Thursday, December 30, 2010

Time Marches On

Tomorrow is New Years Eve. Time is marching on and it will soon be 2011. Sometimes time seems to stand still. Other times it flies fast as hummingbird wings. Time is snails pace for Elbert. He has no concept of time or place or things or people. Yet, I am marching on with life as best I know how. Seeing family, paying bills, cleaning a messy house (how is it that one person can make such a mess?) and so on. Time is not constant. It weaves in and out of our lives, marking life's events but no one can put a label on it. It is that measure we give each thought, each act, each kindness, each ache.

Today my time has been filled with returning from a trip(all that unpacking, laundry, organizing) and visiting with Elbert. How my feet flew at home with each task. How my feet were slow, oh so slow, as I wheeled Elbert down to feed him. Tough chore today. I noticed for the first time that he did not seem to know how to swallow liquids. (tea or water). It was swished around in his mouth and then held there. I rubbed his throat (I'd seen him do that trying to get a dog to swallow pills) and finally it would go down.... if it did not spill out onto the bib. Time... I would love a ton more time with my sweet hubby but not like this. Time is crawling and it's painful to live in this time frame.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Big Day

Don't you just love it when your loved one is having a good day? Elbert was pretty good today and that was special because it is our 60th wedding anniversary. Of course, I drove down to spend some time with him.

It was cold on Dec. 10, 1950 when we ran off and got married.  That was 60 years ago. Today was a very special day indeed. I had Elbert with me and we would celebrate however his mind and body would allow.

Elbert seemed somewhat agitated when I got there, just about wringing his thumb off with his other hand. Finally he settled down and ate his lunch. Fish, grits and stewed tomatoes. I thought that was a dumb meal but took a bite and you know, I may make me some of that fish and tomatoes. I'm a Southern gal and grits is for breakfast, people.

I wheeled Elbert out to the lobby where a big Christmas tree was decorated and lighted. He seemed to enjoy looking at that.

We went into the dining room to listen to a high school glee club singing Christmas carols in the dining room. That agitation was evidently still lingering under the surface because when the glee club started singing a really jivey tune from the 1980s by JOURNEY he started getting out of his chair. I pulled him back and he drew back to hit me. Then he started shoving the table around so we scooted out of there in a hurry. As soon as he was away from the noise he was alright.

It wasn't the wonderful anniversaries that we had celebrated in the past. But, we were together, that's all that mattered.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

We march on

Yep, one foot at a time, we march on. The scenery around us is changing and it makes me sad. Since Elbert moved into the nursing home (mid August) he has gone from being fairly responsive to not responding as much and when he does he's 'out of it' and makes no sense. He went from feeding himself to having to have some help and now he has to be fed .... and he isn't eating nearly as much. I see his bony legs and arms and know that he has lost a good deal of weight. He slumps in the wheel chair (when he can be in one) or lies with his legs drawn up almost to his chin when he is in the 'reclining wheel chair' or bed. He has his days and nights mixed up so that he sleeps all day and they have to watch him carefully at night as he is awake and restless. How did we come to this? Oh, yes, we got here because of Alzhiemers.

When I went to see him this morning he was lying in bed in an almost fetal position his skinny long legs out from under the cover and cold. One sock on, one sock off. When I tried to straighten his legs he was as stiff as could be and I could not budge him. So, I sat and tried to talk to him but mostly he had his eyes closed. I knew he heard me because he would move his hands or sometime say something.

Finally I asked him if he wanted me to read to him. You see, I have such a hard time just sitting, staring at the man I love whose body is there but 'he' is gone. So, I take some handwork or my Kindle to read from. I was just starting 'A Christmas Carol'. I'd seen it on tv many times but I had never read it before. He nodded his head that he was willing to listen to me drone on and on page after page so I began reading. After awhile I heard him snoring so I eased out of the room and came home.

It's so hard to see him like this. The children particularly are having a difficult time visiting their Dad. The wonderful memories of their growing up with a loving father is now being muddied with the memories of his mutterings, and staring into space with vacant eyes and lying in bed almost unrecognizable. They go when they feel they can. I go and sit and try to talk and maybe read to him. At least I feel we are connecting in some fashion.

