“…the plank in your own eye…”

The lenses through which we view our world are different for every person. And sometimes, like our annual eye exam, our prescription changes. My youngest son had his eyes examined yesterday and his vision has greatly improved. We were all so happy for him. My eyesight seems to have settled down and evened out a little bit. Thank goodness, because without glasses, I am legally blind. LOL. I have always been made fun of for the thickness of my lenses. I was so happy when they made the new compact lenses. And it has been a scientific miracle that allows me to see, to enjoy this beautiful world, and to read books – my singular joy in life. I read every, single night. Praise God for my glasses!

As all of us view what is in front of us, we have a tendency to peek over the shoulders of the guy next to us, trying to see what they see. Sort of like looking at someone else’s test paper in school. And trust me, nothing good ever comes from thinking you can copy someone else! And so it is with choices and decisions people make. Sometimes, from where someone else is standing, they look at you and completely disagree with your choices in life. But you see (no pun intended) they are not looking and seeing, using your eyes. They are looking with their own eyes, using their prescription for life. And my life is nothing like yours. You did not have my parents, lived where I lived, had the life experiences I have had, nor have the same choices to make within the framework that is my life. You look over my shoulder, and the view is so very different from where I sit. And please know, it would be the same for me – if I chose to look over your shoulder, and look at your test paper.

My mom, as those of you who have read my posts before, has late stage Alzheimer’s. She will be 89 next month. I took her to the monthly foot clinic at the doctor’s the other day. Getting back out onto the highway was quite something. There is always a stream of cars, and no one wants to let you merge. Well, my-late-stage-Alzheimer’s-mom proceeded to give me driving lessons. Ha-Ha. I reminded her that I got my driver’s license in 1973 and have been a successful driver for 45 years. Her reply? “That doesn’t make you an expert!” She barely took a breath as she explained how to successfully merge with traffic. My point is that from mom’s point of view, she knew better than I did how to drive and merge with traffic. She was seeing me drive, using her eyes, not mine. Side seat driver! Ha-Ha!

We all think we know best. Look at all the chaos in the world. We have taken our “selves” to such a level, we cannot see any other thing or way, but our way, our view. People are comfortable when we all stay in our prescribed lanes; on the tracks and in the direction expected of us. And when we veer off the tracks and head in a different direction, it can freak people out. They are out of their comfort zone now, because they cannot easily see over my shoulder; my test paper is blurred.

I recently chose to place my mom into a memory care facility. It is seriously the most difficult thing I have ever chosen to do. I veered off the track of the plan mom and I had made for her “end-of-life” experience. I have changed the end of her life. And it weighs on my heart. And so many people have opinions about it. To be honest, no one knows what dealing with a loved one with Alzheimer’s is really like if they do not live with you 24/7. Visiting a memory home is so stressful; yes, it is. But dealing with that person from the moment they wake until you tuck them safely into bed each night is a completely different ballgame, my friends. It truly is. Every need they have, you have to provide. One of the most horrible things someone can say to me is, “Oh, I know exactly what you mean. I saw that once.” Sigh. No clue. Or people who claim to be experts because they perhaps drove people to doctor’s appointments or did their laundry. And if you visit your loved one at a memory facility, that is a snippet of their day. A snippet. Not the day. And people seem to think telling me where I am making a mistake is okay, even though they do not wear my prescription, nor do they walk in my shoes. They are peeking over my shoulder, cheating their way to an opinion. And I am physically and emotionally reaching the end of my proverbial rope here.

Luke 6: 27-49

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

And so I re-evaluated my choices, using a lens the Lord provided to me – that of a loving child to a mother lost in the chaos of Alzheimer’s disease. Each day, it steals more of her from me, from our family. Each day, she is present less and less. The world confounds her. She knows, on some level, she has no control. Today, she asked me where the man was who was just here. Both my husband and son had recently left (son to the Fire House; hubby to shooting range) and so I was not sure who she meant. Then she said, “Well, I suppose it is not time for the others to be here. People come and go all day long at this place.” And I realized she had no idea where she was, again. And then I noticed she was tying and untying, and re-tying her robe. I asked her if she needed help. She responded with, “I’m not an idiot. I have been doing this all my life. My lipstick is in my pocket. Oh, was that a knock on the door? Did you know it is almost 6 o’clock?” Wow.

