We are sitting here today, enjoying close to white-out conditions. The snow started sometime after 1am and is still going strong at almost 1pm. You can’t tell my poor husband even used his snow blower on Saturday. Ha-Ha. And I have to share that it is just stunning here! Winter is just so gorgeous. We are blessed to live here. And no, I am not tired of the snow. Some neighbors just sold their home and are moving to Florida. They said after 45 years, they are tired of the snow. I have a ways to go!! Many people are afraid of the seasons. They are fearful cold weather will be too much for them to handle. It is not. I heard someone once say that there is no bad weather, only bad gear! It is amazing how acclimatized we have become. I spent most of my first 50 years of my life in Southern California. Trust me – you can adapt. And even come to love it.
My husband and I had the exceptional chance at a date night on Friday, and as we were driving home, we realized we were in sweatshirts and jeans, that it was only 18 degrees outside, and we were totally comfortable. We have gotten used to lower temperatures. I have arthritis and sometimes the change in temperature will cause my joints to ache (especially toes, fingers, and back) but once the cold is here, I am fine. So many are afraid of what they have never experienced by living it, or even trying a season out. I am glad we took the bold step to move out of our comfort zone and experience living somewhere we had never lived, getting to know a place most people only dream of living, and meeting a wide variety of amazing people we never would have met, had we stayed put.
A new adventure we began is having my mom live with us. We truly had no clue what this would be like. We had no idea how intense this would be. We had no idea how quickly my mom would become so needy. She has forgotten to use toothpaste and soap. She has trouble making her own peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She cannot figure out how to put dishes into the dishwasher. She cannot prepare any foods. She cannot recall if she has washed her hair, nor made her bed. She has a hard time following movie plots or TV programs. She laughs when we laugh; she is quiet and stunned when we react like that. She loves sports, but has no idea how to play the various games. Everything that she has done, she did in New Zealand. She has little memory of life before Alaska, except back, before she was ever married or moved to the States. She doesn’t recall what she wore yesterday or where she puts things. We have to hunt for her things every time we want to go somewhere. Gloves and mittens are something new to her and she is constantly losing them. (Thank goodness you can get them for $1/pair up here). She hates scarves and hats and only reluctantly wears them. She still thinks sunshine equals warmth, and not just light. And she will occasionally eat an egg…with has pretty much been anathema to both my mom and my brother. Ha-Ha. She forgot she hates them, only remembering her dad had eggs every morning. So once in awhile, if she is thinking of him, she will ask for eggs.
And I am thankful, some days, for this journey. Many days I don’t want to get out of bed. My mom is off-the-charts-cheerful in the mornings. She wants hugs and kisses. She comes out of her room smelling like Jergen’s Lotion (no idea why she only puts it on when she wakes up), her lipstick boldly in place, always wearing her earrings and a watch (she has had a few days where she has 2 or 3 watches on), and a smile. (She has not brushed her teeth or gone through any other morning ritual, though). It is nice, in many ways, but that is not how I wake up. I need coffee. At least 2 cups most days, just to function. I don’t sleep well. Every sound wakes me. My bladder does not last all night. And I am up several times, because Alzheimer’s sufferers don’t sleep well and many wander at night and I am always checking, to see if her door is closed and lights are off. She has not started that, but I try to be aware, just in case. (It’s almost like having a newborn). Last night I was up four times until well after 1am (which is why I know what time the snow started) because my teenager was not home from a day of snow boarding and hanging out at a friend’s house. I was worried about his drive home. And my mom…always my mom…is at the forefront. I know someday the weird sleeping will begin. She has lots of life left in her, but her brain is just messing that up. Most days, she does not remember my dad, my life as a kid, her last name or what day it is, or even who my kids and grandkids are. I showed her photos of my niece’s new baby and she had no clue who it was, even when I explained it is her great-granddaughter and that her son is now a grandpa. *Sigh* So many losses with this disease. So many. Too many, some days. And some days, it is 3 cups of coffee before I can deal with any of this!
Alzheimer’s is called the “great thief.” It steals memories and functions from people. It slowly shuts the brain down, along with all its function. It isolates everyone who suffers from it, and those who care for someone who suffers from it. But you know what? I think it is a journey that more people could take, if they didn’t worry about the unknown so much. There is so much to gain from caring for someone who cannot care for themselves, nor even thank you for caring for them. It is helping me grow as a person. Would I have done this, had I known what it would be like? I think I would. I like to think I would. Because underneath that ugly disease is my mom. Her pistons aren’t firing the way they should, and some days she is horrible to be around, and I want to run away. But pretty much every night without fail, I get an amazing hug, a thank you for her wonderful day, and a “God Bless You.” So, yeah; I would do it again, even knowing the dark side of this disease, and even though my mom is slowly falling asleep.