Monday, November 8, 2010


On Saturday morning daughter Shirley, son in law John, granddaughter Brittany and her Jon and me, of course, headed down to Consulate nursing home for a Fall Celebration.

 It was held outside in the parking lot and the weather was cloudy and a bit nippy, typical Fall weather.  

John, Shirley, Jon, Brittany with Elbert. He would not turn loose of my coat. As I said it was a bit nippy and that coat was keeping his hands warm.

Men from Consulate cooking up free hamburgers and hot dogs.
Here, Honey, take another bite!! He's still holding onto my coat.

Shirley trying to entice him with cotton candy but he'd rather have the sucker.

Give me a little love, Dad.... it's time for us to go.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I wasn't prepared for this either

A little break from the drab, dreary world that Alzheimers brings us all to...

This was a ray of sunshine!!

As I walked down the hallway yesterday to visit Elbert he was in his usual place by the nurses station and a residents daughter, Susan, was talking to him. I saw him glance up and see me coming down the hall... and his eyesight is awful and he won't wear his glasses so I know his sight is atrocious. But, there is this huge grin on his face and by the time I reached his chair he was just beaming. So, was I!!!

After lunch I started pushing him around the nursing home and occassionally we'd stop in this 'living room' or that waiting room or the front entrance hall for a few minutes to give him and me a change of scenery.... and me to catch my breath. That man is heavy.

I was totally amazed at his focus and the things coming out of that man's mouth. Once he noticed one of the aides helping feed someone at the other end of the table and he said, 'I think someone down there is pretty'. I asked if he thought she was pretty and he nodded his head. A compliment out of him. Good.

Once he commented on what a big house that was. Yep, he's got that right.

I got to testing his arm muscles, giving a little squeeze and asked him what he had done with all that muscle, that it was gone. And his reply was 'it would be good if I had some'.

There was more chatter... something about what I thought of Miami.... Miami, where did that come from? We've never even been to Miami.

And, he was paying attention to other people talking so he was enjoying himself tremendously.

But, the best part of all was when I started to wheel him down the hall that little stinker stuck his feet out in front of him, started making the varoom, varoom sound of a car, put his hands out and started 'turning the wheel'. He was driving!! I just wish I had someone in front of us with a video camera. It was just the funniest thing and so alert and fun loving, just like he used to be.

Just look at this picture..... He's right in the midst of telling a big tale here, his favorite thing to do.

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.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Great Visit

Shirley and I buzzed down to see Elbert yesterday. As usual he was in rare form .... when he was focused. But, you just aren't going to get him to come back from his little world way out in space until he is ready. So, there are times of connecting and times I just pull my embroidery out and work while I wait for him to return.

He never ceases to amaze me and I am so overjoyed at getting any semblance of normalcy out of him I just find everything he says funny. I laugh a lot when I am with him and that is a good thing. Sometimes he knows he's being cute, too. And, of all things, Shirley was making a photo of him with her cell phone and the little stinker was 'posing'. Oh, yes, that man is still in there wandering around somewhere.

I had on a skirt with a rather 'loud' print in black and white. He looked at it and then commented 'That sure is black and white'. 'Yep' I said. and he came back with 'There's nothing you can do about it'. I laughed and laughed. Nope, there wasn't a thing I could do with that flowered print. He sure was right about that.

Seeing that he recognized his colors I decided to ask him if he could name our children. That was nowhere in his brain so it did not happen. So, I asked if he knew Elbert and Willie and did they go together. He said 'Well, part time they could'. That made me stop and think.... We are together part time now, he in the nursing home and me back home and we are together when I go visit. Could he have been referring to that? Did that little brain connector link up with another little brain connector and he knew we weren't together all the time? Wow.

One day when I visited he was sleeping in the bed. I gotta quit going to the nursing home late in the afternoon. That's his naptime. I shook him and asked him if he was sleeping. He begrudging nodded yes then he added, 'You can crawl in the bed with me if you want'. Ahhhh. sharing time.

Shirley showed her Dad a picture of the his great-grandson off her cell phone. You know those pictures are hard to see but he stared at it until the screen went black.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

New Beginnings

Elbert and I welcomed our second great-grandson into this world on Monday afternoon. A new beginning. He is so adorable. Of course, all great grandmothers would say that their little greats are the most beautiful babies ever. But, I sort of think you will forgive me for saying that Vann is just the most beautiful baby.

