“…He who is quick-tempered exalts folly.”

I am not considered old, but neither am I all that young. I have 5.5 grandchildren. My youngest child is almost 20 years old. And when I chose to join the “twitter sphere” I think I shocked even myself. I figured out how to actually use it. And even funnier, I like it. You get the info you need in far fewer words. Sort of funny, considering I am a rather wordy person. (So yeah, I love to gab…lol).

And the downside of living life via twitter, or Facebook, or “cliff notes,” is that you miss the entire story. At least on twitter, when you click on something, there is a link to the whole story. But how many people even want to know the entire story? I love the “sound bite” simplicity, but I certainly do not base decision making or opinion forming on just 140 characters – which is the maximum allowed in a “tweet.” But how many of us do rely on second-hand information, or just a short explanation to base lifelong choices on?

When I try to discuss my faith with people, I can drive them crazy. Why? Well, the joke is that converts are like former smokers – annoying in their exuberance and knowledge. Ha-Ha. And I have gone through many iterations of faith until I found a place where I felt comfortable, secure, and certain. So when I dive into that conversation, I have tons of information to share; information obtained in literally decades of searching. And it can be daunting to someone not expecting that. Like the term, “verbal vomit.” We learned that in a marketing course I took. The rule is to not overwhelm someone new. Just give them enough to go on, enough to make a decision on, and the entire picture will become clear as they move forward. (Hopefully purchasing what you are selling). Sharing with people about any subject requires the person with more information to not overwhelm those he is sharing that information with. And this applies to every, single, walk in our lives. Seriously. Just think about it for a moment.

And this year is an active year in many arenas in my life. We are expecting a new grandchild and that gushy, exciting, joy in new life fills our days. We cannot wait to meet him or her! We have the continued progression of my parents’ walk through dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. We have that last child working his way into the world and maturity. We are working in our new yard, trying to encourage growth and seeing little bits of flower buds and things blooming. It is pretty exciting. We are also active in some political campaigns here in our own state. And that is fascinating. Then there is our country and all that is happening. Misinformation can be found in every subject of my life I mentioned above. Every, single, one.

So how do we combat misinformation, fake news if you will, in our lives? Or perhaps the lack of the full story? That is the million dollar question, isn’t it? Jumping to conclusions with very little fact to back it up is a common problem with humanity. And in this day and age of hyper-electronic media influence, emotions are riding high.

One of my theories is that all this social media and tweeting and whatnot is allowing us the advantage of not having to face the people we tweet or twitter or whatever about. We are several steps removed from the object of our comment. I was recently speaking to some people, face-to-face, and we were lamenting the fact that people are forgetting how to have civil conversations. In the “me”-centered culture in which we live, people feel entitled to have smooth sailing in all things. When someone upsets their apple cart, they react so inappropriately and over-the-top. There was a report of a girl’s softball game that had to be called because the parents were going nuts in the stands. They showed video of parents jumping off bleachers, attacking one another. Over a girl’s softball game. The emotions were far beyond a game. Far beyond.

I have been learning so much about narcissists and how it has affected my life. And now that I am learning the definitions of it, the actions of narcissists, and how it has affected my life, I am starting to see it everywhere. Perhaps giving our kids trophies for signing up to play a sport is having repercussions we did not expect. Instead of boosting their self-esteem, we have created a generation of kids with over-the-top expectations of what life truly is like. Once it does not go their way, they react in ridiculous ways.

There is a particular young man who is in the news, and his entire story makes me crazy. Each time I see him on the news or in another article, I want to grab him, put him in a time out, and re-educate the boy. He is so self-important and so disconnected to real life, that I pity him. His adult life will be fraught with discord and disappointment. Because life is not meant to be 100% your way.

It seems like no one likes to stop and listen, to contemplate, or actually learn, before launching into a response or action. The media today is full of sound bites. Like tweets in all aspect of life. People do not pursue the subject through all its iterations, back to its beginning. Considering the electronics in our lives were supposed to make our lives easier, to me, it seems like it is far more complicated. No one has patience for much of anything. And I am starting to love the idea of disconnecting from social media, from dropping out of the rat race, and just enjoying my surroundings and the people I come into contact with. My only hesitation is that I would lose contact with so many friends, because we live in a place that is pretty isolated. But, on the other hand, maybe that is okay. People who are true friends will always remain that, regardless of our proximity. Partially because we got to know one another prior to this age of instant everything. We took the time to learn about each other, spend time in one another’s company, and become familiar with them. Now, it’s friending or unfriending for the least thing. It’s adding to or deleting from your friend’s list. It is sharing soundbites without communicating. It is skipping truth for expediency. It is reading only tweets and no longer engaging in the process of reading novels. We have become quick-tempered and shallow people. And it makes me sad.

