“The great thief…”

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.



“…we are the Lord’s…”

I am not sure if we engineered this stuff, or if God has had a hand in it, but it is sort of freaking me out. We have 2 pets – a dog and a cat. The dog is an English Springer. And boy, she could not be more perfect for our family if we tried. We adore her. Her name is Pocahontas and we call her Poca. She is a rescue. We got her out of Idaho when our youngest son was just 12. She was five years old at the time and is now 12 years old. She is getting more white on her face and has become our couch potato and carpet hog. We love her so much, but are sad because we can see her aging right in front of us.


Then there is our cat. To be honest, she is my cat. She was labeled a “scaredy cat” by our vet a few years ago. She will not come into a room where strangers are. Even my son’s girlfriend, who has been coming around for months and months, she is afraid of. She will stay in the room when my mom is here, but I think it is because my mom is so tiny and quiet, compared to the rest of us. Her name is Rosie. We have had her 14 years now. And she is getting so old. She is having a hard time digesting her food and is getting so skinny. And clingy. The minute I slow down, she is on me…my lap, my foot, pawing at my arm to hold her. Ha-Ha. I adore this cat. But she can be a stinker! She sleeps on me, all curled up at my side, or behind my knees, all night, every night. Last night she insisted on sleeping on the top of my pillow with her back to me, and I kept getting woken by her hair in my face. But when I moved her, she would inch her way back to that same spot. So I rolled over! LOL! This winter she has taken to napping on a heater vent (ours are on the floor) in whatever room I am in.

And in August, we welcomed my mom into our family. She is 88 years old. She has Alzheimer’s. Some days are close to impossible. Some days are a joy. And we have watched her, in just these few months, age before our eyes. Her capacity for life has greatly diminished. The medications she takes are imperative for a smoother day. I learned the hard way, by running out of one of them, for just a single dosage. And it has taken the past 3 days to get her back on track. And it has been ugly. Truly ugly. And my mom follows me when I leave the room for too long. I have to tell her where I am going. If I leave the house and someone stays with her (currently that falls to another family member) she thinks I am gone for the whole day. She then questions me constantly and follows me around the house, until (I think) she re-assures herself I am not leaving again. Today we filed her nails and repainted them and she is so happy. We are watching “Holiday Inn” because she adores Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby. Sadly, I know pretty much this entire movie by heart. LOL. But it works! It keeps her happy – in between her naps. So many during the day, I have lost count, and quit counting.

What I want to share is that as people with Alzheimer’s get further and further into the disease, they sleep. A lot. And I have the habit of taking photos of my mom while she sleeps. She doesn’t believe me, that she sleeps a lot. So I take her photo to show her. She still doesn’t believe me. I just chuckle. Now I work around her deep naps. Trust me, when she is sleeping, she is out. It looks like someone sleeping for the night. And when she wakes up, she is smiling and putting her hands in that pyramid formation she loves so much, watching what is going on around her. Whenever she sits, she holds her hands in the same way…in the car, on the couch, in a restart, while walking…hands always together, nails intertwined and she is playing with her nails…constantly. Constantly.And today, as my cat threw up yet another type of food for sensitive tummies, my dog laid sprawled on the carpet, my mom startled herself awake and got her hands in that same position, I noticed that they are all slowly leaving me. Leaving us. They are all close to their last breath. We all are, but they are even more so. The timing sort of stinks. And I thought of that saying, “Things happen in 3’s” and I looked at these three. And I worry that when one goes, it will be like dominoes. And I am not sure my heart will do well. At all.

Before you think badly of me, I am not equating human life the same as a cat or dog. No. But the emotional tug on your heart when you own pets and they become such an integral part of your life is strong. And when you have to face their deaths, it leaves a sizable hole. We are looking towards the future of the “empty nest” once again. When my mom passes on, and our pets are gone, our youngest son will more than likely be out on his own, and it will be just me and the hubby. And the hole in my heart will be sizable.

