Archive for July, 2013

It’s that time of the year….

Speaking at the Walk Kick off 2012

Speaking at the Walk Kick off 2012

As I have mentioned many times in my posts, it is going to take EVERYONE helping to make a difference in the fight against Alzheimer’s Disease. This is an ugly disease that NO ONE survives. The family members and friends left behind might survive, but they are deeply scarred.

One of the organizations that has helped us and many others, the Alzheimer’s Association, is kicking off their annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s campaign. No matter where you live you can participate. There are a couple of different ways to help:

First you can start your own team. Go to alz.org and register your team. Once you start a team, ask your friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. to join your team. Then you each will raise money. You will be given a link to give others so they can donate, or you can do things like bake sales, raffles, yard sales, car washes, whatever tickles your fancy, to raise money.

Second, you can join someone else’s team. If you would like to join mine, please register here.  If you join my team, Garnering for a Cure,please help our team be the highest fundraiser this year!

If you don’t want to lead a team or join a team, you can simply click here to donate. Every dollar adds up to the next, so no matter the amount, your donation is appreciated and counted!

Any of these works. Our local walk organization is hosting an Alzheimer’s Awareness night at a local baseball college summer league game and will be selling raffle tickets to win a new Toyota Corolla. I have team members that will be selling these tickets, putting cans at work and organizing bake sales to raise money. Use your imagination and involve as many people as you can. If you work at a school, do a school fundraiser. If you work at a bank, ask if you can put out cans for change or maybe sell lemonade one day. If you work at a store, ask if you can have customers round up to the nearest dollar and take the difference for your team. There are lots of ways to raise the money and stay in your comfort zone.

Part of being on the team, is working together to help raise money. This money goes into funding research. This money goes into programs for families like mine that are struggling daily to survive. This money helps provide support groups, awareness and education and so much more. Part of being on a team is having FUN! I had a lot of fun last year working with our team. It is a good feeling when you know you are making a difference and you know that you are helping others.

This is a great time and a great way to get involved as little or as much as you would like (or can). I have so many that reach out to me asking how they can help. Telling me to let them know what they can do to help us. THIS is what you can do.

The Alzheimer’s Association has given  over 3 million dollars to fund research. I can tell you from my own personal story they have helped us in numerous ways and continue to do so. When you get the news that someone you love has a disease that has no cure, no treatment and can last for many, many long years, it is very nice to have someone to turn to. THIS is how you can help.

When you sign up, you are making a difference and you are making a commitment for the End of Alzheimer’s to begin with YOU.

Speaking at the Walk to End Alzheimer's kick off, July 2013.

Speaking at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s kick off, July 2013.

posted by Karen in Early Signs of Alzheimer's,Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease,Uncategorized,Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease and have Comment (1)

What comes our way, comes our way.

Brad pitching. Fall 2012.

Brad pitching. Fall 2012. Thank you Kim McCaffrey for this photo.

 

Last night Brad had a baseball game. But this wasn’t just any baseball game. This was the championship game. Brad’s team had beat this team earlier in the week and the boys were pretty confident they would be able to do the same. I was too.

At the end of the first inning, the score was 12-3. Them. I walked over to the dugout and gave Brad the drink I had for him. He told me, “We are gonna lose this game. There is no way.” I quickly told him I didn’t want to hear him talk like that, it was only the second inning and they could come back and win this game. (I am not sure I believed those words, but as a Mom, I had to say them.)

At the end of the 3rd inning it was 14-5, after one of their players hit a two run homer.  Our boys were looking pretty down. The parents were cheering and trying to get them psyched, but you could tell their self confidence was shot.

I know the feeling. There are so many times that I take an outsiders look at our situation and I think to myself : What the Hell am I going to do? I am going to lose the house and have to file bankruptcy and still not be able to take care of Jim AND the kids. Let alone me. How am I going to keep the kids on the right path through all of this? How am I going to make their childhood a good memory and not just a memory of Alzheimer’s and all that goes with that?

I talk to a lot of people in the Alzheimer’s world. Others that are care partners, doctors, friends of those that have a parent or spouse that are afflicted. I hear the same stories. I KNOW what is coming. Sometimes I think this makes this journey that much harder. I hear about the incontinence and the repeating of stories and questions. I hear the walking out of the house naked tales and about the yelling and arguing episodes. I have been told by many that I will not be able to afford his care and will probably lose everything.

When I tell you how I feel, please understand, I am telling you my journey, but there are MILLIONS out there that are walking this road with me.