And even though others may think I am making a poor decision, with my tri-focals firmly in place, and the road meandering ahead, I still choose to move mom into a Memory Care Facility. It may be 5 minutes away from our home, or it could be 45 minutes away, but when mom lives there full time, we will all be happier. She will find peace, because she is not at peace here, in my home. Once she is settled in, I can return to the visiting daughter, enjoying the snippets of our time together. And moving forward, I see clearly that this is the path we are meant to travel down. And I am using my own eyes, and not peeking over anyone’s shoulder.

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“..home is a reflecting surface…”

So this disease my mom has is invading her mind more and more. She swears she locked herself out of her place; she has to find her key; where have all the people gone; who is in her stuff; when am I taking her back to her place….up and down from the couch, looking for her key. Putting hairspray on right before bed, “Because I always spray my hair at night. I spray it off and on throughout the day to save my style.” (And she keeps forgetting her head grows hair in the back, too. Never combs the back, or sprays the back. Just the front).

“Do you like my little guy?” Mom created this out of her mashed potatoes and peas. I told her it was cute and then asked her to eat her food. “Oh no, I could not eat my little guy.” And I almost said, “We don’t play with our food!” like I would have to my kids. Only this is my 88-year-old mom. And she refused to eat it. So I gathered our plates and threw her little guy in the trash. She had wandered off to the bathroom for at least the 10th time since dinner was served, totally forgetting her “little guy.”

And I realized we are no longer communicating. She has this world in her head and it no longer even resembles reality. I asked her to please go to bed, since she was not watching (she was actually sleeping) the program I was watching (Josh Gates is my new favorite, in his/my dream job on Discovery’s “Expedition Unknown.” That is him above. Remind you of anyone? Yeah, he is a total nerd and admits it. Loves Indiana Jones!! LOL!) She said, “Oh, but I am listening and he is just so good,” as she looked up to see what it was I was watching. Ha-Ha. Even Josh’s visiting foreign ports and searching for extraterrestrials could not hold mom’s attention. So, I changed tact. I just started shutting down the house. And after I let the dog out to potty, I started turning lights out and told her we were all going to bed. And she complied, although she had to stop at the bathroom for, I swear, the dozenth time tonight. I tried to get her to put on new Depends, but she got so angry and told me she had already taken care of that and she just wanted to get into bed, because she had a long day and was so exhausted.

Josh Gates has been to, and seen, some of the coolest things, ever. Sometimes he actually finds what his show is about, but most often he just lights up the screen with his enthusiasm for what he is doing. He makes learning about history fun and very exciting. And being a history buff, I just love it!! One of my favorite episodes is when they stop filming because he gets a call from his wife, and she tells him they are expecting their first child. He wept. I wept. It was so beautiful to see a man so overjoyed about becoming a father. The whole circle of life thing. And it brings home to me how singular and isolating, and very self-centered this disease of Alzheimer’s is. My middle son is expecting a baby any minute. Mom has no clue. She has no clue how many kids I have anymore. The other night, as she was literally clawing the walls at 1:30am, trying to “get out of this place. I don’t belong here” my youngest son went in to comfort her. She had no idea who he was. None. Mom is losing the world around her and is focused solely on herself. Tonight when I first suggested going to bed, her response was, “I go to bed when I want to go to bed. I do what I want, when I want.” With a loud “harrumph” at the end. Sigh. Alzheimer’s.

