Last January I posted a summary of the last 8 years of Gary’s dementia. (Click HERE to read it.) I wondered if there would be a 9th. Well, here we are on the brink of 2015 so as of today, the Lord has seen fit to give us more time with Gary. I thought an update might be in order.
Some of you know there have been many challenges in our lives this year, with the loss of both my parents (in their 90’s) who lived right across the street. Between Gary’s and my parents’ failing health, and my own health issues, 2014 rivaled 2002, (the year I had cancer), and (2006-2007) the years we were first faced with Gary’s dementia. Even though there were many special moments, and encouraging days, in the midst, I’m glad 2014 is over. It’s easy to say something glib like that, but not at all realistic. I don’t know what lies in store tomorrow, or today for that matter. 2015 might be even harder. It is so presumptive to think that we can so easily dismiss difficulties, with the turn of a calendar page or a New Year’s resolution.
The good news is, that God has given us lots of leeway within the responsibility of stewarding our time, bodies, and resources. With less loved ones to care for now, I’m seriously trying to do some things to “catch up” on my own health, and do what I can to make Gary’s life comfortable, and interesting.
The following is not a list of resolutions. Just things I’m grateful to have the time for and a feeling of stewardship of the gift of time.
More time with the Lord
I sure do need it. The keys to wisdom and peace are within the pages of the Bible. Many days this year, my soul has been sustained by a familiar verse studied long ago. But on recent days, I’ve been able to dig in to God's word, exploring more deeply, and finding rich treasures there. Recent curiosity of mine: If a Christian’s sanctification is guaranteed, how does a Christian with dementia grow spiritually? Thankfully, the Word of God speaks to this.
More memories to savor
It's been fun to go through my parents' things, and sort what to keep, give, and toss. Discovering little instructional notes from mom, and some of my dad's old model airplanes he'd packed away, were like having them here again. I miss them so much. I'm looking forward to preserving my dad's movie films digitally, and using some of my mom's paint brushes.
More time with Gary
Since my dad passed away, a couple of Dad’s caregivers came to work for us and we’ve all been pretty busy getting Mom and Dad’s affairs settled. Now that things are wrapping up across the street I’ve been finding a more comfortable balance of time with help and time alone with Gary.
More focus on Gary’s needs
Physically, Gary has stopped losing weight but this is not good news. It’s because he has no fat or muscles to loose. He is literally “skin and bones.” Diligence is required to protect his skin from breaking down, and a careful touch as he has no padding. His heart and lungs are good but many things could trigger an irreversible downturn; a pressure sore, a couple of days of not eating, pneumonia, etc. Mentally, it’s getting harder and harder to find ways to stimulate him. He can’t hold his eyes open for more than a few seconds a couple of times a day unless he’s lying flat on his back or on his side. I found a kid’s animated acquarium-nightlight, that I can put on his tray, or prop next to him. Truly though, most of the mental stimulation he gets now is hearing, and touch since he really doesn’t focus on things more than a few feet from him. I try to play hymns for him daily, and read short passages of the Bible out loud. He loves his Christmas Bells. I wish he could listen beyond Christmas, but I need a way to hang them, other than the Christmas tree. Hmmmm…
More focus on others.
I'm not sure exactly when or how, but I miss having a regular ministry at church, and have had to put off friends I care about. Hope to have a bit more time to invest in others.
More attention on my health
For the month of January, I’m trying the “Whole30 plan” hoping to eliminate inflammatory foods and then reintroduce categories to see if I’m healthier without milk, grains, sugar or legumes. Click HERE for more info on "Whole30". I’ve been checking off some deferred Dr. visits, and trying to find ways to exercise without hurting my heel spur. I’m looking forward to a couple of days away by myself pretty soon (like I did last May) for a little time of mental refreshment. I’ll bring my watercolors with me this time too.
Will there be a "TEN" year post about Gary? I don't know. For now I'm happy just knowing that today he is comfortably snoozing away near me. We made it to our 40th Anniversary last week. I get really sad sometimes seeing how weak he is, and wonder how much longer he will be with us. Only God knows the answer to that, so I will keep entrusting my sweet husband to Him. Each and every day I have with him is a privilege. Meanwhile, thank you for your love, and prayers and going along on our journey with us.
"Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.
For our heart rejoices in Him, Because we trust in His holy name.
Let Your loving kindness, O LORD, be upon us, According as we have hoped in You."
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