Today we had a decent snow storm. We got about 8 inches or so. And it was sort of a fun environment. And now the snow has stopped and the sun is blazing away. It is gorgeous. When you live in a land of seasons, it cannot help but remind you of the cycles of our lives, too. My mom’s doctor told me, “Your mom is slowly falling asleep. Don’t expect her to learn anything new. Everything she knows in this life, she already knows. Don’t expect her behavior to change back to anything you had with her as a child. Slowly, she will sleep more often, and deeper. One of her sleeps will be her final one and she won’t wake up.” She said that Alzheimer’s is like falling asleep…like falling asleep. When I look at it like that, it helps make sense of it.  And as I watch my dog and cat snooze their afternoon away in the sunshine, I know that one day they will not wake up, either. It is like all these things are ending at the same time. Our pets, my mom, our youngest child leaving the nest. How will I deal with this, when they all occur? I have no idea. Truly no idea.

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants…” Deuteronomy 30: 19

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” John 5: 24

“…for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” Romans 14: 8

“If someone dies, will they live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come. You will call and I will answer you; you will long for the creature your hands have made. Surely then you will count my steps but not keep track of my sin.” John 14: 14-16  


And so what do I have left? Trust. Trust in the Word of God and His promises for all of us. He will not give us more than we can handle (1 Cor 10: 13) and He will lead us through the Darkness to Eternal Light, in His Presence (John 8:12). And to these things I cling. And now, as “Singing in the Rain” finishes up (because Holiday Inn finished and she wanted more singing and dancing to entertain her), I will guide my mom to washing her face and brushing her teeth, even though it is almost 4:00pm. Today, she stayed awake through two entire movies, laughing, smiling, and singing along with them. And that is a good day in Alzheimer’s World. It is actually a good day, period.






“No one who puts the hand to the plow and looks back…”

I am exhausted. I spent a lot of time with my mom’s doctor today. I find it so amazing that her doctor will spend over two hours with us. That is just not normal. We are blessed to have found this woman. She is a godsend and one of my anchors in this Alzheimer’s journey with my mom.

Today, I discovered my mom has pretty much forgotten the past 65 years. Yeah. That is pretty much my lifetime and then some. She could not remember if she had kids with my dad. Then she said, “Wait. I had a boy and a girl.” After a few more questions and non-answers with the doctor, she looked at me and said, “She is my daughter.” Whew. But when she is asked where she lived, she says she is from New Zealand. Period. When the doctor asked her where she moved to from New Zealand, she said the United States. And then when pushed, she said, “Somewhere like LA, I guess.” But when the doctor pushed her on that, she just said, “I lived in Auckland.” (In New Zealand). She did not know her last name. She said she was born as a Chappell. She kept looking to, and asking me, and the doctor told her to stop looking at me for answers. Ha-Ha. Mom got mad. And trust me, you do not want to make her mad! The doctor laughed cuz mom was so mad. Ha-Ha. Then she said, “I don’t care about any of that. It is over. It is the past. All that matters it right here and right now.” Which got me thinking.

“…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…” Philippians 3:13-14

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…” 2 Corinthians 5:17-18

“Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

Now I am not saying my mom is prophetic, but this Alzheimer’s thing makes a point. Most Alzheimer’s patients do live in the moment. Because the moment is all they know and have a handle on. Five minutes ago is forgotten; they cannot plan tomorrow. Each moment is their total world. If I get angry at my mom, in 2-3 minutes the entire world will have changed for her. We had a particularly rough day a week ago. And I mean, it was horrific. Profanity-laced words were thrown at both sides, from both sides. Tears and slamming doors. And that night, as I kissed her goodnight, she did two things. She hugged me tightly and said, “Thank you for today. I had such a wonderful day.” And I just pulled away and looked at her, and she was looking at me with so much love, that my heart just melted. And then she said, “I love you. God bless you.” And I nearly fell apart in guilty tears. Because she had completely forgotten the day, but the past 2-3 minutes had been lovely, and that was her world; her entire day had been those 2-3 minutes that had just passed. The here and now. The moment. It is all she has. And soon, those moments of clarity will dwindle even more.