I love this quote from Josh because as parents, our goal is to raise kids who want to conquer the world. Even if that world is around the corner, or across distant horizons. And we pray that home is their beacon, and that they always want to return there. That home is an anchor, and they do not become idle wanderers. For mom, sometimes I think she has forgotten “home.” I am constantly telling her she does not live in a “facility,” but in our “home.” She has her own room, in our “home,” and that we are all family, together, in our home. She nods her head, but I know she does not understand. And I realized tonight I believe it is because her home is calling her. New Zealand. Her parents. Familiar sights and sounds, smells and flavors, are calling her. And her home is not with me, in Alaska. And I think she is agitated because she cannot truly settle, because she can’t find home. And I was wondering if that is the final agitation and unrest inherent in all these people suffering from Alzheimer’s. As their brains atrophy, their childhood is what is familiar. Even if they live in the same home they were born in, it will not be home because it is not the same. Their parents, siblings, friends and relatives, are not there with them. They are lost children, adrift in the mystery of Alzheimer’s. And it makes me very, very sad.

We have chosen to move my mom to a memory care facility. And somehow I think that she will be more settled there, because there will be fewer reminders of who she is not, and where she is not. I will visit as her daughter, in the right order of living, and not as her caregiver, cook, laundress, bather, toileting helper – as her daughter. And I somehow think that will provide her with more of an anchor than she has living under the same roof with me. Because I believe that every day, she realizes she cannot do what she thinks she should be doing. I am doing all the things she thinks she should be doing. On some level, she knows that. And I think it adds to her agitation.

Tonight I have come to the conclusion that not all of us can care for loved ones in our homes until their final breath. That we make these “promises of the heart, ” as my care coordinator calls them. And oftentimes the most loving thing we can do, is to change those promises, so all of us can be there, in the best possible way, for the ones we love.

I think I can sleep now. Blessings.

 

Narrow the mission field….

Some experiences are surreal. Last Wednesday I walked into the Urgent Care here in town. People were smiling at me. They were saying “hi” as I walked by. Why, you may ask? Well, my mom is a regular at Urgent Care. Because of her Alzheimer’s, she has pretty regular UTIs. So we go and have her tested at Urgent Care, because it is faster than trying to get an appointment with the doctor. The doctor even suggests we go there. And since I have no regular doctor, I thought of them first when I was feeling quite ill. They were all flabbergasted the appointment was for me, and they kept looking for mom. Ha-Ha-Ha.

But, no, this was for me. Yeah. I posted earlier about stress and Prilosec! Well, the doctor encouraged me to finish the Prilosec, because it seems to be easing my symptoms. My blood tests came back stellar. The doctor told me he was actually shocked at how good my numbers, across the board, looked. He told me, according to my blood work, I am very healthy. Yay! I am overweight, so most doctors assume I have diabetes. I don’t. Sugar was great; cholesterol was great…on and on…it all looked good. Even all the pancreatic enzymes (which is always a concern) looked so good. But I have so much abdominal pain and other icky issues. So, he referred me to a gastro guy for a lovely colonoscopy.

I figured the referral would take forever. Nope. They called and scheduled it the next morning. Wednesday I have my initial appointment. And who knows? Maybe he won’t want to do one. (Praying).

For me, the important thing about this experience is the way in which the ER doctor spoke to me. The entire visit changed when we just chatted, after he had palpitated my abdomen and the entire gastric area hurt. He was chatting so I would relax, and breathe through the pain. I told him I was so late in the day (almost 2pm) because I had to ensure I had someone to stay with my mom. He looked at me quizzically and I explained that I am the sole caregiver for my mom, with late stage Alzheimer’s; that she lives with us and I could not bring her with me for this. (He has never been one of the Urgent Care doctors to treat my mom! Which was unique!) He then walked over to me and gave me a hug. I had never met this doctor before! He then explained that he thinks the bulk of my problems are probably stress-related. He thinks I definitely have something wrong with my intestines, somewhere along the way, but he thinks the stress is making everything worse. He also told me that I needed to care for myself before I could expect to care for others. He also said I need time for me. And that no one should go as long as I have without medical attention (it’s been at least 10 years since I have been to a doctor for general medical care) to assess what my general health really is. He has a point. I tend to be sort of a hippie-styled, prefer my essential oils, and use herbs (not that herb) when I cook and when I choose to treat ailments that come my way, sort of person. I have not been ill enough in my life over the past 10 years, to seek medical attention. I always look at it as the last resort, not the first thing I do. I know people who run to Urgent Care for the sniffles. Nope. Colds go away. If something is broken or I feel like I am dying, I go seek medical help.