Following a month of Elbert's terrible illness and us nearly losing him here's comes little Vann and there is once again hope and love abounding in this family. Kenny, Bethany and Vann are home from the hospital now setting off on a journey of their own.

And, I am happy to report there is a new beginning for us older folks, too. Elbert is making some slow recovery but he is anxious to get out of that wheelchair so they asked yesterday if I would agree to their starting some physical therapy with him. Of course, I said yes.

My visit yesterday was really good. I wheeled him into a large tv, sitting room and we did manage to visit there for a few minutes then the room started filling up with residents. The activity director told me there was another smaller, very quiet living room down the hall and so we went there and talked some, he napped some and I even dragged out some embordiery I had taken with me. It was kind of like being at home.

The nurse said that they have started calling Elbert 'Dr. Barton'. Why, I asked. 'Oh' she said. 'After lunch he gets restless to get out of the wheelchair so we just wheel him into the nurses station and park him at the desk. He's written quite a few 'orders' for the residents here' (grin)

And, that is where I left him yesterday, sitting at the nurses desk, shuffling papers around. (gee whiz, I wish I'd had my camera with me) Let's see... how long ago was the drs. telling us it wouldn't be long and to prepare ourselves. Amazing God, amazing Elbert.... well, I've always known that!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Days Past

It's years and years and years since the Korean War. To think about that makes me feel so old. To tell the truth Elbert and I are in our sunset years. Back then we were young and foolish and in love.......and apart. 

Elbert was a radioman aboard a ship 
and it was his job (along with the other radiomen) to take and receive messages in teletype or morse code. 
Sometimes the guys took a break
(look at the mustache on that handsome face. Only time he ever grew one)

And once Elbert got caught napping. (he wasn't on duty so he didn't get in trouble)
Until recently that man could still send morse code messages.... dit, dit, dot, dit. Even with his mind wrapped tightly with Alzheimers he remembered those codes. How strangely the brain gets tangled, all twisted and warped and then suddenly a light flickers for just a moment.... and his hand goes out to touch the key again  dit, dit, dot, dit. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

What is Life?

 Life.... a four letter word. Could be a good four-letter word or a bad one. It all depends. 

Just exactly what is Life? A gift from God for sure and one we should be eternally grateful for. 

In my American Heritage School Dictionary I find the definition:

Life: The property or quality that distinguishes living organisms from dead organisms and nonliving matter, shown in the ability to grow, carry on metabolism, respond to stimuli and reproduce.  

That tells me nothing other than life is just being. Tadpoles have life!! Life is so much more. The quality of life depends on blessings from above and our ability to put those blessings to work for the good of mankind (others, family, friends and for ourselves). If we do not,  then life turns into a sour, useless void .  

When life is nearing it's end how do we define the life we have lived? Can we say we honored the great gift of life by being and giving and loving or do we say it's been that useless waste? 

I have been thinking about life lately as I watch Elbert's life ebb away. I can say for a certainty that he lived his life honorably, loving, giving. He took care of his family, he enjoyed life and living. He loved his God and he's been blessed. Now, that's the true meaning of LIFE.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


On Wednesday I was called late in the day that Elbert was being transferred to a nursing home. To me that says that the hospital had done all they could do for him.

I have been going down each day to visit. He's extremely weak and his speech isn't as clear as it was but he does make some sentences that are recognizable. He asked yesterday 'where is Mike?' Michael and his wife left a couple days ago. Did he remember that Michael had been here or was it a random thought connecting with memories in his head? I'd like to think that he remembered parts of the week long visit while Michael and Susan were here. But, then, of course, we hang on to what we want happen, not what is happening most times.

It just about broke my heart to leave him at the nursing home. A different reason, a different scenario than when we left him at Magnolia Manor. This seemed so final. At Magnolia there were people walking around, talking, watching tv, they seemed to have some 'life' left in them. At the nursing home the beds are filled with patients who are sick and maybe dying, wheelchairs go up and down the hallways. It's a sad, sad place. Shirley and I walked back to the car after leaving Elbert and just collapsed into each others arms and cried.  Life has many twists and turns. This is one turn I just as soon not come upon.

