Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Brand New Day

Dear Mom,

Here we are right now sitting downstairs on this New Years Eve watching Animal Planet's Too Cute! Puppies. Today was definitely different from yesterday. We got up and had breakfast. I went back to relax a little, then got up. I wanted to go to the grocery store to get some sparkling grape juice. We always celebrate with that. When I told you I was thinking of going out, you asked if you could come because you didn't want to just stay at home. Of course I was planning on you coming with me. Then I also prepared myself for the next question...you of course asked if Bella could come. So we all got ready and got in the car. I went to get ice cream, which was buy one get one free. Then I ran into my friend Diane. We have known each other since I was in Elementary, you also know the family well, but when I mentioned to you that I saw her you didn't remember her. She was there shopping with her two gorgeous kids. We talked for a little bit, then her little 3 year old started getting a little restless, so we wished each other a Happy New Year and both went to finish our shopping. I found the sparkling grape juice and they were 2 for $6, so of course I HAD to get two! Then I just thought I would look at the cereal, I don't normally get it from the grocery store because it's too expensive. But they had my favorite, Special K with chocolate bits, for 2 for $5! Yay! Then I finally went to go check out. There were a lot of people in the store, but I went to self checkout and didn't have to wait long at all. When I got back to the car, I teased you that your people were in the store buying up the black eyed peas and collard greens. You just gave me a look, but I reminded you that when pappy was alive that was what you always did. We went one other place, then headed back home. I had cereal and you had your peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You went to get your bath and get your pj's on, and I went to play with the Wii. You came down a little later to watch me. We had a few good laughs then. You kept saying that you were hungry, but I told you you could go get another pb&j sandwich, even though you already had one. It was only 4:30 and I wanted to wait until at least 5:30. So you went up to get your sandwich, which I found out later was ice cream, or maybe you had the sandwich and ice cream. Tsk tsk! Lol Well, I got dinner ready and we ate. You went from sitting in the living room to being in bed, then after getting some dessert coming down here as I stated earlier. I was getting my last calories of 2011 in, and I knew you would want some more dessert. So I told you it was out in the kitchen. You asked me which way to go, which I thought sounded quite funny the way you said it, so I pretended to "guide" you to the cookies and then the ice cream. We were both cracking up by that point, then you said you really had to use the bathroom now. That made us both laugh even more. I told you that you make me laugh, and you said again as you have so often....it's good that we can laugh together. You're upstairs now, I'm going to take Bella out and head up with you to get ready to ring in the New Year. Glad we had a good day, glad for our laughter and enjoyment before we bring in the New Year. I want to treasure this because who knows what this year may bring. I'm going to try to keep a positive outlook, even though being a caregiver of a person with Alzheimer's is hard to keep that positive because I know things could get worse this year. BUT...that is not going to be my focus. My focus is going to be on enjoying each moment with you! So thankful for another year together and pray for many more. Hey maybe this will be the year for a cure for this awful disease...who knows, I'll just keep praying. Well, Happy New Year!! I love you!!

....A....Day....

Dear Mom,

What a day! It started fine. I got up, took Bella out, got clothes out on the curb for Hartsprings, got back in bed for a little bit, then we got up and had breakfast. Just as we were finishing up, the homemaker/companion came. I was just about to wash the dishes, but she offered to do it, which was nice. You ended up going into your room somehow, so when she was done, I ended up getting stuck listening to her talk for just about 2 hours straight! This is only her third day here, and she is very nice, but all she has seemed to do each time is talk...lots!! You kept looking in the kitchen from your room and waving at me. I think you were trying to get me to tell her to leave. You even came in at one point and said, "OK, come on, Stacey, we need to go." Then you winked at me. I asked you where we were going to go, you said you didn't know, but we always went somewhere. The only thing is we couldn't just leave, she was here for you! That's when I started to struggle. I was dying in the kitchen, trying to hold Bella as she kept squirming trying to get to the homemaker, or at least just keep her eyes on her. She was whimpering and panting and constantly moving, and the homemaker was just constantly talking, and then you were in your room waving and looking into the kitchen. I was pretty much ready to scream. I tried to tell you to come in the kitchen, but you wouldn't, but you were still getting impatient. Then there was a little reprieve when there was a knock at the door. When I went to answer it, it was one of your old friend, Bea, who came to see you. I wasn't sure if you would remember her. I told you to come into the kitchen because a friend was here to see you. You came in and I asked if you remembered her, your eyes brightened and you said you did. You gave her and her sister or friend...not quite sure, a hug. Then you invited them to come sit in the living room. She asked if you remembered her sisters, again you said you did, and she told you they were out in the car. You told her to have them come in. She went to get them and they came in. You again hugged and were happy to see them. They asked you questions about some of the things you all used to do or where you used to work, but you told them you didn't remember. They didn't stay for long, Bella was going a little nuts trying to see all of them. She was so excited, she doesn't get much company, so she didn't know which direction to even go. It was almost just a tad funny. They left and I ended up sitting back in the kitchen listening to more of whatever this girl was talking about. I kept watching the clock because I knew she should be leaving soon. Finally she did get up to call and check out. So I took Bella outside so she wouldn't go too crazy when she left. She ended up coming to try to say goodbye to Bella, which made her of course get hyper again. When she left, you asked me where we were going to go. I had no plan to go anywhere, but if you want to go out, I try to take you. There are only 3 days left of my break to take you out. So, I planned to just go get some stockings from one of my favorite stores. So we got ready to go. I got Bella's treat ready for her and gave it to her so we could leave. As she was enjoying her treat, you started complaining that we weren't taking her. I told you she can't always come with us. I wasn't even really planning on going anywhere, she would be fine for a few minutes. But you started getting a little bothered, so it got me bothered. I decided there was no reason to go anywhere if you were just going to sit in the car, but you seemed to get a little sulky. So I grabbed Bella up away from her treat and started to head out to the car. I think that made you happy. We got in the car, Bella got on your lap and we went to the store. You and Bella stayed in the car of course and I went in. And wouldn't you know they were having a 60% off sale. So I took a little longer than originally planned, but I also just needed to have a moment to myself to calm myself. I got my things, came out, and poor Bella just seemed ready to get out of the car. We got back home and I went downstairs to let off a little steam by playing the Wii. After a little while mom came down too. After playing the Wii, we watched some TV. Things seemed to calm down in my mind finally and the rest of the day went by well. I don't like getting so bothered, I feel so guilty because I know you can't help it. So, I'm sorry. I have been praying about it, and I'm working on it. So thankful the Lord knows, and understands and will help me. I do love you so!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sometimes I Wonder

Dear Mom,

Today is pappy's birthday. He would have been 78. I don't think you remembered at all, but I didn't want to bring it up because I didn't want you to be more sad. You have seemed pretty sad lately at some points. It breaks my heart to see you that way. But I have been very sad, too this holiday season. It's just hard not to really be able to share it with you. Christmas night we did sit in the living room for a little while with the tree lit and Bella in between us, just enjoying some time together, and talking a little about pappy. You said you were thinking of him and were sad. I told you, as I have told you many other times, it was OK to cry. I was. I just rested my head on your shoulder, and we sat that way for a while. I gave you a kiss on the cheek and told you how much I loved you. I can't help but wonder sometimes what things would be like if he were still here. And not only just if he were here, but if he were here and healthy. He wasn't healthy before he passed away, but before the leukemia and diabetes took over his body he was the strongest, most healthy man I knew. He probably could have lived to a good age. How different would things be? Would the cars and care of the cars be different/better? Would the house inside and out look different? Would things that are broken already be fixed? Would you even be suffering with this disease if he were still here? Would you be struggling as much getting around, or would you have been spending time with him, getting out, walking and talking with people, still active? Would you still have been teaching Sunday School? One thing I know would have been different....we definitely NEVER would have had our sweet little Bella. Pappy would never have allowed that! You wouldn't have either, but you were a little easier to convince than he ever would have been. It is hard to have him gone, especially around this time of year. So many memories and thoughts going through my mind. But he wasn't well, he was sick and getting very weak. It was breaking my heart how weak he seemed to be getting. So, although I know we both miss him tremendously, I would never want him to have to continue on in that pain and weakness he had been dealing with here on earth. He is in a much better place and thankfully no longer in pain. So today, instead of just wondering what could be or could have been, I'll just celebrate this wonderful man...your husband of 36 years, and the man I loved and called my pappy. Happy Birthday, Pappy, miss you! Love you, pappy, and love you mom! So thankful for you both!

