MIX-UPS ALONG THE WAY

The AAPR Tennessee newsletter posted on Feb. 28, 2014 contained an article by Caregiver Peter Rosenberger entitled, CARE FOR THE CAREGIVER: Love is Noble, Control Is Not (or Take Your Hands off the Wheelchair). Rosenberger addresses the longing of some caregivers (like ME) to maintain control of their caregiving situations. But Rosenberger reminds us that “the only thing we can control is our own thoughts, words, and deeds.”

hike in woodsNow that I’m a full time caregiver for both my dad and husband, I’ve tried to streamline their care, strived to be the consistent presence at their doctor’s visits and the consistent communicator with home health staff during their weekly visits. But I can’t always be here. For one, I have my own doctors’ appointments to tend to. But more importantly, sometimes I have to have some ME time, like taking a hike with a few of my peeps.

And that’s OK. I don’t have to be the one in charge all the time. Besides, I have no guarantee that I will outlive either of these men in my life. So, I let go now and then, let others step in when needed (thank you God for giving me children, brothers, the best sister in the world, nephews and nieces — for it takes us all.)

Sure there have been some mix-ups while I’ve been away, a little over dosing here, a little under dosing there, but we all lived through it.  Just between you and me (and if you tell my daddy on me, I will be forced to call you a liar), I’ve screwed up the medication myself — gave dad his water pill at night instead of morning resulting in a nighttime urinal overflow (it was not intentional, I promise!). But hey, once again, we all survived.

Mistakes are going to happen. Accidents are going to happen. Recently I was no more than three feet from my husband when he suffered a fall, a slow motion plummet to the ground that happened faster than my brain could tell my feet to RUN.  I was right there yet could not get to him in time to catch his fall.

So what’s a girl to do? Keep doing what we’re doing I suppose. Plus, I’ll take the advice of Rosenberger along the way and will strive to control what I can, my own “thoughts, words, and deeds.”


DRESSED BY A MOTHER’S LOVE

As this Mother’s Day comes to a close, here’s my post about three dresses, two pictures, and my sweet little mother.

I will never forget the day mom came home from work with a package in hand — FOR ME! What a surprise, and for no special occasion, no reason other than walking from the court house across Main Street to Smith’s Department Store to kill some time during lunch. She spotted this baby blue dress (my signature color) and felt I should have it (see pic – second from the left). Debbies weddingShe said it was on sale, but even then I realized the extravagance of the purchase. But I didn’t let that stop me from enjoying the coolest dress ever. I was hot stuff (or so I thought) and I felt so loved every time I wore that dress. I look back now and better see what that dress represented. It was the reason mom, despite her nature to mother, worked outside the home – so that we could have the occasional extra. Over the years she has told me that was one thing she regretted, not being home with us full time.

Even when she was working, mom could always make time to sew for us kids. While this was many times accomplished at four o’clock in the morning, I loved to watch her sew when I got the chance (which was not at four o’clock in the morning). By the time I was in high school, she had taught me to hem and remove the collars from men’s shirts for that mandarin collar look. When time for senior prom rolled around, we shopped for patterns and material, and she guided me in making my own peachy (my new signature color) prom dress! prom dress

The following year I attended college in West Tennessee. One day when I was feeling especially homesick in my dorm room, I heard a knock. I opened the door, and there stood my little niece, Mandy, with that head full of blonde hair shining like the sun. No one else in sight, just Mandy. I was delighted to see her but was frozen in space, confused, not only about how she got there but by what she was wearing. She had on a multi patterned dress that was the exact replica of a dress I had left hanging in my closet at home. She had on MY DRESS (no picture available at this time)! Mom appeared at the door as I picked up Mandy and gave her a big hug. Mom explained that she had unseamed, cut down, and resewed the dress for my darling niece. I had been so homesick, and to see one of the ones I missed most in that dress, made by the one I missed most of all, my mother, was heaven.