I have no expertise; I don’t have answers. But I do observe and contemplate. And I come to some conclusions, for me. I am trying to speak less and listen more; to help when needed; to remain aloof when needed; and to be present when asked, but to be unseen when not. I am trying to remain connected to my quiet faith while living in a noisy and angry world. I am trying to act with dignity when vulgarity is common. I am trying to be honest in a den of thieves (Matthew 21:13). And give a Godly example in a world run rampant with self-indulgence and dishonesty.

“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven. Do not assume that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘A man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me; and anyone who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 10: 33-39

Peace. Quiet. Respect. Thoughtfulness. Contemplation. Resolve. Truth. Love for one another. Lofty goals? Yes. But they are eternal goals. And I am praying that as I follow tweets or read quick snippets of information, that I can pull myself above and out of the miasma, and remember God’s loving me so much, He died for me. For you. For those who believe in Him. Much more important than some of our misplaced anger these days. Sigh.

“Because anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

(James 1:20). 

 

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“The world revolves around them…”

I am probably not in a good place to be blogging, but I have to get this out. Whether anyone reads it or not, I need to express myself. It is cathartic. I need to purge these emotions, or I will explode.

Not to beat around the bush, but today I blocked my father’s phone number. It is harsh, yes. But this man is so toxic to my life, I did something I should have done years ago.

My relationship with my father has always been fraught with drama. As far back as I can remember, I put him on this pedestal, and I worshipped the man. He always told me to not be like my mother, and whenever I did anything remotely like my mom, he would chastise me. And I was made to be ashamed of that. Whenever my mom would yell at us, and usually slap us, she would then tell us we had to stay in our rooms until our father came home. And we would have to sit and be quiet. I mean no sounds, no playing, just sitting and waiting. Sometimes it seemed like forever, but my dad pretty much was home by dinner time every night. He will tell you he worked 80 or more hours a week, and went to school full time, so he was not home very often. But not to my mind. By at least 8 years of age, he was home every night. Of course I was a kid then! But we had three wardrobes: school, church, and play clothes. And they could not be worn for other things. Once designated school clothes, you could not play in them. So after school we put on play clothes and played until it was time to get ready for dinner. Then we would have to wash/shower and then we had to be quiet, neat, and clean for when dad did come home. Every night. So, when my father arrived home to discipline us, we were clean and changed, and my brother and I loved it. He never spanked us. I can recall once or twice in my entire life. Rather, he would just talk to us. On and on he would talk. We would go into a coma after about 10 minutes. He droned on and then it was over. We actually preferred being slapped across the face. It was horrible and demeaning, but then it was done and mom was okay, and it only took a couple of minutes. Dad would lecture and brood – he didn’t snap out of it like she did. His discipline was usually mean. He would find what you really loved and take it away. I have never forgotten it. I promised myself I would never do that to my children.

My father expected me to become a doctor. And I tried. But I did not have the killer instinct required in the 1970s to compete in medical school; especially as a woman. I loved history and science. So I majored in Forensic Anthropology/Physiology and minored in Biblical Archeology. He did not support that college major. My brother did not even finish junior college, choosing instead to work for my dad, which my dad supported and funded. And I was on my own. Paid my own rent. Worked to put myself through college. For 10 years, finally giving up because I just could no longer do both well. Even after all those years in school, he repeatedly told me that even with all the education I had gained, that I was wasting my life. Why? Because to his extreme irritation, I chose to spend my life as a wife and mother. He also told me that even though he thought I was intelligent, that if he did not agree with how I was raising my children, he would sue me for custody because “grandparents have rights, too, you know.” At the time, I announced to him we had chosen to homeschool our kids. He thought it was ridiculous and who did I think I was, educating my own children?! Years after they had all completed school and have wonderful, full lives, he conceded the we had done a good job raising our children. Gee. Thanks.