We have to find a sunny place in all this sadness and we did..... Guess what.... no more Ms. Meany. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010


This Alzheimers is something I just can't figure out. After the last post (with his kidneys not working properly and being told they were beginning to shut down) I asked that Elbert be put on 'comfort care'. He was moved to another part of the hospital and all ivs and meds taken away except fluids with a small amount of glucose. I was satisfied, especially so after the dr. agreed wholeheartly, that it was the right thing to do. 

And, then.... God does perform miracles. His kidneys started with more output, his oxygen level got near normal and he started talking our ears off. And, what he said made sense. And, this from a man who had not communicated with us for months. We just had the best time yesterday. 

When asked what football team he would root for ... his emphatic answer was 'Bama'. He talked about a pretty girl and when I asked if that was his wife he said, 'NO, it wasn't her'. hehe. He mentioned the county we used to live in, the town, our community and two cousins. He counted something in the air (make-believe) and once said something about something to see. I asked 'what' and he said, 'you know, S-E-E. Once he had my hand and started pulling it to his face. I asked, 'Are you going to kiss me' and he said, 'yes, if I could' so I bent down and we kissed. I was just amazed, excited and enjoying every minute yesterday. Finally late afternoon he dozed off. Worn out I guess.

Prayers were answered and I appreciate all of you and your loving care so much. God bless each and every  one of you.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Wish the news was better but life is what it is. In the last few days I had been told by three of the staff at the hospital that Elbert was not going to get better. My gut feeling yesterday morning was that they were telling me the truth and they just confirmed what I already knew in my heart. Elbert had gotten severely dehydrated at Magnolia Manor and had been rushed to the hospital. It's been a devastating struggle so far.

I kept trying to see the doctor yesterday but it never happened. So, with what I knew and what I was being told I asked the nurse to put a request in for 'comfort care' for Elbert on his chart. The Doctor this morning said I had done the right thing. That is always reassuring to know we have done what we needed to do even if it is a difficult decision.

He had been in a 'step-down' unit but today they moved him to a regular room. The antibotics are gone as are any of his regular medications. He is being given halladol to try and keep him calm and morphine. And, we sit and watch and wait......

He has not been responsive to conversation on much of a level for quite awhile. But, amazingly enough, the last couple of days he has talked our heads off. He has tons of 'junk' as the cute little nurse puts it, in his throat so he is gurgling loudly. Hard to make out a lot of all this talking he's doing but we have understood all we need to. He has told us he loves us. He puckered up and kissed Marie on the cheek this morning. He smiled when told he is expecting a great-grandbaby and even arm wrestled with Shirley (He got her, too). It seems that he is doing all he can to make sure we know that we are loved. And, I know he feels the love he is being showered with. But, there comes a time in life when life must cease. I know that God will watch over me and the family as he gathers Elbert in His arms. I have already told God that it's 'okay' if He takes Elbert home.

On the other hand, Elbert is getting combative and very restless. He's hard to handle and we are getting worn out already but the end of the journey is yet down the road.

Elbert and I should have made it to our 60th wedding anniversary in December. It looks like we won't.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Visit

Daughter Susan came down for a visit bringing our two grandsons, Griffin and Tighe. It had been too long since they had been for a visit. This visit for Griffin, I think, was a bit of a shock to see his Grandpa not even conversive. I felt badly for him, he so idolizes his Grandpa, says Grandpa is his hero. 

When we arrived we found Elbert sitting on the sofa in the living room area with his arm around Louise and she's fast asleep. Elbert wasn't much better. I wondered how it affected Griffin (and Susan) to see their Dad/Granddad with his arm around another woman but I never asked. I thought it best be left alone. 

We started to walk Elbert into the dining room so we all could sit at a table and visit. It was too close to dinnertime to take him all the way down to his room and back again. Well, he couldn't make but one or two steps and began falling. Thank goodness big strong grandson Griffin was there.... So, out came the wheelchair for Elbert. I found out that he had fallen twice already yesterday. 

I am worried about how much longer they are going to deal with the falling. It's so frequent. And, one of these days he is going to break a bone ... or two or even more. 

Elbert was a little more responsive once we got to the table. He didn't say much but did toss a ball back and forth with the grandchildren. And, arm-wrestled with Griffin. Griffin let his Granddad win.... twice. Good thinking, Griffin!! 