Monday, December 26, 2011

My Favorite Memory

Dear Mom,

We had a wonderful Christmas yesterday!  There was so much that we did that I will share later, but right now I just had to post this!  I loved watching you and Bella open your gifts, it made me smile so much!  I was taking pictures and decided to take a couple of videos, too.  This is my favorite memory from yesterday, and I am so glad I got it on video. Bella had opened one of her gifts and was having a great time with it. As we were watching her, some jazzy song came on the Holiday music channel we were listening too, and the result was this great video.  You are probably going to be so embarrassed that I am showing this, but it is too cute! I hope anyone who sees it will enjoy it as much as I do!  I love this!!!!  And I love you!

Friday, December 23, 2011

What's Yours is Yours and What's Hers is Yours Apparently...

Dear Mom,

Yes, we celebrated Bella's birthday yesterday. We got her cake from Leaps and Bones, which makes wonderful goodies for dogs. They use all natural ingredients. I love that place. Bella loves their goodies, and oddly enough...so do you! Her cake was I think carob and some other ingredients, then had frosting on top and some type of seeds spread around the side. I cut the cake into pieces, so I could give Bella small pieces each night the next few nights. We had our dessert with her. As we were cleaning up, I noticed your mouth was full again. I asked what you were eating, I thought you had already finished your ice cream and cupcake. Of course you had, that's why we were cleaning up. So you apparently figured you would also give Bella's cake a try and stuffed one of the pieces in your mouth. Wow, now I have to have a new plan of action when I get things from Leaps and Bones. You ate one of her apple turnovers a couple of months ago and now you were eating her cake. I'll have to buy a couple and be sure to at least hide one for Bella if you're going to eat them from her. You were definitely enjoying it! I guess that's what grandma's do sometimes. At least it's healthy. :)Love you!

7 Years and Counting

Dear Mom,

Don't get confused, I know just 3 days ago I had 3 years and counting as the title. Well, that was for how long Bella has been with us/our family. But the 7 years is the number of years our sweet Bella has been alive. Yes, she is 7 years old today. We had a nice day! We went to Evergreen Walk. We had to head to Leaps and Bones so we could get Bella's cake for her birthday. She loves the wonderful things they have at that store and she loves their cakes. We walked around a bit, but not long after you were ready to go back to the car. We walked back and made sure you got in, then Bella and I did some more walking. I couldn't get her to stop. She loves being there, walking around, seeing the people, going into some of the stores, enjoying the smells, and getting noticed. There were a few people that wanted to pet her, and she indulged them each for a few seconds a piece. She really just wanted to be roaming around sniffing everything. She was having a great time and did not want to get back in the car yet. Finally I was able to get her to come back to the car and we were able to head home. Not long after we got home, your brother, Junie came over to see you. Bella loved that, she was able to sit on his lap the entire time, getting more spoiled than she already is. And of course she was very unhappy when he had to leave. After my class tonight, we sang to Bella and gave her part of her cake. We had ice cream and cupcakes to join in the celebration with her. She was definitely spoiled today, but isn't that pretty much how it is everyday? I think so! Fun times! Good memories! Love you!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Oh Mom

Dear Mom,

You gave me a bit of a rough time tonight. I know I shouldn't take it the wrong way, but I wasn't very happy with you. We had a great day, enjoying some time at the mall. I knew you would like to get out and you could sit and watch people while I did a little shopping. I found a place near the little train that kids can ride and across the way from Santa. I figured you would enjoy sitting and watching those things. I got a couple of things for you, then came back to get you. We went across the way to look at the new cupcake bakery. I had to get some for us! You wanted the princess one with pink frosting. We walked a little more, then I let you sit again, as I checked out another place. We finally got ready to go, I asked you if you wanted to eat out or get something and bring it home. You said you just wanted to bring something home. It was after 3 at that time, so that was fine. I figured we could go to Sonics. I had some coupons, but when I got in the car and looked for them, I realized I had taken them out because Uncle Cephus was working on the car. So I had taken some things out of it. I was disappointed, but still just decided to just go there. Foolishly when I got there I not only got our meals, but for some odd reason also decided to get ice cream sundaes for us. We already had the cupcakes and didn't need the ice cream, but I ordered it. We got home and ate. We had our ice cream sundaes right after so they wouldn't melt or get too hard in the freezer. We enjoyed it. But it was only a bit after 4 when we ate, so I knew you would end up wanting something else later. You have been eating a lot lately. At about 7:30 when I was in the living room trying to get a little nap in, you were in there too, but you woke me up by saying you were going to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I should have just let you do that, but I wanted you to have something healthier. I told you you could/should have the rest of the roasted veggies I had made the other day. You really liked them! I put them in the oven for you, but of course you didn't want them. I had gone back into the living room to relax when I heard you rummaging. When I asked you what you were doing you said you were just getting one of those things. I jumped up and went into the kitchen to see you chomping on a cupcake, and not even the one that you wanted. You were eating the eggnog cupcake that I only bought one of because I didn't know if I would like it, but wanted to try it. I tried to tell you to put it back and to eat something better first. You just kept pushing me away and putting into your mouth faster and said you were already eating it and it was too late. That really got to me, I ended up taking the rest of the cupcakes and even the ice cream and brought them downstairs, that way you couldn't try to sneak something else later. You were in the kitchen about 9:30, but I didn't even worry since I had brought everything downstairs, I didn't need to worry about you having more sugar. A little while ago, I got you to bed, and of course you have forgotten all about it. I am working on doing that too. It's really not that bad, I guess, but it just really got to me tonight. I still love you, but I don't want you to end up sick from eating too many sweets. Of course if I didn't buy them then you wouldn't. As I said before, I'm still learning! Lots to learn! Well, I love you! Sleep well!

Monday, December 19, 2011

3 Years and Counting...

Dear Mom,

3 years ago today I was a very excited girl! I had a surprise for you that you had no clue about...that at the time you would not have wanted to have a clue about. You would not have been very happy with me if you knew the surprise I had coming for us. I went to school for the half day before Christmas break. We were going to be having our Christmas Around the World party in our classroom and exchange gifts. I had another gift that I was waiting for and truly looking forward to...a gift that I had actually waited 20+ years for. At one point during the party I heard that my gift was going to be coming. One of the Sr. High girls told me she was coming in with it. I went to meet her in the hallway because I was so excited to see...not it, but her! Her name was Bella and she was the most precious, sweet, and adorable 4 year old Maltese ever. I started tearing up when I saw her. I couldn't believe I actually, FINALLY had a dog.
It wasn't just the fact that we now had a dog, but also the fact that we got her 11 months to the day after pappy had passed away. That was such a special, neat blessing. I finished up at school and went to Petco to get a few things...and if I am going to be honest...to kinda show her off. I have always wanted to do that. :) Then it was home to introduce her to you. I was quite nervous to bring her home, because you do not like animals at all and have always told me never to bring a dog into the house. You and pappy never allowed anything other than fish or newts, and then as I started teaching you didn't mind the gerbils I brought home. I guess as long as it was in a tank of some kind you were OK. Well, I brought her home and you looked at her and wondered whose dog she was. I told you she was ours, but you didn't really believe me, you thought I was joking and that I was just dog sitting for her like I have done for other dogs. I told you that someone wanted us to have her and she was ours and showed you all of her things that I had with me. You didn't seem too thrilled, but didn't say much else. I took her for a walk around the block and came back to show you the gifts that I had gotten from my kids at school that day. As I was showing you Bella wanted up on the bed. I put her up there. As you were looking at the gifts she was near you and next thing I knew your hands were gently petting her. I couldn't believe what I was seeing! You who has always been so afraid of dogs and never wanted anything to do with them...you were actually petting our sweet girl. It just reiterated the fact that she was supposed to be ours. She fit right in! Since then you have totally fallen in love with her. She has been a great companion for you. She's your bed mate every night and your companion during the day. She's also definitely my baby, and I get to share some pretty special times with her as well. She has been just right for us. So thankful for her, she's been so great for you. I knew after pappy died you would need a purpose again and she has been that! God truly blessed us with a bad, spoiled, crazy, fun, funny, playful, special, loud, naughty, beautiful, wonderful, amazing girl! My poor friend Sam, I was so excited to get a picture of Bella, I didn't
quite get all of her head, oops. :)

(I also just have to mention how ironic it is that Marley and Me is on tonight as I am writing this!) You watched some of it too, but now you're sleeping...with your sweet granddaughter by your side.

Sleep tight! Love you!

