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Blogs of Writer, Artist, Photographer, & Caregiver Joanne D. Kiggins

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Joanne has published more than 2,500 articles and was award recipient of the 1990 Woman of the Year for Beaver County, Pennsylvania, for her accomplishments and excellence in journalism and to the community. Her co-authored book, “Unforgettable Journey,” won fifth place in the Grand Beginnings romance contest. An excerpt from her WIP, “Unearthed,” placed her fifth in the Absolute Write Idol contest. Most recently, her essay, “Perseverance,” is published in the Stories of Strength anthology in which 100% of the profits are donated to disaster relief charities. Her most recent articles were published in ByLine Magazine, Writer's Digest, AbsoluteWrite.com, and Moondance.org. She has a monthly freelance writing column at Absolutewrite.com. Currently, she is the sole caregiver for her 85-year-old mother.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Party For Mom and Off To Work We Go

I got up early this morning so I could put all the Halloween treats in the car and decorate Mom’s walker for her Halloween party at day care. All the clients were supposed to wear costumes. Mom went as a witch.

I fastened a witch’s broom to the leg of the walker, hung a “Witch Way” sign on the front of the walker, and attached a little black cauldron to the side of the walker.

Mom got up and we dressed her in black pants and a black sweatshirt. I put a longhaired black wig on her and pulled her witch’s hat over the hair. She looked so cute.

We carried in the basket filled with the Halloween trick or treat bags and I also took a bag of woodcrafts I’d made, scarecrows and pumpkins, for them to give to the clients as they saw fit.

Once home, Two Feather and I loaded the plow onto the wagon to take it down Mom’s house and scrape the driveway. It took about six passes before all the ruts were filled in and the driveway was smooth again. We cleaned out the storm drains again, too. That will need done again once all the trees lose their leaves.

The path through the woods was getting ruts from the rain over the summer too. Since we had the plow on the Mule, we thought we’d try knocking out the high spots in the path. We started at Mom’s yard with that project. After all the summer rains, the small four-inch rut became a twelve-inch ditch. That’s the thing with hills though; water runs down and once a ditch starts, it gets bigger and deeper.

Here's the before and after pictures.

Several passes over the center hump knocked the dirt into the ditch and smoothed it out some. We’ll still have to get gravel or stones and fill in the rest to make it level again.

Since that worked out so well, we decided to try scraping the rest of the path through the woods too. That took a bit more work because the ditches were deeper and there were plenty more of them.

We made it all the way back up to my house with the plow on the Mule. This picture was taken just behind our shed at the beginning of the path. You can see the huge rock protruding from the dirt on the left side. Just below that rock is hole about a foot deep.

A half dozen passes back and forth on this path straightened it out fairly smooth. We were going to make one more pass down the entire path, but that will have to wait. Two Feather pressed the button on the dashboard of the Mule to raise the plow and it clunked to the ground. He thought the wench hook slipped off the plow but when he walked to the front and looked down he saw the cable had snapped. I guess I know what we’ll be doing tomorrow; going to the hardware store to get a new wench hook. We’re just happy it snapped when it did. The majority of the work was done and the plow was just a few feet from the shed in our yard. All he had to do was pull the wagon over to the Mule to load the plow and put it back in the garage.

Two Feather decided that just because he couldn’t plow and scrape anymore didn’t mean he had to stop working. We rode back down Mom’s to split and haul more of the oak we had taken down last month. These trees were nearly three feet in diameter so I was no help moving the cut pieces to try to get them near the wood splitter. Since he couldn’t move them, he spent the next two hours splitting the huge chunks of oak with a wedge and maul. After he had them quartered, then we were able to move them to the splitter to split them in firewood size pieces.

There is still a lot of wood to move and split, but I’m sure he’ll get it all done before the bad weather starts moving in.

Even though we were working all day, we had a wonderful time. It felt good to be out in the fresh air and Two Feather and I love working together. If our life circumstances were the way they used to be, we would have continued to work until dark. Then we would have showered, I would have made dinner, and we would have sat and watched TV for the evening until bedtime. But since I'm taking care of Mom, we quit around 3:00 and went back to our house to relax for about an hour before I had to leave. Besides missing each other, we miss our lifestyle. It's difficult trying to get everything done when our day together ends at 4:00. We both wonder if when we are together in the same house again how long it will take us to get used to each other and whether we'll ever get into our own routine again.

Mom was in a great mood when I picked her up today. She said everyone loved her witch costume and she had a great time at her Halloween party but she was tired. We were talking while we ate dinner and she fell asleep mid-sentence. I walked her into the bedroom and dressed her for bed.

Tonight I’m going to watch TV for a little while, but I don’t think I’ll last long. Last night I didn’t get to sleep until around 3:00 AM. Between the fresh air today, working on the driveway and path all day, and watching Two split wood, I’m beat. Goodnight all.

Oh yes, Happy Halloween everyone!

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Errand Day and Baking Cookies

This morning after I took Mom to day care I went straight to the chiropractor. Last week one day when Mom had a difficult time getting up out of her chair I lifted her. Wrong move and my back felt it! I’ve been going to the chiropractor once a month for about six months just to keep my back in place, but this was an in-between appointment. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t wait for my regular appointment because I had thrown my back out. I would really love to have one of those massage machines that they have in their office. OH, does it feel good! Anyway, my back is sore, but at least it’s back in place for now.

I picked up Two Feather after my appointment and we ran errands all day. We went to the bank, the pharmacy, and grocery shopping for both houses again. We keep everything separate for the two houses, but after all the bags are in the car we still have to sort through everything when we get home. When we have everything for our house put away, we go to Mom’s to put her things away and it never fails that we find a bag that should have stayed at our house, or vice versa. It normally takes us a whole day to do the shopping for both places; between the shopping itself, and then running back and forth between the two houses to unload things and put everything away. I’m glad Two Feather helps out because there is no way I’d be capable of lifting the 50 lb bags of dog food for the dogs. Days of me lifting that amount of weight have been over for years.

We thought about scraping Mom’s driveway to straighten out all the ruts from the rain, but since we didn’t get home until 3:15 after all the errands and shopping, that will have to wait until tomorrow. I’m normally exhausted after shopping day anyway, so it’s just as well.

Mom’s feeling better this evening. The laxative I gave her Monday finally kicked in and we ended up in the shower again before bedtime. With her appetite being less and less her system isn’t working like it used to and it goes from one extreme to the other. Mom was exhausted by the time we finished showering and getting ready for bed. It didn’t take her long to fall asleep.

I was in the kitchen baking cookies for her Halloween party tomorrow. While the cookies were baking, I put candy corn in small snack bags and put them in Halloween Trick or Treat bags for each of the clients at the day care. After the cookies cooled, I put them in snack bags too and placed them in the treat bags with the candy corn. I put together 40 bags total; enough for all the clients, the workers, and a few extras. Then I put all of them into a handled wicker basket to carry them.