The Lord asks us to stop looking behind us, and look ahead. When we seek His forgiveness, He does not hold onto our past sins. It is as though they never existed. When we honestly and fervently seek forgiveness, the Lord throws it out of our timeline. It never happened. We are the ones who cling to past mistakes and past hurts. My mom thought I had been gone all day, when I was only away from her for 2 hours. Because her world had completely changed 40 times, literally, in the 120 minutes I had been gone. (120 divided by  3 – which is her attention span/awareness time – equals 40). And how can I get angry at that?

The Lord, well He gives us this amazing opportunity every year…Great Lent. We get to change our lives. We get to walk away from the person we were, at the start, and come through these 40 Days a new person. We can walk away from our past timeline, and start a new one. If we all live in the moment, and work to be the best we can be in each of those moments, what an amazing world this would be. My mom, in her illness, is still mothering me. She is showing me how to love unconditionally, even when she makes it so hard. She is teaching me to live in the moment and live it to its fullest. Because, as the doctor said, she is slowly falling asleep and one day, in the very near future, she may not wake up again. But, when I thought about all of this, I thought, “Aren’t we all just gradually falling asleep”?





“…and wash your face…”

Alzheimer’s World is a place I never thought I would visit, let alone have two parents living there. Alzheimer’s is so weird. It affects different people, well, differently. Each person has their own neurology and biology and chemistry. It is what makes the world go around. How different and unique each of is. And so there is no one way to deal with this ugly disease. No perfect way that always works. No platitudes that really touch on the reality of this world some of us are forced to inhabit. And quite honestly, this disease steals the life from those who are caregivers. My world has greatly contracted. I cannot even begin to properly explain how small it has become. Sadly, outings to pick up prescriptions for mom, or to buy groceries, become the highlight of our week. Tomorrow she has a procedure for some cancer. It is just the second day this week we will have left the house. Each day is its own mystery. It is hard to plan ahead. And every morning, well, we just are not sure how the day will roll out. We always get the most beautiful good morning…but from that moment on, it is a crap shoot.

Her procedure went better than I had hoped. But I hit a pole in the parking garage of the hospital and took out a good section out of the passenger side of the car. I was so angry. And mom had no recall of it. She did not know why she had a bandage on her leg. She did not know where we were, or why we were there, or what day it was. She maintains her humor and tries to be witty and funny…trying to disguise the fact she can’t recall something from 5 minutes ago. She tries to be so philosophical, and tries to give advice. *sigh* But she talks in circles and doesn’t even realize it. She speaks the same platitudes over and over again. And again. The world of Alzheimer’s is a swirling world of sameness; of repetitiveness. And some days it makes me dizzier than others. Ha-Ha.

God knows I am not perfect and I know the Lord is still working on me. He has a fertile mission field in my heart and soul. And this week we start Lent. How am I to make my mom understand that? She wants her sweets and her potatoes and her bread, and her meat. She was born in the 1920s, when plates were arranged with meat, potatoes, and vegetables and if her plate is not arranged like that, she complains. She doesn’t ever complain about what we feed her. It’s not that at all…it’s presentation. If everything doesn’t seem to be present, it confuses her. *sigh* So we are challenged this Lent. With more! LOL! I have priest friends who talk about hospitality…that if you go to someone’s home and they serve something that is not Lenten, or appropriate during Lent, to be hospitable, you accept it and thank them, omitting things other places in your day. But you do not make a big deal of it. You graciously accept their hospitality and move along. I am thinking something like this may apply for Lent in a house with an Alzheimer’s patient, who is already confused by life as it is. We can eliminate meals or other things, as we can.

“When you fast, do not be somber like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they already have their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that your fasting will not be obvious to men, but only to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:16-18

And so we are psyching up to begin Lent. We are trying to lessen our presence on Social Media…being on FaceBook less and less. We are trying to control our food intake to be more towards Keto and less and less carb. We are trying to read more in Scripture and religious books. I am doing a wonderful Lenten study and am participating in a Psalter Prayer Group. We added an app on our phones for daily reflection and prayer (we both love it). Our favorite is the morning “Java with Jesus” offering. We are taking steps. Some of the steps are baby steps…some are leaps. Regardless, we are stepping towards better. Not relying on the same, but moving forward. Lent is all about that. Making positive changes, to enhance your love affair with God. It is a wonderful, annual opportunity to refocus. This year, we are dragging my mom along with us. And may we all move closer to God in these next 40 days. Blessings.