Jim and I have always taken a lot of pride in always paying bills.We have really good credit and it has never been a problem getting credit of any kind. Not too long ago I had a long conversation with a woman whose husband also has Younger Onset Alzheimer’s and he is now in a facility. They have a young daughter Brad’s age. She told me how much money they used to have. (A lot more than Jim and I ever did). Then she proceeded to inform me that her house was now in foreclosure and she has barely kept her car from being repossessed. I told her I didn’t want to mess up my credit and that would really bother me. She quickly replied,”You won’t care. It won’t matter.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. How could I not care?

Flash forward just a few months. I am starting to not care. I am just able to focus on the here and now. Planning and worrying about our future past this year just isn’t viable. I know what is coming and unless I stumble upon some kind of miracle, she is right. It won’t matter.

Talk about depressing. Not only am I losing my best friend and living in a home that is emotionally void (sans the kids) while trying to keep up with everything, I also have that nagging in the back of my mind about losing our savings, losing our home and at the same time not being able to find $5,000 – $9,000 a month extra to pay for care for Jim (figures vary depending on what type of care and where he will be). Yep, that is enough to make this really strong, hard-headed woman just want to stay in bed. Or just give up. I am not a quitter, but I have to admit, there isn’t a lot to look forward to or  live for. Jim seems happier to be around than I am. I used to worry about saving each month for college for the kids. That now seems like just a cruel joke.

Back to the game. Last inning. They got the score up to 15-7. Then it was 15-10. 15-11. 15-12 with 1 out. 15-14! Then another hit and it was 15-15 and by the time the game finished it was 15-19, us. Our boys won the game!

As I sat and watched them getting more and more excited and I watched the other teams players look more and more defeated, I thought of our life. Our depressing life and what we have ahead of us. Or what I think we have ahead of us. Most days I don’t see anything to be excited, happy or joyous about. Then I realize that I have two fantastic kids that need me and I have a husband that needs me and parents that need me and friends that need me and a world that I have yet to see. I have a mission yet to be fulfilled. I have a purpose that goes along with the suffering and heartache we will yet endure. I am not looking forward to this journey. I am not excited or happy about becoming a spokesperson for this cause. But I will. I will and do the best I can. I will and make a difference to many. I will and it will help me too. It will help me keep putting one foot in front of the other. It will force me out of bed each day and give me a higher purpose. It will keep me smiling and finding a reason to live. I am in a game too; a game of big consequences if I don’t win. Winning means there will be a cure and a better way to fund care for Alzheimer’s patients. Winning will be changing the face of Alzheimer’s from someone who is old and “going to die soon anyway” to someone who is contributing to society and still has many more years to live. I need a team to help me win.

Brad's championship trophy!

Brad’s championship trophy!

posted by Karen in Early Signs of Alzheimer's,Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease,Uncategorized,Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease and have Comments (2)

The Letter: Please pass this along to your Representative

Frances seeing Brad for the first time, March 2004. (That is Jim holding Brad.)

Frances seeing Brad for the first time, March 2004. (That is Jim holding Brad.)

 

Dear Senator Warner,

My name is Frances Garner and I am 12 years old. I live in Newport News, VA and I am in 6th grade. I play softball, field hockey, play the violin, saxophone and piano. In the summer’s I swim on a summer swim team for a local pool. I also was part of my schools’ Battle of the Books team and track team. When I graduate from high school my goal is to attend Yale University. I would really like to play softball for them.

I have a younger brother who is 9 years old. His name is Bradley. He plays baseball and basketball and plays the piano. He also swims in the summertime too.  He is super smart in math and is really funny.

Our Dad is 51 years old. Our Dad has something called Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. I don’t know a lot about this disease, but I do know that my Grandmother (my Dad’s Mom) died from this a long time ago before I was born. My uncle also died from this last year when he was 52. Now my Dad has it.

My Dad doesn’t work anymore. He used to. When I was born he was in the Air Force and then he retired from that and started working for a contractor. He lost that job last year. My Mom works full time. I worry about her. She seems really stressed most of the time. I can tell when she gets stressed because she doesn’t have as much patience with me or my brother or my Dad. Dealing with all of us takes a lot of patience I think.

My Dad forgets conversations we just had. He forgets to check Bradley’s homework or he forgets what time or day we are supposed to be somewhere.  Since my Mom works a lot, she stresses because she can’t be here helping and keeping up with all that stuff. I try really hard to help out, but I don’t think I do a really good job.

My Mom and Dad just went up to Washington DC recently to ask you for help. They are asking for help because Alzheimer’s Disease runs in my Dads family. My Mom is totally freaking out because she is worried about me and my brother. She wants to find a cure before we are anywhere close to my Dads’ age.