Over the last few days as Mother’s Day approached, I’ve thought about this post and what I might write. I thought it would be perfect if I could get a picture of each dress to include in this post. So after a Mother’s Day filled family and good times, Ronnie and I drove back to mom’s and spent the evening searching through boxes of pictures. I knew I could get my hands on two of the ones I needed, but held little hope of finding an image of my niece in MY DRESS. Mom so enjoyed picking up various pictures and commenting on them or asking me who was who. First I came across my peachy senior prom picture and placed it on the floor at my feet. Then beyond all hope, there was tiny precious Mandy in my dress mom had cut down for her. I added it to my stack on the floor. All I needed now was my sister’s wedding picture with me in that baby blue dress. Jackpot! A framed picture of my sister’s wedding. We had found all I needed. I bent down to add the last picture to the pile and noticed a picture missing. Mom had already started cleaning up, and the picture of Mandy was gone. I handed Ronnie the other two pictures thinking they would be safe from mom’s busy hands. After searching a box by my side with no luck, I walked over to Ronnie to get the two pictures left. But mom had taken the framed wedding picture from Ronnie and stowed it away – SOMEWHERE! Beyond frustrated, I took the one picture spared, walk outside and put it in our car. I dug through drawers in the spare bedroom and finally found the wedding picture. But the one picture I doubted even existed, was nonexistent. Gone in a snap, like a thought or a memory. After a lifetime of picking up after us five kids and my dad, what else can be expected? To tell mom to not clean up after someone is like telling an accountant not to count, a teacher not to teach, a writer not to write, a human not to breathe. It’s in her DNA. It’s a task that keeps her moving, keeps her going. A task once about keeping the house in order but is now about DOING before the memory TO DO is forgotten.

Thanks to dementia and poor eyesight, those busy hands no longer sew, and her confidence in buying something personal for me faded long ago. But she eagerly awaits the opportunity to clean up anything I dare put to the side.

God love her! I love her, too!

Thank you, Lord, for a Mother’s Day I hope I never forget.


SPORTSMANSHIP

March Madness is in full swing at our house. Ronnie Foster is watching UCONN versus NOTRE DAME girls as I type this post. Around here, March is filled with sleepless nights spent in the recliner watching or re-watching men’s, girls’ or any kind of basketball a man can find on satellite TV.

Ronnie doesn’t watch Duck Dynasty, but if they would just pick up a basketball every now and then, he’d be their biggest fan.

If you regularly read this post, you know that while Ronnie is watching basketball, I’m watching the Sunday Morning Show on NBC. This past Sunday had a short segment I must share, for it not only honors this holy month of March Madness, it also reminds every child, parent, and spectator of the true meaning of sportsmanship.

Enjoy!


Veterans Day

Where the love of music and the love of country converge to stir a neighborhood from its morning slumber.

A clip from the this morning’s Sunday Morning Show to remind us of those who have served, those currently serving, and those who missed their chance to serve for our freedom.

 


WHY I’VE BEEN OFF LINE

While attempting to address the mountain of emails in my inbox, I found a message from a friend. She stated that she’d noticed I hadn’t blogged since August 8th, and she feared something was wrong.

Never fear. All is well. It’s just we’ve had a few exciting things happening around here.

First of all we’ve had a wedding in the family. This picture of my son and his beautiful bride doesn’t do the couple, the evening, or the venue justice. It was a beauty! But Lord, I learned that weddings are hard work. And cooking for 150 people is hard work (but loads of fun when your bestie is cooking with you by your side – thanks Julia – love you forever!!! And thanks to Debbie, Carly, Jesse, Sandy, Jane and EVERYONE who helped!!!).

I must admit, marrying off the person you birthed and lived with for 28 years is a bittersweet journey. There’s not a person on earth I’ve lived with longer than my son, and letting go is a challenge. But thanks to the magic of bio-identical hormones, I’m transitioning just fine.

But the excitement doesn’t end there. I’m almost ready to send off my first children’s picture book for publication.

I’ve provided a sample illustration, which is page 14 & 15 of The Readyville Mill. My awesome illustrator is Carl Carbonell, and I’m in love with his work!

So there you have it. Ronnie and I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth. We’re still here, and I’m ready to get back to my blogging routine.

Look for a new post next week!


