Random Acts of "Kindness"

Posts tagged ‘Alzheimer’s’

FREE FALL

I don’t know what happened! Normally I’m very careful with money. When I use plastic, I note the charge in one of our checkbooks. I keep a running total of our Visa charge so I’m not caught off guard when the bill comes in. That is my normal accounting practice. That is NOT what happened this month.

I forgot to note the charge for our rental car when we drove to Texas. I forgot to note the charges we incurred for part of the trip. When I finally figured out how to cover those expenses, when I phoned the credit card to make sure their balance agreed with my records, I learned that the bill was $300 higher than I expected. Evidently the money I spent on the first of June must have been free because I did not record it anywhere. I found the receipts. They were where I always keep them. Why they were filed but not recorded is anybody’s guess. It is beyond me.

I know we were planning the next day to go to Central Illinois to watch our grandchildren for a week. That doesn’t explain why I would have neglected to note the charges I incurred.

The only thing that I can think of to blame was that all the traveling caught up to me and I was exhausted. Of course, I knew I was tired. I thought I was being very careful. Of course now I know that I was wrong. Hopefully that absent mindedness won’t happen again. If that is what occurs with Alzheimer’s disease I want no part of it. That I was so careless is scary.

I don’t think there is any way I can recapture my youth, but I can try to allow more days in between travel to recuperate. I can continue with my plan to try to lose weight, exercise and regain the use of more of my body parts. Thankfully my lapse involved a credit card — not the debit card and a bank balance. I don’t like checks to bounce.

DENTIST

It should come as no surprise that I’m not a regular at the doctor’s or dentist’s office. Sadly I have been without a dentist for many years when my last one retired because of cancer. I didn’t have any problems with my teeth and didn’t look for a new one. Then while eating a hamburger, I thought a rock had been included in the meat. Actually, it was a filling. I had lost a portion of a tooth which made inhaling interesting. I didn’t even want to think about drinking or eating. Thankfully a friend had returned from Florida and shared the name of her dentist. Thankfully the dentist was able to fit me in that evening — remaining after closing time. After he fixed my tooth, I made another appointment. I figured I might need more work done and I knew my teeth would need cleaning.

I was right. I don’t know the last time my teeth were cleaned — how many years had passed. The hygienist used interesting equipment to take the x-rays, which showed that my teeth required more than a surface cleaning. I needed DEEP CLEANING. The top right side was cleaned that day and I made another appointment. She warned me that the bottom would be harder.

The day of the appointment my horoscope told me that “Its important to know that, for whatever reason, people notice you today.” The comics made me laugh. Dennis told a friend that his parents use the house phone to find their cell phone. I used ours for that purpose the day before. Garfield noticed that his owner didn’t know how to use the phone. Our friend had just commented that her brother didn’t answer the phone when his words weren’t working. (It reminded me of when my father had Alzheimer’s.) Marmaduke provide a laugh when he stole the leg bone from a dinosaur.

I arrived early at the dentist’s office and they were running late. A son had accompanied his aging parents. His father had a motorized cart and a walker. His mother was still receiving treatment. I found a current Times magazine for the Dad, and National Geographic’s for myself. The issue was dedicated to the Vikings. I was amazed when I learned that it had been discovered that men were not the only warriors. Woman’s bones had been discovered with high ranking weapons and gaming pieces. Indicating that they had played an important role in the conquests.

I used that information during the cleaning. I’m half Swedish and kept reminding myself that I’m woman and I’m strong. Most of it wasn’t too bad, except for the part that wasn’t numb, under the gum line. I still have one lower part to go.

I have straws in the house for our grandchildren. They came in very handy when anything I tried to drink didn’t make it into my mouth.

The next morning the bible reading made me laugh. Abraham popped up. I was reminded of God’s promise to him. Abraham pops up regularly in my life. Exactly what it means, I don’t know and haven’t tried to figure it out.

TERRY’S BIRTHDAY

Following is an email I sent to family and a few friends after I was surprised by my brother. He passed over with my mother 60 years ago when he was two. A few years ago I decided that the “friend” who hits me on the head is my brother. Isn’t that how brother’s show love to their sisters? ” My friends in high places” often “help” me with my writing. Today is no exception.

“I have NO ENERGY TODAY! In order to accomplish something, I wrote two blogs. One titled GLASSES, the second SUNSHINE!

I was reading the preview of SUNSHINE on the blog’s finished page when in the MIDDLE, Sunshine disappeared to be REPLACED by GOOD IDEA which was published in AUGUST of 2013.

