Apologia for these journals:
They are not about taking care of a relative with moderate to severe Alzheimer's/senile dementia.
For an explanation of what these journals are about, click the link above.
For internet sources that are about caring for relatives with moderate to severe
Alzheimer's/senile dementia, click through the Honorable Alzheimer's Blogs in my
links section to the right.
This is strictly unofficial, but...
...as I continue archiving each year of these journals into their separate areas, I'm noticing that it looks as though I hit my posting peak in 2006. Seems I had a lot to say, that year. Not that I didn't have a lot to say in other years. It's a tight race and I'm going strictly by the seat of my pants on this, but it looks like the middle of 2006 was a particularly loquacious period.
I'm not bothered by the severe cut back in my posting of late. As I reflect upon it I note that it's not uncommon for me to feel, now, as though I have nothing to say and the therapy aspect of journaling has diminished for me, mainly, I think, because I'm needing the therapeutic delerium of journaling less and less. That's probably good.
When I was at my posting peak I remember personal concerns that I was repeating myself ad nauseaum. Although I'm not reading posts as I transfer them, unless the comments I'm also transferring tweak something in my memory or a title sounds obscure and I wonder to what the hell it referred, it seems that I did repeat myself, a lot, and probably continue to do so. Hard not to do that when you've published as many words as I have in the last few years. As well, since therapy tends to be repetitive until one "gets it", and this has been my caregiving therapy, well, you know...
Anyway, it occurred to me as I was contemplating the above while moving the most recent weekly archive (I'm in June of 2006, now...that was a prolific month) that, once my mother's death brings this particular series of journals to an end, it might be interesting to go back and survey themes that were repeated in order to determine how much concern particular aspects of caregiving deserved, at least from my perspective, in comparison with others. It might also be instructive to note caregiving aspects about which others have written that I didn't address. I'm a cataloguer at heart. I'll set up catalogues even when they aren't necessary, just for fun.
So, this post is a reminder for me. Of course, if my mother's suspicions hold sway, she and I will continue, just as we are, into immortality and no catalogue will ever be created. We'll see what the gods have to say about that.
Mom awoke last night just as I was heading for bed, at 0200. She was bright eyed, bushy tailed, "I thought we could sit and talk," she said. I tried, but she was distracted by my yawning and finally decided, about 0230, that conversing with someone with one foot in her bed wasn't what she'd imagined. I was really sorry...some of our best times are those serendipitous wee hours when she can't sleep and I thought that this promise might keep me from fading on her. I was wrong. I sent her to bed with a book we received a while ago, though, that I'd planned on us reading aloud but to which we hadn't yet gotten around: Hitty: Her First Hundred Years, the original version. I read it when I was in the fourth grade and have never forgotten it. I've talked about it occasionally, since then. One of the reasons I remember it so well is that soon after I read it, I read JFK's Profiles in Courage. Although I did book reports for school on both and remember enjoying both, I have vivid memories of Hitty and only one about the contents of Profiles in Courage; the sense, which lingers, that politics isn't about how deserving issues are but about how personal they are to each politician. Leave it to a fourth grade girl to understand what is truly important. Finally, a couple of months ago when I was yet again referring to it, Mom said, "I wonder if we can find a copy of that book." We did.
When I checked on my mother this morning, I noticed that she'd completed the first chapter of the book. I was pleased. Generally, she reads what she calls "light" material (detective novels or questionable and colorful historical sagas) before she turns off her light. She usually only progresses a few pages a night, remembers nothing of what she's read and contends that the purpose of this reading is "to put me to sleep," to which I respond, "I'm sure the authors would be highly complimented by your choices." Thus, I'm pleased to note that she found Hitty fascinating enough to want to do a little serious reading. I'm curious to know how much she will retain when she awakens.
We haven't been reading out loud much lately, but that will be changing tonight, as we're receiving a copy, today, of the second in Anne Rice's series of books on Jesus, Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana. Mom wants to reread the first before cracking the binding of the second, to which I'm looking forward, as well, considering the number of Bible and Jesus movies we've been watching, lately. Strange, but, in curious ways I'm finding that companionating one of her life long interests is edifying for me, an agnostic atheist, as well. I may not place belief in gods, but I love that we've created them and love, more, what the stories of these gods say about us as a species. As well, my genealogical sister and I recently discovered that the "German" that my paternal grandfather remembered his parents speaking and reading but carefully refusing to pass to their children was more likely Yiddish. When I was a pre-teen and my interest in religion/spirituality was lit, so was also lit a continuing argument with the stories of Christianity. I reasoned that these stories were not "really" the stories of my ancestors. Knowing this set me on a discovery of ancient, pre-christian Germanic, English and Gallic mythology/spirituality which, of course, also personally applies to me and the pursuit for which I will always be grateful. However, since discovering this purposely obscured ancestoral trail, it's been a pleasure to reconsider everything I've ever learned and wondered about Christianity and Judaism from the perspective that, hmmm..., this information, these beliefs, had personal meaning and consequences for some whose genes and lives led to me. In the case of my mother's ancestors this information led directly to me being born in the USA.
Ah, reconnaissance coughing. I'm surprised. It's an hour and a half shy of what would be her 12 hour night sleep. Should be an interesting day.
Can you believe this? How can this be! What the...?
Day after day, the winding down of an aged person's life leaves many of us scratching our heads in bewilderment. Just a moment ago, our parents were the keepers of the memories, OUR memories, and then poof it's gone. What a disorienting time. And a deep desire to document that information takes hold of many of us.
It didn't strike me until after my father had died. I needed to somehow make sense of an extremely chaotic time, writing seemed to be the way to do that. The power of blogging publicly also kept things open, available to all who traveled this same route. Kind of like leaving flags along the path, letting others know that someone had passed this way too. I only wish there was a detour sign, some kind of warning of what's to come.
Your blog has always been a kind of "campground" for me. There is so much you offer the weary traveler. A place to sit and get a feel for your area, from the plantings you've done, the help you've had, the battles you've fought. I know I can always find companionship, though I've never met you nor your mother. I have a different view of Arizona than I had before reading your many blog entries.
Then I am in Australia, reading the blog of Mike, describing how he and his siblings follow the descent of both their parents into Alzheimer's hell and their efforts to pull them from their own home and place them in a facility for safety's sake. It's just been incredible, really, to have such an intimate view inside very different families, seeing the different ways love translates into action.
When Bert's father died, I experienced the same sense of relief I felt with my father's passing. I believe they are both now out of pain and happily perched on their stools in the Elsewhere Bar. Is this ridiculous thinking? Absolutely. But ridiculous also describes the situations that occurred in their lives as well. It is absolutely and totally ridiculous the way Alzheimer's ends one's existence on earth. For me, it was incomprehensible to think it could be so awful, until I lived it.
Writing, especially the blogs of Mike, Bert, Deb, Mona and you, scratch the all-is-well patina, and they scratch it hard enough, to give a real and accurate view of just what it's like under the surface. All is not well. All is as far from well as all can be.
Thank you for that and much, much more. There is no need for explanation to your blog readers, write when you need to, and don't write when you don't. There is a wealth of information in your archives. Enough to keep a person up many a late night and into the early morning.
You are incredible good company.
Hi to your Mom.
All material, except that not written by me, copyright at time of posting by Gail Rae Hudson