Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Lonely but never alone...the story of an Alzheimer's caretaker

I'm sitting at the breakfast table with my first cup of coffee. It's early..around 5:30 am..early for this slug-a-bed.  The house is quiet except for a few furry hungry feline faces wandering around my ankles.  And it is cool enough that I'm wearing a sweater.  I remember my dearest Aunt Katrina wrapped in sweaters as she grew old.  And now it's me vacillating between burning up and feeling chilly.
It's daunting and overwhelming, this task of facing the reality of where I am in life's seasons.  No one tells you early in life to be prepared for losses.  You know at some level that some near and dear to you will fade away, that your parents will transition but the gradual losses can be just as big.  My best friend, spouse, lover, partner of 55 years is no longer the companion I'd grown accustomed to as his memory and reasoning is more and more confused.  There is so much loss with Alzheimer's.
We have both lost some of our independence.  The big one for him is his independent mobility when his car keys were taken away.  My loss is in time is spent fixing his meals, driving him places, finding his missing date book, explaining once again how to use the phone, the remote to the TV.  My independence has shrunk as he wants to go with me on errands, to shop, the postoffice.  At times I feel like I'm drowning in "togetherness".  I'm lonely but never alone.
 And there are household tasks which each of us have had to give chores like mopping, scrubbing a tub, changing a light bulb in the ceiling.  I love the ad on TV as the husband watches his elderly mate climbing a ladder to dust a high shelf.
The thing I miss the most are the long conversations about books, about relationships, government, politics, about all kinds of things.  But a bigger loss is in the works.  We need to sell our house.  It is too big for us to care for anymore and I must plan ahead for what is to come with hubby's illness.  Twenty years of crap to get rid of.  Daunting and overwhelming and very sad.  I will be giving up my studio full of art supplies and the potential of canvases and collages that might have been.  The bedrooms and closets and kitchen are easy but letting go of special inks, brushes, paints, print-making tools, art books, exotic papers, glues, rubber stamps, ribbons, tapes, pencils, pastels and on and on is just so hard.  They all have been such a big part of my life for so long, my best friend and lover.  Of course, I will hang on to a small amount of paint and paper and glue but the rest has to go.
What to do with all those journals I created for the last 40 years...the stories of my life that I was going to use as poetry prompts?What to do with all the art work I've created?  Canvases and drawings in closets and flat files?  Sometimes I think it would be much easier to just walk away with a few clothes in a suitcase.  Fly to San Miguel de Allende, Albuquerque, Asheville and never look back?  Talk about a clean start.  But back to reality, it is all about selling this house ASAP and I'm gonna need some help in finding the joy in this adventure


Babs said...

I don't think you should get rid of all of your art supplies. Perhaps renting a small studio someplace and moving those things there would be an answer for you to have a place to go to.......or if you get a 2 bedroom place, the other bedroom could be a studio.
IF you want me to come up, at some point and help, I'll be glad to do so......
Try to take it one day at a time or it will be overwhelming. Truly.

Diana Meade writing as Ida Clare said...

Dear Kay, Kay Sarver shared this post on my Facebook page, so this is how I came to be here.

I was a member of WIVLA until my husband and I got rid of most everything we owned and moved from Houston to a very small town to live with my aging mother who was in very ill health. She is better now; nothing like what your husband is going through.

The reason I am telling you all this is that the grief over the loss of home, community, and art supplies & studio was almost unbearable and I was not sure that I could do the job I came here to do very gracefully. Eventually it got better when I was able to get back to being creative in whatever way possible.

My art supplies are in a storage building along with boxes of books that no longer have a home, but that I just couldn't let go of because they are old friends. In the beginning, I would go there and just sit among my things and cry, but I don't have to do that so much any more.

I create "little" now. I write. I make little altered books. I go to Hobby Lobby because I can pet creative possibilities and leave most of it there in the store. I have a blog where I write under one of the characters from my book in progress.

If I have retained anything from my former life and from my former self it is because of art. I will hold on to that and I hope you will too.

With much affection, Diana
p.s. my blog is

Melanie Ormand said...

Hugs to you, dear friend. These journeys are difficult in so many ways. Know that I am always here for you.

xoxoxo, Melanie

lynn colwell said...

Don't do too much at once - avoid the gut reaction to burn the past away in search of an allusive better future - savor every moment - life is short - it will all work out - on a practical note, I can store some of the art supplies you hate to give up for you at my house and you'll always know where they are/have free access to them - love you Kay...