RONNIE AND I

Ronnie and I:

The view from our cabin at Fall Creek Falls

  • Are lucky to have one another
  • Are sometimes overwhelmed
  • Are blessed with beautiful, smart, caring children
  • Are still adjusting to our post-stroke world (after 15.5 years)
  • Live for each new day
  • Are looking forward to our annual trip to Fall Creek Falls State Park
  • Love each other
  • Will soon be empty nesters (when my son gets married in a few short days)
  • Still make each other laugh
  • Sometimes argue (over the remote during Olympics season)
  • Want to visit:
    • The Grand Canyon
    • Niagara falls
    • The New England states
  • Can’t wait to hold our grand-baby for the first time (November can’t get here soon enough!)
  • Are truly blessed!

CAN A CAREGIVER PLAN FOR THE FUTURE?

When I applied for a 15 day training commitment with the State Department of Education, it was a gamble.

I lost.

Growing up daddy always preached that gambling was a sin. Okay, Daddy, no more gambling for me!

How was committing to these 15 days a gamble? I was betting that my husband would stay healthy, on his feet, and just fine. But he developed an infection and spent several days in the hospital, much of that time without me, AGAIN. And once he got home, he was without me, AGAIN.

Maybe you’re thinking, Forget the State! Just quit! To explain why I can’t just quit is too long a story for this post.

But this too shall pass. Life will get better. While at this time in my care-giving journey, I am not the right person to commit to something like this again, our world can’t just stand still. We must move. We must do. We must change.

Photo courtesy of Stock.xchng

A. R. Bernard said, “If you don’t have a vision for the future, then your future is threatened to be a repeat of the past.”

I don’t want our future to be a repeat of these past two week. And I will not let this past week blind me to our vision for our future.


WE ALL NEED A MADDISON

Merriam-Webster defines FRIEND as one attached to another by affection or esteem. You could also define friendship by two Great Danes named Lily and Maddison.

When Lily lost her sight, Maddison took on the role of Lily’s seeing-eye dog. Click here for more about their story and recent adoption.

At some point we all need someone to take us buy the leash and guide us along the maze of life.

But how did Maddison know what to do? How do we know how to handle what life brings our way? We don’t go to college to learn how to parent, but many of us excitedly take on that role and learn as we go. I never had a class on how to be a caregiver, but I’ve somehow managed. As Madonna Siles states in her book, Brain, Heal Thyself, most days I care-give by the seat of my pants.

How did Maddison know what to do? The blessing called instinct, that commonality we humans share with many of our animal friends, to see a loved one through the rough patches and guide them on to those carefree moments of joy and happiness.

We all need a Maddison from time to time. Who are you looking after? Who is guiding you?


MAKING MYSELF A PRIORITY IS TOUGH

In last week’s post, I shared my plan to add myself to my list of priorities, to actually put myself second on the list. I’m on spring break this week, and you’d think it would be easier to take care of me, but it’s still tough. The reason has to do with the comment Lynne Watts made to last weeks’ post.  Lynne said, “I believe it depends a lot on the season of life that you are in. There have been times of caring for young children, times of caring for aging parents and times of family crisis. In each season, I have tried to carve out a little time at least for myself. Sometimes that is a few moments of contemplation and prayer. Sometimes it is long periods of doing things I enjoy…”

Lynne’s wise words reminded me of those first years following Ronnie’s stroke when there was no way I could even consider adding myself to my list of priorities. I am a member of the National Stroke Association’s Careliving Community, a social network of caregivers sharing experience, resources, and advice. Members of this community include new caregivers trying to cope with an unfamiliar, scary post-stroke world as the memory of their former lives grows more faded with each passing day. Other members include caregiving veterans, like me. We vets like to advise the new caregivers to carve out a piece of each day for themselves, to get away from it all if even for a moment. But as I ponder my own early post-stroke caregiving years, I realize this advice is about as practical as telling a mother of a colicky baby to get eight hours of sleep each night.

At this stage of my caregiving journey, making me a priority is easier — some days. Like today as I spent some quality time with my son. We took a walk by a stream, had lunch and reviewed the story boards I received yesterday from the illustrator of my children’s picture book. Writing, and now sorting through this publishing process, energizes me and is truly the work I love. Tomorrow includes lunch with a dear friend, and my sister is cooking dinner – a day of good food and good company is hard to beat.

It’s been a great spring break, and I’m counting my blessings. Next week squeezing in a walk or a run or a healthy meal will be tougher, but I can do it if I remember to prioritize ME.