Trying to make it through life with His help.

Being: An Adult

Ya know… there are a few people on my Facebook friends list who have, especially recently, taken a break from social media. I wouldn’t consider myself addicted to it, I will confess I enjoy keeping up with friends from my past and present. While I most certainly do not agree with everything they post – especially morally and politically – it’s their page, and they can post what ever they want. Right? I mean, everybody has their own opinion and I will always fight for their righ to have it, even if I think, (in my ‘infinite wisdom’! lol), that they’re wrong.

If you’ve read any of my blogs before, you will surely have discerned that I’m a Christian. And as a Christian, I try my best to act like one. Every once in a while, something will slip out or happen that doesn’t especially follow the Christian path, but, there is only One Who is perfect, and I am most certainly not He. I say all of this to ask: If you follow my blog, would you really expect me to not post things that reflect my opinions and values? And, if you know me personally, how could it come as any surprise to you that I talk about the One who sustains me on a daily basis, even when I don’t always do what I’m supposed to do?

Since moving home to Nashville, I have found it extremely difficult to find a church home. Somewhere, where everything I need and want in a church comes together. I understand that I’m not going to find what I had in Georgia, and that I need to find a new normal. I’ve also found it difficult to find Christian friends, those with whom I can build a trusting relationship, sharing things I’m going through and get good, solid Christian advice. I’m not saying I don’t have any Christian friends here. Indeed, I have a wonderful and true Christian friend here in Tennessee. And, she’s great. We just don’t get to hang out as much as either of us would like…. (Geography. ugh!)

I’m getting a bit off topic here.

The main reason I wanted … no, needed to write this down, is that today I was told that someone at work I considered to be a friend talks about the things I post on my Facebook page. (Apparently she thinks I’m stupid, naive and no telling what else). She and I are polar opposites in pretty much every way, but, for me, that doesn’t matter. I like her, we just don’t agree on everything. But, she’s extreme, and I am not. Again, though, it doesn’t matter to me. I like her. Admittedly, I have hidden several of her posts because I don’t want to see them in my newsfeed. But for her, they’re nothing but the truth. Which, ok, that’s fine, I don’t have to like it OR see it. I guess it just bothers me that she can’t take me for who I am and what I believe without having to try and discuss it with some of our mutual friends. Creating drama is not something I strive to do. But, apparently, she thrives on it. Something I just hadn’t realized until talking with someone today.

I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the Lord put me where I am to be His light in the place I work. But lately, it’s been harder and harder to ‘shine’. It’s like I can feel the darkness closing in on me day by day. But, can’t we just be adults and leave all the crap behind? Just grow up and stop being offended, or trying to change others’ minds? Have an adult conversation, or discussion, without trying to beat the other person up verbally just to feel superior?! Honestly, I don’t blame people for taking a break from social media. It does get tiresome. I might have to try it soon. The people who know me, know how to get in touch with me, and that’s all that matters, right?

Have you taken a social media break? Were you glad you did?
What changed during and after the break?
How long was the break?

Would you like to take a break? I think I would. Yes. I think I would.

As always, Thanks for listening.

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Being Distressed

You know, it was hard enough when we found out that Mom had dementia, but watching her go through it is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

Over the last 6-8 years I’ve watched my Mother’s mind deteriorate. At first it was little things, like she couldn’t find the right word to say, or she would forget something. But, we all do that at one time or another, right?

The first time we ever had the scary notion that something wasn’t quite right with her was when I was in the hospital for a few days. Mom and Dad are the best parents any kid could ever ask for. They’re always there for me and my brother. And, this was no exception. They drove four hours to Atlanta to be with me while I was in the hospital, and only left to go to my Uncle’s house to sleep. So, yeah, they both were worried and extremely tired. For the most part, I truly believe Mom’s condition, especially at that time, was made worse by worry and exhaustion. The only way I have ever been able to explain it – then or since – is that she seemed confused about what she was confused about. I know it sounds odd, but that’s how it seemed.