I probably should mention that today is my brother Terry’s birthday. Good Idea concerned the Fast Metabolism diet that I successfully lost weight on. Sadly the weight is back and my attempts to restart the food plan have not been successful. Looks like I should be a little more serious about it. After all, I have “friends in high places” who watch out for me.

There is no way I can explain today’s happening. I did wish my brother, Terry, a happy birthday this morning.”

I can not explain most of the things that occur unexplained in my life. All I can do is share the stories. If you can profit by my experience so much the better but don’t get discouraged. Remember I have had experiences for most of my life. For many years I was unaware of the “help” I was receiving. My mother was EXTREMELY GOOD at working behind the scenes and my brother probably followed suite. I didn’t start to become more aware until I REALLY NEEDED THEIR HELP when my father had Alzheimer’s disease. He passed over more than 19 years ago and my life became really more interesting after that.

Although I’m writing this on Memorial weekend which coincides with my brother’s birthday this year, it won’t publish until after my mother’s birthday. For years I didn’t know the dates of either of their birthdays. I didn’t know the date of the fire either. Facts were hidden from me.

I’d thought of taking the summer off, putting the blog on summer vacation. Evidently that is not in their plans for me. But I’m receiving idea’s so I can schedule rambles to publish while we are busy with other things. If life becomes really interesting, as it often does — I’m sure I will be inspired to put more ideas in print.

PRESENTS

I was asked today what my favorite Christmas gift was by one of my daughters. I had to admit that my many gifts were not material. I started listing my favorites for this Christmas.

The first has to be that my husband’s health is improving. Although we had a health scare, it didn’t require a hospital stay and his cough is improving. Our children that are in driving distance of our home were able to join us for the celebration of Christmas — even if we celebrated on different days.

The medical personnel we encountered had my husband’s health in mind. They took their time, ran the tests and tried to investigate to the best of their abilities. Sometimes answers were not immediately apparent.

When we went to the doctor’s office. I was at the right place at the right time to share my experience with a woman who was grieving not only a son who passed many years ago but more recently a dog. I hope the stories I shared brightened her day.

Our dog is becoming more comfortable in our home. When our youngest daughter arrived with her family and two dogs — Robin met them at the door and was ready to defend her home and us. She didn’t care if Maggie, a golden retriever, was bigger. She was ready to defend us. It took a bit of time before peace reigned. Robin forgot that she had met them at Thanksgiving. They are still not friends but good playmates. What surprised me was that Robin was ready to defend me. Hopefully we will never have the need for her to defend me when we are out on a walk but it is nice to know that even though she is timid, she is ready to defend her family.

It didn’t feel like Christmas to me, in fact, on Christmas Eve I had thought about not going to church on Christmas morn. My husband decided to stay home but I changed my mind and was very glad that I did. First off, I reminded myself that it was Christ’s birthday, time to say thank you. The music was beautiful, two violinists joined the piano or organ music. The cantor had a beautiful voice. Of course, the church was beautiful. The Mass was celebrated by an older, retired priest who has a touch of dementia. I always enjoy his thoughts and homilies. He focuses on what is important to me. I have a lot to be thankful for.

I was surprised to see an older acquaintance whose health is declining. I have known the family since our youngest daughter was in kindergarten. He was sitting in a corner which was hidden from my view. At communion I helped him walk back to his seat. I also shared my blog address with his granddaughter. It might come in handy at a future date.

Christmas isn’t about material things. It is about spirit and the gifts that come from God. Those are much more valuable than worldly possessions. Hopefully my sharing of my stories brings some brightness to your day.

GOD’S DIRECTIONS

I recently wrote a thought ramble STEERING WHEEL concerning God’s Direction of my life and my tendency to want to direct my course. I recently met an acquaintance who is grieving for the passing of her fiancĂ©e. He had a stroke and she was his main caregiver until life changed and she was no longer responsible for his care. We were not close friends and I didn’t know of his passing. I could relate to her sorrow, I could also relate to the feeling of guilt that arises when you feel you have left a loved one down.

I experienced a great deal of guilt when we had to put my father, who had Alzheimer’s, in a nursing home because he could no longer walk. I spent a portion of chapter 10 in To Pap, With Love writing about my feelings. I also felt guilty when we had to send our Chocolate Lab, Mabel, home in July 2011. A neighbor’s comment helped take away my guilt.