Good Appointment

Dear Mom,

I was home with you on Wednesday because I was going to be taking you to an appointment with one of your cancer doctors. I was so excited for the chance to sleep in a little. We had breakfast and I got ready. We left the house probably around quarter to eleven, so we would have plenty of time to get there. We got to the hospital at about 11:05 or a little after. I went to go into the parking area, but the gate was closed and it wouldn't open. So, I had to back up and go around to the front where I could let you off and find a place to park, or have the valet guys park the car. I definitely was not going to leave you, but I also did not have any change to pay the valet. I had to wait a while for one of them to come back so I could ask about the parking. One finally did come back and I asked about the gated parking place. I told him that this was where I had been told to park, instead of in the parking garage, because it was closer in that lot. I don't think he really understood everything I was asking or trying to say, but he told me to go ahead and he controlled the gate to go up when we got there. I got through, but the parking lot was so crowded. I had to be very careful and finally found a place near the end of the lot to park. By this time we were almost late, if not already late. I got to the desk and told them you had an appointment to see Dr. Davis. The lady at the desk then told me I was at the wrong place...ugh. I felt awful, you had walked all that way and now you were having to walk back again. I was also a bit stressed at this point because we were definitely late now. We got back in the car, carefully drove out of that lot and went down the street. At first I missed the right driveway, had to turn around and get back to the right one. There were no close places and we weren't in our car so I didn't have your handicapped tag. When we got in the office it was quite full, and there were no chairs together. One nice lady switched her seat so mom and I could sit together. The nice thing is they all know you there, so I just explained why we were late and they were very kind about it. You had to go get blood work done first, go sit back in the waiting room and wait for the doctor. I was able to have a nice talk with the doctor. He said things hadn't seemed to change much since the last appointment. He checked you and said things looked good. That was great to hear. He also said that you have been cancer free for 5 1/2 years and that your surgery was about 5 years ago. Since things looked good, he suggested that instead of coming to see him in 6 months we could just start coming once a year. That was so great to hear. Glad this appointment went well. Though I must admit I couldn't help thinking, I wonder what next year would bring as we tried to keep up with that appointment. I didn't dwell on the thought, just crossed my mind for a bit. Well, it's one day at a time, one step at a time, and this was a great step to know that you were doing well. Praising the Lord for that and for you! Love you!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Still Learning...

Dear Mom,

I'm still getting used to this disease and how it affects you. Sometimes I think I am getting it down some, then something new or different comes up and I realize I really have no clue...at all. I'm still learning, though. I realized this on Sunday morning when you were getting ready for church. You were putting on the same outfit that you wear around the house everyday. You have worn that to church lately, and it's not a problem, but today we were also going to another church to celebrate my cousin, your nephew, Terry's ordination as a deacon. We would be seeing much of our family later. I knew you would want to look nice for this special occasion. I decided to try to help you choose something a little nicer to put on, not because I cared if you wore the other outfit, but I knew you would be more comfortable, and you would probably give me a hard time later if I hadn't chosen something nice for you. Here's the part where I'm still learning. I pulled out two different outfits for you to decide which one you wanted to wear. There was a nice red sweater with a red, white, and black skirt. I wasn't sure if you would want to wear that skirt because it was chillier out and the skirt wasn't that heavy. So, I also took out a nice black and white jumper with a pretty black and white sweater with a scarf to match. I put the two outfits out for you and told you you could choose which one you wanted to wear. You mentioned maybe wearing the jumper and black and white sweater. I told you that was fine. I was heading back to my room to get ready for church myself. Before I left you asked me what you should wear. I again told you and showed you the two choices. I was in my room getting ready and you called me to come help you. You asked if you should wear the red sweater. I told you that you could and you asked if you were supposed to wear it with the jumper. I told you you could, but that I had taken out the black and white sweater to go with it. So then you thought of wearing the skirt that I chose with that sweater. When you saw that it wasn't as heavy as you might have liked you decided to choose the jumper outfit with the white sweater. That's when I finally got wise, sometimes it takes me a while. I finally took the other outfit and put it up so you wouldn't be confused as to what to wear. So, see, I'm slowly learning! I wish I could learn to deal with things you might say that I struggle hearing. Such as when you tell me that I look pregnant, or that I need to hurry up and find a husband and have grandchildren before you are gone. The fact that I am still quite single with not even a glimpse of having a husband or kids has been very hard, especially lately as I am getting older. Then it has also bothered me that I never had grandchildren for you or dad to enjoy. Especially when there are so many (about 10 or so)people I know that are pregnant or are having/have had babies recently. I had always hoped to. So it's a bit hard to think about sometimes. I do have to say that I am glad that I am able to really help take care of you. You always took such good care of me and now it's my turn, and I'm proud to be able to do it. So, I keep trying to remind myself that they are just words, and I need not take it seriously. It's just part of our relationship now. I know there will always be something new now. That's another thing I am learning. With this disease there is never a set, dull moment, there is always something new and different. It definitely keeps things spontaneous and new. It's almost the same as when you watch the news. All the news stories, no matter how old they are, always seem new and incredible and fascinating to you, as if you have never heard them. Which, in your mind(literally), you haven't. If I can just take this journey in that light, that things will be new and interesting, always spontaneous and fascinating maybe I can learn to deal with some things a little better. I guess all I can do is try! I love you so much!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Oh What a Night!

Dear Mom,

Oh what a night, and it has nothing to do with late December back in '63. Earlier this evening we went to go see your nephew, my cousin, be ordained as a deacon in his church. Many of the family were there, his mom, uncle and sisters from Georgia even came up to be a part of this. It was a nice service, but we didn't get to stay for all of it because I had to go back to my church to be a part of a Christmas singspiration we were having. I tried to get you to come over to the church with me. I thought you might like just sitting and singing Christmas hymns and songs and having some cookies and hot chocolate. Plus my little kids that I have in my Pee Wee's class were going to be singing 3 songs and I thought you would enjoy hearing them. I couldn't quite convince you to come, you wanted to get home to Bella. So, I had to bring you home and then head right over to the church. I made sure you got into the house safely, but left so Bella wouldn't see me. I knew she would get too excited if she did. I checked to see that you were in with the door shut before I took off. I made it to church in plenty of time. I helped get the pastor's boys set up downstairs at a table, while their mom brought the little sister to the nursery. I sat with them and waited until Pastor and Megan came down, then stayed at the same table with them. We sang a couple Christmas hymns, then the Pee Wees went up to sing their three songs. They were so cute and did a great job. My only regret was not taking video or having someone else take a video of them as I had planned. They were so adorable, though! One of the songs Pastor wanted to be sure the whole sang was"Jingle Bells", so we sang "Jingle Bells" and Mr. Glenn had everyone take out their car keys to be the jingling bell sound! There was more special music from our Youth Director and his wife and the choir. Pastor Tom read the Christmas story to the kids that were there, while they sat on the floor around him. It was so sweet! We sang many wonderful songs. It was so sweet to sing those songs and hear Pastor's boys singing so sweetly and confidently behind me with the songs that they knew well. I especially loved hearing them sing "Glo-ria, in excelsis deo"! It was a great night, and we were out about the same time we normally are out of church if not a teeny bit earlier. I came home and was greeted by Bella as usual. As I was just about to take her out to go potty, I called to say hello to you. I heard a weak cry from somewhere. I quickly walked down the hallway and opened the bathroom door, but it was dark, so you weren't there. Then I went to your room.... there you were on the floor by the front of the bed on your back. I was shocked! I don't know what happened, you still had your clothes on. It looked like you were trying to take your jumper off, I don't know if somehow you fell because of that. Your shoes were beside you, your coat was underneath you, and the Life Alert necklace that you should/could have used to have someone help you was on the floor on the other side of your coat. Kinda defeats the purpose of it, sadly. I didn't know how to try to get you up. Finally I got behind you and just tried lifting you straight up. It finally worked...thankfully. I couldn't help but giggle a little at the craziness of trying to get you up, that made you giggle too. Glad we could get a little giggle, even though it wasn't a funny situation. I am pretty sure you were there the whole time I was gone, but sadly didn't use your Life Alert. Thankfully you were OK. After all of that you were better and of course wanted your ice cream. You had that, but then your TV wasn't working properly, I switched yours with another one, but then had to call Direct TV to get it set up properly. So, boy was I ready to come down here and blog. Thankfully my back has held up OK after lifting you and both of those TV's. I hope and pray things are back to normal for us. So thankful that you are OK and things weren't worse. Sorry I wasn't there for you for a while. God took care of you for me. So thankful! I pray that you will be safe when I'm not here, and that you will remember to use your Life Alert necklace if something goes wrong. I have so many other things to share with you, but will later. Glad you're ok, I love you!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Family Time

Dear Mom,

This past Saturday we went to Hometown Buffet for breakfast with the family. We do that sometimes, but I wasn't quite sure what the occasion was this time. We got there and got in the long line with Uncle Cephus and Auntie Ann. I was worried about you standing in that line for a while and kept checking to see if you wanted to go sit down. Some of the family had already gotten there and had saved some tables. Of course you said you were fine and did not want to go sit down. So, I just kept a close eye on you to make sure you would be fine. Not long after standing there I heard someone calling to Uncle Cephus from behind us in line. I turned around to see my cousin Lou standing there, I was so surprised!! It didn't really faze you at all, but she is from Georgia, and we had no idea she was here. So were Auntie Alberta and Uncle George, your brother and sister-in-law, and a couple of other cousins. As I turned around to see them all, it brought tears to my eyes! Dad's brother is 88 and his sister is 87, the last time we saw them was at the family reunion a couple of years ago in Georgia. So much has changed since then. I think you did sort of recognize them, but not enough to be as excited and shocked as I was. I was just so glad to see them. I made sure to get some pictures, because who knows what will change before the next time we see them. A little later some of Auntie Alberta's grandchildren and great grandchildren also came in. We took up about 8 or 9 tables with the family and that wasn't even close to being all of them. It was great to see all of pappy's siblings that are still alive together again. It was so special. You ate very well and did seem to enjoy yourself. And of course, after you were done with your breakfast, you were ready to have your ice cream. So....I made sure to get you some. So you were set. What a great time!

