Friday, February 27, 2009


Susan flew down to help her Dad celebrate his 77th birthday (Feb. 8th 2007). All the girls were there. Michael was working in Canada and could not make it. But, we printed off a portrait of him to take along with us so his presence would be felt. We missed him so much and I know he would have loved to have been with us.

We drove over to Bone Fish Grill in Newport News. The girls were in a jolly mood, planning surprises, pulling jokes on each other. There was a lot of laughter. Elbert was happy to be in the midst of it all even though he could not comprehend a lot of what was going on. We propped Michael's picture up at the end of the table and we'd talk to him just like he was there in person. We didn't want him left out.

The food was incredible and as usual we ate too much. Elbert opened his presents and the waitress brought him a brownie topped with ice cream. It was huge so we all joined in the pleasure in demolishing the thing. We cut up all the way home and Elbert even made a couple of funny remarks. We are so grateful for any sign of the Old Elbert and we will take what we can get.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

January 2007

My birthday falls on Jan. 6th. Shirley, John, Chris, Elbert and I headed over to the Crab Shack for a lunch celebration. It was a drizzly day and fog soon settled over the James River making everything a little out of focus and dreary. Elbert was very quiet during lunch and rode home in silence. He'd been out of his comfort zone so I didn't expect anything other than silence from him.

Late in the afternoon he started the 'Who owns this house' and 'I want to go home' deal. I put the thinking cap on (it's good thing I have a 'thinking' cap) and got a new idea. I put him in the car and I drove around our little town, up one block, down the other, past the post office, up Church Street and pulled back into our driveway. We got out, went into the house and he got ready and went to bed. Now, that's the strangest thing. What made this house different just because we have ridden around for a half dozen blocks? You got me!! But, I will use that tactic anytime I need to. It worked then. Sure hope it works every time.

Things went along pretty 'normal', well, normal for us, anyway, for the rest of January until the 30th. The night of the 29th Elbert was up all night wandering around. I just let him wander but I slept very little and after daybreak I crept out of bed to go into the kitchen to start my day. Elbert was sitting at the bar with layers and layers of clothes on, his hair disheveled and he was bent over, resting his head on the bar. I shook him and he did not respond. First thing, as always, I called Shirley next door. She told me to call the dr. and she'd be right over.

We redressed Elbert. He had put on his undershirt first (as he should have), then his sweater which he tucked into his pants, then a heavy red jacket. His plaid shirt was on top of all that. And, he had two pairs of socks on. The dr. said to head to ER and we got there at 11:30 and Elbert was admitted to the hospital. He had atrial fibrillation, his heart beat at 170. Since he did not understand directions someone had to be with him every minute. At night Marie or I would doze in a gosh-awful lounge chair. It reclined but if you lifted your body one millo-inch the thing folded back up. It was terrible. And, of course, I heard Elbert everytime he moved.

That first night, around 2:30 a.m. I finally just passed out and awoke around 4;30 to find him all the way down at the foot of the bed with one IV pulled out and he was working hard on the other one. Blood was everywhere, on the sheets, on Elbert's hospital gown and on him!! The nurse came in and got him and the bed cleaned up and tucked back in between the sheets. With the right medication we got Elbert home and he continued to improve. Enough so, that he went to a restaurant with family to celebrate his 77th birthday but more on that later.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


On New Years Eve people go out to celebrate. Sometimes they watch the ball drop on tv, sometimes they are the ones out in the cold watching it drop in person. But, here Elbert and I sit, alone. I've been depressed for weeks now and the thought of another year of the same ole thing or even worse things just does not improve my emotions.

As night draws near Elbert gets restless. He's back on the 'The owners of this house are coming' kick. He wants to know if we have the car here, so I said yes it's in the garage. He gets up out of his chair and announces that he is going to back the car out of the garage so that when the owners of the house get here they can park in there. Man, he just can't get that out of his head and after awhile, it begins to drive me nuts. I tell him it's okay for my car to be in the garage, that we are staying here. He got really quiet and then he said, 'I'm going to get me a piece of paper and write down all these stories you are telling me'. I just burst out laughing. It was so ridiculous so I told him 'I'm going to write down all these things you are telling me'. What he doesn't know is that I have been recording his decline into Alzheimers for years now. He doesn't even know he's not normal anymore. He think I am the one with the problem. How strange all of this feels.

The New Year will be 2007. What will lie in store for us? It's scary to even think about it so I try not to, just take one day at a time. But, reality is reality. My days are marked with more caregiving, more confusion, more work, more worry. 2007 doesn't sound like it is going to be a good year.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Giving Thanks in a Lot of Ways

My life is an instant - An hour which passes by;
My life is a moment
Which I have no power to stay.
You know, O my God,
I have only today.

-----Therese of Lisieux 1873-1897

Thanksgiving 2006 was filled with children and grandchildren arriving and lots of good food and fun.
We cooked about all day (one crew at daughter Shirleys house and one crew at my house). It was a busy day so by the time we ate and visited awhile I could tell Elbert was very tired and withdrawing into his own little world. So, we prepared for bed.

I must have been pretty tired myself.
At two a.m. the door alarm woke me up. I was so exhausted I had forgotten to deadbolt the front door. By the time I slipped my shoes on and got to the door Elbert was out of the house and a half block away going down the sidewalk just like he did that every night at 2 a.m. He was walking fast for he was on a mission. I called him as I hurried out the door but he didn't hear me so I yelled louder. I just hoped that I did not wake the neighbors up. I caught up with him and got him turned around and started back to the house. 'Where in the world were you going?', I asked. 'I was going to find you' he said. He is becoming increasingly attached to me, coming to find me if I am out of his sight for more than a couple of minutes. That presents a real problem for I can not sit in his sight all the time. There is work to do. It's disturbing to me that I will walk out of the room only to turn around and almost fall over him for he is right behind me. But, it's something I will have to deal with.