I have not seen my father in more than 15 years. He chose to move to the other side of the country, away from his entire family, and moved near a step-daughter. None of his grandchildren from the marriage he had with my mother know him. They could not pick him out of a crowd. They all know he is bald and has a beard. That is pretty much it. My youngest son is almost 20 years old and he has only seen my dad twice in his life and has no memory of him. The last time he laid eyes on my dad, he was 5 years old.

My step-sister (who he moved to be near) and I had an interesting conversation. Because I have had trouble with my dad, I have always tip-toed and been careful about revealing much, or letting my step-family get close to me. Well, we had a heart-to-heart not too long ago and she explained that she has realized that my dad is a narcissist. I really had to stop and think about it. And I realized, she nailed it perfectly.

nar·cis·sist
noun
  1. a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves.
    “narcissists who think the world revolves around them”

I have always known my dad was obsessed with what he did and who he associated with. He has always labeled people – he always defines their heritage or their skin color or nationality, and then their degree. Sort of like, “Dr. John Smith, he’s this black man I made friends with last week. He runs the entire neurology department at NYU.” Always has to associate things like that about everyone. Even if they are poor and uneducated, he will comment on that, as well. When he calls or we have a conversation, he starts by asking how the family is and how I am, and then he waits for a moment, patiently listening to my sparse details, and launches into the real reason he called – him. He doesn’t really care what I have to say. He never has.

I have given my father 61 years of chances. Sixty-one years to just be my dad. As I have tried to explain, kids do not care what you do for a living. They just want you to be their parent, hold their hand, and love them. Regardless of the choices adults make, kids just want a home and family, mom and dad, and safe space. My father cannot define himself without an hour-long explanation of his career highs and lows, accomplishments, and sacrifices he has made for the world. My father always wanted to change the world in some small way, and to receive the accolades for it. But he never really did. Oh, he was an engineer who worked on the space program and other flight projects in the 1960s. He left that, worked to become a doctor of medical engineering and then worked in healthcare. He did some amazing things with pressure sores and seating for the disabled. He made and lost a small fortune. He worked a lot of hours. We either had a comfortable living or were pretty broke. Life was up and down.

I always wanted my dad to be proud of me. He has, on occasion, told me he is proud of things I have done here and there. But I was always made to feel I was not quite good enough. Never quite measuring up. And certainly not as good as my male counterparts in this world. Because, I have realized, since talking with my poor stepsister (she gets to take care of my dad and her mom, both of whom had forms of dementia) that not only is my dad a controlling narcissist, but he is also a misogynist. It took me over 60 years to get it. He loves women, a lot, but as women. Not in careers. Not as equals. And most of the women he dealt with in business soon grew tired of his treatment and ceased a relationship with him. He would see them as sex objects, but not as equals, and certainly never as superior. And in all his grief about not having a relationship with my sons, he has never expressed the grief towards my nieces, my daughters-in-law, nor my granddaughters. Nope. Only my sons, my brother, my husband. The men in the family. One of my sons said to me that he realized his grandfather was only finally interested in him because he had a degree and would finally be interesting enough to talk to. I cannot even property express how sad that made me…and how true it seems.

The crux of our most recent conversations was that my dad is right, I am wrong, I am a horrible person and each time he hung up on me today, his last comment to me was, “I will see you in hell.” Yeah. From my dad. (After than second one, I blocked his number). He has never accepted the fact that he is not “the most honest person you will ever meet” because my dad has cheated in business, he has cheated in life, and he has cheated me out of a relationship with him. He had an affair on my mother with his secretary, who is his wife. He has loads of regrets; yes. He has said more than once that he has made lots of mistakes and leaving my mom was one of them. But he always comes back to the same saying, “I know I am right. And I am right until you prove me wrong.” About everything. Well, telling him I know he had an affair, and that my mom shared his goodbye letter with me wherein he told her he was tired of us “leeches” in his life, and that he no longer wanted any part of it, did not fit his narrative. LOL.

So what can I garner from this? What is my take-away? Well, number 1 is that I never wanted the same toxic relationship my parents had with one another. My mom is also a misogynist. Weirdly enough. She treats me far differently than the men in our family. Far differently even than my husband and son who live in the same house. And she is too old to be taught anything differently, especially since she has late-stage Alzheimer’s. (I think that is something that came out of the 1950s expectations of marriage). So I married a man who adored his mom and his sister and was standing shoulder to shoulder with his sister, not relegating her to the back row. He respects me and has my back, 24/7. And secondly, I was not going to allow this sort of horrific attitude to influence the way I raised my own sons. I would not raise them to be like my father, nor his attitude towards women. And I have tried to make sure that my sons know they are loved and adored, that I could care less what careers they have, so long as they love God and the lives they are making for themselves. And that my boys would love getting up every day, making their way through this world as caring and competent male citizens. This is a world full of ugliness, but also of love. And I want my kids and grandkids to know love, above all. And then acceptance – full and complete, no strings and no qualifiers. I will not allow my father and his mental illness affect any more family members. I have now opted for no contact. Ever. The End. I will forevermore stop expecting Lucy to allow Charlie Brown to kick that football, because she never will.