So how do we caregivers get a handle on this thing? This daily, 24/7 stress? I worry about everything. Is mom eating right? Will she clean herself up today? Will she make a mess? Will she sleep tonight? Will she wear clothes? Will she argue and be a total Alzheimer’s patient today? Or will we have peace? Have all her bills been paid? Is her account okay? Where did I put that DNR? Where is the POA paperwork? Will mom fall today? What do I need to throw into the washing machine? On and on and on…and that is just the tip of the thoughts I go through…and this is just about my mom. How do I control this????

Well, I had an “ah-ha” moment with all this caregiving stuff. My mom and I had a particularly nasty encounter. Some days are joyful. I have tender memories of our times together, just loving each other. But as this disease has progressed, those moments are fewer and fewer. Instead, she has become so very difficult. She truly has no concept of where she is. She asked me just yesterday, “Where did I come from? Where are my clothes? Why I am here, in my pajamas? Where are all my things? I think I locked myself out of my place. Did you know it is 5 o’clock? Where is my purse? Thank you for having me as a guest at your place. I come from New Zealand.” Her thoughts are disjointed. She does not comprehend much. We used to only watch Steve Harvey on one of his many programs on the TV, because she just would light up when he was on. She now sleeps through even Steve Harvey. She does not watch things like “The Voice” or “So You Think You Can Dance” and other active programs. Her beloved Family Feud has become noise in the background. She will watch the wind blow. She will watch the sun on the plants in the yard, or the clouds skitter across the sky. She watches our dog with such intensity. It is hard, because she does not understand when Poca chews her bones…Mom thinks the dog is chewing on her own leg and gets so worried. And she reports the movement of the dog every few moments. She will not concede that she can hardly see, so we are having to constantly explain what she is seeing. Yesterday, the hubby was working in the yard and she was saying things like, “There is a white car in the backyard (it’s an F-150 Truck) and a man is in it. And…”There is a man working in the yard.” Then my husband walks in the house, asking for some water and she says, “Would you like a tour of our home? It is lovely.” She had no idea it was my husband, her son-in-law.

Our moment came when mom strode with purpose into her room. She was already angry about something. I followed her in and asked her what I could do to help her. She said, “Oh God, I hate this place. I hate this room. It is so damn hot in here, it is like a sweatbox! I work all day long and have been so busy and it is just too damn hot in here. I hate living here. I hate this place.” Well, I probably could have responded better. Ha-Ha. You see, mom has been cold since she arrived in Alaska. She was given an electric blanket for Christmas and has it on full blast at night, wearing flannel pjs and socks, along with 2 blankets, flannel sheets, and a comforter, in August. Sigh. So, we bought her a room heater. We had it on low, and automatic. So when we entered her room, the heater had just shut itself off. So, I gathered her laundry and the space heater, and left the room. She said some pretty hurtful things that I won’t share here; suffice it to say, my heart broke in two. As I hurried from the room, my stomach broke out in the hottest, searing pain, causing me to double over. I went into my closet, bent over in pain, and just wept.

And yes, it was an ugly cry – the ones with snot and sobbing and red, swollen eyes. And as I wept, I said to myself, “I am done. I cannot do this anymore. I am sick. My mom is slowly killing me.” It is time to move my mom into a memory care facility. And I contacted my care coordinator right then. She has been trying to gently nudge me into this mindset for months now. She has been with my mom and has seen her treatment of me, up close and personal. She believes, that with our family dynamic, placing mom in a memory facility would be the best option for both of us. And after talking with my family, they are all, across the board, 100% in support of the move. Most of them expressed shock that I lasted as long as I have. And even though mom has no idea of where she is, moving her is going to be fraught with drama. Because we are all around her, all the time. I am her anchor. When I am not around, she is constantly looking for me. And she is unsettled when I am absent. If I go to the store and am gone for 1-2 hours, she greets me like I have been gone for days. And she relaxes when I get home. So moving her away from me, in amongst strangers, will be hard for me, and for her.