I haven’t written anything in my blog for months, because, thankfully, there just hasn’t been that much to say. But, in the last few weeks, I’ve seen a steady decline. Changes that I just am not ready for are happening daily. Her speech is getting softer all the time, she can’t string sentences together very well most of the time, and she’s more and more unsure on her feet. But, the biggest is that she sees people no one else can see. Many times they’ll be people she knows, but they’re doing things the real people would never do. She keeps telling me that my best friend’s Mom is in her closet going through her clothes and just taking what ever she wants. (Never mind that my friend’s Mom is at least 4-5 inches taller than my Mom and couldn’t begin to fit into her clothes…lol)

For a long time Mom has seen these people, but it’s different now. Most of the time she described them as just regular people or small children. Every once in a while though, she’d say something about someone REALLY tall, dressed in white. Not just plain ol’ white, but a bright white. Well now. Hmmm. If you’ve read anything about Angels, you’ve probably come across the same kind of description that my Mom gives of these people.

Being a Christian, and someone who has the Gift of Knowledge, (which, in my case means seeing, knowing or feeling things many people don’t), how can I say that what she’s seeing isn’t really there? I can’t. I know it freaks people out a bit when I see things they don’t, or even tell them about it after the fact. Now I know how they feel on a moment by moment basis. In the last week or so, Mom has gone from just seeing these people, to talking to them, and now, in the last two days, she’s started to putting food out for them. It’s not for these tall people dressed in white, though. (It would make me feel better if it was!) She sees, talks to, and now tries to feed tiny children. A boy and a girl. They have – according to Mom – been sitting in our flower pots, sitting on the shelf in the pantry, and climbing up the cabinet doors. I hear and see her interact with them all day long. And, yeah, it’s kinda freaky.

I’m not looking for any kind of resolution here, I’m just trying to get this ‘down on paper’, and out of my head. As much as I know that God’s got this, and He’s got it all under control and worked out much better than I could ever try and plan it out, it’s just hard to deal with. And, writing about it helps a bit. I would appreciate prayers. That’s the only thing that will truly help.

Thanks for listening.

Being Illogical

So, for the last few weeks, it’s been pretty calm at home. No disappearances, no calling other family members for help, which is a good thing. And, I thank God that nothing major like that has happened again.

The things that do happen are what have become the every day things of living with someone who has dementia. She sees things and people who aren’t there, gets ideas in her head that no logic in the world can convince her aren’t true, makes statements that make no sense, and possibly worst of all, inadvertently hurts the one person who’s been there through everything, and still loves her more than life itself.

For as long as I can remember, my Mom has always gone to sleep while watching television at night. She rarely saw the end of a show or movie. It’s just something she always did. But now when she falls asleep, she dreams dreams we have no idea about, and she can’t always separate fact from fiction. So, most of the time, what she dreams about seems to get mixed up with her reality. We just never know what’s going to come out of her mouth from one moment to the next.

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-11-02-52-pmTonight, she woke up and asked my Dad if he could sleep in the room with my brother, (who wasn’t even there). I told her that Dad had his own bed. She asked where, and I told her the same one she slept in. She said, “He can’t sleep in the same bed with me! We’re not married!” I didn’t even want to see the look on my Dad’s face. This has hit him a lot harder than anyone else. She – so far – remembers me, my brother and his son, and pretty much everyone else. But my sweet Daddy… well, she doesn’t always remember who he is, or that he’s her husband. I told her to look at her hand. She held up her right hand, “See? No ring.” I said, “The other hand, Mama.” She giggled like a school girl and wouldn’t even look at her left hand. See? No logic can convince her.

So, tonight she’s sleeping upstairs. No amount of convincing will get her down here in her own bed. I’ll be praying that she doesn’t wake up during the night to come downstairs, because she falls so easily now, especially when she’s half asleep. And a fall down those stairs could be really bad. And, if she falls, we might not hear her. Because of that, I may sleep in the living room tonight… I know I can’t keep her from falling, but I could get to her faster from there than I could from my room.

