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Alzheimer's Memoirs Parkinson's Disease

January the Bleak

I’m not going to blame January for my bleakness, but my present is bleak and it is January. Hubby passed away on the 16th, just after our 41st anniversary on the 12th and my birthday on the 6th. His suffering from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s is over, and his passing was peaceful, and for that I am thankful. I’m quite positive he is with the Lord Jesus Christ in Heaven, and for that I rejoice.

Jimmy Leon Coker

However, all that doesn’t make the quietness of the house any louder, the days any busier, the nights any cozier. It’s just me and Stella the dog rattling around this old house now. I am grateful that it’s only 1600 square feet and not 6000.

I don’t have to figure out what to fix for supper and I don’t have to defer to his television choices. I don’t have to do his laundry and I don’t have to clean up his messes. I can vacuum the floors any time I want to without worrying about disturbing him. I can leave the house and not worry about getting home because he needs me. I can eat and sleep whenever I want. This is all because I am alone.

1979

People ask me how I’m doing. I think I’m okay right now. I’ve always said I would be fine alone. I’m an independent person. Will I feel the same way next week? Next month? Next year?

The great hunter

Only God knows what happens next. He knew my fears about not being able to care for Jimmy or afford to pay for care, and that I wouldn’t have to worry about that very long. He knows what tomorrow and the next day and the next year will bring. I trust Him to bring it to pass. I choose not to worry about it. I’m really not alone. He is here with me.

What will I do? I will continue planning Jimmy’s memorial service. I will continue making phone calls to insurance companies, government agencies, and the rest. I will treasure the memories I have of our life together, and I will spend every minute I can with my children and grandchildren. I will thank God every day for blessing me with 41 years with a loyal, devoted, loving man, husband, and father. And I will miss him every minute of every day.

XOXO

A rare snow on our East Texas property just a couple of weeks ago.
Categories
COVID 19 holidays Memoirs

Post-Christmas Post

When I was younger I used to hate the week after Christmas. It was so. . .blah. After the anticipation of Christmas Day, the beauty of holiday decorations, the visits to and from extended family, the fun of school parties, the excitement of opening gifts–well, the week after was a huge letdown.

Me on Christmas morning with a new record album
and my baby sister all smiles.

Not that I wasn’t grateful for the new things, and I did enjoy them, but knowing that the decorations would soon be coming down and school would soon be resuming made the week kind of a downer.

That was then. Now that I’m all grown up with grown kids I see things a little differently. I don’t take all the decorations down right away. I used to follow my mother’s lead and keep everything up until New Year’s Day, but now it seems that the season goes so fast, I have been leaving everything up until my birthday on January 6, which is Epiphany, the day the wise men supposedly visited the baby Jesus. This year, amid the challenges of the coronavirus and details of moving my husband into a memory care facility, I may leave everything up until mid-January or even later.

My back is to the camera while my brother Allen and sisters Brenda and Sharon look toward the camera. Faces of joy.

Caring for him and juggling visits with loved ones has left me little time to reflect on the meaning of the holiday season. It was a strange one in that I did not work like crazy wrapping gifts at the shop where I’ve worked every Christmas for seven years. This year I did all my wrapping with materials I already had, and I wrapped what I had ordered online or bought at the dollar store. I haven’t set foot in a large store for months, it seems.

So I will use this post-Christmas downtime as a time to reflect on the season. I will wait for the rest of the gifts still under my tree to be given out. Covid-19 has kept my grandchildren away but I’m hoping to see them very soon. Our Christmas may be delayed a bit, but it will be every bit as special seeing it through their eyes.

As 2020 rolls into 2021 (good riddance, right?), I will ponder making new year’s resolutions and may even write some so that I can break them later. My wish for you is a happier, healthier, more peaceful new year. You deserve it. We all deserve it.

XOXO

Categories
Memoirs

4th Grade Fun

Fourth grade was a fun year. Mrs. Davis was my teacher but we switched clasrooms and teachers for Reading. Mrs. Reed was my reading teacher. I believe that was the first year we switched classes, except we had always done so for music and P.E., of course.

My fourth grade class picture. That’s me in the front row, second student from the right with the wonky red bow on my dress!

One of the fun things I remember about fourth grade was art. One project we did involved covering wire coat hangers with yarn. My first attempt involved red and white yarn and came out pretty messy, probably because I missed the first day of the project, so I had to catch up. Then I did another one in red and green, which turned out much nicer. I gave that one to my mother, I believe.

Another project we did was for Valentine’s Day. We decorated large heart-shaped pockets which the teacher hung on the front of our desks. On Valentine’s Day we dropped our classmates’ Valentines into the pockets on the desks. My mother always made sure we had enough Valentines to give one to every person in the class. I wish I had saved some of those cute vintage Valentines. Of course, I treasured some of them more than others, like the ones from my best friends or the boy I liked.

Speaking of boys, it was customary to pass a note to the one you were interested in with these words: “Will you go with me? Check yes or no.” If the person checked yes, then you were officially “going together.” Then you would chase each other on the playground and maybe even sneak in some handholding. Ah, fourth grade.

