Friday, November 22, 2013

A disappointment

Yesterday I was excited about the first meeting of the El Lago Seniors at our community center.  I feel it has a lot of potential for seniors to do all kinds of things.  I got hubby out of bed in plenty of time but could tell he was having a hard time tracking what the plans for the day were...Seniors meeting from 10 to 1 with snacks, exercise and lunch and then off to my doc appointment at 1:30.  

We arrived promptly at 10:00 and others began to arrive until there must have been at least 50 in the room.  Wonderful round tables had been set up and a table of snacks against the wall with coffee.  We got our plates and sat down near one gentleman who began to tell us his story and said his wife was going to join us (she never did and he disappeared).  Other senior women joined our table and hubby got more and more disgruntled.  At last one of his NASA buddies showed up with his wife and hubby went and chatted with them for a while.  He came back and sat down and wouldn't join in anything or conversations and wore a big frown on his face.

A darling young woman introduced herself and said she would be leading us in excercises and had chairs all set up with weights.  Everyone but hubby joined in.  He sat pouting in his chair.  It was fun and an exercise class will be offered for free every Tues and Thurs at 11:00.  Then it was lunch time and I could tell he didn't want to eat.  I asked if he wanted to leave and he angrily said "Yes."  So we left.  On the way home I asked why he didn't want to stay for lunch or exercise.  He said, "Because I am so angry about not being able to get in and out of JSC without someone taking me and picking me up."  Sheeessshhh!  So I told to go ahead and be angry about it but to quit blaming me.  I took him home, fed him lunch and was grateful to leave him there while I went to the doctor.  I think we are entering a new stage of the disease and it ain't gonna be fun.  I had hoped that this might be an enjoyable event for him....evidently not.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Anticipation or rather the lack of

I don't know what these crazy azaleas are thinking but they have started blooming.  What are they anticipating?  They are ahead of the game while hubby seems to be running a few steps behind.

A couple of years ago a dear friend whose husband recently died with Alzheimer's talked of her frustration with her husband's inability to anticipate, to think ahead of what current actions might have in the future, even 10 minutes down the road.  Well, she was right on with what happens with Alzheimer's.  And I forget that at times and it drives me crazy.

Yesterday we had a very frustrating morning.  Actually it started the day before when hubby bounced out of bed early around 8:30...unusual for him and walked out of the bedroom fully dressed saying "I'm ready to go."  Go where????  He had his days mixed up and we weren't going anywhere.
Back to yesterday...hubby wanted to go to a presentation at NASA in the auditorium on the JSC campus that began at 10:00.  He requested on Monday that I drive him .  This is good and appropriate planning ahead.  I had committed myself to be at a friend's house at the same time but that was fine,  manageable and I do want to support his continued involvement.  It gives him so much pleasure.

I get up and dressed and finally get him up at 8:30 leaving him to bathe and dress.  He comes out at 9:30 wearing 3 shirts, one on top of the other. He said he was cold.  I said he couldn't show up at JSC dressed like that and went in to pick out his clothes.  So he is finally dressed and starts fussing with his usual papers etc. and then says he needs new batteries for his hearing aids and wants to drive to LaPorte to get them before going to JSC.  ARGGgggh!  Okay.  Finally in the car I inform him of the time and ask whether he wants to be late to the presentation to get the batteries.  "No".  So off we go to JSC where I have to leave him at the gate to walk in as security won't let me drive him in even with his badge.  Whew!!!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Finding meaning with Anne Lamott

Ah, from the front row of the Cathedral...Anne Lamott took my breath away.  Isn't that why we all write?  Paint?  All searching for meaning in our lives?  I think it could be said for all of us in the arts.  It is all about our search for meaning.  For me right now, I write to find some kind of meaning in this life I now have as a Care Partner.  From her book she questioned a friend about the meaning of the Newtown massacre....his answer:  "We don't know yet."  And I don't know yet either about that event, about the Typhoon in the Phillipines, about my small life as a Care Partner, mother, grandmother, great grandmother.
So what do I know?  I am learning patience in a way I never thought I could.  I am learning to find joy in the days when we laugh together, the squirrel eats from my hand, the crazy okra plant hangs on to the longest imaginable stem while putting out sprouts at the bottom, hubby's cheerful greeting every morning saying "I slept so good last night". 
And I can seriously let go of  bins of gorgeous papers.  I delivered them to TAACCL yesterday to use in their fundraiser.  Gone but there is still more and I will get to it one drawer, one bin at a time and watch my life change as I find room for something new and wonderful.  And I will find new meaning in what life brings and will try my best to be present and authentic for it all.  That's all God really wants from any of us I believe and so does Anne Lamott.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Caring for the Care Partner

You are wondering why a picture of this book?  It just happens to be by my favorite author whom I am going to greet up close and personal this Wednesday when she arrives in Houston her usual nervous wreck to sign this wonderful book.  I hope to get more copies to give to everyone I know who struggles with life.  And who doesn't?  It life, right?  It doesn't come in neat, tidy little packages, only in moments, just moments, one at a time...sometimes they are tiny, full of joy, sometimes long hours of grief, sadness but Anne's point is that we must be authentic in all of them to find meaning in our lives.  To find meaning in our lives, we must really live into them.  It is what we have to work with so take it by the horns and wrestle and ride.  Damn, that's a big order and I'm not sure I have a saddle.

For me as a Care Partner (notice the capital letters...I deserve a title) of an spouse with Alzheimer's , it means learning to live into the moments of clarity, hold on to them as part of the life we know together.  And it also means fully accepting the feelings of frustration of my partner AND myself when expectations aren't met, communication breaks down.  It means making new priorities in my life, accepting the losses of time, place, energy and finding new ways to find joy...easier said than done.

One of my joys of retirement is the time to pursue long-held interessts with great abandon, mainly art and writing.  But now I find my time is needed in other ways so much so, that I must take a close look at what is most important.  Alzheimer's disease is sneaky.  It eats away slowly at the hours.  First for this Care Partner it was taking over the finances of the household and discovering I probably do a better job than hubby did.  Then is added instructions on how to turn on the TV or dealing with repairmen and so it goes and the clock is ticking.  Priorities, priorities it says.

And so here we are now facing a move.  It is with such mixed feelings letting go of years and years of art supplies and as a mixed media artist that means not only paint, brushes, paper and glue, the bones of collage but all the other stuff like buttons, tickets, maps, game pieces and a hugh collection of rubber stamps.  However, along with the sadness, comes a sense of relief.  I like to think I'm closing this door so that another may open.

But it is the time thing that gets a bit squeamish here.  How much time do I allow myself to do things just for me?  Go to poetry events? How much for hubby?  How much for church, community?  And what of all of that is the highest priority?  And that gets back to Anne Lamott, my first priority for the week.  I am going with a friend, I will get her to sign my book and I will come home elated having met one of my most favorite authors.  Why a favorite?  Because Anne Lamott addresses the realities of life with disconcerting honesty.  She puts out there for all of us to look at those big questions about life that can only be part of the Great Mystery.
So for all you Care Partners out there trying to find meaning in your life.  Read Stiches.  Even if you don't consider yourself a spiritual person, you can dig this.