THE PARTING OF WAYS

THE PARTING OF WAYS

The solace that I seek
Eludes me and I stumble
My thoughts all seem unbalanced
I try to speak, but only mumble

It was an empty effort
Trying to stop your loss of mind
Despite my constant fighting it
You left us all behind

Our time together had to end
You needed somewhere else to stay
You were my life, you were my friend
And now you had to go away.

Do you sit and wonder?
Do you look around for me?
Does your hand reach out to touch mine?
Or has your prison set you free?

Outside myself I start to look
Yet still I find the void
The spaces that we used to love
Now cannot be enjoyed

Tomorrow I’ll go searching
For a place out of the rain
A place among the living
Where I can laugh again

Release me now and I’ll return
To friends and family
And gradually I’ll cease to yearn
Both in my heart and memory     –LG


De Profundis

Psalm 130 (New International Version)

1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; 2 O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. 3 If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. 5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. 6 My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. 7 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. 8 He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.
— Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 17-28)

Although I love the beauty of the Lord’s relationship to us, I dismiss it now as a source of solace. Reason is lacking in me also. I feel the extent of Barbara’s illness has come upon her unjustly. Nevertheless I must accept this experience and transform it, whatever its origin. I will actively accept sorrow and seek humility. Having lost everything dear to me, I do not accuse external forces, justified as this might be, but rather absorb these hardships through the love of family and friends and through doing those things in life which bring me joy, such as the recording of audio narrations and making long bicycle tours.

I want those who stand by me and have affection for me to know exactly in what mood and manner I face the world. There are times when the whole world seems to be no larger than my family room, and full of terror for me. Still I believe that God made a world for each separate man, and within that world, which is within us, one should seek to live. I accept redemption and fulfillment in this ordeal, realizing that this hardship has filled my soul with the fruit of experience, however bitter it may taste.

==

“Rough Side of the Mountain”
by Rev. F. C. Barnes

Verse 1:
Oh Lord, I’m strivin’,
tryin’ to make it through this barren land,
but as I go from day to day,
I can hear my Savior say,
“trust me child, come on and hold my hand.”

Chorus:
I’m comin’ up on the rough side of the mountain,
I must hold to God, His powerful hand.
I’m comin’ up on the rough side of the mountain,
I’m doin’ my best to make it in.
Verse 3:
This old race will be soon be over,
there’ll be no more race for me to run.
And I will stand before God’s throne,
all my heartaches will be gone,
I’ll hear my Savior say, “welcome home”.
Chorus:
I’m comin’ up on the rough side of the mountain,
I must hold to God, His powerful hand.
I’m comin’ up on the rough side of the mountain,
I’m doin’ my best to make it in.

–LG


Setting Things Straight

Some reactions to my last post (“Wrapping Up”) say it sounds a bit too final. “Are you planning Murder/Suicide?” goes the general tone. No, I’m not. I am planning on a life for Barbara and me that is relatively care-free. Currently, each day seems as if I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. This needs to stop. Barbara is happy in her Alzheimer’s. I want to be happy in my caregiving.

I think whether or not one lives a happy life can be measured by one’s state of mind when he wakes up in the morning. Most days I wake up with thoughts of dread. If there are meetings with doctors, consultants or attorneys, I dread every one of them. Moreover, the details of life seem at loose ends. These loose ends need to be tied up into a bow. Open-ended questions need to be answered with finality or, “wrapped up”.

I will not always have the energy for this “wrapping up” process. I barely have it now. I concentrate on doing things one step at a time. This seems the only way it can be done.

I probably need to conclude some items by making the decision to leave them undone. This is one way of wrapping up this item. In the words of my last post, I have less energy each day. It’s time to wrap it all up. It’s time to tie up loose ends. –LG


Wrapping Up

It’s time to wrap things up.

Whenever the temperature drops in the house and you’re sitting on the sofa watching TV, you become chilly and are soon wrapping yourself up in a blanket. It feels good. Whenever a public speaker begins to near the end of his speech, he begins wrapping things up in order to finish. At the end of a trial, we find the attorney wrapping up the case. This is the closing argument. It’s over.