It was getting close to dinnertime and residents started wandering in. One sat down next to Tighe who happened to be playing with 'Cranky' a crane in the Thomas the Train set. 

She asked him what it was and Tighe, who is 2 1/2 said, 'it's Cranky'.  'Oh', she said, 'Tracy'. 'No, Cranky', Tighe corrects her. and she says 'Tracy' .... this goes on for awhile and Tighe is getting a bit ticked that this woman keeps calling his toy Tracy so he corrects her again. He's never ugly about it but just keeps up the No, Cranky response. She never got it!! It actually was funny. We were laughing at the two of them, one old lady and a little toddler arguing over a toy.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Whistle a Happy Tune

The other day when I was posting about Elbert whistling all the time I knew that I did not have a picture of him in the act. But, lo and behold, while I was scanning some photos for daughter Shirley I found one. Just had to share. This was taken at our 50th wedding anniversary celebration.... Shirley was dancing with her Dad while he whistled the tune to her. Precious memories. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Blue Skies

Elbert was sitting in a recliner in the dining room all by himself. The tape player was playing oldies. I said hi and his smile warmed my heart. I pulled up a chair and took out the 'Birds and Blooms' magazine that I had just received. He commented particularly on the 'red birds' and 'the pretty flowers', looking through the pages twice. I was looking at the AARP magazine and found a picture of Andy Griffith. He enjoyed my chatter about the tv show and then I noticed he was singing along with the tape that was on. 'Blue Skies, smiling at me, nothing but blue skies do I see.' Yep, the skies sure are bluer these days. He's more alert. I am loving it. 

We put the magazines away and he was telling me some big tale about Walker County. It made no sense but he had mentioned the place we lived before we moved to Virginia. And, then he said something about 'old lady McCoy'. The McCoys owned a store in the community where Elbert grew up. His brain was pulling bits and pieces of old memories to the surface. Wow. He's not called anyones name, not even mine or the childrens much less anyone else, in a very long time. 

Then along came a girl with a dog.... a labradoodle (did I spell that right?). Elbert always owned dogs but he had shown no interest in any therapy dog that had visited the home before . But, here he was, commenting on how pretty she was and his eyes followed her as she pranced about at the end of her leash.

Dinnertime was approaching and residents began to drift into the dining room. Mr. G. had been pacing back and forth trying to exit first one door then the other. He's been at the home maybe a month and is just not settled in yet. He stopped to ask Elbert if he knew the doors were locked and Elbert told him 'Yes, I've heard that'. Miss Cutie Pie (the 99 year old) came in and sat down at her table ready for food. I gave my goodbyes and headed home before Miss Meany made her appearance. Just better that way. (grin)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Roller Coaster Ride

Daughter Shirley visited Elbert Friday and came home telling me that he was not verbalizing much, kept his head down.... so different than what Marie and I had witnessed on Thursday. I was upset. Suppose that medicine (the Ritalin) was not working. 

But, today Elbert was talkative and alert. He even mentioned his cousins that we used to live by. It was just the sir name that he recalled but he had not even thought about them for a very long time. So, I'm thrilled again.

Boy, this Alzheimers mess is a roller coaster ride. You go up, up, up climbing to the top and then there's a sudden crash to the bottom only to climb up again. Full of surprises, good and bad. 

 Oh, I wanted to mention that Elbert's sister has Alzheimers. She has recently been placed in a home after a long and very trying time for the family. I ask you remember them in your prayers, please.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cloud Nine

Was today ever fun in The Garden!! Marie and I went for a visit and at our voice Elbert's head shot up and he smiled at us. And, for the entire visit we were just in awe at the change in that man. He was alert, engaging, funny.... nearly like he was a year ago. Elbert has been put on a trial test using ritilin. Never heard that used for Alzheimers before. It's for ADD but it is working and I'm not complaining one iota. I just hope that it continues to keep him alert.... and fun.... 