If you have someone in your life who has dementia or Alzheimer’s, the one thing I would tell you to do – besides pray…a lot – would be to check out Prevagen. It’s an over the counter drug to help with memory loss. It’s actually helped my Mom, or more accurately, what I think it’s done is to keep her from getting worse faster than she would have if she hadn’t been taking it. And, in case you’re wondering, I’m not a paid spokesperson for it, I haven’t received samples, nor have I ever been contacted by them to write a review or anything like that. It just seems like it helps, and it might help someone else out there who needs it.

This is hard on us all. But, for me, the hardest thing is seeing how it hurts my Dad. He knows it’s the dementia talking, but as he said, “I can’t do anything with it.” It’s something you just have to learn to live, and deal with. I’ve found that I’m more emotional at times than I even realize I may be. I don’t like to be around pushy, difficult or confrontational people anyway, but I can usually deal with them pretty well. But twice in the last week, I’ve been in situations where I just didn’t handle them well at all. I need to get a better grip on things, but so far, I just haven’t been able to. I guess more prayer is in order.

Thanks for listening.

Being Thankful for Family

Whew! I’m not sure what it is about Sundays, but two weeks in a row now, my Mom has had a bad day on a Sunday. Maybe it’s that she’s put up with not “going home” for another week, and she’s gotten tired of it, and decides that today’s the day!, and she tries to do something about it. I don’t know, I just don’t know.

Sunday morning began, for me, being awakened by my Dad. He came in my room and told me that Mom had just called my cousin Martha, (who was named after my Mom, and just happens to be a nurse), to come get her and take her home. Being the sweet person she is, she told Mom that she was on her way and would come get her. So, a little while later, she and her husband arrived at our house.

They came inside, bringing our Sunday paper with them. (See? That’s sweet. Not everyone would have brought it in with them.) She and Mom went into the living room while her husband, Jerry, Dad and I stood in the dining room and talked for a little bit. A few minutes later, Martha and Mom came back out, and said they were going for a little drive.

Mom and Martha were gone for a while. She drove Mom all around, seeing familiar places, and talking the whole time. You can easily see that Martha is good at what she does. She’s so sweet and patient, and knows what to say, and when to say it.

It’s comforting to have family around when you need them. The Lord knows who you need when you need them. Not that any of my other family members wouldn’t have done the same thing. I truly believe that anyone Mom would have called that morning would have dropped what they were doing and come to see her just because she asked them to. That’s just one of the great things about having such a big ol’ wonderful and loving family.

I know things with Mom aren’t going to get any better. I know they could if that’s what the Lord wanted. Wouldn’t that be wonderful to receive a miracle like that? I know He can do anything He wants to do, and I wish he would give my Mom back to us. But I don’t know what His will is, so all I can do is just pray for it to be done. I have asked for us to be put on every prayer list I can think of. So, there are enough people agreeing for something to happen. I did hear from two different people this week that there is actually a promising cure for Alzheimer’s and Dementia now. But, of course, it’ll take years upon years for the FDA to approve it and get it out to those who need it, IF they ever approve it at all. So, I know it’s possible. Plus, I heard ‘my’ song today, “God is On The Move”, by 7eventh Time Down. It’s just a little reminder to me that He’s still there taking care of me and all that is around me. His way of telling me He’s got this.

Do you have something you feel that the Lord uses to get your attention? Something that happens where you think, “OK, God, I know you’re there. Thanks for watching over me, yet again.”? If you’ll just listen, I bet you’ll experience God.

Thanks for listening.

Being Terrified

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You’d think after my last post, (YESTERDAY), I might be better at not worrying, right? Well, that’d be a big ol’ NOPE!

