Friday, June 28, 2013

What Time Did You Say?

Every night I review in my mind what needs to be done the next day. Last night I started to panic because I couldn't think of many things that needed done. Had I forgotten something major? Usually I was swamped. Would I get bored and start pacing the house all day if I ran out of things to do? Could I stay off my social media and internet with that much time on my hands before my eyes started to burn?

I had very few dishes in the sink or clothes in the hamper. About all I could think of was to shower, vacuum, and change the bottom of the bird cage. After a couple of phone calls, I was free the rest of the day. Dean was at his adult day program and so I had most of the morning to myself.

Then I remembered a committee meeting that afternoon for the Respite Network. I had written in 3 p.m. for it on my personal calender. So I left for the meeting in time, not thinking for a minute that all the other monthly meetings had been at 1:30 to 3:00.

Needless to say, no one was there when I arrived. I couldn't understand why, and even asked a secretary there to see where the meeting was held, even then thinking I must have the location wrong. But when she said that the meeting was at 1:30, I felt like such a dunce. How glad I was that the meeting had let out on time. I would have felt pretty silly walking in at the time they were finishing up.

The lesson for me in all this was that it isn't just when I'm swamped with things to do that mistakes can be made. I am capable of making them even when things are relatively calm and easy. I have to let God have control always. Not just when things are crazy and I'm all frazzled. I need Him during the relaxed times of my life as well.

Next time I have time on my hands, I'm giving it to God. My schedule is His, from beginning to end.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Who's Dependent?

I had my eyes opened last weekend when Dean and I stopped to get an ice cream cone at a drive-thru. I've learned to order his ice cream in a bowl, instead of a cone (he can't lick fast enough). The bowl comes with a spoon in a cellophane wrapper. After briefly trying to get the spoon free, he handed it to me to tear open. It suddenly dawned on me just how dependent he is, compared to how he was before the accident. It's very similar to being with my toddler granddaughters.

You have to understand that this was a man, who at one time could fix or build or do almost anything: from roofing a house, laying a carpet, cutting down a tree, to decorating a cake. That image of him briefly came to my mind that day, and tears welled up in my eyes at the reminder.

Then I thought about all the things around the house that he also struggles with and I usually end up doing: using the electric can opener, twisting off bread ties, opening milk cartons, replacing the toilet paper roll, emptying the trash. It isn't just about doing all the driving or helping him dress (shoes and socks are the hardest). No wonder I feel overwhelmed with having to do everything at home.

Dean's dependence has brought even more forcefully to me how dependent I am on God. Jesus told us in John 15:5, "...without me ye can do nothing". Caregiving does not make me feel independent, although it can make me feel I'm the one in control at times. I must remember, however, God is the one in control and I am totally dependent on Him.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Dean's Love Poem

Last week on one of the days Dean goes to an adult day program, one of the activities they had for them there was a choice between playing a game or sitting down and writing a poem. Not surprisingly, my romantic husband chose to write a poem, in the wake of our 37th anniversary.

He handed this handwritten note to me, when he got home. It said:

"My Wife is the Best
An Angel
A Queen
She says no to no one

37 trips around the sun
and five days more
She finds a way
She's amazing
Without her I'd feel like an empty person.
God answered my prayer"

How wise of us all to turn down the "games of life" and focus on the "loves of our life".

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Dean's sister Lynn and brother-in-law John came for a visit today. They live in another state and we seldom get to see each other. His family was having a big family reunion in town, but we had our own little one right here in our cozy living room this morning--a much better place for Dean to be able to reconnect with his only sis.

Lynn helped me identify and mark some of their family photos, a task I hadn't even asked Dean to tackle. It surprised me how his sister could get stories out of him that I hadn't heard before though. As it often happens with dementia, his long-term memory is still pretty intact. I had hesitated to have him help me on his own simply because I know how frustrated he gets with such activities.

There was one relative she was telling us about who I was really interested in--perhaps because of my own breathing and oxygen problems. Dean's grandpa on his father's side was reportedly not a good provider. First of all, this was during the Great Depression. But he was nevertheless considered a good-for-nothing, and forced his grandmother to work and support their children. She later divorced him and continued to provide for her four children on her own. Then Lynn told me that he had asthma.

I instantly thought of my own great grandpa, who had asthma and an almost identical story of not working, leaving my great grandmother to support their eight children during the Depression. He was thought to be pretty worthless by the family, even to this day too.

Having experienced shortness of breath and several episodes of calling 911, I can relate to the debilitating effects of asthma, or any pulmonary problem. Keep in mind that there was no medical support of any kind back then for lung patients--no nebulizers, medicines, or inhalers. I doubt there was even portable oxygen for home use. Both of our grandfathers died at an early age, and from the sound of their stories may have suffered from mental depression as well.

This brought home to me how one's reputation can suffer unjustly and how important our understanding of disabilities is. My hope is that people now will become familiar enough with dementia, and all the other "invisible" disabilities out there, and that the memories we leave will be seen in a kinder light.

And of course, the greatest legacy of all is the life that reflects the Father's love. After all, God has a reputation to guard as well.

Dean and Lynn


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dean's Prayer-Song

One way that I know Dean has worsened dementia, due to his brain injury, is that he now has a harder time with repeating the same song over and over. He did that a lot the first few years after his accident, but now it is one of the "symptoms" that has come back to haunt us.

I say haunt us, because although my voice is not solo quality either, I've at least been able to muster a decent enough sound to sing in choirs. I'm not sure Dean would fit in a choir. Let's just say he's able to make a joyful noise with a congregation. I'm sure his hearing deficit is mostly to blame though, because he does have a rich, low voice that I mostly love. (He did remind me the other day that he sang in a choir once. I'm thinking--high school academy, maybe?)

In any event, the song he seems to be stuck on recently is called "An Evening Prayer". It's a beautiful song. When I was "complaining" about his humming it all the time recently though--after humming my own different songs all day, in a futile effort to get him to change his tune--he told me that it's not just a song to him. It's really his prayer. When he said that, I gave up, and just let him have "his prayer-song".

An Evening Prayer

If I have wounded any soul today,
If I have caused one foot to go astray,
If I have walked in my own willful way,
Dear Lord, forgive!

If I have uttered idle words or vain,
If I have turned aside from want or pain,
Lest I myself shall suffer through the strain,
Dear Lord, forgive!

If I have been perverse or hard, or cold,
If I have longed for shelter in Thy fold,
When Thou hast given me some fort to hold,
Dear Lord, forgive!

Forgive the sins I have confessed to Thee;
Forgive the secret sins I do not see;
O guide me, love me and my keeper be,
Dear Lord, Amen.