Martha, the director, came by with ice cream.
 He would not decide which flavor he wanted and finally told her he'd take both. That was so like him, the man who used to eat anything and everything was not going to turn anything away. So, she gave him chocolate. He would not feed himself so I started scooping spoonfuls and fed him. 
 Nearly to the finish line with the ice cream race, he announced he had to make a potty run. I laughed at him so hard when he came out of the bathroom.  He was always such a jokester so it was great to see a little of that in him again. As he walked toward me he was scratching one side (like you do when you are imitating a monkey) so I said, 'I have found me a monkey' to which he very snappily replied, 'no, I've found me one' and pointed right at me... and he smiled. Oh my, how I loved it. 

He continued saying funny little things. He looked through two picture albums (before today he would turn a couple pages and then lay it aside.... more progress).
He filled his cheek full of air so I started punching it and as the air would escape he'd make this big whooshing sound. You could tell he was having fun. 
When we got ready to leave I leaned over and asked for a kiss and that little stinker would NOT kiss me. See that silly little grin on his face.
He'd make smacking sounds with his lips and grin but he would not lean over for a real kiss. I asked, 'you not going to kiss me?' and he shook his head no. Okay, dokey.... buddy you asked for it for I gave him a big one. 

Another residents wife came by and said, 
'I have to tell you. As I started into the Garden to visit Glenn (her husband) I could see your husband and Glenn standing in the hall just chatting up a storm. So I stayed just outside the door and watched. It was so good to see'.
I appreciated her sharing that with me so much. It affirmed my feelings that this med may be the answer to our prayers.

I left that place feeling like I was on cloud nine. They had told me that when they started the ritalin they weren't sure which way it would go.... would it work? would it not? They also told me he is staying awake a lot more, walking up and down the halls, talking more. Great news. I just pray so hard that he continues to be more like he used to be.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Milk Shake and a song

As Shirley and I were out and about yesterday we swung by to visit with Elbert. We had bought us each a strawberry milkshake at Sonic and got Elbert a chocolate one. Didn't want the strawberry chunks to get caught in his straw. Shirley asked 'Dad, you want a milkshake?' His eyes flew open and he nodded his head. He put the straw in his mouth and didn't take it out. Well, I thought to myself, he doesn't know how to pull that liquid up through the straw but Shirley said, 'Mom, his adams apple is going up and down. He's swallowing'. Wow.... After a few short minutes we heard the slurping sound of straw pulling just air up, no shake left in the cup. He looked diasappointed. I had some still in my cup so I asked him if he wanted the rest of mine. Yes, a big yes. So, he down that as well. I think he would have sat there for an hour drinking milk shakes if we had anymore. I will always remember how much enjoyment he got and I promise to bring shakes to him more often. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bump on the ole Noggin.

Elbert got a knot on his head Tuesday night. Fell again. So, I headed over Wednesday morning to see how he was doing. There he was sitting at the table in the dining room eyes closed but he smiled at me when I spoke to him and I actually got a bit of conversation out of him for a half hour and then he closed those eyes again and was out like a light. But, talking was fun for a little while. He seemed briefly interested when I mentioned that it was cooler outside. I even started naming off places we had lived when he was in the Navy and when I was finished I asked if he remembered any of them and he nodded his head. Now, to tell you the truth, I don't know if he remembers anything about his Navy days or any other days but it was comforting to me to have that response out of him. If he only knew what an appropriate word or two means to me............ but I take what I can get and ask for nothing else.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Oh Geez

My visit with Elbert yesterday was tough. When I got there he was sitting in a chair in the living room sound asleep and nobody could rouse him from his slumber. I sat waiting and occasionally I would try to talk to him but he was out like he's been hit by a truck. A half hour later (it seemed longer) I got him awake enough to move him to the couch with me and soon he slid sideways, leaning toward me. 
'Do you want to put your head on my shoulder' I asked. 
He nodded so I positioned myself to where he could rest his head and that is how we stayed for an hour and a half. We were holding hands and sometimes he'd rub my leg with his other hand. And, once his hand got to my knee. Now, I am very ticklish about my knees and he used to do that just to hear me squeal.
I asked, 'Are you tickling my knee?'
No response
I asked again and this time he nodded very slightly and smiled. A glimmer of remembrance perhaps. 

Yep, yesterday was an oh geez sort of day. I was chatting with one of the staff as we had waited for him to wake up and she said that he sleeps nearly all the time now. I know that some of that time it appears that he is asleep when he just does not want to join the world around him. And, I know, too, that sleeping in a symptom of later stages of Alzheimers. She also told me that the man that I knew, the one who would eat anything and everything is now not eating nearly as much. That's a concern. They've even tried to feed him but he clamps his mouth shut and shakes his head. This too is a symptom of later stages. 