Geez. Things hit you out of left field when someone you love has dementia. As I was leaving to go to church today, my Mom asked if she could come with me. I was a bit taken aback because she stopped going to church a few years ago for various medical reasons. I asked, “You want to go to church with me?” She said, “No, I thought you could take me somewhere. I’m not supposed to say it, but I thought maybe you could take me home.” (She’s been asking us for weeks now when we were going to go home. They have lived in the same house for 52 years, so, we’re not sure exactly where she’s wanting to go.) Once again, I told her if she could tell me where it was, I would gladly take her there. She turned around, waving her hands, and shaking her head, saying, “Never mind. Just never mind.”

Dad told me to go on to church, it would be ok. So, I made the short drive to church. One of the first things my teacher does is take prayer requests. So, I asked her to put my Mom and Dad on the list. I wanted to say more, but tears welled up in my eyes and I couldn’t get anything else out. We went on with the lesson, and my phone tumblr_lle1iri7zy1qbatwqo1_1280buzzed. I got up and out of the room as soon as I could, but I missed the phone call. It was from my Dad. I knew something must have happened because he wouldn’t have called me otherwise. I listened to the voice message. Mom had disappeared. She had walked off and he couldn’t find her. I could hear the fear and worry in his voice, which is such an unusual thing for my Dad, who has always been so strong. I ran back in the room, gathered my things and ran out.

By this time, I was barely able to see because of the tears. I knew I was going to have to pull it together, at least enough to drive home. As I walked to my car, two young men came up to me and asked if I was ok, and if there was anything they could do. I quickly explained what had happened and asked them to just please pray that she would be ok. Once I got out of the church parking lot, I didn’t have to stop at all – a total miracle since there’s at least eight stop lights between church and home. I tried not to speed, (much), but it was difficult. At one point I thought it might be a good thing if I was pulled over, then I could get the Officer to help find her. But, I just wanted to get home and make sure my Mom was found and ok.

When I was a few miles from home, my Dad finally answered his cell phone and told me that he had found her. She had walked five houses down the street to a neighbor’s house…in 90° heat. We live in an older neighborhood, where the houses aren’t stuck so close together you can reach out the window and touch your neighbor. There’s actually room to roam. You know, like neighborhoods used to be 50+ years ago. So, this wasn’t just a few feet, but closer to a quarter of a mile. That may not sound like it’s too far, but for an 85 year old who can’t walk well, that’s a LONG way. Thankfully the neighbor, a woman who’s children I had grown up with, was home and brought Mom back to us.

Apparently, Mom had wanted to go “Home” so badly, that she was willing to strike out on her own to get there. I later found out that she had told Dad that she would walk until she dropped to get there. So, when he left the room for a few minutes, she did just that. Thankfully she didn’t drop, though, or get too far.

As much as I would like to tell you that I didn’t worry, or fear, I’d be lying if I did. And, I’m not going to do that. Heck, I’ve already told you that I cried all the way home, which doesn’t exactly mean I was too confident. I knew He was with me. I talked to Him all the way home. But, I think that being strong and confident in the Lord is something that most of us have to work on, or build up to. We’re so used to doing things for ourselves and/or relying on someone else to do things, that relying on Him isn’t necessarily the first thing we think of. Even though it should be. I’d really rather not have to be tested on this again, but I think it’s the only way we learn to trust him fully. I just hope I get better at it sooner than later, because I’m not sure my heart can take too many more days like today.

Thanks for listening.

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Being Troubled

John 14 (KJV)

14 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

When I started thinking about this post, I looked at an online Thesaurus for words that could mean “worried”, but not have the same feeling as worried. Because, I really do try not to worry about things. I mean, that’s what He tells us to do, right? He tells us to “Fear not…” 365 times in the Bible. Do you think that He would have said it that many times – one for each day of the year! – if He didn’t have things covered? He keeps telling us that He’s got this, and yet we still worry and fear.