Auntie Alberta with her sister-in-law Doris, and brother-in-law and sister Cephus and Ann

Family

Cousin Debbie with her great niece

Cousin Lou with her granddaughter

Cousins

You with Auntie Ann

Cousins Corey and Derek at our table

All of our tables

Pappy's brothers, Uncle George and Uncle John

Pappy's other brother, Uncle Henry with Uncle George

What a great family time and a special surprise...for me anyway. Glad you got to see them as well and make memories. Love you!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Getting Ready for Christmas

Dear Mom,

It's Christmas time again. I can't believe it's here again, I love this time of year! I must say it's been a little hard this year, really missing pappy so much more this year for some reason, and having you be even a little more different than even last year. But you definitely have this childlike innocence and excitement. I decided to do what I did last year, by putting the old Christmas tree upstairs, while I kept our new one downstairs, since that's the one we put the presents under. So, right after Thanksgiving, I pretty much just dragged the old tree upstairs and put it in the living room. It is one of those pre-lit trees, so I just added a few ornaments to it. I hadn't even finished putting ornaments on it yet. But you have been raving about that tree! You sit in the living room and just praise me for doing such a great job on the tree. You ask me how I got all the lights put on it and I tell you they already came on the tree, which seems to impress you even more. You tell me you didn't know that, but of course you do since you were there when we chose it years ago. I almost think if you knew how you would call the local station to have them come over and check out our amazing tree. You keep talking about people coming over so they can see it. You even told your sister who is from Virginia,that she needs to come see the tree. That would be a long trip to see a pre-lit, slightly crooked, barely decorated tree, that has bare spots from where I haven't or haven't been able to fluff it back out so it looks full! But I'm very glad you like it so much. Sometimes you just sit in the living room to enjoy it. I did finally buy some different blinged-out ornaments to put on the tree. So, it's sort of getting there, but if you love it....well that's good enough for me. I decorated the tree downstairs a little more to my liking. Since it is another pre-lit tree, but this one with white lights, I can find neat colors to decorate with. A friend from church decorated her tree in purple this year, she recently became a Christian and wanted the tree to reflect royalty since she is a child of the King. I loved that idea, so was looking to do the same thing, but didn't find that nice dark purple color (our favorite color). But I did find a nice color and some pretty ornaments that I really like. So I sit downstairs and enjoy looking at that one.
Your other excitement has come from the packages that have been arriving at the house. I took advantage of some online sales over Thanksgiving weekend and on Cyber Monday. Two came a couple of days ago and you kept asking what was in them, but I told you they were for Christmas so I probably was not going to open them. Of course you asked about three more times after that. Then you said you were going to take your bath, but told me not to open them until you came back out. You mentioned that a couple of times as well. Yesterday another package came, and once again you wanted to know what was in it. I told you again I wasn't opening it yet. So, whenever you're not looking I hide the packages in the guest room. That works, because when you don't see them you forget about them. I haven't even looked at the packages, because some of them are for me, and even though I bought them and know what they are, waiting until Christmas to see them in person will be fun. That way we can both have something under the tree. Then of course I will have to make sure Bella has some things too. I haven't done a whole lot this year, but I did get both trees up. I have to admit I hadn't really been ready to decorate much, mostly because our temperatures have been so warm lately (50's and 60's). So, it's been hard to get into the spirit, plus it's different decorating by myself. I do hope to do a few more things, but we're getting there...getting ready. I would definitely like to be sure to get the nativity scene out. That's the joy of this time of year, remembering the birth of Christ. As we remember that special time, I hope to make some special memories with you during this Christmas time. I love you!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Tired....Emotional

Dear Mom,

It has been pretty rough lately. I think I'm just tired and run down. The running around has definitely started again. And you have become a bit more clingy, which for some reason has become hard for me. Whether it's coming into the living room while I am trying to get a little nap in, to "talk" to me. Or whether it's coming downstairs to sit for a little while with me while I try to relax, get on the computer, and watch some TV. It usually doesn't last long because you love your Hallmark channel and I am usually watching something else that you get tired of sooner or later. But while you're down here I am not able to write these notes to you, or other things because I can't use the computer. You have been wanting to go with me more if I am going someplace or getting something quickly, you want to come at least just sit in the car. So, maybe it's just losing a little of that independence that I was used to having that is hard for me. I also think part of it is emotions. This year for some reason, more than the past couple of years, I have really been missing pappy. Last week, during Thanksgiving break, I was playing bowling on the Wii, and I did a certain move that reminded me of him. You know that was his game and he was great at it. He would do this little move to the side and kinda let out a little "oohh", as he hoped to make a spare. That's what I did. Lou Rawls came on the radio singing a Christmas song the other night and I choked up remembering how everyone used to say pappy looked like him. I heard Ray Charles singing "The Spirit of Christmas", again it brought me to tears. The first time I heard that song, I have to say, I kinda didn't like it and made fun of it. But the other night I just enjoyed his distinctive voice, and the sweet message of the song. It reminded me of when I was little and pappy gave me his 8-track player and one of the 8-track tapes was Ray Charles, and my favorite song was "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay". Such memories. I have heard some other Christmas songs talking of families and treasuring those moments and it makes me think of you and pappy. I am so glad that I didn't take Christmas 2007 for granted, and made him the special picture of Big Papi that he really liked. I just don't want to get so worn out and worn down that I don't enjoy this time with you! I feel guilty thinking that I want more "me" time, but then again I also know I need it. Last night, you were just sitting on the edge of your bed, when I asked you what you were doing you said, "I'm just looking at my husband's picture." Then you broke down on my shoulder. I tried to stay strong for you, but we both cried. You said, "Sometimes I just need to cry." I told you I agreed because you don't normally do that. I did cry, but held back, then when I took Bella out, I really let myself cry. It's just been so tough. You had a rough morning this morning. For the second morning in a row you had an accident. I was rushing because I had already gotten a little bit of a late start. I changed the bed, then went to get ready. As I was getting ready, I thought I heard you call me. I went to the bathroom to see what was wrong. You were sitting on the toilet seat putting your clothes on. You were trying to pull up your stockings, but had leaned over and couldn't get yourself back up. I sat you up, but you still seemed pretty weak. I helped you get your stockings up, your socks on and your pants up as well. I also got a drink of water for you because you just seemed so weak. At that point, I just texted the school secretary to tell her I was going to be late to school. I probably would have just taken the day off if I weren't subbing for someone. But once you had the water you seemed better. I made you drink the whole cup. You were finally able to get up, but I wasn't leaving you until after you had eaten breakfast and were safely back in bed, and I made sure you were really OK. I made breakfast for both of us, watched you get back in bed and finally finished getting ready. Thankfully you did fine the rest of the day! I called to check on you and when I did you told me the homemaker/companion was there. That also made me feel better. I got home in the afternoon and you were your normal self. We had a good night, you ate a good dinner and you of course had to have your dessert, but this time I had apple pie to go with your ice cream. Of course you were pretty excited about that! I'm glad to see you doing better tonight. Although I'm a bit tired and emotional, I don't want to miss any special times with you! I hope through the emotions and tough times, we will have a wonderful holiday season together. I don't want to take one moment for granted. I love you!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving

Dear Mom,

Happy Thanksgiving! Yes, can you believe it? It's already Thanksgiving! Of course you have been watching the Hallmark Channel all the time and they have been doing all Christmas shows, so you thought it was already over. This morning as we ate breakfast and watched the Thanksgiving Day Parade, you probably asked me 5 or 6 times if it was Thanksgiving. So, 5 or 6 times I told you yes, yes it is Thanksgiving. We enjoyed our breakfast of cereal, egg sandwich, and even a piece of cream cheese filled braided bread. We both really enjoyed it, and both snuck a little extra piece after. We relaxed for a little bit, then got ready to go meet Auntie Ann and Uncle Cephus at Hometown Buffet. We got there about the same time as cousin Karen, and Uncle Cephus, Auntie Ann, and Yvonne were already inside the door waiting for us. We went in and were surprised that the line was as long as it was. The place was pretty crowded. You weren't feeling up to walking around and just wanted me to get your food for you. You ate well! You had chicken, lasagna, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and a roll. When you finished that plate, I asked you if you wanted something else and you said a little something. So for your second round you had a slice of pizza and a cinnamon roll. Although I'm not the biggest fan of Hometown Buffet, I was just glad to eat some things that I liked. Since I'm not the biggest turkey eater. I had pizza, lasagna, fish, sweet potatoes, french fries, and a roll. On my second round, I had more fish, and some tortillas with meat, cheese, pico de gallo and corn and onions on top. By then, I was pretty full. You said you were too, but must have mentioned 2 or 3 times that you wanted your ice cream! You are so funny! No matter how full you are you have to have your ice cream. I got you ice cream and some apple strudel. I had the cherry pie with some ice cream. By then we were definitely stuffed. We had such a great time with the family...so many laughs! At one point in the meal you were getting a little warm, I told you that you better not pass out on me. You looked at Uncle Cephus and asked if he would save you, He said of course, I'll throw a glass of cold water in your face! We had a good laugh. Then you and Auntie Ann were cracking up about something, but I had no clue why. It was just great to see you laugh and enjoy yourself and eat so well. Yvonne, Karen, and I had some great laughs too. And I introduced them both to Angry Birds, they both enjoyed it, but Karen was really getting into it, and was threatening to keep my phone. We gave hugs and thanks and said goodbye and headed home. As we were leaving the driveway I looked across the street to see a long line of people with tents and chairs outside of Best Buy. I had to drive over there to get a closer look. It was crazy! It was also so strange to see everything closed down, even McDonald's. We were both surprised by that. When we got home I went to down to play on the Wii and you came down and watched for a little bit, before going to get your pj's on. You were excited to be able to watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. You don't ever watch those anymore because you always have the Hallmark Channel on. Not long after that, guess what you asked for? Yup, you guessed it...ice cream! So, cf course you did have more, lol. I'm so thankful for a good day with you, though you don't really remember it. I have great memories! I love you!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

You are so Amazing!

Dear Mom,

You truly are amazing! Thursday and we were still in the dark and in the cold house, but you were still doing fine. The other day that we didn't go to Evergreen Walk was Friday. My friend Sharan invited us to come over again. This time they were going to be home. I figured you wouldn't mind since we had already been over there once. You sort of remembered the house. Sharan was so great! She also invited me to bring over any laundry that we might have. That was a huge blessing, since I had been having you wear double pj's, when you had an accident that was two pairs of pj's that had to go in the laundry. Thank goodness, I think you only had two accidents, but I didn't know what I was going to do if you had any more. I was trying to figure out what I was going to do about laundry. How silly of me to worry, when the Lord already knew what we needed, and had it taken care of. It was also great because Thursday late afternoon you had another type of accident that we kept contained as much as possible. It didn't get on your clothes, but since you had been keeping your gloves on those got messed up. The only other things that were affected were the bathroom rugs. It was rough for me to handle, but I was able to somehow handle it with the Lord's help. He was so good. So what a blessing to be able to do laundry on Friday! We brought Bella with us again, and her children kept Bella entertained while we took our showers. After our showers, we still had to wait for the clothes, so we were able to sit, relax, watch TV, and fellowship with Sharan. Her daughter made us some hot chocolate. You loved it...loved it so much that they made you another cup. After that cup you had the nerve to ask me if I had finished mine, I told you you could have it. You tried to pretend that you didn't, but it didn't take much convincing for you to drink the rest of mine. Hey, as long as you were happy. :) Saturday and Sunday were a little more of the same. The only thing that was different was that when we came home from Evergreen Walk on Sunday, we found out that our electricity was back on. It had been a week and a day, and we finally had our electricity back. I was shocked that you did so well that whole time...being home, being cold, being in the dark. And even continuing to have your ice cream each night in the freezing cold, but it never quite seemed to bother you much. We stuck it out and made it through, who knew?!
I couldn't help but to think of all the things you have been through in your life, getting rheumatic fever as a teenager, having rheumatoid arthritis, having to live in a convalescent home for part of that time, having to go to night school to finish and graduate High school, having a heart murmur, risking your health just to have me because your heart wasn't supposed to be strong enough, having two knee replacements on the same knee, finding out you had breast cancer, having a lumpectomy, then having about 20 lymph nodes removed only a week or two later, going through chemo and radiation, surviving breast cancer for the past 4 or 5 years, dealing with sciatic and arthritis pain, and now dealing with Alzheimers. And now here we were in a freezing cold house and you handled it like a champ. That's just who you are...an amazing, strong woman! I'm proud to be your daughter! Love you!

Another Fun Day!

Dear Mom,

The power outage from Storm Alfred lasted longer than we could have ever imagined! Yet, you wanted to stay home and not go anywhere else. Your sister and brother were concerned that it was too cold for you to stay home. But we enjoyed more days like Monday. Almost every day that week we went to Evergreen Walk to get warm and walk around. It was so great to see you get out and walk, to see you getting some sun, to see you engaging with people! The only days we didn't go to Evergreen Walk were Wednesday and Friday. On those days we went to my friend Sharan's house. She invited us over to be able to take showers. Wednesday they weren't home and just let us have the house to shower. Even though they weren't home, they have a new kitty Chloe who was. We brought Bella with us and when she saw Chloe, she just wanted to get at her. It was pretty funny! I'm sure we looked a sight as we went into their house. I had Bella on the leash, a bag with our bath things in it, a lawn chair, and then I was helping you with your cane try to get up the stairs to this house. I brought the lawn chair because at home you have a bath chair. You don't stand for long and you can't get all the way down in the tub, so....lawn chair. So thankful the Lord helped me think of that! We got wonderful hot showers, then were getting dressed to be ready to go. The bathroom was getting too hot and crowded for me. So, I took Bella out to sit in the hallway while you finished getting ready. Well, Chloe had come to check on us and see what we were doing. She was in a clothes basket, and when she saw Bella straining to get near her, she jumped up and tried to take a swipe at her. I had to laugh, she was letting Bella know she wasn't going to be intimidated by her. I opened the door so you could watch them too. We got some good laughs and entertainment watching them. You went to sit out in the hall to wait for me as I cleaned the bathroom. When I looked back out in the hallway at you, you somehow ended up with both Bella and Chloe on your lap, it was such a funny sight I had to take a video.
So here we were still having some fun memories at my friend's house. Another great day...another quiet, cold, but in an odd way, cozy seeming night, with the candlelight all around.
But again, you really wanted to stay home, so if you were good, I was glad to be able to be home, too. Such precious times that I will always remember. And yet, there were still more days to go. More to tell next time. Love you!

You Make Me Laugh

Dear Mom,

I have to take a little side track from Storm Alfred, because I don't want to forget this. Last week we were traveling to Auntie Ann and Uncle Cephus' house. While on the highway, we were listening to a Christian song on the radio. The lady in the song was singing a song where it repeated words such as, enfold me, refresh me, uphold me, embrace me, and a few other things like that. After hearing her repeat those words a few times you looked over at me and said with such a serious face, "She's asking for so much!" I burst out laughing, you started laughing really hard. You said, "Well she is!" Hahaha That was just so classic and you really shocked me by coming out with that...laughed so hard! Oh you make me laugh...and I love that! I love you!