 

 

“…a time to plant…”

We spent time this weekend in our yard. Hubby was rototilling in the back and I was planting baskets and pots in the front. It was a glorious weekend. We had all the doors and windows open and I was able to wash the front down, even the windows. The birds were tweeting. The clouds rolling through on a gentle breeze. It was such a gorgeous day. When you live in a snow state, you love spring and summer. It’s the time of year when you put your screens back on your windows, so you can open them wide, letting in fresh air. It is hard to explain to people who live in moderate climates, how precious days like these are to us.

Spring and summer are an important part of life. They are times of growth and birth, learning and developing. We are outdoors more, and we are exploring our world. We take advantage of camping and fishing, hunting and long drives in the sunshine, windows down! We are planting seeds in hopes of a plentiful harvest. We are churning up the dirt and exposing old roots, taking them out and smoothing the soil, praying for growth. We water, fertilize, and enjoy watching and tending to our sprouting, young plants. You can feel the life just humming through the landscape.

It is also the time of year up here when we are gearing up for political primaries. There are lots of community events to attend. We’re having almost weekly parades, bar-b-ques, and fund raisers. There are lots and lots of outdoor markets and places to go where you can meander through booths, while listening to local bands, and munching on local delicacies. You can actually meet and speak to your state and local representatives, mayors, and occasionally, governors and senators. And candidates who want to replace them. It is so fun to get out and see neighbors and friends from other towns descend on an event and just have a good time. I love living where people appreciate the clean air, the beautiful green countryside, and enjoy the camaraderie of living in small towns. Kids were running all around this past Friday at the local “Friday Fling,” playing along old railroad tracks, singing songs, and eating locally fried corn dogs and pork rinds.

We had such a joyous time, and the views did not disappoint. And it filled my heart with joy, watching my grandchildren running on those tracks with other kids, making up games and songs, while smiling the whole time. The sun came and went, and then decided to stay, warming us all. It filled me with warmth and happiness, to just be out and about.

My mom seemed to enjoy herself, too. She interacted with complete strangers, and I am sure none of them even realized she has Alzheimer’s. She can fool the best. But those of us who know her, we understand it is all show. Mom had no memory of the band playing or the wonderful gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches we enjoyed. She had no memory of the grandchildren being there, or playing with their new puppy, or laughing with my daughter-in-law’s mother, even as we walked to our car. She had no specific memory of the day at all, or even the past 10 minutes. But she was happy. She was tired. She had been fed in many ways by that excursion. It was good for her soul, even though she had no memory of it in her mind.

Mom may not have many summers left. We all have our days numbered. We all have fewer days left than we think we do. A dear friend of mine just did not wake up the other day. No warning of illness. Nothing. She just did not wake up. I was gobsmacked. I was stunned. I was crushed. I cried for hours after learning she had died. She was a gentle, loving woman who adored her family, her faith, and her new life in retirement. Her family has been left devastated. Everyone who knew her is feeling this loss. It has been horrible. And the day we went to his lovely Friday Fling, my friend had not woken up. I was determined to be out. To enjoy life. To love my family. To savor these moments. My friend had just moved to a new state and had experienced her first snowy winter and was in awe and in love with her new life. I am so glad she got to experience that satisfaction. It was good for her to know she had chosen the right path for her and her husband. It was such a blessing, even if her death was sudden and tragic for those of us who loved her well.