I thought I’d fall asleep early tonight because of the long day, but you know how that goes; the minutes turned to hours and I was up watching TV trying to sleep. One of these days I won't feel like I'm sleep deprived.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Good Day for Sitting By the Fire

Sunday night Angel came in about 8:00 PM and stayed the night with me at Mom’s house because she had to meet the house inspector in the morning and she had an appointment in Pittsburgh in the afternoon. Mom was asleep by the time Angel arrived so she didn’t get to see her. While I got Mom up to get ready for day care, Angel was getting dressed to leave. We figured it would be better if Angel didn’t go in the kitchen while she ate breakfast because it would have confused Mom. We went on our way and Angel waited for me to come back. Two Feather and I followed her to the house to get a short tour while the inspector was doing his work. It’s a very nice home with beautiful hardwood floors and a nice yard, and it’s only eight miles from our place. After her appointments, Angel headed back home to Mechanicsburg.

She’s moving closer to home and Stacey just moved back to Alabama. :( One of these days I’ll get to see Stacey’s house down south. Stacey called today and said she got a job. She starts tomorrow. She sounded really excited about it. I can’t wait to hear from her after she’s there a few days to see how she likes it.

When Two Feather and I got home from seeing Angel’s house he made a fire in the fireplace. The crisp cold air seemed to go right through us while we were walking around outside. It was a good day for staying indoors and sitting by the fire.

We made buffalo steaks again today for lunch and sat in the living room and watched TV while we ate. The day seemed to fly by so quickly.

I picked Mom up from day care and they told me she complained she had a stomachache about fifteen minutes before I got there. She was having a difficult time in the bathroom as well. The beautician came today and styled Mom’s hair. She does such a beautiful job on Mom’s hair. Next month it will be done the Monday right before Thanksgiving, so Mom will look great for the holiday.

On the way home, Mom said she was hungry. I’m glad all I had to do was heat up dinner when we got home because her appetite doesn’t last long. Since Two and I had eaten such a big lunch, I wasn’t hungry, but Mom sure enjoyed the buffalo steak, baked potato, and squash I brought home for her. Two Feather came down and sat at the table and talked with Mom and me while she ate. She didn’t eat a lot, but at least she ate some and she thanked Two Feather for making such a delicious meal.

He went home shortly after and Mom went to bed. I went to bed once Mom was asleep.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Greatest Love of All

It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to some of my favorite songs; songs with heartfelt words that have helped me through some of the most difficult times in my life. I remember my childhood and my life very well. I’m not perfect and I’ve never claimed to be as such, but I know all my decisions came from my heart and my heart has never led me down the wrong path. With each trial and tribulation, no matter what the adversities, I’ve picked myself up, brushed myself off, and continued on; hoping the experience gave me the wisdom and the strength to be a better person and share what I’ve learned with others—to help others.

I have my parents to thank for that piece of wisdom. No matter what I’d been through, my parents were there for me, and through the years, they know I’ve always been there for them—just as I am today with my mom in her battle with Alzheimer’s.

Thank you, Dad and Mom, for showing me the greatest love of all.
Greatest Love Of All

I’d like to think that I raised my children with the same morals, respect, and love in which my parents raised me. Some people may say I was spoiled and that I spoiled my children, but I look at things differently; I look at everything as an experience and give honor to my parents for allowing me to be myself and experience life, make decisions, while helping me meet my dreams by their words of encouragement.

As my parents encouraged me, I encouraged my daughters. In 1992, my daughter Angel decided she wanted to enter the Miss Teen Of Pennsylvania Pageant. I encouraged her along the way and my parents did as well. They made the trip to Altoona to watch the pageant and share in what would be just one of her many decisions and journeys in life. All week before the pageant, Angel seemed very distant to me. I remember thinking at the time that she was nervous and staying in her room with the door closed was her way of sorting out her thoughts. It was, but it was also her way of keeping something from me that she didn’t want me to know. Our family had gone through some hard times for a few years; I’d had a stroke, my dad had a stroke the year after mine, among other things that seem so far in the past now that they don’t require a mention. Again, music and the meaningful words of those songs lifted my spirits and reminded me how important life is and how somewhere out there is someone for everyone.

During the talent section of the pageant, Angel walked on stage with the brightest smile, looked at me sitting in the audience and said, “This is for my mom.”

Somewhere Out There

The tape that she’d had the background music on stopped just after a few notes. The pageant coordinators tried restarting the tape again, but it didn’t work. The second time the tape was started and stopped, Angel stood proud, and sang Somewhere Out There A Cappella. When the song was complete, she received a standing ovation for her song and her ability to continue on without the use of the music. She dashed off the stage, in tears, and ran into the hallway. I met her there with the brightest smile I’d smiled in years. She said, “I’m sorry, Mom. I wanted you to be proud of me and surprise you.” As I wiped her tears and mine, I said, “Honey, I am proud of you. You stood there and sang your heart out despite the problem.” I was surprised that she’d picked that song to sing for me, but I wasn’t surprised as to how she handled the situation. She picked herself up, brushed herself off, and she kept going. She did make me proud and she continues to make me proud everyday. Thank you, Angel, for being you and learning that being stubborn and gracious can go hand in hand.

I’m not sure why so many memories are flooding my brain lately. Despite the fact that some memories are a bit hard to swallow I still know that I wouldn’t change anything in my life. Everything I’ve been through, and every person I’ve met along the way, has made some type of impact on my life. Whether good or bad, those impacts made me who I am today.

Friendships come and go, but for some of us, we treasure them forever. Thank you to all my friends who’ve been an important part of my life and made those impacts. You all know who you are! My mom has always been my best friend my entire life. This song goes out to her and all those I hold close.

You've Got A Friend

There are many songs that have come and gone yet the words seem to have so much depth for so many. I can’t think of how many times my daughters’ Angel and Stacey have stood beside me through thick and thin. Angel, though we are so much alike and have butt heads in the past, you’ve never needed to try to make me proud, pride is a natural instinct that is built in the heart of mothers. I think you know that now that you have your own little girl. Stacey, who always kept to herself and still pretty much does, has always been my sounding board and still is. “Beaches” has always been one of her favorite movies, and its theme song became one of my favorite songs. I want you both to know that I love you very much and always will and you both make me very proud. This song is for both of you because you are the wind beneath my wings.

Wind Beneath My Wings

Through all the years, through all the good and the bad, I’ve listened to the words my dad once spoke to me during one of the most difficult times in my life. He said, “No matter what, don’t let anyone ever use you as a doormat. You deserve more than that. I don’t say it often, but always remember I love you and I’m here for you.” My dad didn’t say “I love you” often. He didn’t need to, but through the years he was always there for me as was my mother. They never let me down. In many ways, my dad is still there for me now. This song is for Mom, Dad, Angel, Stacey, and Two Feather. Thank you for being there for me. I’d like to think I’ve been there for you too.

Through The Years

And just to throw in a real oldie, for old time sake, here’s one that’s always been special to my heart, not because of the words, but because of the memory. My oldest brother, Bob, and I were very close at one time. He and his friends had a small band and would practice in my mom and dad’s basement. He’d practice before the guys came over and he'd let me sing the background music for him. When the guys were there, I knew not to bother him. I’d sit on the steps and listen; smiling the whole time, knowing that he’d let me sing with him when his friends weren’t around. Yes, I do remember, Bob, even though those times happened in the spring of our years. By the way, did you ever finish that book? Thanks for those memories, Bob. I’m still pretty good in the background.
Come Softly To Me

Hope you’ve enjoyed my trip down memory lane. There’s plenty more to come. Get ready, because I spent Friday going through all my old pictures and my uncle’s albums. I’m sure I’ll be able to piece together a beautiful new memory album for Mom. As soon as I have time, I’ll share some pictures from the good old days.