I’ll confess to you that since my Mom’s dementia has continued to get worse, I find myself worrying about what is to come. To be my age and still have both of my parents is something of a miracle in itself, I think. When I find myself worrying, or even trying to figure out what to do if ‘this’ or ‘that’ happens, I remind myself that He has already got it all planned out, and no matter how tragic it seems at the time, what ever happens will be the best way it could have happened, and all will fall into place as He sees fit. Remember that “Thy Will Be Done” part of the Lord’s Prayer? That’s what I try to remember throughout all of this. But, it can be difficult…

It’s gotten to the point where we shouldn’t leave my Mom alone, at least not too long. She forgets where you’ve gone, and in the last year or so she’s become more unstable on her feet, so she could fall and hurt herself and no one would be there to help her. Again, I get it, we’re worrying about things that could happen. But, even though I know He’s watching over her every step, He still expects us to be responsible and help ourselves out. So, we don’t leave her on her own for too long, or too often.

Every week, it seems there’s something new. This week, she’s started wanting to sleep upstairs in the den instead of downstairs in her bed. We haven’t figured out the reasoning behind this yet, but, so far, we’ve been able to talk her into going downstairs. For me, it’s because she could get up during the night, and fall down the few steps going downstairs. Just think about how disoriented you are if you wake up in the middle of the night, then multiply that by about 100, and that’s how she feels. She can barely stand up by herself, she’s still mostly asleep, which means she’s disoriented, and then add in that she’s very unsteady on her feet, and, the probability of her falling is extremely high. If that were to happen, we might not hear her fall. And, even though as she keeps reminding me, “I’m still the mother.”, {smile}, I can’t sleep knowing she may fall and hurt herself during the night if she’s not where she should be. Last night I determined that I would just sleep up there with her, but thankfully Daddy got her to go downstairs.

I’m not sure what exactly I’m trying to get across here, but the thing is, for many of us, we just feel helpless as our parents get older. I believe I may be in the minority of those who feel responsible to help their parents out. The world isn’t as it used to be when I was growing up. Far from it. We’re all so busy with our own lives that we don’t have time for those who mean the most, or those who should mean the most.

Actually, other than the fact that we shouldn’t worry about things as much as we do, I do know that what I’m trying to get across to anyone out there willing to listen. It’s that you should build a good relationship with your parents, (and grandparents), before it’s too late. I know there are those of you out there who feel you can’t for one reason or another. And, it may not be your fault. But, make the effort. If you don’t, you may regret it.

I’m in a unique position in that I live with my parents. So I’m with them every day. Do I wish I had my own place? Sure. Do I have a job that would allow me to do that at the moment? No. Do they need me here with them, and are they glad I’m here? Yes, very much so to both questions. I like to think of it being a mutually beneficial situation. 🙂 I ask myself all the time if I didn’t live with them, would I see them often? I would like to think I would. But, I also understand that “life” gets in the way and we don’t always do what we should or need to do. There’s always tomorrow, right? No, Scarlett, not necessarily. Tomorrow isn’t promised.

Let’s not forget grandparents. I grew up, for the most part, without any grandparents. So, when my ex-husband practically refused to spend time with his grandmother because she was almost deaf, I couldn’t understand it. I knew it was difficult, but I also knew that eventually he might regret not spending time with her. When it comes to your grandparents, please, oh, please, don’t forget about them. Make the time to go see them as often as you can. They love you like no one else. Listen to what they have to say. There’s wisdom there, there’s stories of their childhood that no one else may know. They have lived through so much more than you realize, and you need to hear it. I really think you’ll be amazed. Pull out the box of old photos that every grandparent has and go through it with them. Each photo represents a snippet of their life. If you don’t know the people in the photos, ask!, before it’s too late and they don’t remember.

The Bible says, “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth” (Ephesians 6:2-3).

I think for now, in writing this all down, I’m just hoping that if there’s someone else out there who is going through something similar, you will know that you’re not alone. Not only are there others out there who share the same experiences, He’s there for you, too, if you’ll just let Him be. He will never push you into letting Him in, it’s totally your choice. But, He can, and will, do so much for you. Just let go, and let Him.

