skip that rock

Thanksgiving is less than one week away. I am struggling with reasons to be thankful. Big holidays are supposed to be filled with relatives and food and stress and love. Intangible things you can’t quite put a finger on, like the smell of that favorite holiday stuffing that makes you miss your Mom. Or the grin that Cool Whip brings to your face just by thinking about it. Or the memory of parades of days gone by like the Macy’s floats, big and grand.

I know that my Dad is safe. I know somewhere in my heart he is better off being looked after; I feel deserted. I have been left all alone. Not by him but by circumstance.  Life is what happens when you make other plans. Thanksgiving is a time for family. Once upon at time I had that. I MISS them. I MISS the hot mess that made them MY family. I hate Thanksgiving; it makes me sad. Thanksgiving should be about the fullness of your life not the emptiness.

I am grateful to still have my Pops in my life. I am thankful I have a hubby who stands by me no matter how bad the storms get. I am humbled to be honored with the Best best friend anybody could ever hope for. I am thankful for all the great memories I can still look back on and bask in the glow of that love. I have so much yet I struggle. I yearn for the simple things that were once part of my everyday life.

Cherish the moments in your life. All of them. Holidays often have moments that hurt. Someone you love may not be able to handle all of the false hopes a holiday tends to pin on one’s soul. I know I used to put too much emphasis on the perfect. I wanted the perfect family, the most perfect meal in the most peaceful, loving, giving atmosphere. I guess nobody else got the memo.

In my family if we made it to the end of the meal in one piece without any yelling or crying it WAS the perfect day. Too bad none of us realized it then. We had some moments. Stuffing on the floor. Gravy boats smashed. Pies eaten by Tuesday. Mom who only ever copped to,” It was just a taste. I swear!” Only thing is she tasted ’til it was nearly gone as if the single pie section she left was evermore than a taste for the rest of us.  Stress of being perfect always made her nuts.

I stopped trying to have perfect holidays after my sister died. Didn’t seem to be any point to that stuff and nonsense. I want to enjoy my life. As messy as my life is sometimes at least I can say I try to live in the moments. Ruined holidays, there were many, taught me to see the humor in everyday challenges. It built a strength in me that helps me to see a difficult time through to its finish, whatever it may be.

Life is like a ripple in the water caused by a rock you just skipped across the surface. Be that rock. Test the water, be alive in your life. Skip along the surface of the water. Be awestruck by the beauty of it. See the ripples you create.  I want my ride to continue on so I can see what adventure is next. Even as I glide I am losing momentum, soon I  will break below the surface and sink to the bottom. My glorious ride will be over. I am not ready to be added to the other rocks at the bottom, left in a heap to be forgotten. Looks like I will just have to get a new rock.

Enjoy the people in your life while they are in your life. I am thankful for you = )

 

 

 

Who Is This Man?

I haven’t written a post in quite some time. I told myself I need some time off to regroup and enjoy my summer. As many of you know I had to place my Pops into a nursing home. Never an easy decision to make. The paperwork long,tedious and intrusive. I have always resisted placing my Pops because I didn’t want to lose him to the system. I have already lost more than I have ever imagined I would. My kid sister and my mother passed away. I have an older sister that I am not close to (my choice). I have distanced myself from her children as well. I can not live with their baggage and try to fix my baggage as well. Growing up in a dysfunctional family environment with no set coping skills will do that for you. My family’s way of getting through tough things together usually involved more yelling than conversation and lots of name calling and blame throwing. Counter productive to say the least. Not a real esteem builder either. I had to learn to accept and like myself on my terms.

I took the summer off from writing so I could find a way to set myself free from feeling guilty about what happened to Pops and I. I have not been handling our new living arrangement well at all. There are things about it I really like. I no longer have to meal plan for him or assist him in his bath. I get to eat supper with hubby every night and mostly I don’t have to worry Pops might roll away from his apartment for places unknown.

Do you have any idea how hard it has been for me to let go? Who is this man,that can’t remember my mother’s name? or that my kid sister had red hair? or that they both died too young and tragically? For my Pops it is a blessing but for me it is a curse. It only increases my sadness not dispels it. Who is this man? Dementia has changed everything about him I knew. This man is my Pops. I love him. I cry for the people he no longer remembers to miss. I cry for all that we have lost. stuff 005I cry because even though I see him whenever I can I MISS the man he used to be.