It is not easy to accept God’s decisions or direction in our life. Have we been prevented from taking a planned trip? Why? Have we fallen and sprained or broken an important part of our body. Once again — WHY?? When life doesn’t follow the path that we have chosen — the question becomes WHY??

It doesn’t matter if the change is life changing – a failed marriage or romance, the loss of a friend or family member, the loss of a job. The change can be minor — a fall — sprained or broken body part, unplanned medical expense or emergency, unexpected bill, argument with a friend.

It is extremely hard in those situations to remember that God is in charge, He wants the best for us. Whatever the challenge in our life is, with His help, we can do it! We need to remember to ask for His help!

BROKEN ICE

The title of this thought ramble is courtesy of my friend Catherine. She often told me — “Life is calm, I’m walking peacefully when all of a sudden, without any warning, I’m on an ice field and I fall through.” That was her way of describing a bout of depression. I remembered the phrase recently when, the ice broke, and I fell through. Its not like I didn’t have any warning that it was coming. After all, it was the Fall of the year, leaves were falling, cooler temperature, gray skies. I was a year older. Various body parts were showing their age — not working as well as they used to. The messages coming through were to focus on the present, the past is gone and the future is still to come. And I ignored the messages. After all, I thought I had dealt with the issues from the past and moved on. WRONG! All of a sudden I was remembering my childhood. Searching for happy memories. Since it wasn’t necessarily a white picket fence, happy family — it isn’t a place I enjoy visiting. My father did the best he could and so, I guess, did I.

I was worried that my father would fall into the past when his memory declined because of Alzheimer’s. I was afraid he would remember the fire and the death of my mother and brother. Thankfully he was protected from those dark times.

Searching for a way back to the surface, back to the light, I hit the stop button in my brain. I turned on music to help distract my thinking. I’ve heard that when you are asleep — lost in a nightmare, you can tell your brain to stop — it is only a dream. I tried the same concept — even though I was awake. I refused to go down the same dark path that I have traveled many times before.

I would love to state that I exercised because I know that works to ease stress. I did Tai Chi but not any strenuous exercise. I felt I had no time, too much to do. And if truth be told, I do. I don’t know if I’m moving in slow motion but everything I try to do seems to take longer. Of course, I’m still trying to do many things at once. Instead of enjoying the quiet while I exercised, I turned on the TV. Yo-Yo Ma was the guest speaker, he has a new CD — Playlist on the Borders. I was reminded of the time, many years ago, when he was a gift to me. I planned to go to the Celtic Fest downtown in the city. It was early afternoon — a line of people by the Chicago Symphony caught my eye. It was a free day and I changed my mind and joined the line. It took a long time to enter. Yo-Yo Ma was the featured artist. He delayed the concert until everyone was seated. I enjoyed myself totally and stayed until 10:00 PM.

I often have “help” from the other side. The key is to recognize it.

TREASURES FROM OUR TRADITIONS

Home again — home again — for a minute. My husband and I took the opportunity to go to Mass to say THANK YOU — for our trip, for our family, for our life. The church bulletin had an article about the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, — a gift from the ancient Church of Jerusalem. “A legend among Orthodox Christians tell how all the disciples except for Thomas were present at Mary’s death and sat by her tomb for three days. On the third day, Thomas, who was teaching in India, saw Mary’s body rising to heaven. She greeted him as her friend. … Thomas, the one who expressed doubt at the resurrection of Christ, received a gift from Mary: the chance to proclaim resurrection faith to the disciples.”

WHY AM I SHARING THIS WITH YOU? Fair question — for a change — easy answer. In 1995, I spent the summer at our camper working on TO PAP, WITH LOVE, the story of our journey with my father through Alzheimer’s disease. It was on the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, sitting outside before Mass, drinking a cup of coffee that I saw a black feather fall. The feather inspired my thought ramble FEATHERS, the fifth story in JOURNEY WITH ME. I planned to take another Creative Writing course in the Fall at our community college. If I said my writing DID NOT impress our instructor I would not be exaggerating in the slightest. In fact, he read everyone’s work and always put mine on the bottom of the stack — until later. I was surprised when a few weeks into the course he mailed me a note, complimenting me on FEATHERS.

When my father passed over, he gave me a gift — the knowledge that life continued on the other side. Like Thomas, I share my story with those who need it.

While we were in Florida, our family spent a day at Fernandina Beach. After lunch, we slowly wandered back to our cars. An author sat outside a book store signing her book. I stopped to chat and learned that her mother passed away from Alzheimer’s disease. Since I travel with stories in my mental pocket, I shared the story my father had given me.

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