Many caregivers are blessed with being able to keep their loved ones at home with them, until they literally pass away from complications caused by Alzheimer’s. And many never bring their loved ones home with them. Ever. They only, and solely, deal with memory care facilities. There is no rule of thumb. There is no perfect way to do this. Each person experiences Alzheimer’s in their own way. And each family is completely unique. So, for others, placing their loved one in a facility is out of the question. And for yet others, having their loved one at home is beyond their imagination or capabilities. We have tried it with mom living with us. And it is killing me, slowly. For our family, the trick now is to find the perfect fit for mom – one we are all comfortable with her living in. I am calling places; places she will be comfortable in; a place where I will be able to return to being her daughter, and not her caregiver.

You know, it is healthy to know and realize when something has beaten you, and you need to re-group, and change directions. It is humbling, because I feel like a failure in many ways. But I also realize I have a Mission Field. It is my faith. It is my husband. It is my family. And it is the myriad of friends I have gathered around me. I now realize that I have become so isolated from them. And I am so not done living, yet. As I type this, my daughter-in-law is in labor with their 4th daughter. And I love her so much already, but I NEED to hold her and tell her I love her. I need her to know her grandma. I am not done, yet. (An homage to my husband). And so, we are redirecting this Alzheimer’s train. Deep breaths. I can do this, too. God has got my back; I know it. Praise be to God in all things.

 

“…simple…a check.”

I admit it. I have it bad. I mean really bad. I cruise all the pages, every day. I talk back and forth with others. We share the same fever. And I fantasize. One guy today told me the cure to my fever was simple – a check. LOL. Isn’t a check the cure for many things???

Yep. Puppy fever. Bad. I wrote a blog post about it earlier this year. My patient hubby thinks it will go away. But it has not. Today, another breeder announced a new littler, ready in time for Christmas. Sigh. Music to my ears.

Everyone has a sort of pet they envision; one that fits their personality. Some people have reptiles, others have birds, or cats, gerbils and chinchillas, mice and rats, gold fish or elaborate aquariums, horses and sheep. And then there are dog people. LOL. My kids are in camps. My one son has almost all the animals listed above, minus cats and the larger outdoor animals. My other son has a cat. We have had pretty much all of them, minus a horse. Our boys were 4-H kids. So we had quite the array. And we lived on a dairy farm for most of their youth, so the variety of farm animals was all around us. A cousin came to live with us once and brought her pet rabbit. That was an adventure. Regardless of what type of animal you prefer, they seem to lighten up our lives. At least for those of us who have pets. Some people just prefer plastic plants and stuffed animals. I like the real thing. LOL. Okay, I do admit I have a pretend cactus on my windowsill in my kitchen. Hey, we live in Alaska! It is hard to grow cactus here.

The hard part about loving a living thing is that they eventually die. There are breeds of animals that are very long lived. We had a neighbor who had a tortoise that was literally hundreds of years old. And there are those breeds that are very short lived. Goldfish you win at the school fair usually do not last too long. LOL. Then there is my son’s school fair goldfish. I think he is like 5 or 6 years old!! An exception to every rule. Ha-Ha-Ha. And they just bought him a larger tank! He loves it.

