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Alzheimer's Being a Grandparent Life Parkinson's Disease

You Never Know

Remember when you last spoke to a loved one who passed on? Did you realize at the time that it would be the last time?

Life is full of last times. I’m sure there are others but the earliest one I remember is my high school graduation. As we hugged and said goodbye to our friends, we even said that it might be the last time we ever see each other, but at 18 does anyone really take that phrase seriously? So many of my classmates from the Class of 1977 have passed on, and most of them I never saw again after that last time, on graduation day in May of 1977.

What an awful photo! So blurry. . .it wasn’t a digital world back then.

What about when you’re raising children and you can hardly wait for them to be able to dress themselves, brush their own teeth, use the bathroom on their own? Suddenly they are doing those things and you don’t remember exactly when the last time was.

My granddaughter used to sit on the edge of my bed and look at the tiny charms on the rag lampshade on the nightstand. I never even took a picture. I used to take my grandson to a place called The Coop, which was a neat and safe indoor play area for little kids, and then I would take him to the play area in the nearby library. I used to rock my smallest granddaughter to sleep. All these things are in the past. I never realized the last time I did them that it was the last time.

The same goes for my husband. He worked as a night zookeeper and would call me in the evening during his lunch break. He would greet me by saying, “Hey, Nutty, whatcha doing?” When was the last time he affectionately called me Nutty? The Alzheimer’s took the affection away. Heck, it took everything away.

My handsome night keeper. . .

There are so many things we used to do together, or things that he used to say, which faded away as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s stole him from me. I wish I had known when they were the last times, but maybe that would have been just too sad.

Happier times, during a rare snowfall in Texas.

Cherish your moments, the first times, the last times, and all the in-between times. You never know when they’ll never be again.

XOXO

Categories
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
Being a Grandparent COVID 19 glamping holidays home decor Life Parkinson's Disease

“Have a Holly Jolly Christmas. . .”

from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” 1960’s

“It’s the best time of the year. I don’t know if there’ll be snow, but have a cup of cheer. . .” And so the song goes, courtesy of the late great Burl Ives. Remember the snowman on “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” animated special? I was seven years old when I saw it for the first time. It was magical. Now I can’t even get my grandkids interested. The old claymation specials have nothing on today’s computer graphics animation. Ah, but they were magical, at least to my generation.

I got distracted. Sorry about that. I have decided to have a holly jolly Christmas at my house. I don’t care if a pandemic is raging, threatening my family and friends, threatening retailers and restauranteurs, threatening the traditions we all hold dear. Maybe the pandemic is a good thing.

Our Living Room Christmas Tree

What? What did you say? I said, maybe it’s a good thing. It’s changing our priorities. We are focusing more on loved ones, and not things. We are finding out that the most valuable things in life are not things at all. The things we miss are not things, either. Hugging a friend or relative, shaking hands, whispering in someone’s ear, getting close enough to detect a special cologne, gathering in groups at holiday parties, sharing a toast, kids sitting on Santa’s lap, being able to breathe without fogging up your glasses, last-minute shopping in a crowded store. Need I go on?

We have given up much this year because of Covid-19. But look at what we’ve gained: a new appreciation of freedom, gathering with friends, going shopping and dining wherever we want, gathering with family at holidays and special occasions, going to church and fellowship with fellow churchgoers. Boy, do I miss that.

My precious granddaughters enjoying the season.

I’m going to make it a holly jolly Christmas, though. I’m going to:

  1. Enjoy small things like the lights on my beautiful tree.
  2. Behold the wonder in my granddaughters’ eyes as they look at all the decorations.
  3. Experience the delight in the two-year-old’s smile as she touches an LED C9 bulb and finds out that it’s cool to the touch.
  4. Note the pride in the five-year-old’s stance as she finishes decorating the little silver tree for my camper.
  5. Enjoy the taste of pumpkin spice in my morning coffee.
  6. Relish drinking from my special Christmas coffee mugs.
  7. Cozy up to my dog next to me in my chair while wearing comfy pajamas.
  8. Relish a morning when I get to sleep just a little bit later.
  9. Wrap each and every gift with love.
  10. Give thanks for online ordering when I can’t get to a store.
Can you see the silver tree hidden in the tinsel garland? I left it just as she decorated it.

Get the picture? There is a host of ways to make it a holly jolly Christmas. Even as my days are consumed with caregiving and my nights with intermittent sleep between calls from hubby, I choose to focus on the good. Yes, I have days, even weeks, when I wonder how this is all going to turn out–the pandemic, my husband’s disease progression, the next presidential administration, life in general. But I rest in this: my God knows it all, and holds it all, in His almighty hands.

So. . . Merry Christmas. May all your days be holly jolly.

XOXO

Little “Miss Millie” all dressed up for the holidays.
Categories
Parkinson's Disease

Thank you, Parkinson’s (with apologies to Jimmy Fallon)

Source

My husband has Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Diseases.  At the same time.  Some people say Alzheimer’s with Parkinsonism.  It doesn’t matter what it’s called.  It sucks.  So I’m coming out of the closet with it.  Maybe this will help someone else.  I’m sorry, kids.

Thank you, Parkinson’s. . .

  • for destroying our dreams of retirement.
  • for changing my sweetheart of 41 years into someone I barely recognize.
  • for making me a caregiver.
  • for taking away my strong man.
  • for taking away my handyman, mechanic, and lover.
  • for changing our family dynamic.
  • for giving me the job of keeping up with six doses of medicines per day.
  • for giving me the job of knowing when the dog is bothering him and keeping her away.
  • for giving me the responsibility of getting someone to take care of the yard and home maintenance and repair.
  • for the obligation of pretending that what he is saying is right when I know it is wrong or untrue.
  • for my new job of cleaning the bathroom every day.
  • for the job of listening to reports of his bodily functions and aches and pains.
  • for changing the way I see myself and my husband and our relationship.
  • for taking away things I enjoy because caregiving is more important.
  • for keeping me home when I want to travel, go camping, or see the grandkids and kids.
  • for the knowledge that it won’t get better.
Yet I must add this.  Thank you, God, for being there through the good times and bad, for your Holy Word and your promises to be with us through it all.  

“Casting all your care upon him; for He careth for you.”
1 Peter 5:7

XOXO