Have a great day everyone, and remember finding love inside yourself and sharing it is the greatest love of all.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Walk Through The Woods

Two Feather and I took a walk through the woods again on Monday while Mom was at day care. I couldn’t resist taking some pictures of the path from our house to Mom’s.

Walking through the woods is so relaxing and with the trees turning their beautiful colors of autumn, our walks are that much more enjoyable. After our walk, we got on the Kawasaki Mule and rode the path all the way to the end of Mom’s driveway. The trees across the road from her driveway are absolutely beautiful.

Here are a few pictures of her driveway coming from the bottom up. The first is about one-third of the way up the hill. You can see in the upper right hand corner there is a bend in the road that continues up the hill.

This picture was taken just as we came around that bend. I’ve never really checked the odometer on the car for the length of the driveway, but it’s a long drive.

I used to walk this gravel drive every day to catch the school bus. On days like these pictures were taken, it was a pleasant walk. In the winter, there was more sliding down the drive than walking. I learned to drive on this hill. If you can make it up and down my mom’s driveway in the winter, you can drive anywhere.

When we came back to my house, I figured I might as well show you what my driveway looks like. This picture is taken from the bottom of the drive pointing up the drive. The wood stack that I showed in a previous post is at the very top of my driveway at the furthermost corner and beginning of my property. You can't see to the top of the driveway in this picture because of the shadows that the trees cast over half the driveway. Now you can see why we never get any trick-or-treaters for Halloween. The driveway looks spooky during the day, imagine what it looks like at night.

Unless you have four-wheel-drive, most people can’t get up our driveway in the winter. Some have a difficult time making it up in good weather. It’s a 45-degree angle no matter which way you look at it.

My garage is at the bottom of the drive and my house sits back a long sidewalk away from the drive. I’ll show the house and garage later. (After I have time to do some long needed yard work.)

Two Feather has a path running from the drive, around the back of the house, and down the hill to what was once my dad’s old tractor path. Here are a few pictures of that path below my house through the woods.
In this picture, the path runs to a point where it breaks off into another overgrown and tree fallen path to my brother’s house.
Down the path a little farther, the path breaks off into another path that runs over to Dad’s old garden, which is partly my property and my mom’s. Two Feather cleaned up the fallen trees and mowed the old garden area. He rototilled it and planted it for three years. This year we didn't have a garden, but next spring he'll mow it down again and probably plant a field of pumpkins and squash like he did last year. Mom's freezer is full of several different types of squash from last year's garden.

From there the path runs all the way to Mom’s house. No matter what part of the path you’re on, in any season, it’s beautiful.

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Friends Links Removed

watching you said...
You make me sick with all your whining and complaining about caregivers not getting recognized....what is your real reason for taking care of your mom? Is it, as it should be, because you love her and want her to be warm, safe, and comfortable? Or do you want a big pat on the back, you martyr!!!!!!! OR is it that you are sucking her bank accounts dry????????
10/01/2007 1:38 PM

Since October 1, 2007 when this comment was placed on my blog, this person is doing exactly what her log in name said she would do. She is watching me, with an agenda in mind—every day—twice a day, from her work computer in Pittsburgh, PA. That’s 38 times in a matter of 19 days. I say 19 days because she only logs in from work, not from her home.

I’ve seen that she is checking the various links to my friend’s blogs and my blog roll links, so to keep my friends from being subjected to this childish nonsense, I’ve deleted your blog links from my blog for your protection.

If any of you have found a rude remark from Pittsburgh, PA on your blog that links from my blog , please e-mail me so I may give you the name and ISP address of the offender.

I will continue to visit your blogs as I have in the past and hope you continue to visit mine as well. Thank you for your understanding.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Make My Day--SMILE

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Another Good Day

This morning Mom woke up and complained of being tired and wanted to go back to sleep. I made her breakfast, but she didn’t eat much. Her appetite is less and less these days. After breakfast we went into the living room and she looked through a few magazines that my friend Betsy sent to us. She loved looking at the old pictures. I read her a few of the stories and she decided she wanted to color a picture. Before Alzheimer's, you'd only find Mom coloring when my daughters were young, but she sat for about two hours coloring while I ran back and forth doing the laundry and checking on her.

It was such a beautiful day today I couldn’t resist talking Mom into sitting on the porch for a while.

Mom enjoyed sitting outside talking in the fresh air and warm breeze. Her dog and cat stayed close beside her feet. The cat is an outside cat, but always comes around for attention when we come outside. Mostly he comes to the porch when he sees us because he thinks he’s going to get fed. When he sniffed his empty bowl and flopped down on the porch by Mom’s feet, he looked a bit disappointed, but his ears perked up when Mom reached to pet him.

Angel, Tim, and Katie came over again today and visited for about an hour. They sat outside with us and told us about the houses they visited and decided to make an offer on one of them.
Katie was as cute as ever playing with her Elmo doll and walking over to pet Mom’s dog and giggling when he licked her hand.

Mom ate a fairly good dinner tonight. It was the most she’d eaten all weekend. Katie loved the roasted chicken, stuffing, baked sweet potato, and broccoli.

After the kids left, Mom said it was time for her to go to bed. She said she was “full and tired” so we went through our bedtime routine and by the time she was dressed for bed she was exhausted. She said she was looking forward to going back to “club” tomorrow. Club is what she calls the adult day care. Mom’s never been an early riser, but she never seems to complain when it’s time to get up for club. She enjoys the activities they have there. I’m so happy that she thinks of it as a senior club and doesn’t realize it’s a day care for the elderly. On days she’s at day care, when I’m not running errands, grocery shopping, or cleaning the houses, it’s the only time I’m able to get any restful sleep or relaxation. Both Mom and I benefit from this respite care.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Visits and Smiles Are Priceless

My daughter, Angel, her husband Tim, and my granddaughter Katie came in again this weekend. Third visit in four weeks. It’s great seeing them when they come in. Mom always enjoys their visits. They stay for an hour or so and leave when they know Mom looks and sounds tired.

They’re looking at houses this weekend because they are planning to move back to this area. Their camper will be parked here at Mom’s for a while until they find a house and move it to their new home.

Seeing her camper sitting in the yard makes me think of camping and the last trip when we took Mom to a Powwow over Labor Day weekend 2006. We’ve always included Mom in everything we do, and wanted to continue taking her places for as long as we could. We found out that weekend even short trips for a few days only added to her confusion and frustration from this horrible disease Alzheimer’s. Staying in a camper only confused her more. It took a week for her to realize she was back home and things were never the same after that; Alzheimer’s was stealing her mind bit-by-bit, memory-by-memory.

Now, we enjoy each day here on our wonderful piece of heaven in our own backyard. It’s peaceful, quiet, melancholy, and beautiful. Mom is quite satisfied staying at home, even if most of the time she doesn’t realize it is her home.

This weekend would have been a lovely weekend to go on a camping trip. The cool soft breeze, beautiful changes in the color of the trees, and sitting by a small brook or river sounds so inviting. We all look forward to the day when we’re able to load up the campers and meet for a weekend rendezvous again, but we’re all quite content enjoying the time we have with Mom in our little slice of nature here at home.