As I age, I find that more and more of my daily energy is spent wrapping things up. The less money I have, the more the temperature of life drops and I need to wrap myself up in a blanket of withdrawal. During this wrapping up process, I decrease contact with the outside world and limit my activities more and more. I’m wrapping things up.

I have already wrapped up many things with my attorney: the will is done, the DNR instructions have been signed, the powers of attorney have been designated. The meeting with the funeral home looms. But I will get around to that. I am in the middle of seeking custodial care for Barbara, as Alzheimer’s Disease continues to take over her brain. Money plays such a huge role in this process. The facility I want seems simply too expensive. If I had to make the decision today, I would choose to wrap us up in the confines of our home and ride it out to the end. I’ll know for sure next week, for that’s my deadline to make the decision. What changes between now and then? I meet with an attorney specializing in Elder Care and hopefully she can discover avenues which truly are open to me. If the avenues aren’t there, I will wrap up the search and wrap up any lingering final details. I have less energy each day. It’s time to wrap it all up. –LG


Uncommon Common Sense

Every marriage is a merging of strengths and weaknesses. A fortunate marriage is one where one partner’s strengths compensate for the other’s weaknesses, blocking those weaknesses from having a negative effect on the family. Barbara had so many strengths which made THE difference in cementing our family bonds over the decades.

Barbara was the most amazing “people person” I have ever known. Perhaps my cousin, Alyson. But she lives in Charlotte and I’m not close to her family. Facebook tells a lot and Alyson is definitely a people person. And both of them absolutely love dogs. To them, dogs are people, too.

At church, folks stood in line just to have a few moments with Barb on Sunday morning. When she became volunteer coordinator, every volunteer need became filled. She always found the right place for a member’s skills. And she was sincerely grateful. Those well known “hard cases” became productive volunteers.

Any time I could chat with Barbara about the things going on in her life was a fun time. This fun often spilled over to our dining room during one of her marvelous dinner gatherings. Lots of ladies showed up early to help prepare and lots of them stayed late to clean up. I made many friends because of my “people person” sweetheart. It is likely I never would have met them. Our family was strengthened by good friends. I basked in her glow.

But I believe the most valuable strength Barbara exercised in our family was her common sense. I admit it, I have virtually no common sense. I tend to say, “Let’s do it.” without weighing the consequences. At every crossroads decision, I knew I could rely on her common sense to shine the light on the best path to take. My strength is in making things happen once the decision is made. Barbara’s common sense and my tenacity joined together many times to cross the next hurdle.

Today, I need Barb’s common sense more than ever. But it is gone. Alzheimer’s Disease robbed her of that and so much more. I am now faced with the need to place her in a care facility. There are so many things to consider in making this decision. Things that require common sense. Barb’s very uncommon common sense.

Our wise doctor is aware of this need and has pointed me to a consulting firm which specializes in cases like mine. You can imagine my relief. An assessment of our situation is underway and a search for viable solutions to the obvious needs. Once again, common sense is operative. I don’t welcome the challenge that faces me, but I feel confident we’ll take the best path. –LG


It’s Not Right!!

When rolling the groceries to the car, she suddenly jerked the cart back, pulling my hand loose. It nearly turned over. “NO! YOU CAN’T DO THAT! IT”S NOT RIGHT!” Do what? She stormed off back toward Publix. I called to her with no result. Finally I left the cart to go after her.

She stopped before going through the front doors. Whenever I asked her to come with me, she would shout “NO, IT’S NOT RIGHT!”. It was really awkward in the middle of a crowd. Suddenly, she turned and followed me to the car, retrieving the cart on the way. Once in the car, she refused to put on the seatbelt. After several requests, I carefully reached over and drew it across her, nervous that she would grab my arm or even strike me. I clicked it into place and backed out the car. The trip home was wonderfully silent. In the garage, she walked back to the trunk and helped me carry the groceries. Everything was “fine” again.

Biscuit-the-dog always knows when something has happened. He looks for attention more than usual. Barb begins to empty the plastic grocery bags onto the kitchen table. When she came to the Breyer’s Ice Cream, she began tearing at the top to get the box open. I normally use a paring knife to chop through the tough plastic seal that circles the top. Soon the box was open and the box top lay upside down on the table, the plastic seal still attached. The fat open box of Neopolitan ice cream displayed the three sections of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.