Alzheimer’s disease is often called “the long goodbye” and it is an appropriate moniker. Taking care of my mom is teaching me so much. Being right is not important, if a kindly and loving silence is better. Doing things in the right way, right order, or preferred method, not important. Wearing winter clothes in summer? Go for it. Orange eyebrows? Well, those I did fix. Ha-Ha-Ha. But I am realizing that in the day to day, moment to moment world of Alzheimer’s, there are very few spring and summer days, and lots of winter. Lots and lots of winter. So for me, her primary caregiver, I need to help bring more summer and sunshine into an ending full of winter. Mom doesn’t share the joy of plants or growing things, but she will enjoy the sun on her face, while I garden. So it’s a win-win for us both. Each of them, my mom and my girlfriend, had their spring and summers. They reveled in them when they could. One fell into her winter in one night, to her eternal rest (and may her memory be eternal). My mom is slowly falling into her winter. I could use all sorts of analogies about open windows and closed windows, spring cleaning, and living in dark environments like we do in snow states, for sometimes months on end. But I think you can see where I am headed. It’s just that when I see the sun and feel the life all around me, the stark contrast with my mom’s sinking into Alzheimer’s is more and more obvious. And my learning curve has been steep, at times, with managing this disease. My most recent and steep lesson as been in letting go and just living the joy of each, short moment. And I am grabbing those fleeting moments and trying to bring summer sunshine to her.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;  A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

“…the grass of the field…”

Ever feel like you are pounding your head against the same wall? LOL. Or that whatever efforts you are putting in are futile, at best? Oh boy. Yes!!!

My husband mowed our grass for the first time after the winter. He used a mulching blade, so it would break up the grass. And he also cut it more than once, getting it to a nice length. And when he was done, it looked amazing. I used a week wacker for the first time. I had fun, going around the edges of the house. I had never tried to use it before, because it intimidated me. But I enjoyed it. I think it will be my new toy in the yard. And then Monday rolled around and the grass looked awful. It was all yellow and dried out!

So, being the good wife that I am (lol…that’s for you, sweetie) I got out the hose and set about watering the entire lawn. It takes more than a day, because we have a tiny sprinkler head, attached to our hose. We don’t have sprinklers up here, because they would freeze over winter. Anyway, I started about 9:00am, setting a timer for every 20 minutes. And I had managed to get almost 3/4 of the lawn watered. And then, as I was folding laundry, I realized I needed to turn a light on. Why? Because the sky was totally black and it looked like the sky was going to open up and the rain was going to fall. I ran outside and pulled up the hose, just as the first drops began. And guess what? It rained off and on all night, and is still drizzling today. And the lights are still on, because it is rainy. And I watered my lawn. Yeah; futile effort.

In my mind’s eye, I see an amazing garden, with the majestic mountains in the background. And I hope to work towards that. But the reality is dry grass. Ha-Ha. Oh, and a sink hole where my garden is going to be. And I do not want to beat my head against the wall, or pursue something with even more futile efforts. You know?

A voice says, “Call out.” Then he answered, “What shall I call out?” All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. Isaiah 40:6-7

 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!  And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Luke 12: 27-31

So am I watering in vane, because God takes care of it anyway? No. Because God tells me He will clothe me; He will take care of things. He also tells me “do not worry about it.” And so, I will keep on watering my field, seeking His Kingdom. I will keep on caring for these fragile things in my life. Is it just my garden still unplanted, or my grass brown and withered? Of course not. It is all of those I am charged with caring for – my spouse, children, extended family members, friends, community. They all get a little brown. They all have trouble poking through the soil that is life. But the Lord sends the rain. Sometimes the rain is at my hand, as I am charged with caring (watering) and my efforts add to those blessings of God. He certainly does not want us languishing on couches or indoors all day and night. He wants us out and about in this world. He wants us to care for all living things. And He will bless our efforts. Nothing is ever futile. The walls we bang our heads against will yield fruit, if we just stop to listen to the Whisper of God in our efforts. And our efforts extend out into our communities, one person at a time.

Take a deep breath, step to the left, and carry on. It is a new day. It is cloudy today, but today things were a bit easier, even without the sunshine. The Lord never gives us more than we can handle, futile feelings and all. The wall I bang my head against? That is from God, too. And I am working on changing my outlook, to accept it as His plan for my soul, and to be ever thankful.

Today is the first day of the Farmers’ Market this year, in our little town! It is cloudy and drizzling, but we are still going out and about. We can walk among neighbors, exchange pleasantries, and find joy in the bounty!!! After all, the farmers tilled the earth and watered the soil, too, rain or shine….

“I thank God in all remembrance of you…”

 

Some days I just flat out fail. Miserably and epically. Some days I get very little accomplished. Some days are epic in their enjoyment and successes. There don’t seem to be any of the other days where we are all smiles and we coast through until dinner time, and then bed. And it is exhausting. My head feels like it is on a swivel, because I am changing gears so quickly. And so often.