Katie is learning all sorts of new words. She's now asking, "What's that?" and "What's this?" as she points to different things. She says, "GG" and points to my mom. My grandchildren have called Mom 'GG' since they learned how to talk. It's much easier than saying great-grandma. My other granddaughter, Trinity, couldn't get out the "grandma" for me; it ended up coming out as "Bammaw" so that's the name that's sticking for me. Katie hasn't mastered it yet, but she's getting there.

None of us would trade the time we have with Mom now for anything. Just seeing the smile on her face when her granddaughters and great-grandchildren come to visit is worth the time we spend with her. Her smile is priceless and it will be imbedded in our hearts and minds forever.

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Tranquil Life in the Country

There’s nothing more tranquil than life in the country and watching nature at its best. I love the season changes. To me, this old mountain has always been the most beautiful place in the world. That will never change. When I was a young girl, Dad and Mom had considered placing a road sign at the bottom of the driveway, but for some reason that never happened. The name they were going to put on the sign was 'pleasant view drive'. As you can see by the pictures, the name would have been perfect.

Just four days ago these trees were still green with very little color, but with the cooler nights and sunlit days the brilliance of the leaves are painting the landscape into yet another beautiful view.
Now that the leaves are changing colors, it's easier to see the squirrels scampering from branch to branch gathering nuts for the winter. Watching the squirrels run through the crisp leaves and hearing the leaves crunch under the hooves of the deer grazing and walking through the yard sets a peaceful atmosphere. All the sounds of nature are beautiful. The birds songs echo through the trees and as they fly from tree to tree.

This is a picture of the hillside across the valley from Mom's house.

I love gazing at the colors, and when a soft breeze blows, the leaves dancing slowly to the ground fascinate me. Each day more and more leaves show their hue of yellow, orange, and red adding more beauty to an already picturesque site.

This is just one of the many reasons why I have no intention of ever leaving the area where I grew up. Not only will I stay because there are so many wonderful memories here, but also out of respect for my dad because he diligently worked every day to make this our home. I can’t think of a better way to honor him and my mother than to maintain what he had worked his entire life for.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

He Never Stops!!

Today was a beautiful day. Two Feather and I spent part of the day mowing again. There hasn’t been much rain lately so the grass didn’t grow a lot, but it still needed cut.

As usual, he loaded the mowers on the Mule and the wagon and hauled them down to Mom’s.

As long as we don’t get a drastic change in weather, heat and rain mixed, this should be the last time we cut this year. We’ll see.

Here are a few pictures of how nice the yards look after they are mowed.

These two are pictures of behind Mom's house and what we call the lower yard.
Of course, since the turkey hang out in all these areas, I had to run around picking up all the turkey feathers before we mowed. We clean them and Two Feather uses them to make Indian headdresses. He'll be making a special Eastern headdress here soon. We've probably collected enough feathers this year to make several different types and sizes of headdresses.

This is the yard above the house and above the barn. To the left in this picture you can see another fallen tree. He'll be working on that one soon. Right now he's still trying to get all the wood off the driveway from the oaks we had taken down.

After we finished at Mom's we had to mow our yard, too. I didn't get a chance to take pictures up at our place. I'll be showing a few pictures of that yard soon--after we work on the flowerbeds.

When the mowing was finished, Two Feather loaded a few more large pieces of oak on the wagon and took them up to our house to split them. He stacked more wood on the remaining skids we had ready for the wood. This is only 1/3 of the two big oak trees that were taken down. There is still plenty of room to add a few more skids and a large stock pile behind it. We won't be running out of firewood anytime soon. This wood has to dry for two years before it can be used, though.

I swear Two Feather is a workaholic. He never stops working! When he was finished stacking wood, he decided to cut up another fallen tree near the path going to Mom's. He had to weedwack the weeds around it before he could get to it though.

I get tired just watching him!

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Progress Yes, But A Cure Would Be Better

I read this article “Progress Cited in Alzheimer’s Diagnosis” in The New York Times on October 14. Seems researchers are working on a blood test to detect Alzheimer’s disease. Though it’s too late for the millions of our elderly who are already in the severe to end stage of the disease, it would be wonderful if this blood test becomes something doctors will be able to use soon. Even with a 90% accuracy rating in its testing phase, it seems the blood test won’t be available to doctors for another “few” years.

There has been some talk about this test; some say they wouldn’t bother getting the test because they wouldn’t want to know if they would be tested positive for Alzheimer’s. Why? Because the medications used in Alzheimer’s treatment today, only slow down the process, if they work at all. For some, the medications aggravate the disease.

I’m not sure I would have the blood test when it would become available. The likelihood of me getting Alzheimer’s is high because both my parents had/have it.

Yes, this may be progress in learning about Alzheimer’s disease, but I’d rather see the scientist working on a cure for this horrible disease. Right now there is no cure, and the outcome, whether “predicted” or not would still be the same.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Longer Nights, Shorter Days

Today seemed to fly by more swiftly than Friday. Mom was up and down a dozen times during the night, rummaging through her dresser drawers, trying to pull off pajamas, going through clothes in the closet and trying to put them on over her pajamas, and using the potty chair.

She finally settled down about 3:00 AM and slept. Since she was up and down most of the night, I let her sleep until 11:00. She still seemed exhausted after eight hours sleep and ate very little breakfast.

The occupational therapist called at 11:45 and said she had one more visit with Mom and wanted to know if she could come by then. She was here by noon. She worked with Mom on arm exercises for about 45 minutes. Amy was very sweet. She left her cell phone number and told me to call anytime if I had any questions or when Mom’s situation changes and she needed more care. She’s a very sweet and caring person. All of Mom’s therapists and nurses have been wonderful. This was the last visit today. Mom’s been discharged from home care because she’s reached her full capability.

After Amy left, Mom and I sat in the living room and I read her the recent letter from her friend. I put Mom’s writing tablet and pen on the snack table in front of her so she could write a letter back. For the past several months, I’ve had to give Mom ideas as to what to write. She’s not been able to think or concentrate enough to figure out what to say in a letter. I’ll jot down a few notes on a piece of paper, tell her to write about those things, and I’ll come back in the room a few minutes later. She’s asked me to read the letter over to make sure it sounds okay, and I told her it’s fine. It took her two weeks to finally finish a letter to her friend the last time.

I called her friend to let her know that Mom has Alzheimer’s because I’m sure by now she’s realized that Mom’s letters are not the same as they used to be. She used to write long flowing letters about everything she did for the week and apologize for the length of the letter. Now, her letters are a half page to one page long, with repeated sentences, and apologies for her messy writing.

She said that she thought that might be what was wrong because Mom had written the same sentence over and over in several letters. She felt bad that Mom has Alzheimer's but she said she gathered that when Mom asked when her birthday was. Mom and her share the same birthday and began writing to each other more than 30 years ago through an ad in Workbasket magazine about birthday pen pals. She said she would continue to write, wished me and mom the best, and thanked me for the call.

Mom’s mind is deteriorating more and more. The few things she loved to do, reading books and writing to her friend, have become burdensome to her. She no longer reads, and she’s struggling to write.

Alzheimer’s robs her of a bit more each day. It steals her memory, her abilities, and it’s slowly stealing her pride in the lucid moments she has when she realizes she’s not able to do what she used to do.