Monday, November 21, 2011

After the Storm

Dear Mom,

I know I already talked about this a little, but there were so many other neat memories I wanted to share. The craziness that started October 29 lasted for a much longer time than we could have ever expected. It was a crazy snow storm that came, with lots of wet, heavy snow, and wind, which brought down many branches, but many trees as well. We didn't realize that until we started driving around more that week. As I said, Sunday, I had to go get gas for the car so I could keep my cellphone charged, since that was our only source of communication. I didn't even consider what a big deal that was to get gas, until I got into the line. There were only about two cars in front of me, but one of the cars had about 5 gas containers that they also needed to fill. Thankfully there were people with this lady to help her fill the containers at another pump. As I was waiting, one of the gas attendants told another one to wave people on because there was no more gas. That worried me a little, but when I got up there I was able to fill my tank. That was truly the Lord. The next order of business was to find something for us to eat. Since there were so many cars in the area, I knew that most places such as McDonald's or Panera or even Bertucci's for that matter, would have long lines. So the Lord brought to mind Whole Foods grocery store that was right across the street. I went to their hot bar and got two take-out containers for us, as well as some Gelato, got right into a checkout line, and was soon headed back home. Monday came and I thought we needed to get out of the cold house. We took Bella and headed back to the town where I got the gas just the day before. Boy were we surprised to see so much traffic! We could barely get down that street. People going by on the opposite side were slowing down to warn that there was no gas at any of the three gas stations. I couldn't believe it! I finally went down a side street and headed back in the direction of our town. I knew there was no place to go in our town because our town had no power at all. I thought of going to Evergreen Walk in another town to see if there was any power there. I thought it would be great for us. We could walk around and get warm and Bella could walk around with us. There were also plenty of benches so if you got tired of walking you could sit and rest. We went into a couple of shops with Bella and got so many compliments on her. I know you were a proud grandma! When you got tired you sat, and Bella and I would walk some more. After a bit we would leave and get something to eat before we went back home. Sometimes I would go back out and find something for dinner. We would make sure to be home before it got dark. As we drove around that day, we saw so many trees down, across roads, sticking out into the road, we were driving under and over so many wires, it was pretty scary. So I definitely didn't want to be driving at night where I wouldn't be able to see well with all of that going on. We would really bundle up at night. I made sure you had two pairs of pj's on, plus your heavy robe, sometimes your coat, and your gloves, and a nice big fluffy, warm blanket. We would sit in the living room with candles lit, listening to talk radio and laughing with one another. Even though it was cold enough to see our breath inside the house, you still wanted to have your ice cream every night. You didn't even really complain much about the cold, as long as you had your ice cream or some other treats I bought for us, you were fine. We would head to bed early. I would always make sure you and Bella were quite cozy in bed. I put the sheet over you, along with the comforter, and that big, fluffy, warm blanket, and your robe and sometimes another sheet. Once we were in bed we didn't even realize anything was really different, except for the fact that things were a little darker than normal. The cold mornings reminded us, well, at least reminded me of the power being out. You kept trying to turn the TV on first thing, and were shocked when it wouldn't come home. Then I would remind you the power was out, and you were shocked by that and would ask why. Then I would remind you of the storm, and you were shocked that there was a storm. We had some pretty interesting mornings and more interesting days, which I will write more about later. I really want to remember these special memories, so I will continue to share. Even though it was a difficult week, it was special to be able to spend it with you! Love you!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Another Crazy Weekend and More Little Victories

Dear Mom,

I thought that last weekend was crazy, well that was nothing compared to what the next weekend would be. The weekend of October 29 was quite the interesting weekend. We were surprised, pleasantly, on Saturday morning to some men from your church coming over to the house. I had just gotten a text that they would be coming so we hurriedly got out of bed, got dressed and went to go have our breakfast. Soon after they came over and started taking care of some of the things that needed fixing around the house. They checked the washing machine, which had been spewing water all over and found that there was a little hole in the bottom of the tub. They took that washing machine out and brought a good, working one that had been just sitting in the church's shed for months. They nailed the falling drain pipe back in it's proper place. They pulled up all the wet carpet from the laundry room and threw it away. They turned off the outside faucet that had been constantly dripping so much it was almost running. They were such a blessing to us! As they left, I had a plan of trying to get to the mall quickly before this supposed snow storm came. On my way to the mall, sleet started coming down. That made me nervous, because the weather forecasters were saying this could be a rough storm. So plans changed...instead of the mall, I ended up just going to the Chinese Restaurant near the mall to get some food and Bubble Tea for us. When I left the Chinese Restaurant and saw the coating of snow on my car, I knew I had made the right decision. The wet, heavy snow continued through the night and was coming down pretty hard. At about 4:30 or 5 that night our lights went out. I got the flashlights, lanterns, and candles out. We had plenty of light to see by. We hung out together in the living room, listening to talk radio and watching the flashing of some transformers, as well as some lightning. We even heard some snow thunder as we were sitting there. I made sure you were all bundled up in a couple pairs of pj's, some gloves, a big comfy robe and a huge soft, fluffy blanket. We sat for a while enjoying one another's company, then got ready to go to bed. As we slept that night, you slept totally fine, but I kept hearing the cracking and breaking of large branches around us constantly. I was concerned for you and Bella because your room is at the back of the house, where we have some tall trees. I kept checking to make sure nothing was coming toward the house, and especially your room. I'm glad you slept well though. The power never came back on that night, so I woke up later than usual. I wanted to make sure you got up so the bed wouldn't be wet. The first thing you wanted to do was to put the TV on. You didn't understand why it wouldn't come on. I had to remind you that the power was out. This surprised you, and you asked why, I explained that we had a bad snow storm and that's why. I went to take Bella out and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The trees were leaning down so heavily, many huge branches and limbs were down. As I looked around the street, I saw the tree at the end of the street was leaning over the road on some wires, and there was also a large wire hanging down on the street. I took pictures to show you. We didn't know it at the time, but this was going to be the beginning of a long week. Neither one of us had church Sunday because of the storm and the after effects of the storm. I may write some more personal, more specific letters to you later. But it was another crazy weekend. You didn't go anywhere Sunday, but I had to go get gas for the car because I was almost on empty. There was only one gas station open in our town, but the crazy line that was forming down the block made me go elsewhere. I was afraid if I tried to wait in that line I would run out of gas before I got to a pump. So, I had to drive to another town and was one of the last cars to make it before they ran out of gas. The next day, I did take you out. Then the victory part came because we left the house everyday to get warm. We went to a great outdoor mall, Evergreen Walk. We took Bella because they allow dogs there. It was so great to get you and Bella out. You walked around a little, then when you were tired there were plenty of benches where you could sit in the sun. What a great thing, you were getting out of the house, getting some sun, walking some, and socializing a little with different people we met. It was great to see you and Bella do so well. You were such a trooper all week, I was so proud of you and was so thankful for all the time we got to spend together, lots of laughs and good memories. So even during a time that wasn't the best, we enjoyed a great time together. So thankful for these memories! Love you!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Ice Cream and Sun Chips...

Dear Mom,

I just had to write this quick note to you. I have some other things to share, but I will get back to those things another time. Yesterday and today I was able to be home with you and Bella. I was pretty much just hoping to get some rest those two days. But yesterday you wanted to go somewhere to get something to eat. We did that so much last week (which is one of the "other things" that I need to share). I didn't want to spend a lot, but I also didn't want to just get fast food. I needed to go to a store in Newington, so I decided to go to Joey Garlic's to get a pizza. That way, we would have enough food for dinner last night and lunch and dinner for today. I also got some fried dough for us. We both love that! You got so used to having Bella go with us everywhere last week, so you expected her to go yesterday. It was pretty much a pain for me, but you were satisfied. Thankfully we did get to enjoy the pizza for our meals yesterday and today. We enjoyed the fried dough last night. Today, I knew we couldn't really go anywhere because the homemaker/companion from Keep Me Home was supposed to be coming around 10 in the morning. I was hoping to get to the mall to get our nails done, but that didn't happen. The lady never came, so I figured she wasn't going to be coming, but around 1 she did show up. I was looking forward to meeting her because I asked for her to come. She came a couple of weeks ago to fill in for the other lady, and when I got home it was the first time I heard you speak positively about having a companion come. You seemed to like her, and you said she came into the room to spend time sitting with you and Bella. That was such a relief for me to hear, it made me so happy. I finally got to meet Roberta and she was great with you and Bella, and was very personable. I liked her too! She did a great job cleaning, then went into the room to spend a little time with you. The company said that she has other clients, so she may not be able to be the new one to come over often. But they said they would try to schedule her with you when they could. That made me happy. So, as I said, we never went anywhere after that. We relaxed here at home. We had our pizza for dinner, you took your bath, I gave Bella a bath, and a little after 8 you asked me if you could have some ice cream. You have gotten into the habit of asking my permission for things like that lately. I told you ice cream was fine. As you got it you happened to see the Sun Chips bag on the counter. You saw that there were only a few left. I thought you just put them in a smaller bag, but later when I went into your room to help pull down your shade I noticed that you had actually put them on top of your ice cream! Really?? You didn't see anything weird about it and you ate it all... OK, well, as long as it tasted good to you! Oh, what interesting fun! I love you!