The Power of a Hug

I have never put much faith into a hug. Confining in nature almost claustrophobic for me. I do not have a great personal history with hugging. In fact, I would say it is one of my greatest weaknesses. My kid sister was the only person who’s hug I would accept. She had a way about it. She’d hang onto me like our lives depended on it. Almost as if she knew there was a storm coming. Her hugs meant the world to me because she put so much of herself behind that embrace.

Something has changed in me lately, perhaps it is because my Dad is in a nursing home. I have had a change of heart about hugging. A true hug should be given free of will and with a depth of meaning to it from you for the one you hug. There a few residents where my Pops now hangs out that feel the need to hug me. I hug them willingly. Like small children these souls hug from their hearts. Overflowing with love for someone they once knew. Some days these people think I am their loved one. They ask me about children I don’t have; husbands and grandchildren that are not mine. I go along with their alternate reality the best way I know how by not rocking the boat. People with dementia or Alzheimer’s are still who they used to be somewhere in their minds. Everybody needs love and affection.

My Pops is the same even if his memories falter or the endings to his stories change. I try to hug him more than I have in the past. I think we both need it more. I miss him. I never realized before how much power comes from such a little thing. A hug makes the weary less tired. To the sad it lends hope. To the loved it spreads an untethered joy. To the lonely a sense of inclusion, that someone cares. To the lost a ray of light showing a safe way. Hug someone today.

Scraps From the Past

The project of the week is SCRAPBOOKING or as I like to call it cementing your past. The problem? it makes me cry. It hurts to look through years of photos of Mom and Pops. Grandparents I never met. Loved ones long gone and missed. Somehow this adventure is supposed to be healthy for my Pops. Make him a collage of things past. I just wonder who’s going to pick up my pieces? the ones that fall away from my heart and have broken all over again? I have photos of my kid sister that I won’t share as if somehow by keeping them only for myself; she lives. Odd I know but it is all I have left of her. I am taking part in this scrap booking project because my Dad needs whatever connections he is capable of making to be made. I will put on a brave face for the man who has given me so much.

Question is, what are you willing to do for someone you love?

What Was I Thinking

really? I try to go see Dad everyday. I am his link to his world. The life he once lived in, loved in, laughed in. I can tell you with all honesty it is the toughest part of my day. I hate to cry. I hate feeling open and vulnerable. Yesterday was hard for me. I had my afternoon coffee fix and prepped a bag to bring to Pops. I kissed my hubby and off I went. Dad was not in a good place. The nurse on duty pulled me aside to inform me that Dad had been grumpy and short (my Mom was grumpy and short but I think she meant Dad was out of sorts ?)

Pops contacted a cold from one of the other patients who likes to kiss the boys and make them cry. There is nothing I can really do about those behaviors so I let Pops be. The nurse I spoke with assured me Dad had been getting cold meds and seemed to be getting better except for his demeanor. She asked me if I had any ideas as to why Pops suddenly seemed angry. I am not sure how much any of you really understand dementia. A person who lives with dementia has their own sense of reality and most likely you are not invited so you have to learn to watch for the signs. Any time my Dad is in pain or has a fever he gets angry, really angry. I informed the nurse that Pops has a history of bladder/urinary problems and infections and sometimes that is enough to send him to Anger Land.

I feel like the outsider now. If pops were home I would have simply called his Dr. and scheduled a urinalysis and a meet and greet to check his vitals. Doctor appointments change when your loved one lives in a nursing home. Someone on staff calls a nurse. The nurse does a quick assessment and then decides whether or not to contact the Dr. or nurse practitioner. Tests were ordered for Dad. I think he is having a urinary tract infection or a flair up with his rheumatoid arthritis.

I left Pops shortly after his supper. I left distracted, angry, scared and plain SAD. I jumped into my Jeep and blindly drove away. Away. Far away. I was nearly into West Boylston before I realized I had no idea where I was going or why I was going. I can’t outrun my Pops’ decline. It is what it is. In my face, part of my life everyday. It sucks. It wears me down and leaves me feeling lonely and vulnerable unable to fix what has gone so wrong.