So, I came home depressed and worried. It was almost as if he had laid his head on my shoulder knowing that soon he would not be able to do that. No one has a clue as to how long Alzheimer's patients live as each patient is different. I just feel like we have taken one more step toward that door.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Whistle a Happy Tune

Did you ever turn on the tv and hear Andy Griffith whistling as he and Opie headed down to the fishing hole? You can still see those programs on one of the cable channels. Sometimes when I am sitting with Elbert I turn it on just to recall happier times. 

After Elbert retired from his job teaching in 1990 he took up the habit of whistling everywhere he went. He was just such a happy person, always satisfied with what life had to dish out and he expressed that by whistling. I knew the minute he walked in the back door. I could hear his whistling before I heard the door creak open. It was such a joyful sound. 

Then, one day the whistling stopped. He seems to have forgotten how to purse his lips to make a tune come out. Or perhaps he has forgotten the tunes altogether. Our world we live in is silent now and I miss that whistling husband a whole bunch.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Happy Father's Day to the Father of my children. We all love you and wish you the best on this day of celebrating Dads. 

Marie and her Dad enjoying rocking outside 'The Cracker Barrel'
Susan and Shirley getting big hugs from their Dad
Michael and his Dad checking out a display in Kansas City. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Old Mother Hubbard

I was sitting with Elbert at The Garden today and was watching the activity about me. And, I got to thinking about how much The Garden is like a houseful of children. Seventeen of them!!! Old Mother Hubbard and her shoe full of little kiddies. 

Some of them wear depends (diapers), some of them need help walking, some are toddering along on their own,
Some were babbling (you couldn't understand a word they said much like little babies cooing) Some are wanting ice cream (chocolate, please), every single one of them needed taking to the bathroom before mealtime. One had slipped down in her chair and needed uprighting, one had lost a shoe. 'Diddle diddle dumpling my son John went to bed with his stockings one, one shoe off the other shoe on. ' Some of them had been playing games, and some (including Elbert) was napping very nicely!! 

I just admire those caring souls who are so willing to care for all seventeen of them with whatever they might need. It's amazing.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Today was a good day with Elbert. The temp was in the mid 80s so I found him and the other residents in the courtyard enjoying the sunshine. After lunch we sat down on the love seat in the living area and I asked him if he wanted me to read some out of his Bible to him and he said yes. So, I scooted down to his room to retrieve the Bible he used the last few years of his ministry. 

I started reading Psalms and my reading caught the attention of a couple other residents and they listened for a bit. They particularly liked Psalm 23 for it was a memory from long ago and quite recognizable to them, even in their confused state. 

The new 'residents' of the Garden joined right in by singing for us. They are two parakeets and they are named 'Adam' and Eve' since they now live in 'The Garden'. 

The more I read aloud, the louder they sang. It was quite a challenge to make myself heard over their cheerful notes. But, that was alright. They are such pretty birds and their singing fills the air with music.

Louise (Elbert's 'friend') was restless today and she gave me quite a scare more than once. When I went down to Elbert's room I knew he was sitting on the love seat back in the living room area... Imagine how startled I was to have someone say 'hello' as I walked into the room. Yep, it was Louise sitting on Elbert's bed. She wasn't having any of going back to the living room with me so I left her there knowing she'd soon follow, which she did.

Later I had scooted out on the edge of my seat so I could face Elbert to talk to him when all of a sudden a hand started going up my back. It was Louise. You see, I was taking up all of Elbert's time and she was moving in on us big time. But, as I prepared to leave I passed the rocker she was sitting in and she grabbed my hand and said, 'my name is Louise' so I told her my name. She kissed my hand so I gave her a hug. Then I gave Elbert a big hug and a kiss and told him I'd see him later.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Today it hit me why I have so much trouble attending church. Elbert has been a member of the Primitive Baptist Church since he was 17 years old. I joined after we had been married for several years (the children were small) so attending church is something that we always did together. After he became an ordained minister our church attendance was something that was a true bond between us. 