When she finished her short letter today, she said, “I’m going to quit writing letters. I don’t know what to write anymore.”

She was mentally exhausted after two hours of trying to write 15 sentences. She finally finished her letter by saying, “Hope you have a real nice summer.”

Yes, I needed to call her friend before mailing this letter. I’m not sure how much more Mom will be writing, but at least her friend will know that Mom cares and is doing her best. I so much appreciate her continuing to write to Mom.

Mom wanted to go to bed at 3:00. She ate very little dinner today. I kept her talking and coloring until 4:00 when she began to doze off during our conversation. She was in bed and asleep by 4:45. The days are getting shorter. :(

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Little Things Matter The Most

Friday came and went too quickly. I took Mom to adult day care and went straight to my house to visit with Two Feather. We went to the post office to mail the bills I’d worked on the evening before and then we went to the store to pick up a few groceries. While we were at Wal-Mart we bought a few new releases to add to our collection of movies that we watch during the cold winter months.

When we got home, Two Feather was full of surprises. He built a fire in the fireplace and told me to lie on the couch and relax. I guess he could tell Mom and I had a long night. Without telling him, Two Feather always seems to know whether I was up most of the night or whether I was able to get some rest. He always encourages me to rest when I’m home even though that is our only time together.

Watching the flames surround the logs in the fireplace was hypnotizing. The heat from the fire warmed the living room and my heart knowing that Two Feather does whatever he can to make me comfortable when I get the chance to relax in our house. He knows that it doesn’t take much to make me happy, and it’s the little things that mean so much to me and matter the most.

I dozed off watching the fire and before I knew it Two Feather was waking me up at 1:00. He stood above me smiling and asked if I felt like eating. When I said, “Yes,” he said, “Good, sit there. I’ll be back in a minute.”

It took him less than a minute to bring a tray into the living and set it front of me. He’d made buffalo tenderloin and fried potatoes while I was sleeping and had already slipped one of the movies into the DVD player for us to watch while we ate our lunch together.

Two Feather cooks his own dinner every evening since I’m not there to do it. He seldom comes to Mom’s to eat because he doesn’t want her to feel uncomfortable. Our meals together are far and few between.

The meal he made was wonderful for a lot of reasons. Buffalo is excellent if cooked properly, and Two Feather knows exactly how to cook it. The meal was also wonderful because I didn’t have to cook it. Here someone whom I should be cooking for was catering to me. What more could I ask?

We watched the movie Fracture while we ate. I’ve always loved Anthony Hopkins. He’s such an excellent actor. From Silence of the Lambs to Hannibal, the deep psychological parts he plays never cease to show what an amazing actor he can be. Fracture was no different and his part delved into the deep recesses of the mind once more.

When the movie was over, Two Feather and I talked for a bit and it was time for me to leave to pick up Mom.

Friday was a joy. It was one of the best days I’ve spent at home in a very long time--even if it was for only a little while. But…it’s the little things that matter the most.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Weekend and Half the Week Gone--Sincere Sympathies to Caregiver Friends

This past weekend was a nightmare, because of nightmares. Saturday night Mom was up 15 times. She’d no sooner get to sleep and she was awake again because of a dream she kept having about someone chasing her and trying to hurt her. Then, the person in the dream was trying to hurt both of us. I felt so bad for her because each time she awoke, she thought she’d been awake and thought the dream was real. She asked me to walk around the house and check all the locks.

It’s amazing how she can be up most of the night, catch a few winks in between, and only show the normal tiredness she shows after a good night’s sleep. Normally when this happens, she gets exhausted around 2:00 and I have to keep her interested in different activities, forcing her to stay awake at least until 4:00 so she can eat dinner and sit up a while for her food to digest some before she goes to bed.

Sunday morning between 8:00 and 9:00 she was up and down 20 times thinking she had to go to the bathroom and feeling like she was going to vomit. Neither of which came to fruition. Each of those 20 times, before trying to get out of bed, she yelled, “Joannnnne, help me!” She’s not running a fever, she was just checked for a UTI, so that’s not the problem. She’s always had an overactive bladder. Her brain is simply malfunctioning and she doesn’t realize she’s been up and down so many times.

Those who care for someone suffering with Alzheimer’s know that a person with AD will get up and wander or roam the house, or think they need to go to the bathroom, when they don’t, or they simply want to go home, not realizing they are in their own home. Some caregivers are up and down with their loved ones 30-50-70 times a night, with no exaggeration, for various reasons. My heart aches for them.

There is no predicting whether or not your loved one will have a good day/night or bad one. You take one day at a time, and one moment at a time. Everything and anything can change from one instance to the next. Just when you think you might have something figured out, it all changes.

Since the weekend, we’ve had the physical therapist and occupational therapist in two more times. Wednesday, the social worker from the hospital came and talked to me about resources available through their office and she discussed getting things in place for hospice when it is needed. She’ll be coming back with more information on Monday.

*** In Memory of Those Who Have Passed ***
I’d like to extend my sincere sympathies to my caregiver friends who have recently lost their loved ones. My thoughts and prayers will be with you during this difficult time. For Lori, Nancy, Terry, Shirl, and so, so many others who have been down this path, please take care of yourselves. Know that I’m thinking of you and keeping you in my heart.

For all caregiver friends who continue on this path with their loved ones, know that I also keep your loved ones, you, and your families in my thoughts and prayers. While you care for your loved ones, please take care of yourselves as well.

((HUGS)) to all. Thank you for being you!!!

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mom!!!

I got Mom up at 9:30 as usual to begin her day. Instead of the normal, “Good morning, Mom, it’s time to get up,” I began her day with, “Good morning, Mom. Happy Birthday!!”

I’d been telling her all week that her birthday was Saturday, they even sang Happy Birthday to her at the Adult Day Care yesterday, but she didn’t remember. She started her birthday off with a bang. Three trips to the bathroom and before she even had the chance to eat breakfast; we’d already cleaned her up and changed her clothes three times. I felt so bad for her. She becomes angry with herself, then becomes embarrassed, then feels bad that I have to clean her up. My heart wrenches when she has those few lucid moments and realizes that she has no control over her functions. I truly hate this disease Alzheimer’s and what it is taking from my mom. If there is anything good about Alzheimer’s disease, it is the fact that our loved ones don’t remember the embarrassment; the next moment is a new moment and it’s as if what happened before never happened—because it’s lost from their memory.

Breakfast was scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, juice and coffee. She loved her breakfast and ate nearly half of it.

Two Feather came down after breakfast and gave her a card he’d made and picked wildflowers for her and gave them to her. She loved both the flowers and card.

She kept telling him what a nice person he is and how she’s so lucky to have him in her life. He was thanked at least a half dozen times for the card and flowers. Mom just loves Two Feather so much. He always makes her smile and brightens her day.

While Two was there, I gave Mom the four new pair of pants we bought her. I’d written a poem for her, but she had a hard time reading it. It wasn’t just the size of the type; she was having a difficult time figuring out the words. So I read it to her.

Happy Birthday, Mom © Joanne D. Kiggins 2007

Mom, when the Creator gave you life,
I’m sure he had a plan.
For you to be a mother and a wife,
and mainstay of this clan.

Through the years,
you’ve taught me right from wrong.
Through good times and tears,
you’ve helped me to be strong.

