been right there and it hurt him that his buddy got killed. It's true Elbert was in Korea for the Inchon Landing but I have never heard him say anything about any buddy being killed. Scrambled up thoughts and it's real to him.

Then when we were watching the Super Bowl he started telling about how
he had played in the Super Bowl. The man never played football in his life, not in high school or anywhere else. That was weird to listen to. I just said 'yes honey, that was a great touchdown you made'.

Another time he started talking about killing a chicken. To him the chicken was in the military. He's mixing up the war and living on the farm when he was a child. He's killed a few chickens in his day
but as far as I know, there's never been a chicken in the Navy. He's grabbing little tidbits of memory floating around in his brain and they get all tied together and come out his mouth as actuality. It's so sad.

March 23rd
I made big plans to go for a good ole sausage biscuit at Hardees. Elbert and I used to go every Monday morning and I thought we'd go today. Things can change in a blink of the eye. Elbert was shaving and I was taking clothes out of the dryer when I hear him fall in the bathroom. When I reached him it was just as it always is, he's gurgling, his eyes rolling back in his head, he's white as a bleached sheet. Somehow I manage to get him in the wheelchair, with a heck of a lot of difficulty I might add. Then came getting him from the wheelchair to the bed... he was totally helpless so I called Shirley for help. After Shirley arrived and we got Elbert tucked into bed Shirley sat down on the side of the bed by her Dad and said, 'Dad you fell between the commode and the shower, it was hard for Mom to get you up' at which he replied, 'It's a wonder she didn't flush me'. That humor of his, I swear, it's still delightful.

Maybe I could have figured out how to get him over in the bed.... Maybe I call for help because it scares the beegeebees out of me when he is acting this way. I don't want to be alone. Suppose...... well, let's don't go there. I just rather be with somebody who is loving and strong and cares.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Different worlds

Had my checkup. The yearly physical thing and I was so pleased. Seems like I am doing very well for all my 75 years. I am very happy about that.

On the other hand, Elbert is in a different situation. That stinking old Alzheimers just makes his life (and mine) so miserable. Lately life is full of ups and downs. I am going up while he is going down. Guess it's best that way. We have our sad moments and we have moments I just laugh because they are so funny.

One day Elbert said very matter of factly.

'Calijah got away before he could tell me where my bed is'.

I didn't say a word. I didn't know whether to laugh or try to correct him or just burst out in the Hank Williams song.

In a few minutes he said,

'You know Calijah fell in love with that Indian maid down at the antique store'. Like he was talking about someone we knew. I grinned. It was real to him, not a song so I just let it go.

Later he said, 'I wish my wife would come by and get me' so I asked if he wanted me to call her and he said, 'yes'. Okay. So, I put a call into myself.... sort of. It's fun playing two roles.... the wife and a girlfriend. Get to have my way both ways.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Being Sneaky Doesn't Pay

The night before Elbert's 79th birthday was a pain in the .... I'd put him to bed and he'd get up. I'd put him there again and up he'd get. Finally he asked me to sleep with him so I crawled into bed hoping this would put him to sleep. ha ha.

That man didn't care if he had a bed buddy or not. He was not going to sleep. So, I got up and got him a drink of water and handed him a tylenol p.m. That ought to do it. I placed the pill in his hand and he put it in his mouth, drank some water and I started to get back to bed. Instinct is a wonderful thing. Something just didn't seem right. I noticed his hand was closed into a fist so I eased it open and there lay that pill.

'You didn't take your pill', I scolded.

'And I don't aim to' he retorted.

'It's Your heart medicine, ' I lied.

The lie did nothing (they never do) and all the pleading was futile.

So, I took the tylenol p.m. myself and fell asleep.

I had no idea when he went to sleep but when I awoke at 7:30 a.m. he was wandering around. Luckily we have door alarms. No escaping without me knowing. Aren't we lucky that there are such things as door alarms.... and pills to make you sleep?