I look towards my kitchen, see my accents of purple, and I smile. I have adopted the color purple in my life pretty heavily. It sort of all came together when my mom was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and I realized it was the color of the movement. Then I saw an article about the Red Hat ladies, who wear purple clothing with red hats. I loved their attitude. Not the red hat part, but their attitude and the purple color. I saw some flowers I fell in love with that were purple, and so in our yard, we have all green trees and plants, with purple flowers. An entire flowerbed with nothing but purple iris. It looks amazing in bloom.

I wear a lot of purple. I have a purple key chain I had made at a craft fair, and I carry a purple purse, hand-knit. (It is so cool). My flip flops, bathrobe, and nightgown are purple. My husband is awesome because he does not complain. Ha-Ha. My first tattoo is all purple ink, and is a Jerusalem Cross. My second tattoo is the Alaskan Forget-Me-Not flower and 4 hearts among some wandering vines. All but the petals of the flower are purple with the flower petals a light blue. The hearts are for my two parents, my brother, and me. All in purple!

So what does this have to do with good days and bad days? I am working through it, but it made me think about focal points. And what we focus on, and what we have to let go. When I was preparing for my first son to be born, a lamaze class instructor told us to find something we could bring for labor and delivery to focus on. I could not find a thing I wanted to stare at. (It ended up I never got to use it, anyway…another story). And one of the things they talked about in the labor class is that focusing on something outside of where we are and what we are doing allows us to maintain our calm. With dealing as a caretaker for my mom, I have been searching for something like this. I have post it notes on my mirrors. They have pithy sayings on them relating to Alzheimer’s. But they don’t do me much good when I am not in the bathroom. LOL. So I came up with a plan. I have little purple things all over my house. And when I alight my gaze on them, it reminds me to take a deep breath, this is only a moment, and to move on. I plant my house plants in purple pots. I have little a little purple bowl next to where I sit in the living room. My phone has a purple case on it, as does my laptop. I usually have a purple piece of clothing on. I place purple wherever I can, for me.

So for those who struggle with this caregiving task we have taken on, I have a suggestion. Find something that helps you find your peace, your core, your center. And cling to it. Put little focal points around you that help you to cling to that core of peace in amongst the chaos that is Alzheimer’s disease. It is like entering that swirling vortex every, single day. We choose to help our loved ones as they journey in an ever-increasingly confusing landscape. They are lost. Sometimes they look around and have no one or nothing that is familiar. My mom was laying sideways on the couch, snoring. Then she started talking in her sleep. Laughing. Smiling. Talking. All while asleep. She woke up, looked at me, and went back to sleep. She was looking for her anchor in this world. And that is me. I am her something purple in this insanity of Alzheimer’s. And when she absolutely drives me crazy and I walk out, slamming doors as I go, I try to remind myself she is clinging hard to a past because she has no idea what today is all about. And I am the single thing in her life that keeps her grounded. And that is why I am who she lashes out at – I am the only person she really knows anymore. Her Care Coordinator reminded me, gently, that mom is pretty much residing in a world from more than 60 years ago. Today is something she has to get through, but she lives in the 1940s. She has no recollection of life before this house in Alaska in 2018, unless we go back to before 1953 and when she moved to the USA. When her Care Coordinator asked her where she moved from, she said she was living in New Zealand and I invited her to come here, so she did. Oh, mom. She made up a story that fit with the way her mind was working at that particular moment. She forgot she has lived in the USA all these years (almost 65 years). She forgot my entire childhood. But she knew she was connected to me. I was her purple, her anchor, in that moment. God bless her. This journey is so hard. She hurts me almost daily. She is nasty almost daily. She is stubborn every day. She will only do what she chooses to do, every day. And she usually wakes up with, “Damn. I woke up again.” Because mom is done. She does not like her life. She wants to be with Frank, my stepdad who passed away more than 6 years ago.

So for me, I cling to my little spots of purple in my world. It helps me find my peace when it can be shattered, almost by the hour. It reminds me I am living in service to another. It reminds me that my world is really part of an inherently intimate world within my mom’s Alzheimer’s – her disease runs our days. So some days fly by with delight and joy, and others are weighed down by one disastrous moment after another. But the days pass. And soon purple will be the color of remembrance of these days.

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you…” Philippians 1:3