Barb stood bent over with her head in the refrigerator, looking for something mysterious. “Would you like some ice cream?”, I asked while placing two small bowls on the table. “Yeah-uss,” she drawled in that familiar sweet southern accent. I scooped the cold delight into the two small bowls. I always use the smallest ones we have because I fill up whatever bowl I use, then I enjoy the whole thing and have another bowl full. Been known to finish off an entire carton of Breyer’s ice cream.

Barb gulped down her bowl and while I was putting groceries away, she gulped mine down, too. We had eaten a fine little lunch delivered by Meals On Wheels, so I knew she wasn’t hungry. I scooped myself another bowl full and put it on top of the refrigerator, where I keep items I want to protect from her. By the time I ate it, the ice cream was soft and yummy.

Later, I made it to my appointment with the family attorney. I had arranged the meeting weeks earlier, to update our documents and seek guidance. Our lawyer is also certified in elder affairs and has several aging clients. I reviewed our situation and came away with the name of a funeral home I need to go to to make pre-arrangements and information on a placement home a few miles from our house. It’s run by a couple and has only six or seven residents. I think everyone should be required to carry long-term care insurance from an early age. –LG


There’s Only One Winner

Alzheimer’s Disease is still the undisputed champion of the D-League (Dementia League),  The string of victories over Barbara plunge ahead like a Naval warship sinking one enemy vessel after another.  Sunk:  the knowledge of where things go; destroyed: the ability to speak a complete sentence; sunk:  any memory longer than a few seconds;  destroyed:  the ability to follow a simple instruction.

Barbara remains in good physical health and is able to jump on her trike and follow my bicycle each morning for the same neighborhood tour we’ve taken for years.  This has been one of my favorite times of the day.  It made things seem almost “normal” for a few minutes.  Now, the Alzheimer Warship has turned its deadly weapons to this poor limping vessel.

The first shots occurred when Barb began suddenly to take side streets and leave the usual path we rode.  I didn’t notice until I looked back.  Of course, I always rode in front.  No way could she lead.

Barbara is very strong and can pedal her trike fast.  Eventually I catch up to her in a distant part of the neighborhood.  But recently, this damaged vessel took a direct hit from the Alzheimer’s warship which constantly stalks her, determined to finish the job and bring her down completely.

On our bike ride, I glanced back and saw her just disappearing from sight on the side street a block away.  By the time I got back to that street, she had disappeared completely.  I pedaled and turned my head repeatedly.  There was no sight of her.  Round and round the neighborhood I went, gathering up a band of morning strollers who were eager to help.  Almost all had a loved one touched by Alzheimer’s Disease and understood the urgency.

Finally, I rode home, hoping she had made her way back there.  But only Biscuit, the dog, was in the house, eager for a Beggin’ Strip.  Tired, I took the car back to the bike area where I last saw Barbara.  Folks were still looking and let me know there was no sign of her.

I parked the car and dialed 9-1-1 to ask for help from the police.  When I began to describe the problem, the voice on the other end said, “Is she on a trike?”  My spirits rose quickly.  “We have reports of a person on a tricycle riding into oncoming traffic on Fowler Avenue.”  Fowler is the nearest major street.  “An officer is on his way now to have a look.”  She talked with him on the radio and soon he was pulling up behind my car.  He had travelled the street without success.  I followed his patrol car while we went down Fowler looking for Barbara.

After turning around, the officer pulled over and I eased my car in behind his.  He had just received a call that Barbara was found.  She was at a home near our neighborhood.  What relief flooded over me!  When we entered the living room, Barb was holding hands with the precious lady of the house, with family members gathered round.  No one knew of a trike.  She had been standing at their door when they returned from church.  Later her rescuer told me her mom had Alzheimer’s and she recognized it in Barb right away and called 9-1-1.

I drove Barbara home without the tricycle.  A few hours later the police officer pulled up in front of our house.  He had the trike in the trunk of his car.  A neighbor had found it in the front yard and notified the police.  All day neighbors had taken action to help in the search.

I had ignored the stalking Alzheimer’s warship long enough.  That night I ordered a personal GPS tracker to attach to Barbara.  Now I will at least know where the battle is occurring as Alzheimer’s continues undefeated in the D-League.  ~~L