Thanks for listening. 🙂

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Being Heartbroken

My Mom has dementia.

The first real signs of it were several years ago when I was in the hospital. Dad and I, for the most part, put her behavior and forgetfulness down to the fact that she was very tired and worried about me. And, while being tired and worried certainly didn’t help, it was the first time I saw my sweet Mother confused about what she was confused about. That’s the only way I can describe it.

Over the years, it has steadily gotten worse. Since I lived in Atlanta at the time, I didn’t see her on a regular basis. It wasn’t until I moved home that I saw first hand the steady decline of her memory. It started out with her not being able to remember the word she was trying to say. I can’t remember a time when my Mom didn’t have a crossword puzzle around somewhere, because words had always been fun for her. She still has one around, but, rarely picks it up.

Yesterday when I came home from work, she was busy looking around the house for something. This is common these days. She misplaces things very easily now, and Dad or I have to find them. (Mostly Dad since he’s with her more and knows where her frequent ‘hiding’ places are.) After a while, I asked her what she was looking for, because she kept looking out the door and windows and going outside. She said she was looking for ‘that man’. I told her he was upstairs.

“No, not him. I know he’s there. I’m looking for the other one.”

“Mama, he’s the only one here.”

“I know that.”, she says frustratingly. “The one I’m looking for says his name is David, and that he wants to marry me.”

I smile, knowing, of course, that’s my Daddy. But she’s looking for the ‘young man’ she fell in love with 63+ years ago, not the older man who is upstairs, and loves her even more today than he did back then.

When Daddy comes downstairs for dinner, he tries to explain that he is the one she’s looking for, but she doesn’t quite believe him. She asks him for ‘his’ phone number because he’s got to have it. So, I quickly text my brother and tell him about the situation, just in case she calls him and thinks he’s Daddy from years ago. But, that doesn’t happen, she, at least for the moment, still realizes that my brother is the Jr. of our two Davids, and not the one she’s looking for.

While dementia is a horrible thing for anyone to live with, and those who love them to live through, there are some sweet and funny moments. They’re just so cute when they happen and you can’t help but laugh, which really helps. I’ll give you a couple of examples: When I was in the hospital, they had given me oxycodone pills for the pain. Mom has always been a worrier. I’ve often told her she’s a “Professional Worrier” because when she doesn’t have anything to worry about, she’ll manufacture something! But, that’s my Mom. Anyway, she came to my bed and said, “Do you need one of your oxymorons?” I couldn’t help but laugh. She looked at me strangely and asked me why I was laughing. I told her, “It’s oxycodone, Mom.” To which she replied, “Well, you know what I meant!”, and laughed. Then, just a few weeks ago, I went upstairs where she and Dad were watching tv. I asked them what they were watching. They both answered at the same time, Dad: “American Ninja Warriors”, while Mom came out with “Ninja Turtles”. I couldn’t stop laughing for a while at that one. I don’t even think she knows what a Ninja Turtle is, but she’s heard it somewhere. She’s priceless. Always has been. But, even as difficult as these days have been, and will be, I wouldn’t take anything for the time I get to spend with them both.

Don’t take for granted that someone will always be there, because they won’t. Put down your phone and interact with people, especially your family, and most especially, your parents or grandparents. Unfortunately, they won’t always be there, and believe me, you’re lucky to have them for as long as you will. My brother and I have been extremely blessed to have both of our parents as long as we have. Too many friends lost theirs long ago.

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Honestly, I don’t know where I’d be without my Faith, it’s what gets me through. There are things I worry about, I know better, and try not to because He’s there and has it all planned out much better than I could ever even try to plan it – IF I had any control over it. I have to remember to rely on Him, not me or anything or anyone else. It also helps to write about this, which He told me to do. Amazing how that works, isn’t it? He knows what’s best for us, and if we’d just listen, everything would work out like it’s supposed to.

I should have listened to Him a long time ago and been writing all this down. Apparently, writing is my therapy. 🙂  Thanks for listening.

 

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