My favorite breed of dog, in case you cannot place it, are English Springer Spaniels. We were introduced to the breed when our boys were small, through bird hunting in California. They are excellent flushing dogs. We used to hunt quail, which requires flushing to find. We were given dogs from hunters we knew who had a lot of Springers and wanted us to enhance our hunting experience. And we realized that this was the breed that perfectly fit the personality and tone of life in our family. They are called velcro dogs. They love their humans! They are boisterous and busy little dogs. They can weigh from the 30-pound range up to 60-pounds. European bred Springers tend to be heartier and beefier than many of the Springers bred in the USA. Me, I am a sucker for those eyes. Those faces are just too cute. They shed. Oh my word, do they shed. But they have the most amazing personalities. I just love them. We have a Springer. Her name is Pocahontas (Poca for short) and she is a rescue Springer. She came to us at 5 years old and she was perfect. She and our youngest son, to use a dog-term, are a bonded pair. She has a pillow on his bed. They are too cute together. Now that she is 13 and he is almost 20, she tends to cling to me or my husband a little more, because her favorite human is gone a lot. She is a bundle of hugs, cuddles, and love. But she is 13. She aches. She sleeps with my mom almost all day on the couch. And we all know her days are very, very numbered.

She smiles at me and my heart cringes a little bit. Because I see our aging mirrored in my dog. She now has gray eyebrows. They crack me up. She is smiling in the photo above, and I mean that dog can smile. Springers are known to smile and tease and talk to you. And I think one of the things that has me craving a puppy is because I don’t want this joy with this incredible dog to end. I know a puppy will not be Poca. I know a puppy will not replace Poca. I saw a meme today that said, “A puppy will not replace the dog you lose; it will make your heart expand with more love.”

My mom was a little girl in the photo above. And I can see my grandchildren in her face. My kids don’t see it, yet, but someday I think they will appreciate the likenesses that happen along family trees. Genetics are just so fun. My middle son and his wife are expecting daughter #4 any day now, and he and I were recently discussing how she may look. Their three daughters all look so different – Red head, brunette, and blondie. And they are such individuals! They look sort of like the UN. It is beautiful. And we pondered the millions of genetic pairings our newest granddaughter may have. We will soon know how the genetic dice were tossed by the end of the month. As for Springers, there are very few genetic deviations. They all pretty much look the same, except for their colorations. They come in liver & white, black & white, tri-color, and roan. My husband says only the liver and whites are real Springers. He is so funny. I don’t much care. I am loving the variety, just like with all our grandkids. Genes are fun. But they are all my grandchildren, and all Springers are English Springers (as long as that is what it is you want – because there are Irish and Welsh Springers, too). So color is not a deal-breaker for me. It’s more of just a puppy thing. (Love you, babe!!)

And I know my yearning for a puppy is a yearning for life, for joy, for something to get this old home excited. Mom sleeps most of the day with the dog, like I said. The hubby is working his tail off every day. The youngest son (almost 20) is working as a volunteer fire fighter, and training in a second career, dating his girlfriend, and pretty much gone all the time. And then there is me. I watch the aging. I watch the slow decline of my mom. Today she woke up and asked me, “Where is Frank? Did he go for a walk? Oh, look, it’s almost 1 o’clock!” and promptly fell back asleep. Frank, my stepdad has been gone for over five years. Mom is so lost. This morning she thanked me for inviting her over. She lives here. Last night she asked me why I was leaving the country…I have no idea where that came from; it was a new one. But I am surrounded with dying. I am dying. We are all dying. And I would love a little puppy to cuddle and giggle with. A dog to keep me company, as I journey down that last road home. I don’t think that is a bad thing. The hubby and I are looking forward to an empty nest and some quality camping/fishing. We long to own a tow behind camper. I picture us having a couple of Springers jump from the truck and rush into the lake as we set up our campsite. Sort of a matched set to keep us company. He is not quite there, yet. He is thinking empty-empty nest. Ha-Ha-Ha. I am not sure I want a puppy now, but I do want one. Maybe holding my new granddaughter later this year will fill me with so much joy, I won’t need a puppy. Instead of a puppy pile, it can be a grandchild pile! My 4-year-old granddaughter, who lives nearby, is the best hugger in the world. She can vanquish my despondency with just one of her super-hugs. I have love all around me. I am so blessed. But, dang it, I want a puppy. LOL. That little buddy to hang out with me and follow me all over the place. Puppy fever is alive and well…now back to peruse all those Springer pages…I mean, how cute are their faces????