The infamous fourth grade school picture. Fortunately the years have made me kinder to this poor little girl. What were we thinking with that pixie haircut? Sheesh!

Do you have any memories of fourth grade? Do tell!

Stay tuned for Mrs. Reed’s “Brer Rabbit. . .”

XOXO

Categories
Memoirs

Mrs. Butts, the Post Office, and Spelling Bees

My third grade school picture. Mom had put a perm in my hair.

I was in Mrs. Butts’s third grade class at J.E. Rhodes Elementary in Van, Texas. Mrs. Butts was a tall and beautiful lady who always had a smile ready. The main thing I remember about her class is the make-believe post office she had at the back of her classroom. Or was that in Mrs. Russell’s second grade classroom?

That’s me in the second row from the front, second from the back in the white sweater and home-cut bangs!

The post office was a child-sized building likely made of cardboard, with a counter and mail slots, and we each got turns playing postmaster. I couldn’t wait to finish my work so I could check my mail. If I recall correctly, our valentines were delivered through the classroom post office that year. With all the playhouses and bounce houses and Crayola towns and museum towns these days, a makeshift post office in the classroom might not be as exciting as it was to me in 1968. I wish I could find a photo online of one but my search found nothing similar.

Another thing I remember about Mrs. Butts’s class was the spelling bee she held occasionally. We would compete with the other third grade classes. I remember Mrs. Ice’s class coming in to our room once, and I’m sure we went to other classrooms as well. I loved spelling contests, as we called them, because I have always been a good speller.

We would line up on either sides of the room and the teacher would call out a spelling word. The first one in line would attempt to spell it, and if she missed, she would have to sit down and the word would go to the other team. I always felt sorry for the first person to have to sit down. It was usually a “dumb boy” (not my words, a friend’s!). I’m not sure I ever won a contest, because I usually missed a letter or two, but I made a lot of 100’s on spelling tests.

Third grade was a happy year, as I recall. What about you? How was your third grade?

XOXO

Categories
Memoirs

Goodbye to a Legend

Can it be? Can he really be gone? Eddie Van Halen was a fixture. Although he did have an unhealthy lifestyle of alcohol and probably drug abuse as the lead guitarist and cofounder of the 70’s rock group Van Halen, it just seemed he would live forever. Music is immortal. I guess musicians are not.

I believe it was my brother who introduced me to Van Halen in 1978 after their first self-titled album came out. Popping that 8-track tape into his car’s tape deck introduced me to “Runnin’ with the Devil,” “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love,” “Eruption,” and others. I was hooked. This was back in the day before music videos and YouTube, and we had no idea what these guys looked like, either. The album cover on the tape was barely visible. We just knew that we really liked their music.

That same year I met the boy who would become my husband. He was a concert aficionado, so when tickets for the legendary annual concert, the Texxas Jam, became available the next summer, Jimmy ordered two and we found ourselves at the Dallas Cotton Bowl stadium in June.

I saved the ticket stubs from the Texxas Jam. We didn’t stay late enough to see Boston.

Summer in Texas is no joke, and even though June isn’t the hottest month of the summer, our seats were high in the stadium and in direct sun. Young and dumb as we were, we used absolutely no sunscreen and brought no water. I wore a spaghetti string top and was burned so badly my shoulders were solid blisters for days, second-degree burns which could have made me sick and could still lead to melanoma. I just didn’t know better.

This is the pendant I bought at a concert. The chains either broke or were lost.

It was all worth it when Van Halen came onstage. Seeing the band in person, seeing what the band members looked like and how they performed was magical. Lead singer David Lee Roth and lead guitarist Eddie Van Halen captured my heart. Who could resist David’s long blonde curls, sexy voice, and athletic stage presence and Eddie’s cute smile and guitar riffs?

More ticket stubs. . .

Jimmy and I would see three Van Halen concerts before our kids came and we stopped going to concerts altogether. We saw them at Shreveport’s Hirsch Memorial Coliseum (where we also watched Ted Nugent and KISS) in 1980 and Dallas’s Reunion Arena in 1981.

These are programs we bought at their concerts in 1980 and 1981.

Eddie Van Halen married Valerie Bertinelli, whom I also loved from the TV show “One Day at a Time,” in April of 1980, just four months after we married in January of that year. As I grew busy with raising a family and teaching school, I grew less interested in the band and what was going on with them, and when David Lee Roth quit the band and Sammy Hagar became the lead singer, I lost interest. It was my feeling that no one could replace David. It was sad that the band couldn’t get along.

Jimmy and me in 1979. He’s wearing a Ted Nugent concert shirt.

Losing Eddie Van Halen almost feels like losing part of my past. I know that his family is mourning, and I don’t mean to diminish their grief at all, but I’m sure that many other fans from that era must feel the same way. We can’t go back, but we can certainly listen to the music (thank you, Spotify) and fetch those memories of our youth.

I hope Eddie knew the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray he did. Thank you for the memories and the music, Eddie. They will live on.

XOXO