Friday, November 4, 2011

In the dark

Dear Mom,
We're sitting in the dark for the sixth day after the storm. Can't write much because I need to save my cellphone battery. I'll have lots to share about our adventures this week when our electricity gets restored. Love you! Glad we're having a fun week together!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Crazy Weekend and Little Victories

Dear Mom,

It has been a crazy few days, it was definitely a crazy weekend. Friday, I went to school as normal and had a pretty good day. We had a field trip with the first and second grade to the pumpkin patch. It was nice. I came home after to give you your supper before I had to go back out. I didn't want to tell you I had to go back out because I know you like to have me home. So, I waited until you asked me if I had to go back out. I told you I did and that I would be back later. I had been asked a week or two ago to help with the Red Eye Night that the teens at church were having. I just couldn't tell them no, they were told that there were probably going to be lots of teens there, and they really needed chaperones to help. As you were eating I told you I had to go back out for a little bit, but not to worry about taking Bella out because I would be back to do that. I headed over to the church and I must say, there were quite a few teens already there. Little did we know there would be almost 60 teens that would show up that night. Though, I hated leaving you, I was kind of glad I offered to help out. Once most of the teens were there we started the progressive dinner in the fellowship hall. There was a yummy salad. Then after they were done, there was a delicious white chili that the youth director's wife made. That was very popular. Not long after that there was ice cream with yummy toppings. As we cleaned up the tables the kids went over to the chairs set up in the middle to get ready for the message by Evangelist Garraway. When we were done cleaning we went over to listen as well. It was a great message and 2 boys made professions of salvation. It was a precious time. They were then getting ready to head to laser tag. I left to come back home to take Bella out and give you your medicine and to put you and Bella to bed. Once again I was struck with the dilemma of how to tell you I was going back out. But I knew I couldn't just leave because you would hear the door and wonder what I was doing. So, after you and Bella were snug in bed for a little bit, and right before I was leaving I told you I needed to go back out for a little bit. You were a little surprised, but just told me you would be asleep by the time I got back. I told you that was fine. I prayed over the house and you and Bella before I left to go back to the church. They finished laser tag, came back to the church to do some video skits, then we left to go bowling about 2 in the morning. We left there close to 4 a.m. and came back to the church to play hide and seek. Some kids were getting hungry again and ate some more chili and nachos, or ice cream. Things started winding down, there was a video playing for the kids to watch and some chose to just sit and chat as dawn approached. Around 5:30 I said goodbye to everyone and headed back to you and Bella. I got home about the time I would normally take Bella out and get you up to go to the bathroom. I got back in bed and we both slept for a couple of hours and then got up for breakfast. After breakfast I told you I was going to go back to bed. You didn't mind that because you wanted to get back in your bed and watch TV. I slept a few more hours, I think got something for us to eat later on, then called it an evening sometime after that. The little victory is that after a couple of months of not feeling up to going to church, you woke up wondering what you were going to wear Sunday morning. I tried not to get too excited. I found a cute outfit for you that you were happy with, put some make up on you, so you wouldn't complain about how awful you looked. We ate breakfast and you went off to church. When you got home you weren't complaining about everyone looking at you or having to help you out to the car. You just said you enjoyed the service. Yes! I have been worried that you would just get too comfortable and want to stay home from church, but I praise the Lord for this little victory. There was another little victory tonight as you also went to church again! I was so thrilled. It's great to see you getting out of that bed and getting back to church! You made my heart so happy, what a blessing! I love you and I hope we have many more little victories like that!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sad News

Dear Mom,

Earlier this week we heard a news story that really got my attention. There was a silver alert issued for a 68 year old man, Ronald Masci, who had gone out for his daily walk. Two hours later when he had not returned home, his wife called the police to tell them he hadn't. The reason it really got my attention is because Mr. Masci had dementia. Of course now anytime I hear of anything with dementia or Alzheimer's it makes my ears perk up because it just seems so close to home now. The wife and people from the community said that every day he go for a walk, it was just part of his normal daily routine. I know how important keeping same routines is. Once I heard this I started praying that he would be found, and soon. I was concerned because the weather has gotten cooler now and the next day was supposed to be really rainy and cool. I prayed that he would be found before all of this cold rain came. The police went out looking for him, along with many people from the community. He was well known in the community. That was an encouraging thing because at least many people knew just who they were looking for. All week I have been following this story and praying for Mr. Masci to be found and for his family to have peace. Today I read a status update from our local news station stating that they found him and police were not giving many details. I wasn't quite sure if they meant alive or dead the way it was written. I was hoping it meant they found him alive and well. But as I read some comments under the status I soon found out that people from the town had gotten reports that his remains were found. Not long after, the local news station put an updated status saying that his remains were found by police dogs. My heart just broke, it brought me to tears. Right away I prayed for his family. I can't imagine what they must be going through. We didn't talk about it. I knew you wouldn't have remembered the story anyway. Plus, I don't think you realize how close to home this hits for me. I often pray that you will not try to walk anywhere with Bella. I hate how much you have been in pain lately, I don't like the fact that you basically stay in bed most of the day, but someone reminded me that because of that at least I don't have to worry about you wandering off. I guess this is true. I pray you continue to be safe when I'm not there. This story still just breaks my heart. It's so sad there wasn't a better outcome. The coroner is still checking to see what it was that took his life, the police said it didn't seem like foul play at all. I am going to continue to pray for this family...praying for peace for them. And I'm going to keep praying that you and Bella will be safe...trusting the Lord for that...I love you!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Can't find the words...

Dear Mom,

Some of our conversations have been interesting lately. You are struggling more finding the right words to express what you are trying to say. We have been able to laugh about it thankfully, so it's kind of fitting to try to go back to remember some of the fun things you've said lately. While we were at physical therapy, the therapist was telling you how you need to stretch out your hamstrings because they are so tight, as she is working you out to stretch them, you breathlessly ask, "What are my hamstands anyway?" I couldn't help but to laugh, that of course made you laugh, which in turn made the therapist laugh. We were all pretty giggly girls for a little while! Then you were in the bathroom and something fell and banged, so I opened the door to check on you to see if you were OK. You looked at me and said, "It was just my corn that fell..." "Your what, mom?" "Wait, I mean my cane." Again, I had to giggle a little bit, which seems to get you laughing as well. The other night when I brought Bella to bed there was a show about cute puppies and babies. I had to ooh and aah because there were some super cute puppies and babies, as I did, I guess I was driving you a little crazy, you looked at me and said, "Get a grape!" (supposed to be "Get a grip.") Right away after that one we both started laughing extremely hard. It got to the point that you had to get out of bed to go to the bathroom again. That made us both laugh even more. I'm so glad we can laugh and smile about these things. I know those moments of not being able to find the right words can be frustrating. So, it's important for me to keep things light. Other times we're not cracking up necessarily, but you will be trying to say something, and I'll just try to figure out what you are trying to say or what you are talking about. I read in an Alzheimer's article that that's the best thing that I can do. Sometimes I want to try to make you figure it out, I think it's because I secretly hope it will maybe help "fix" you. Slowly, I'm coming to terms that I am not going to be able to "fix" you. So, instead, I just want to enjoy these moments, smile, laugh, and remember them fondly. I love to hear you laugh and also love to hear you say, "You're so funny, you make me laugh! I love laughing with you!" Makes my day! Well guess what, I love laughing with you, too! Love you!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Another Smile Moment

Dear Mom,
Today I was able to be home with you and Bella. It was Columbus Day, so I had the day off. We had a pretty chill day, I was pretty tired. We had a good breakfast together. The homemaker/companion came and I took Bella on a little walk to calm her down, since as you have said this companion doesn't seem to be too keen on her. When we came back I went downstairs to play the Wii. You actually came downstairs, you even stood behind me and tried to join me. You were pretty active for not getting around so well lately! Of course after a short while you were in the chair just watching, but still you surprised me. I had to take you to physical therapy again. I was sort of waiting to see if you would say something about the bookstore again, you didn't, but you did look to see the cars in the parking lot. We got to your physical therapy and you did a terrific job. I know you get tired and you hurt, but you keep trying, you made me proud again. We had some good laughs while you were working with the therapist. She was telling you that you needed to stretch your hamstrings more. You asked her, "What are my hamstands?". I had to laugh and then you did, and once I got composed enough to tell her she laughed as well, but said she has heard all kinds of things from people that had no idea what she was talking about. Then at one point she was asking you to do a certain exercise and you told her she was so pretty that you would try to do that for her. You were so cute! After physical therapy we had to go to CVS to pick up your prescriptions. As we pulled in the parking space that's when you really put a smile on my face. There were some old hymns playing on the radio, "I Surrender All" came on and you started singing it, you remembered the words. I left the car on, went in and got your meds, when I came out you were humming another song. Another song came on and you started singing the alto part to that song. I asked you if you remembered the title and you did and told me, of course, I don't remember it now. :) Then when we got home we heard "Have you any room for Jesus?" You didn't remember the title, but you did remember the words at the end, "bid him enter while you may". The interesting thing about that is they just showed on the news how music, old songs can be used to help alzheimer's patients in some nursing homes. It showed people singing along to old songs they remembered, it was so sweet to see. I started thinking about you and if you would remember, and there you were showing me it's still there. I love these moments!! And I just really want to treasure each one. LOVE these smile moments!!! :D I love you!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Who Is This Woman?