“…and creates the wind…”

“For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind and declares to man what are His thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness and treads on the high places of the earth, The LORD God of hosts is His name.” Amos 4:13

I am not sure if experiencing the winds here are different from other geographic areas. My son lives in a desert and they get pretty crazy winds. Today, they were listed as Hurricane-force winds, with gusts in the 80 mile-per-hour range. We have a solid house, which is great. But the entire structure starts to shudder, starting near the front door, and then the whole house shakes. The snow is blowing, sometimes across the roads, making travel hazardous. And the trash services are cancelled because dumpsters are going down the roads by themselves. We had quite a good cover of snow, but now we have some random snow drifts and grass. Grass is in the backyard, all nice and green, poking its way towards the sun. It all seems unsettling. The trees are all leaning, fallen branches are skewed all over the yard. My mom, even though the house is solid and we have double-paned windows, put socks all along her windowsills. There is no wind or cold coming through, but I think old habits die hard! LOL!

“Out of the south comes the storm, and out of the north the cold.” John 37:9

The winds have everyone on edge. We have friends who are losing shingles from their roof like crazy. Several people have chicken coops that have collapsed, and trees have fallen onto vehicles. Our street is a sheet of ice and people are slipping and sliding as they drive by the house. This is the far north…pretty much as far north as you can be and still be in the USA. When we get the Chinook Winds, which blow against the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains, from out of the Pacific Ocean, it tells us sunshine is following. The whole western half of the US starts to warm up. Snow and ice are melting, little green buds begin to poke out of the ground, letting us know Spring is on its way. This time of year is not the Chinook season. This time of year, we get these pretty amazing winds, which come from the north of Canada and Russia, and blow arctic temperatures our way. This week we have seen temps of -15 on our back deck. We have had highs of 5-degrees. It is winter. Duh. But even though we have all this, and even though it follows the seasonal pattern, things are not settled. Seasons give us comfort because they follow a pattern. They come on such a regularized schedule, we have an Almanac! The Farmer’s Almanac predicts weather, based on patterns. They are rarely wrong.

Today was a very unsettling day. Mom had some weird moments. She actually went back to bed, amidst getting ready to leave for an appointment (which I had to cancel). Then she napped off and on all day. After dinner, she disappeared and I found her in her room, the bed unmade and her electric blanket on, with her in her PJs, ready to climb into bed. I reminded her it was only 7:20pm and she told me, “Well, I am always in bed between 8 and 9 o’clock.” I could only just look at her. On a good night, we try to start getting her to get ready for bed at nine, but she is rarely in bed before 10pm. She decided to stay up for a bit, and then we could not convince her, even though she was sleeping on the couch (“I was not asleep. I just had my eyes closed.” Yeah, mom, and people snore when they are awake! LOL!) to go to bed. She finally decided 9 o’clock was time. It is now 9:30 and she is in bed. *sigh* It has been a long day.

I am not sure if it is the wind upsetting everyone. Because when we were out and about yesterday, people we ran into all complained about the wind and how hard life was becoming with the bitterly cold winds battering us day and night. Maybe it is throwing mom off, too. But I am feeling like there is something coming. I am not sure what it is, but I am apprehensive about it. Today, when I found mom sleeping and she did not hear me, nor react to my presence in her room, I panicked a little bit. I know the day is coming when she will not respond and our journey will be over. We all have that final day. Everyone has it; no one escapes death. She remarked to me that she knew something was wrong, but she did not know what it was, so she thought she should just go to bed. I am not sure if she is being prescient, or just feels “off.” But I am on edge. I am actually looking forward to Great Lent, when I can dive deeply into the Psalms once again, and feel God’s words envelope me. We all need an anchor in our lives. Daily. Whether our days are filled with the warming Chinook winds, or the bitterly cold northern winds, the anchor we rely on is God in our lives.