My Naomi was young at heart, and that youthfulness must have spilled over to her good looks. She loved to laugh….I wonder now…could this have been her secret remedy against wrinkles and frown lines? It’s possible, of course, since laughter is the best medicine after all! She was active, always busy, and took very good care of herself.Continue reading “My Naomi”
We were all amazed as we watched Dad take sweet and tender care of his bride…patiently answering the same questions over and over again, looking for her lost purse many times each day, and watching over her carefully, protecting her from harm. People who knew them said they were soulmates, and I guess they were. They had been married many years when Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s had changed their lives and ours too. Mom was lost, and Dad was exhausted. We had sleepless nights full of worry, and many tears were shed. My heart ached for both of them, and I longed for life the way it was before the invasion of Alzheimer’s. We lived across the state of Texas, many miles from them, but we traveled there often to check on them, finding the situation a little worse with each trip.
It wasn’t until later, after Mom and Dad were gone, when I started writing my book, Dancing Around the Chaos, that I realized what a rare love story we had witnessed. I was reminded of the Bible verse, 1 Corinthians 13:7, “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” I had read the verse many times before, but now, I understood it. It was real to me…Dad had lived the verse, demonstrating the meaning of the words. Alzheimer’s is the long road to goodbye, no doubt, but had it not been for this journey, we would have missed witnessing this rare love story. It was a gift.
Other gifts come to mind today…Valentine’s Day….along with other Valentine memories, like the year I won the 3rd grade valentine box contest. Mom helped me wrap a Kleenex box in red felt, glue pink and white felt hearts on it, and then attach a decorated coconut to the box with pipecleaners. It was, of course, a mouse pulling a carriage…which doubled as a collection box for valentines from my classmates! I love this memory, and I’m thankful for so many gifts in years past. The Valentine gift I treasure most, however, is the gift of this amazing love story…an example set for generations to come. What an honor!
Happy Valentine’s Day, Tracie
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
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About a month after Mom passed away, I was visiting Dad when I heard another resident, Emily, say to a volunteer. “I want to watch THAT TV!” She was pointing to the wall covered in crosses – all shapes, sizes and colors. It’s beautiful. I guess when she glanced up at the wall, Emily thought, at least for a few seconds, that she was looking at a TV, and she wanted to see more of that show! The volunteer leaned down, whispered something in her ear and kept pushing her wheelchair toward the dining room.
Family members who remember very little from the past, sometimes find that memories are stirred at Christmastime as they celebrate family traditions. They are often the very ones who started the traditions we celebrate today. Even though they appear to have no memories or connections to the past, we don’t know what may be stirring in their minds as they listen to Christmas music, hear the sounds of laughter as children open gifts, and get a taste of those holiday recipes.
- It’s been six months today since the cancer diagnosis…hard to believe that much time has passed. Cancer brought more chaos for us to dance around.
On the very day “Dancing Around the Chaos” was officially released, May 21, 2018, I was diagnosed with cancer. A book launch celebration had been planned, readings had been organized, interviews were scheduled, but all were canceled as we grappled with this new reality. The timing was so incredible to me. God had allowed me the time to complete the book He had laid on my heart…without being distracted by the cancer already growing in my body.
release day finally arrived for Dancing around the Chaos!
After thinking about this book for years, it’s finally a reality! It’s hard to believe there is an actual book I can hold. I hope Mom and Dad would be proud of me. Even after all these years, I want to please them. I do know they would like hearing about the people who read their story and what a difference it made in their Alz Journey or even what a difference it made in their commitment to those they love.
In the early days of the disease, when I heard stories of others in later stages, I actually thought…”Well, I know that will never happen.” Little did I know what the future held; I was very naïve. Many times along the way, I would remember something a friend had shared with me two or three years prior, and reality would settle in. We were there; those things were happening. It was hard, no doubt, but at least I knew others had been down this road. That gave me comfort.
Mother’s Day is Almost Here
It will be a day full of memories of Mom. I still feel like I should be looking for a special gift, ordering a corsage (which she loved!), planning time together. It seems strange that this process, practiced and perfected over many years, has simply disappeared. Truthfully, because of Alzheimer’s, Mother’s Day vanished years ago, long before Mom passed away.
We had to face reality. Finally, we realized we could no longer pretend this wasn’t happening; the situation at home would never improve – the decline continued. We had to have help for the sake of safety if nothing else.
Our first plea for help went to Home Health Care, and they were lifesavers to us. They made regular visits to the house, made sure medications were in order, checked vitals, gave baths, and most importantly, became friends to Mom and Dad. Their visits brought laughter and good conversation about growing up on a farm and working in the oilfield. Their goal, they explained, was to bridge the gap between home and the next level of care. I wanted to believe that this level, Home Health Care, was all we needed; surely it would be sufficient for the duration.
Dancing around the Chaos is now available for pre-sale on Amazon!
This book is simply the true story of what happened on the Alz journey with Mom and Dad.
Why did I write the book?
My reasons for writing the book, telling the true story…what really happened are basically:
- To help others beginning the journey – to share information that may be helpful to them, even if it is hard to tell…and hard to hear.
- To make it clear to those who don’t understand what Alz is…it is a cruel disease of the brain affecting 5.7 million Americans. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, that number could rise to 14 million by 2050. It is much more than just forgetting someone’s name; it is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.
- To share a sweet story of two people who loved each other to the end. Their journey made it possible for others to witness a true, one-of-a kind love story and raised the bar for many.
Still Alice was a game-changer for me
Shortly after I let coworkers know that we were grappling with Alzheimer’s disease in Mom’s life, a friend gave me this book written by Lisa Genova. Since then, I have read it two times, listened to it on Audible once, bought many copies to give away to others, and I’ve seen the movie!
Lisa Genova has a degree in Biopsychology and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University, and she is a master storyteller. She weaves together the account of Alice Howland, a Harvard professor, who finds herself facing a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s at just fifty years old. From the beginning, Genova allows the reader to walk in Alice’s shoes, experiencing the diagnosis and life afterward, through Alice’s eyes.