We had a great Thanksgiving, with our children and grandchildren surrounding us. We had a lot to be thankful for and as I crawled back into my bed after tucking Elbert into his, I was most thankful for door alarms and a son in law willing to install them for us.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Delusions, Disturbing Days and Nights

The first week of Oct (2006) started a downhill slide. I was filled with dread and fear as I felt we had gotten to a new chapter and I sure didn't like how the end of the book was going to turn out. On Friday night the 6th it started to rain and it rained and it rained. I'd had a new roof put on the house and was horrified to find water dripping from the ceiling of the sunroom, even out of the light fixture. Then it started pouring down the walls. It kept me busy mopping up floors and emptying water pails. I would wake up ever little while to see about the mess once again. Elbert sleeps through anything anymore so all the commotion didn't seem to wake him. Then I heard him........

It was 3:30 a.m. He was standing at the sink in the bathroom, fully dressed, brushing his teeth. He said he was going to look for me. I managed to get him back to bed but I still was awake most of the night, mopping and emptying and listening.

Saturday the rain still was coming down. By nightfall Elbert was delusional. About every 10 minutes he would insist that we had to get out of the house and go home. I tried every tactic I could think of... diversion, not answering, telling him the truth and lying to him. Nothing worked. I gave him a Risperdal at 4 and another at 8. They had no effect on him.

Finally he decided that what I had said about this being our house was maybe true. So, new questions started. 'What town are we in?', 'Did we sell everything to come here?', 'Had the previous owners gotten all their things out of the house?' and 'I need to change the address on my allotment' thinking that we had just moved. By nine p.m. he was full blown into getting out 'of this couples' house'. I put us to bed. I was so exhausted from the lack of sleep the night before and problems all day long. I just hoped that he would conk out.

But, things never work out the way you wish they would. Every few minutes Elbert kept coming into my bedroom and saying 'I'm in somebody else's bed and they are gonna come in and want their bed'. So after that happened several times I just crawled into bed with him. Maybe that would calm him down. No such luck. He was convinced that he had slept on the floor and he had seen a 'pretty girl' get out of the bed and she was going to come in and want to go back to bed. Another sleepless night. At least the rain had stopped and I called the roofer to complain about the leaks.

The following day he was convinced that he was in the Navy still. 'Did I come home on leave?' he asked. He didn't pursue that too long, thank the good Lord for blessings. But, that night here Elbert was again, his clothes on, wanting to leave. He again was convinced that a girl was going to come in and want her bed. I told him that no, she was on a trip and I'd talked to her on the phone and she said he could sleep in that bed. You gotta think fast and on your feet with Alzheimers patients. So, I dialed our daughters number so she could tell him it was alright for him to have that girls bed. That didn't work too well. He told her we were back in Alabama. I tried the truth, 'Honey, we are not in Alabama, we are in Virginia'. and he looked at me like I was nuts. He said, 'Man, are you lost'. I just burst out laughing. You either cry or laugh and I chose to laugh.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


It's Sept 2006
Elbert has started what they call 'sundowning'.  He does well during the day but at night he has no clue where he is and often asks if we brought our toothbrushes when we came to 'this place' or he'll ask me where he is supposed to sleep. A talk with the children brings varied suggestions. I do mental exercises with him and one day I asked him to name all the birds he could think of. He named eight so I asked him if he could name a bird that did not fly. The old Elbert crept through for just a moment... he said, 'yes, a jailbird'. We got a big laugh out of that. He is still in there somewhere, in all that tangled mess in his brain. I am thankful we still see it ever once in awhile.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A New Problem - August 2006

It's August (2006) and I know the summer has been a long one and I know that things change with Alzheimers. Nothing stays the same but this is a new thing around here. I am talking on the phone when I look up and there is Elbert in his jammies, shoes in his hand and a shirt draped across his arm. I asked him what he was doing and his reply was 'I thought I'd go on home'. Here is a man who has been in bed for over half an hour, in a bed that he has slept in for over seven years, and he's gotten up so he can go home? That's a new one and I sense that we are in trouble.

The problem continues and it still does today (2009). He does not remember that we have ever lived here. One night he told me he'd just go home and eat supper, so when he changed his clothes after his shower he came to the living room door and waved goodbye to me.

The only room in the house that he seems comfortable in is the sunroom. He still has some interest in watching cars go by and people walking up and down the sidewalk. So, that holds his attention for a span of time.It looks like to me that he would remember being in this house, buying it, moving here but those memories are all gone. And, so much more is gone. I feel now that I am Elberts thinking process about 90% of the time. He just doesn't seem to know how to do hardly anything. I am helping him change his clothes, remind him to shower and even sometime hop in there with him to be sure he does a good job. He would never eat if I didn't fix something. He doesn't know where to go, what to do. I am thinking and doing for two now. The Elbert I know has disappearing from me. The road that we are on will be long and lonely and I have known that for years now, but it's just becoming so much a part of our every day way of life.

We still enjoy an occasional outing and being with family. It's hard on the grandchildren seeing their beloved Papa no longer here but they try and I am grateful for that. It's hard on us all. That man was the light of our lives and we realize that the light has gone out.