On a end note here: Mom has late stage Alzheimer’s. Some days she does not know where she is, when she got here, if she has grandchildren, even who I am. But through all her fogginess of Alzheimer’s, she always knows the name of our dog, Poca. Always. That tells me something – about humanity and about dogs. And how deeply connected we are.

 

 

 

“God is already there…”

We are not guaranteed our next breath. Our next breath. A friend of mine, who is an amazing priest, used to remind us of this all the time. There are people coming forward on our Dementia site, telling us their loved ones have passed away. A friend lost her husband. Another friend had a very surprising heart attack. A local search and rescue effort is continuing for several people from our community, and prayers are in endless shouts to heaven for their well-being. And there has been weekly drama with my mom and with our family. It weighs heavily on my heart. And because it is on my heart, my stomach is listening full time and letting me know. Ugh.

Yeah. That. LOL. And so I am working on how I can separate my emotions from my gut. How I can stop worrying about things I cannot change, nor have an affect on. When you raise your kids, you plant seeds, you give them life lessons. And then somewhere around 15 years old or so, they start to have their own strong opinions. They start making memories outside of you. Sometimes I prefer being “fat, dumb, and happy.” But my grown children somehow love telling me stories about things in their youth I did not know of, and to be honest, some of them are fun, but most belong to them…meaning I really don’t want to know. And the kids somehow become adults, even without us. They have their own beliefs and ways of life. It is theirs, no longer mine. Sigh.

Somewhere along the way, I grew up and away from my parents. For me, I was having some fun arguments with my grandfather at 15 years old or so. We discussed politics and unions and voting and the general malaise of the 60s. My parents and grandparents are immigrants. They worked hard to have what they had; to give my brother and myself a good start in life. But I was not raised in a British country; I was raised in the USA. So our arguments were often centuries old. Like the Revolutionary War era revisited in the 60s and 70s. Ha-Ha. They quite often did not understand my thoughts or what that “stuff was they are teaching in the schools these days.” And I laugh because the circle has come around and now I wonder at some of the things my grandchildren will be exposed to. And I worry for our country and our culture. But that is a broad stroke sort of worry. What keeps me up at night occurs much closer to home.

My stress comes from so many avenues. I worry about bills, about money, about retirement, about health and happiness, about my mom, my mother-in-law, my kids, my grandkids, my DIL who is pregnant, if we are ready for winter, what is for dinner, have I done the laundry, got to get to that bathroom floor, trash goes out today, today we have local elections, my dog is limping, mom is so confused, and I hurt. My gut hurts. My back hurts. My muscles ache. And it is daily. Some days, I hurt too much to get much done. Other than feed my mom and worry more. LOL

Through it all, the Lord is calling me. He knows I am in pain. He knows what I need. And it is that ever elusive state of peace and contentment. Am I a happy person? Generally speaking I am. Am I a secure person? Actually, considering the list above, I am pretty secure. Today rain is threatening. Mom and the dog are both snoring. The trash is out and the leaky kitchen trash can is in the laundry room, soaking. I have calls I need to make and things I need to get done. But, here I sit. Writing. Typing and musing and working things out in my head. I use this blog to work out my own issues. Like a diary sitting on a desk, it is open and I welcome your reading of it. Why would I expose myself like this? Because we all have these issues. We may differentiate here and there, but we all have issues. And maybe sharing them gives me insight in the form of likes or comments and replies. And maybe it just enlightens others, and they learn they are not alone. Because I KNOW I am not alone. Which makes it all, somehow, very bearable.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.Yet I tell you that 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, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6: 25-34)

So here I am again, clinging to the promises of Christ. To His concern for little, old me. For HIs guardianship of my life, which I freely gave to Him. It feels sometimes like hanging on the edge of a cliff, or precipice. Somedays it feels like there will not be a morning, but God always gives us amazing sunrises. And so, my friends, through my stress, my aches and pains, my concerns, God is steadfast. And through prayer, He holds me up. Thanks be to God for His mercy. And thank you for your continued support and prayers! No prayer is ever wasted and I thank you.