Then came the Alzheimer's and as we struggled through years of first one trial after another where I could not take him out publicly we sat home on Sunday, listening to church hymns and an occassional sermon on the tape player. He loved the soothing sound of the singing but it got to where he could not comprehend the words from the preacher. 

Once Elbert was placed in Magnolia Manor I started going back to church some. But, I found it very difficult to go alone, not having him sitting beside me or me listening to him in the pulpit preaching. And, I would be somewhat relieved when something would come up to prevent me from going. (sickness, bad weather, bad driving conditions etc).

Today when I got to church I sat down in the pew where I always sat with Elbert, picked up my hymnal, opened my mouth to sing and the tears started to flow. I didn't want anyone to notice so I tried to hold them in check but that was impossible. The notes coming out of my mouth were garbled and off-key. So, I made a retreat for the bathroom and tried talking to myself. 'Look you. There are members out in that congregation that have buried their loved ones and they are sitting there singing. Now, dry your eyes and go back out there'. So, I dried my eyes and went back out there but the tears just would not stop. And, clear as a bell, as if someone had spoken to me I heard the words, You are not supposed to be here alone.

No, Elbert and I are supposed to go to church and a lot of other places together. But, thanks to this awful Alzheimers we never will again. I am very sad today and depressed and alone and I could just curl up and die. 

However, tomorrow the sun will come up and shine and I will get in the car and go see Elbert and then, perhaps then, I will feel better.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I pushed in the code, opened the door and started down the hall toward Elbert's room. Something looked different. Hey, there's women stuff in Chester's room. Guess Chester isn't coming back. He had a fall some time ago and had to go to the hospital. I kept looking for him to get well so he could come back. You see, he and Elbert were the only two men in The Garden unit at Magnolia along with 15 women. Man, they had it made, all that female attention, only Chester was often gruff and disconnected. He could be a sweetheart if you handled him right, though.

Seems Elbert is the only rooster in the hen house now. He's gonna have to watch out for those doting females. Ruth was his first 'friend' but she was soon replaced by Louise who still has top dibs on Elbert's affection. 

I know that one of these days I am going to get a call that Elbert has fallen and broken a bone or two and then his passage in time will go like Chester's has. In The Garden one day, the hospital next and then to the 'convalescent home'. It's coming. I am a realist and I must brace myself for the eventuality but I just don't like to think about it.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Handsome fellow

After days of my being at the beach and not seeing Elbert I did not know what I would find. But, there he was sitting in his rocking chair watching Bonanza on tv.

I did not have my camera and here was this handsome guy just needing his picture taken. He had on kaiki pants, a light blue shirt and a knitted dark blue vest. Hair combed, looking good. His eyes were brighter than I'd seen them in awhile and he did talk some. 

Lordy, did he talk....
Getting out of his chair 'I gotta change my pants'
'Why' I ask
'Gotta go met the guys'
'Out in the wild woods'

Oh, he thinks he's going hunting. In the wild woods? Wonder what it was that those guys did in years past in the wild woods!! hmmmm  

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Is Spring really here? It was such a gorgeous day yesterday and as I sat visiting with Elbert I wondered if he missed getting out and digging in the garden and flower beds. I wanted to take him for a drive but it's been quite awhile since he has noticed anything as we drove along the roadside. That's so sad. He did so love the out-of-doors. He'd head out first thing in the morning and I'd scarcely see him until it got too dark for him to see anything. Those days are over.

Yesterday I asked him if he remembered plowing an old mule one time and although he nodded I doubt that he does. We'd moved to the country and he wanted a big corn field. He got it planted with his tractor but when the corn grew tall he thought he needed to plow between the rows (why I don't know). We had an old plow but no horse or mule to pull it with. So, he borrowed a mule from his cousin.

Now, mules are stubborn, that is true, but this one had a double dose of stubbornness. Elbert fought that mule to keep it under subjection and he was totally worn out long before he'd finished plowing that patch. The mule would take one step, stop, turn his head to eat a corn stalk on his right, take another step, stop, turn his head to eat a corn stalk on his left. I am surprised we had any corn left after all that. It was the last time Elbert used a mule for anything.... and the last big corn patch we had. 

Just remembering things like that is painful to me. It brings tears to my eyes but it's all I have of Elbert.