Saturday, September 27, 2014

Melancholy and Joy

Gary and I went to Dinuba and back on Thursday to pick up Heather and Alexander for the weekend. She was kind enough to help us out while I went to a two day Leadership Retreat.  They stayed with Gary while I headed to the California foothills to assist with the Rancho Cordova Leadership Retreat.  

While I was gone, he called me many times and could not remember from one call to the next whether or not I was coming home Friday night, Saturday night or some other time.  Heather says she told him repeatedly but he just could not retain it.

I called him on Saturday morning before the retreat re-started and awoke him.  He said that he missed me all night.(Heather reported that he came in her room 6 times throughout the night asking various questions).

After I spoke with him, I realized how very much I miss him and I don't mean just last night.  I miss the man I married.  I miss the guy who could help me think through and solve complex problems.  I'm dealing with some pretty important decisions right now and I have to rely on acquaintances and Heather rather than my husband.  Processing is hard when I am used to having his insight.  She was very helpful in letting me process through some difficult decisions that I cannot share here. 

I spent alot of today NOT "being here now" at the retreat and feeling melancholy about the grief I feel over losing him, even when he is still here.  He still looks at me with such love and intensity but the whole picture is now missing. I am grieving a man who is not dead.  The pain is excruciating.

When I got home today, both Alexander and Gary were taking naps so Heather and I had some time to plan, process and discuss their moving in with us early next year.  Since she spent two days with Gary, I asked her feedback on his brain capacity.  She sees a decline since she was here a couple of months ago.  We agreed that he needs an assistant more hours than I had originally planned.  It will be expensive until she gets here. 

In the middle of our conversation about my grieving for him, I got very emotional and we both cried.  She sat in the chair with me and expressed that she too misses her Dad.  She never really knew well the Gary that I knew.  I am sad for us both.  The bond we are forging will be very strong a nd we can rely on each other.  She is the daughter I always wanted.

He realizes that they are coming to live with us and he is excited to have his daughter with us.  He may not remember that tomorrow, so the good news is I get to share the news with him all over again and watch him get excited at the thought. 

He is currently watching "Dora the Explorer" with his grandson.  Pretty cool.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Please support!

A woman from Gary's C.L.U.B. is walking in the Alzheimer's Assoc walk at the end of the month.  Please support her:

"I am participating in The Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s® on September 27th. If I raise $100 - $5,000, half of it will go to the Rancho Cordova drop-in center (The C.L.U.B.) for people with dementia and the other half will go to The Alzheimer's Association.

The money that The C.L.U.B. receives will help increase the number of days that it is open and helping our community. The money that The Alzheimer's Association receives will go towards Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Two good causes, one good walker!!

For those interested in donating, please go to

Every donation, no matter the amount, goes towards local support of a person and his/her caregiver and global support of ridding the world of a truly devastating disease. "

Thank you,
Rebecca Graulich

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Morning Daydream

I took last week off to prepare the house for moving.  Gary and I spent the entire time together. I really got to see his strengths and weaknesses.  One thing learned, the calmer and less stressed I am, the better he functions.

He cannot handle stress, conflict or realizing that he is not thinking clearly.  If given a simple task and the freedom to ask lots of questions (repetitive questions), he can remain calm and function okay.  Most days....impossible.

He is very disagreeable when it comes to hiring an assistant.  I need to do final paperwork but will do in the morning.  An assistant can start on Thursday for four hour stretches. Its expensive.  But not as expensive as some of the possible alternatives.

This morning I awoke to a sleeping Gary.  For a few minutes I imagined that it was many years ago before his disease.  I envisioned going down for coffee and bringing it back to him in bed.  For this part of the dream, he sat up, said good morning and was clear, perfectly clear.  We talked about everything that happened in the last week...he remembered everything.  We talked about the future and our house in Panama. We planned some more trips to foreign ports and we just talked.  I did not have to remind him of anything.  I did not have to repeat myself twenty times before we went to church about what the day would bring.  We spent the day just talking and being in love.

But, I realized I was daydreaming.  When he did awaken, he said a sleepy "good morning."  He also asked what day it is; what is planned for the day?  I went down and made breakfast and got ready for church.  The rest of the day was normal...well, normal for 2014.

Happy anniversary honey.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Preparing to move is a less than desirable activity = Moving Sucks!

On September 9, Gary and I will have been married for 29 years.  In that time, we have moved to different places of domicile 25 times (it might be more, I lost count and he doesn't remember anymore, so I can't ask him).  In November, we will move again to a house very near the college where I work. 

In the past, when we moved, Gary always took the lead on the packing, sorting, etc.  When we sold our house nearly two years ago, he was no longer capable and I took the lead.  Since I ran out of time, we packed most of what we really needed to purge and not move again.  So, now, we face either purging our junk or moving it again.  NO way. This time, I am in charge.

So, this year, instead of going on vacation we decided to stay home and organize, purge and get ready for packing.  We started Saturday having Gary try on all the pants in his closet to see what is too small.  We gave away twenty pairs of slacks and jeans.  He hung in there pretty well through his own closet, but got a little stressed when it came time for mine.

Gary assisted by taking my "too small forever" clothes out of the closet and folded or hung them as I tried on the next outfit.  This process took us hours. He really liked helping and making a difference.  Since the clothes were going to charity, I made a spreadsheet of new and used value for tax reasons.  Between yesterday and today, we gave away nearly $10,000 worth of professional clothing. 

Yesterday morning, we hauled it all to the American Cancer Society Discovery Store after church,  It took us 20 minutes to unload it all.  Gary kept saying, "why don't you just lose weight?"  That is a great question Gary.....   We then headed to Applebees for all you can eat ribs.

Photo: Ready for ribs. ...     

When we got home, we spent the rest of the day purging and organizing our giant pantry.  This space does not exist in the new house.  In fact, we are not sure what we are going to do with all the stuff.....perhaps we need to make a second sweep of each room.

By the end of the day, we were both exhausted and overwhelmed. Those two feelings are not a good mixture.  I got very irritated at everything Gary did or didn't do.  We should have stopped but we kept going.  He was really started to not process well and reached a point where he said, "Honey, I need to be blatantly honest with you.  I have been thinking of divorcing you." 

That is a new one.  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  After twenty minutes of crying, screaming, yelling and then calming myself to explain to him why divorce is not a good option for us.  Especially since we love each other so much and that his dementia had just kicked into high gear. He was frustrated and that was a programmed response from three other marriages.

He snapped and realized what he said and how much he had hurt me.  He spent the rest of the evening telling me that he never really meant it and testifying to his love for me.   I knew all that.  I appreciated the apologies and the extensive foot rub.  :)

Today was productive and not quite as painful.  We are both beat up and tired.  Crock pot Chicken and Dumplings saved the day with an easy dinner. 

The rest of the week will include cleaning out Gary's workshop and the garage.  That will take two days if we work at a fast pace. 

One thing I do know:  I cannot have him here while I have movers pack and unpack this house.  One of us will suffer irreparable damage.  At least I have until November to figure it out.  Anybody want to volunteer to take him on vacation?