You’ve given me joy in my heart
and made my life so full.
I’m so thankful for being just one part
of your wonderful world.

You watched me grow from a little girl,
to the woman I am today.
Through your eyes I’ve seen this world
and we continue on our way.

Through the years you’ve listened, loved and cared,
showing me what was in your heart.
I thank you for all we’ve shared
and giving me that precious part.

I only hope over the years,
I’ve been the best I could be.
Making you laugh more than giving you tears;
being as good for you, as you’ve been for me.

So Mom, through the years and on this special day,
you’ve been led through the Creator’s plan.
Over all the years, forever, and today
you’ve been the most precious part of this clan.

Yes, Mom we’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve made time fly.
Best friends are we, you and me.


Mom listened to each word as I read and with each word more tears flowed. Knowing that she understood even part of what I’d read touched us all deeply. She reached for me and hugged my neck and said, “Thank you so much, honey. That was beautiful. Thank you for everything.”

She thanked Two Feather again for the card and flowers, told him she loved him, and he excused himself to go off to work chopping wood again.

After all the tears were dried, I placed all the cards in front of her that she received in the mail. There was a card from her neighbors, her pen pal, my daughter Stacey & her family, a card from my oldest brother with pictures they’d taken of him and Mom and his wife and Mom during their recent visit, and a card from my other brother and his wife. We placed all the cards on the dining room table as we always do and we leaned the pictures against candleholders in the living room where she could see them everyday.

My daughter Angel called about noon and asked if they could visit about 1:30 or 2:00 and I told her that would be fine since the OT nurse would be gone by then.

The OT nurse came about 12:45. She asked Mom to show her how she gets up out of her chair in the kitchen and living room. Then they went to the bedroom for a demonstration of how she gets in and out of bed. Then, she was instructed to go to the bathroom to show the nurse how she gets in and out of the bathtub for a shower. Mom chuckled and asked, “With my clothes on?”

We all chuckled about that and the nurse explained she just wanted to see how well Mom does with her daily needs around the house. Of course, since Mom had been up for three hours, she was a bit more limber and performed all the transfers fairly well. The nurse asked if she was always able to move this freely and Mom said, “No. Not really. But I’m awake now.”

The OT nurse said she’d be coming back a few more times but would have to call the insurance company to find out how many times Mom was allotted therapy and she would call to schedule her next visit next week sometime. She was finished and left at 1:25.

My oldest brother called, as I was ready to walk the nurse to the door. He and I talked for a few minutes, I told him how Mom was doing with all the therapy, and I gave the phone to Mom.

Angel, Tim, and Katie came at 1:30. They gave her a card and a new shirt.

Alzheimer’s is such a thieving disease. It not only affects our loved ones, it affects the family members as well. We never did take Mom out for dinner because she was still having bathroom problems while Angel and Tim were there and she was worn out from the OT nurse being there.

We even managed to talk Katie into sitting on Mom’s lap for a picture. Angel, Tim and Katie left about 3:15 when Mom said she was tired. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. Maybe we’ll take her out for lunch if all goes well.

Stacey called, but her cell wouldn’t hold a signal so she said she’d call back tomorrow.

I heated up one of the meals I’d made on one of my “all-night” cooking sprees when Mom was roaming through the house a few weeks ago after nightmares. Those prepared meals made it really convenient to pull out two stuffed chicken breast dinners, with carrots. I had a package of sugar free cupcakes and put a candle in one for Mom’s birthday treat. She thought that was a great idea. She was only able to take a few bites of the cupcake after eating dinner, so we wrapped it up to save it for tomorrow.

All in all, Mom’s birthday went very well. She enjoyed the cards, and the visits from Two Feather and my daughter and her family, but in between each she still didn’t remember it was her birthday, even immediately after opening her cards and gifts.

Mom was in bed and loudly snoring by 5:15. She’d had a busy and happy birthday!

Oh yes, Laura, I did tell Mom you said, “Happy Birthday.” She said, “Tell your friend thank you.”

By the way, yesterday, Two Feather spent the entire day working on the Mule and got it fixed. No need to call for service! And no, Laura, it's not a "live" mule. LOL

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Kawasaki Mule and a Farmall Tractor—More Memories

Two Feather uses his Kawasaki Mule to run around the property and cut up all the fallen trees for firewood. As mentioned in my previous post, he also uses it to transfer the mowers back and forth from our house to Mom’s. He also uses it to plow the snow off both driveways, to grade the driveways when they become rutted from the rain, and to drive back and forth through the woods to see me everyday. The Mule has nearly 700 hours on it from all the work he’s done with it.

Today when we went through the woods to get to the bottom of Mom’s driveway to pick up her garbage can, there was a strange loud scraping noise coming from underneath the Mule. When we got back up to our house, we cleaned off all the mud from the underbelly, cleaned around all the moving parts, and greased all the fittings. Seems once all the mud was removed the noise became louder. When he went to loosen the gear oil bolt so he could check the oil level in the gearbox, the bolt snapped.

Guess we’ll be calling the Kawasaki dealer to come pick it up for service. Not only do we need to find out what the strange scraping noise is, we now need them to get the other half of the bolt out and probably rethread the opening and put a new bolt in.

Good thing we mowed Mom’s grass when we did. Now we’re going to have to figure out how to get the mowers to her place if the yards need mowed again. We were hoping this was the last mowing, but with the way the weather has been it may need done a few more times before winter sets in.

So much for things going smoothly. Two Feather and I always say that if we didn’t have bad luck, we wouldn’t have any luck at all. I’m getting really good at saying, “Oh well!”

Next stop…the auto parts store. Mom gave Two Feather and me Dad’s old ’51 Farmall tractor several years ago, before I started taking care of her. Dad’s old tractor had been sitting in the bottom of the barn for years and didn’t run. The gas tank still had gas in it that turned to gel and rust, and it needed new everything. Two Feather worked on that tractor determined to get it up and running again. He cleaned and scrubbed the inside of the gas tank until he got it cleaned out. He bought a new gas filter and installed that, and fiddled with the thing replacing one part after another. He wouldn’t give up.

After working on it for about a week, one day I heard him yelling from the garage. I couldn’t tell if he sounded angry or happy.

I remember the day so well. As I walked toward our garage, I heard him yelling, “Come on!” and then I heard the sound of the ignition turning. I ran up to the garage and by the time I got there, Dad’s old Farmall fired up, sputtered and spit, and then I heard the noisy old hum of the engine, and watched Two Feather back it out onto the driveway.

Tears streamed down my face hearing the sound of Dad’s old tractor running again. When I was young, I used to ride with Dad and when I got older I’d stand on the back bar and hang onto the seat. Hearing that old tractor again meant the world to me. It would have meant the world to Dad, too. I couldn’t stop crying, yet I was laughing at the same time because I was so happy. My face held a beaming smile as the tears flowed..

“That’s what it’s all about, right there,” Two Feather said.

“What?” I asked.

“That smile!”

Of course, being the sentimental fool I am, I cried harder. Then I ran in the house, grabbed the phone, and called Mom. I was so excited.

“Mom, you gotta here this.”

“What?” she asked. “What’s wrong? Why are you crying?”

“Hold on a second. Let me get outside where you can hear this.” I ran to the driveway and asked. “Do you hear that?”