Dear Mom,

Here we are in a new week. After the craziness that was last week, I guess I did have to wonder a little bit what would be in store for this one. Saturday was a wonderful day that I got to spend at an Iron Sharpens Iron Women's Conference. One of my friends had a free ticket and invited me to go. I was a little hesitant because....well...it's Saturday, my sacred day for sleeping in and relaxing especially after a crazy week. I was hoping to just go hang out at the Berlin Fair or maybe get up to the Big E since it didn't happen on Friday. For some reason (the Lord, I'm sure) I felt that I needed to try to get up and go to this. This meant getting up not much later than I do for school. I was meeting the ladies I was going with at 8. Thankfully it was at the church right up the street, only about 3 minutes away! Well, I did it, I got up, got Bella taken care of, got you taken care of with breakfast, got myself ready to go for a day of refreshment. I left the house around quarter to 8 and got there before 8. I was there all day until 5. I checked on you and Bella at one point, calling to make sure you were OK. You said you were. I hadn't even planned to stay that long, but it was so good I wanted to. I'm glad I did. It definitely was refreshing! Sunday came and once again you didn't want to go to church, that just makes me so sad! I went to mine and was blessed for going. Monday came and when I checked my calendar I noticed that you had physical therapy at 6 that night...ugh. I was just hoping to get home, maybe take a nap and relax. Well, when I told you, you were not happy either because you said you weren't planning on going out that night. Well, that was an obvious statement...you never plan to go out much anymore at night or in the day for that matter. So, I had to bribe you a little bit by telling you that we would go get something to eat while we were out. Well, that put a big smile on your face and next thing I know you are in your room getting your sneakers on. We didn't have to leave for about another half an hour or so, but you were ready. It felt strange to bribe you, but it just shows me how different you have become. This disease is always full of surprises. Another one of those surprises came as we were on our way to physical therapy. We drove by the Christian Bookstore where you used to work years ago. There was one car in the parking lot and you all of a sudden piped up with, "Marcia is the only one there working tonight." Wait.....what??? I couldn't believe what I was hearing so I asked you to repeat it again and you did. You said her car is the only there. So...wow, you remembered and you reasoned. I was pretty surprised by that, it was almost like old times sitting in the car talking with you. I didn't make a big deal about it, but now I had a big smile on my face. I'm not naive enough to think that this is a turning point or anything, I know you still suffer from memory loss, I know you will still have bad days, I know things will get worse. But moments like these I choose to treasure! I guess one reason why I was surprised is because I just showed you pictures of that family about a month ago because the daughter got married, but you didn't recognize her. You worked with her, too, but you didn't seem to recognize her at all, you sort of remembered Marcia and Herman, but I don't think you could recall their names when you saw their pictures. Yet there you are shooting that out there, you definitely caught me off guard. Wow!
Then, when we got to physical therapy, even though you "weren't planning on going out", you did a great job. The therapist even said so. She was stretching you and I don't know if you were channeling your former Richard Simmons/Jane Fonda days or what, but you were stretching better than I have seen you do in a long time! I was so proud of you! That was encouraging to see. You did keep telling her you were tired and needed to rest, but you were doing it. And you were doing well. After therapy I asked you where you wanted to go to eat. You wanted some place where we could take the food home because you were tired. I gave you a few choices of places that were in the area. At first you said Ruby Tuesday's, then you changed your mind and chose McDonald's. That was fine with me because it would be quick and we could get home, I was tired too. But I was so proud of you and the job you did, I know it isn't easy for you. You have been through so much, but you have always remained strong. Stay strong! That will help me to stay strong for you! I love you!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Doing What You Have to Do!

Dear Mom,

There were some interesting times this week. Tuesday night I decided to thoroughly cleaned the whole bathroom, because it just wasn't smelling as clean as I would like. I put the towels and washcloths in the hamper, cleaned the tub well, your bath chair, the walls, the towel rack, the toilet, the sink, and the mirror, then emptied the garbage can with your wet Depends. I was on a mission, had to get that stale smell out. I felt much better once I did! After working up a sweat, but getting all of that done, I was ready to go downstairs to relax. I was actually really looking forward to making some silk flower arrangements and wreaths for the Berlin Fair. My friend encouraged me to do some, I have done wreaths before and some of my art work, but since I'm not taking art anymore, those are things that I like to do. Plus, you get money if you get ribbons. As I was on my way downstairs, I hear you call me as you often do now. It gets to me a little because usually it's just to show me the scars on your arms and legs which I have seen plenty, or to show me how swollen your feet are, which I have already seen as well. This time it was much different than I expected. You told me that you had an accident, and made a mess. This was a poop accident. There was poop on your gown, your housecoat, your underwear (because you still wear underwear even though you wear Depends), your slippers, the toilet seat and all over your bottom. I wasn't sure I knew how to handle that, but somehow I did. I took your housecoat and robe off, got the socks, and then the underwear that you had put in the sink to try to rinse them out. I put all of those things in the hamper. I brought them downstairs and put them in the washer. I went back to check on you, you were still sitting on the toilet. I asked you if you wanted to take another bath and you said yes. I ran the bath water, as you got up you noticed the seat was a mess, so I gave you two washcloths, one for the toilet seat, the other for your bath. You used the one to clean off the toilet seat somewhat, then got into the tub on your seat. I told you to make sure to clean your bottom because there was still some on your bottom. I brought the other washcloth down to put in the laundry. After you said you were done with your bath, I came in and checked on you and brought you new pj's to put on. I noticed that you still had poop on your bottom, so I got the washcloth and finished cleaning you. Never thought I would have been able to do that, you know how I am. I know some people do it all the time and that was hardly anything compared to what they go through. But you know what you always told me, "You're too nice nasty!" Meaning I didn't do well with cleaning things that I thought were gross. You also always used to, and still do tell me, you hope you don't get sick, because I wouldn't take care of you. Well, look what I did! :) I felt proud of myself realizing that when it comes down to it, I think I would do what I needed to do to take care of you. I was proud that I never made you feel bad, you didn't even mention anything about a nursing home and being too much work for me. We just got through it and made it! But there I was cleaning the whole bathroom all over again, this time the rugs and the floor too, since some of the poop got on those, too. So, the bathroom got an extra cleaning on Tuesday!
Then Wednesday, I'm sure you didn't have any memory of the mess the night before, and of course I wasn't going to bring it up. I got your breakfast ready and got your medicine for you, and was getting ready for school. I had finally been able to get your new meds, Naproxen and your water pill, so those were there for you to take. I walked out the door for school, and said goodbye to you and Bella. I got to school and had a wonderful opportunity to share some of the tough things I was dealing with with a great friend. It was a tough morning. I talked to her for a while and she was wonderful with me, such an encouragement. I talked to her until my third graders came into my room for their few classes with me. As we were getting ready to do Arithmetic I think, my phone started vibrating and I noticed it was you. I was a little shocked and almost didn't answer it right away because sometimes you just call to tell me that someone called and it's usually just about a bill or something. I did answer and got a little freaked because you didn't sound good. You told me you weren't feeling well, your head felt weird and you felt like you were going to pass out. I told the kids to get their things together to go back to their class because I needed to go home and check on my mom. I gave them their work that they needed to do, went to the secretary to tell her I was leaving and to try to let her know what different places I was supposed to be in the rest of the day so she could let the other teachers, etc. know. She told me to just come on home and she would figure out who to tell. I came home, I was quite nervous. You were in bed, and seemed pretty tired. You said you were feeling a little better. I went to get you some water to drink, came back and you were pretty knocked out. I kept trying to get you to drink. I called your doctor to see if it could be the new meds, but the office was closed. My wonderful friend from that morning was texting with me and suggested that I call the pharmacist. I did and felt so much better as she told me, the water pill can give you vertigo-like symptoms. That made sense to me. So, I just stayed home with you the rest of the day, texting the many people who were checking on how we were doing. Once again, I had to do what I had to do, even leaving school early to get home to you. It's always worth taking care of you! You are definitely much better now. Now if I could only get you moving more, but that's a goal for another time. I love you!