“Is that what I think it is?” She asked. “Is that Dad’s tractor?”

“Yesssssss!” I said, and started crying again. “Isn’t it wonderful!”

“Yes, it is, honey. I wish Dad were here to hear that. He’d be proud of Two Feather.”

“I wish he were too, Mom. This is great. It’s like having Dad right here, right now.”

“Tell Two I said thank you. I’m so glad he got it running and I hope he gets a lot of use out of it.”

Mom was as excited as I was and before we hung up the phone, she was in tears as well.

Two Feather got that old tractor running within only a week after we took it up to our house, and it ran for nearly a year with no problem. It didn’t have the power it used to have, but it ran.

He quit using it because it needed the head gasket replaced and about the time it spewed oil I started taking care of Mom, so we invested in the Mule to use for snow plowing, the upkeep on the driveways, and something he could drive through the woods to visit me and take care of things around the house.

Looks like he’ll be replacing that head gasket now and get the old tractor running again. We have to have something to get the work done around here. And as usual, he’s just the man to do it. He’s the only man around here.

Thank you, Creator, for sending him to me when you did. I don’t know what I’d do without him.


On a different note, Mom's physical therapist came today. She was showing Mom how to transfer from the car more easily. She spent a good deal of time with that and then they came in the house and worked on those darn exercises Mom hates so much.

Mom was exhausted by the time therapy was finished. Her legs do seem to be getting stronger, though. So that's a good thing. I'm so glad that she's able to get back a bit more of her strength.

The therapist said she had a few more visits left with Mom, but she'd have to call me next week to schedule them.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Mowing & Anxious to Read Into The Mist by Deborah Uetz

Today, we started working on filling in ruts on the path from my house to my Mom’s. With all the rainfall we’ve had lately, the water gushes down the path and has begun to make the ruts larger. We got a good bit done, but we had to stop working on that so we’d have time to get the mowing done at Mom’s house.

Two Feather loaded our riding mower on the wagon and put the push mower in the back of his Kawasaki Mule and we headed to Mom’s house to mow her yard. I mow the small side yard, front area by the sidewalk, and the circle around her flowerbed with the push mower while he mows the rest of the huge yard with the rider.

I trimmed the trumpet vine on the porch, edged the sidewalk, and pulled weeds while Two Feather finished mowing.

We took the mowers back to our house and rode back down to Mom’s to get the mail and paper and put the garbage out for collection. When we got back to Mom’s house, a package was sitting on the table on the porch. I was pleased that UPS had delivered the book I’d just purchased. I’ve heard so much about Deborah Uetz’s book, Into the Mist: When Someone You Love Has Alzheimer’s Disease, I just had to buy it. Can’t wait to start reading it.

This evening I called Angel to ask how Tim was doing. A few days after Mom was in the hospital, Tim went to the emergency room. He’d had a gall bladder attack. He’s scheduled for surgery on the 11th. Angel told me they were coming in this weekend again because she has a job interview. She’ll be leaving for back home on Sunday and Tim will be staying for his job interviews on Monday and Tuesday. They plan to move back to this area as soon as they acquire jobs here and sell their house in Mechanicsburg. YAY!!!

Anyway, Angel wants to visit Saturday with Mom. It will be Mom’s 84th birthday! Angel thought we could take Mom out for lunch or early dinner. Two Feather and I had thought about that too, but we figured we’d wait to see how Mom is that morning. The home health nurse and OT nurse are coming Saturday, too. They won’t be calling me until Friday night or Saturday morning to let me know when. So everything is sort of up in the air until I know when her therapy will be done. Either way, we’ll make sure Mom has a great birthday.

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Cleaning, More Cleaning & Walking Sticks

Sometimes by evening when I’m ready to update my blog, I add the most exciting things that happen during the day and forget to post the mundane things. So, many times you’ll read interesting tidbits only to find my next post reverting to the day before when I have time to write.

Yesterday, I arrived at my house about 9:30 after my early morning doctor appointment. I’d already had it in my mind to clean the house when I got home. Two Feather makes a pot of coffee every day I’m there so I poured a cup and sat on the couch and watched the end of the “Today Show” with him.

As soon as it was over, I started to work on the house. First I pulled all the throws off the couch and chairs and put them in the washer. Pulled the sheets off the bed and picked up all the rugs in the house and took them to the laundry room. When I started, I was in high gear. By the time I cleaned the bathrooms, and vacuumed and dusted the whole house, I was aching and exhausted.

There was no stopping me, though. In between the bathroom cleaning, vacuuming, and dusting, I tossed the throws in the dryer and put the sheets in the washer. I swept the kitchen and entryway floor and then switched washer loads again. Now the rugs were in the washer and the throws were ready to be placed back on the couch and chairs.

I took a short break and went outside to sit on the deck and grab a breath of fresh air. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something crawling on the deck post. Of course I always carry my camera with me, so I ran in the house to get it so I wouldn’t miss the shot of this green-colored walking stick. Most of the walking sticks we’ve seen around here are brown in color. It was fascinating to me to see a green one. I never miss a chance to get pictures of all the different things I see.

As you know from earlier posts, I love nature and all its beauty. The short break outside was all I needed to get my second wind. It’s probably a good thing I took that break, too. I went back in the house to check the sheets in the dryer and found my laundry room full of water. Arrggg!! We pulled the washer out from the wall and found the drain hose had come off the back. After about 20 minutes of finding a pair of pliers, clamping the hose back on, and cleaning up the water with towels from the closet, we were back in business! :) Now along with the other laundry, I had 20 towels to wash and dry.

I folded the sheets, threw the rugs in the dryer, and tossed the towels in the washer next. Two more loads of laundry after that and I would be done. The bedroom was next. I put clean sheets (flannel for winter) on the bed and cleaned the bathroom in our bedroom.

Then there was cleaning the stove, the oven, the counters, and washing the dishes.
Next was cleaning the floors. I’ve never really liked mops; they just don’t seem to get the floors clean enough. I’m a bucket-and-rag on-my-hands-and-knees floor washer. So I tackled the kitchen floor and front entrance next. By the time I finished those, the rugs were dry and ready to place on the floors when they dried.

While the floors were drying, I ran around the house finishing up all the little things that needed done: filling the napkin holder, putting up a new roll of paper towels, filling the toilet paper bin, and filling the salt and pepper jars.

It was 3:00 by the time I finished the last load of laundry, folded it, and put everything away. It was also time to pick up Mom from the Day Care to get her home for her therapy. (That, I already talked about yesterday.)

Anyway, that was my day. House cleaning and laundry and it took me from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM to finish. I didn’t get to spend much time with Two Feather, but it was wonderfully satisfying to see my house clean and all the laundry done. But I was exhausted. I think next week, I’ll slow my pace a bit and break up the chores at my house into two days.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Surprise Visitors Bring Back Memories

This is something I haven’t seen for a very long time. Horses in Mom’s yard! Brought back some wonderful memories. What a joy it was to see them. I love horses. Here they are at the edge of the drive.

I was sitting at the kitchen table with Mom and something caught my eye through the window. When I looked out, I saw Barney and ? not sure what the other horse’s name is, grazing in her flowerbed.

Just had to run upstairs and get my camera. I reached for the phone to call the neighbor to let her know her horses were out, but before I dialed, I saw her walking down the path with a lead and an oat bucket.

We had a nice chat. She’s a very nice woman. During the conversation, I learned that she’s a nurse at the very nursing home where my Uncle Joe is. Small world.

Mom loved seeing the horses, too. After the neighbor left, Mom and I talked about all the animals Dad raised on the farm. She didn't remember, but she enjoyed talking about it.

The physical therapist saw Mom for the third time today. She gave her a few more exercises to do to help strengthen her legs. Mom doesn't like exercises. She always used to say, "I'll walk around the yard tomorrow." She's saying the same thing about the exercises. "I'll do the exercises tomorrow." She doesn't remember that she's already done them twice each day. Maybe that's a good thing. :D

The home health nurse has been here twice so far. We're still waiting on the occupational therapist and home health aide to arrange appointments.

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Trees Removed--What a Difference!

Back when the pine tree was taken down, we also had a few big oak trees taken down on Mom’s driveway because they were dying from the inside out. Both were leaning toward the driveway, and toward the phone and power lines next to the drive.

Here’s a picture of the oaks and the drive before they were removed. Good thing we had them taken down before the next windy storm. The entire centers of both trees were hollow.

Here’s the after shot. Looks like Two Feather will be hauling wood for a very long time.

Last week in between all the comings and goings we also took trees down along the hillside behind my garage and house. I showed pictures before of the storm damage.

Here’s a picture of the hill before the trees were removed.

What a difference this makes on the hillside!

Makes me look forward to spring so I can work in my flowerbeds again. Those flowerbeds are going to need a lot of work, too; everything was crushed by all the wood rolling down the hill. LOL

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Forty Things An Alzheimer’s Caregiver Needs To Remember

All too often caregivers find themselves in situations where they constantly feel they need to explain what they are doing and why they are doing it. All too often they run into people, including family members, who just don’t understand Alzheimer’s Disease, and for the most part never will. All too often caregivers have more stress from these type situations than they do with the care giving itself.

These are just a few of many things caregivers need to remind themselves when taking on the responsibility of caring for a loved one. You are a caregiver for the purpose of providing security to your loved one and maintaining their health, welfare, safety, and dignity. Anything beyond that is not your responsibility.

Each Alzheimer’s patient is different from the next. No one person has the same reaction to a situation. Each situation is different--every moment. This list is to help all caregivers remember they are doing a good job in taking care of their loved ones, and to remind them not to be too hard on themselves.

1. I need to remember I am here to do a job and that job is to take care of my loved one.
2. I need to remember that I am doing the best thing I can possibly do for my loved one.
3. I need to remember my loved one comes first before all others.
4. I need to remember to keep my loved one safe.
5. I need to remember to keep my loved one fed.
6. I need to remember to keep my loved one warm.
7. I need to remember to keep my loved one clean.
8. I need to remember to keep my loved one healthy.
9. I need to remember to keep my loved one comfortable.
10. I need to remember to keep my loved one happy.
11. I need to remember to keep my loved one free of pain.
12. I need to remember to keep my loved one free of aggravation and aggression
13. I need to remember to keep my loved one free of anger and upsets
14. I need to remember to keep my loved one from being distracted.
15. I need to remember to keep my loved one in familiar surroundings.
16. I need to remember to keep my loved one stimulated.
17. I need to remember to keep my loved one from loud noises and busy environments.
18. I need to remember to keep my loved one feeling adequate and worthwhile.
19. I need to remember to keep my loved one remembering as long as possible.
20. I need to remember to find solutions before behavior problems appear.
21. I need to remember that I do not need to explain my decisions to those who don’t agree with my decision; the caregiver’s concerns/wishes should carry more weight.
22. I need to remember I do not need to explain why I have to keep my loved one on a schedule.
23. I need to remember I cannot make others accept what they do not want to accept.
24. I need to remember I do not need to be everyone's "excuse" for what they cannot do or do not understand.
25. I need to remember others are responsible for their own actions.
26. I need to remember I am only responsible for my own actions.
27. I need to remember I am only responsible for my loved one’s feelings and mine.
28. I need to remember I am not responsible for how often someone decides to visit.
29. I need to remember that not everyone is as flexible as I am.
30. I need to remember that not everyone is as patient as I am.
31. I need to remember that not everyone is as understanding as I am.
32. I need to remember that I shouldn’t withdraw from social activities.
33. I need to remember not to worry about tomorrow, but instead think about the moment.
34. I need to remember to quit worrying about what other’s think or say; I am the only one who knows what I’m capable of doing.
35. I need to remember not to be disappointed when I don’t receive help.
36. I need to remember to give myself permission to grieve the losses, but also focus on the good memories.
37. I need to remember my loved one feels my love and remind them they are loved and respected.
38. I need to remember to take care of myself.
39. I need to find time for myself.
40. I need to remember my spirit can’t be broken.

More often than not the responsibilities, problems, and feelings of a caregiver aren’t taken into consideration by those around them. If someone hasn’t told you you’re doing a good job in taking care of your loved one, read this list often to reassure yourself, and take this time to give yourself a pat on the back for doing the best job you can do.

There are times when you reach the point in your care giving where you need to learn to ignore problematic people and situations; continue to do what you’ve been doing for your loved one and make sure you take care of yourself as well. You cannot let people who don’t understand Alzheimer's Disease, and its many ups and downs, upset you and possibly endanger your health. If that happens, there would be no one to care for your loved one.

To all Alzheimer’s caregivers: Take a deep breath, read the 40 reminders often, and pat yourself on the back for sharing this disease of crossroads with your loved one until the road wanders no more.

Always remember: With Alzheimer’s Disease, the past is no longer, there is no future; there is only each moment. Cherish those moments, for they may be the last.

For more information about Alzheimer’s Disease visit the Alzheimer’s Association website.

Forty Things An Alzheimer’s Caregiver Needs To Remember has been published at Blogcritics.org in the Culture section.

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Come Glow With Us—Light Up Our Lives

October 1 at 8:00 PM

I’m inviting all my friends, relatives, and other caregivers to shine a light on Alzheimer’s disease awareness. All you have to do is put up a string of Christmas light, turn on a porch light, or place an electric candle in your window today and turn them on at 8:00 PM.

Come Glow With Us is a campaign that was started to shed a little light on the thousands of primary caregivers who give of their time and their compassion, to ease the journey of those they love.

In many cases their work is unnoticed, unappreciated, unpaid.
They toil day after day, often in isolation, suffering along with their loved ones.

They are the invisible victims of Alzheimer and other long term illness.

The Come Glow with Us campaign began last year to mark the 100th anniversary of Dr Alois Alzheimer discovering the plaques and tangle traits of Alzheimer’s disease.

In response to our invitation “glowers” lit up the night skies from California to Florida, Vancouver to Newfoundland, (23 states and eight provinces were represented) as well as Ireland, England, Scotland and Australia.

This October 1 - we ask that you help us make the glow even brighter.
Place the spot light on dementias and light up our lives, so we know you care about those who someday, may be caring for you.

All you need do is place one string of Christmas lights somewhere prominent, and plug them in at 8 pm October 1.

Every hour that night - new sets of lights will glow as the clock turns eight in each time zone.

Give us hope of a better tomorrow - show you care - Come Glow With Us.

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