I don’t worry about it too much. I am really sad about my Dad. He is  a great Dad. He plays ball with me and fixes me food and he is a really nice Dad. He is really smart and I love him very much.

I worry about my brother though. I think all of this disease and dying stuff is going to bother him and affect him more than me. Plus, he is my little brother. I love him a lot and he is one of my best friends. We hang out a lot together. I sometimes think about what would happen if he gets the same thing as my Dad and Uncle and Grandmother. I don’t want him to get this disease. I want him to always be my little brother (even if he gets taller than me) and I don’t want to lose him because a cure hasn’t been found because the money hasn’t been given to research now when my Mom is asking for it.

Can you please help us?  I don’t know how much money it will take but I think we spend a lot on other stuff that maybe can also be spent on research for a disease that is killing my dad and might one day kill me or my brother.

Thank you.

Frances L. Garner

Frances checking on her new little brother, March 2004.

Frances checking on her new little brother, March 2004.

posted by Karen in Early Signs of Alzheimer's,Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease,Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease and have Comments (3)

D.C. Success

Frances and Brad at the Capitol, July 2013.

Frances and Brad at the Capitol, July 2013.

Wow! What a crazy, hectic week. Work, a trip to DC, a kick-off for our local Walk to End Alzheimer’s and more work. It has been busy, but also a very rewarding and encouraging week. One of those weeks you need  to make up for the weeks that push your limits beyond where you think you can go.

On Wednesday, Brad,Frances and I drove up to Washington D.C. so Frances could hand deliver a letter she has written. I am posting this letter for you  to read on Sunday night. It is a letter that I think shows what an amazing, mature and strong young woman she is turning into. I warn you now, it is probably more touching than anything I have written. But I digress. Back to Wednesday.

Our first scheduled appointment was with Representative Scott Rigell for 10:45 a.m. On a good day the drive is 3 hours. With morning traffic, you can count on an extra hour. Plus trying to find a parking spot and then walking to the building. So, we left at a very early 6 a.m. Have I mentioned to you how much of a morning person I am not?

Luckily, there were 3 of us in the van and I took full advantage of the HOV lanes. We arrived on time, with a slight hiccup. IT WAS HOT. I mean, HOT and HUMID. Walking from our car to the first meeting took about 20 minutes. In that amount of time, I sweated. A lot. I quickly went into the bathroom to blot the sweat off my face, only to realize that my makeup had melted and I now had sweat rings under my arms. Are you kidding me?  I mentally made a note to forgo any kind of arm lifts in the immediate future.

We walk into Rep. Rigell’s office and there are 3 people in suits waiting ahead of us. Another mental note: we have 30 minutes to meet and greet and get back over for our

Rep. Rigell, Karen, Frances and Brad. July 2013.

Rep. Rigell, Karen, Frances and Brad. July 2013.

next meeting. As I sit in the waiting room trying to figure out what we are going to do if we are late, in the Congressman walks. He apologizes to the others waiting and asks them to reschedule for later in the day. Then, we are ushered into his office for a quick, but gratifying picture opportunity. He sits Frances and then Bradley behind his desk. Frances tells me later that his chair was really comfy. He signs an autograph for Bradley. I ask him why he hasn’t co-sponsored the Hope for Alzheimer’s Act. He apologizes and tells me he is going to, he just hasn’t yet. He tells me that he will do whatever he can for us and that this is very important to him. I believe him.

Rep. Rigell and Brad, July 2013.

Rep. Rigell and Brad, July 2013.

 

Since then I have received an e-mail from his office with the promise to co-sponsor the Hope for Alzheimer’s Act. It is in process…. YES! One down, one to go.

We finish our call and we have 15 minutes to walk from one side of the Capitol to the other for our next meeting with Senator Mark Warner. And it is now even warmer than it was 30 minutes prior. More sweat and now my hair is sticking to my neck and I think my feet have increased in size along with my fingers. Great.  Thankfully the kids are with me and you know, kids have a way of helping you put things into perspective. Bradley tells me that “they don’t care what you look like Mom.” and Frances tells me “you look fine.” Coming from a 9 and 12 year old, I quickly feel better knowing they usually tell me how it is. (Plus at this point I am a little desperate.)

Frances and Brad riding the underground trolley at the Capitol, July 2013.

Frances and Brad riding the underground trolley at the Capitol, July 2013.

We arrive at Senator Warner’s office with 1 minute to spare. When we arrive, the receptionist asks me if I received the e-mail asking to move our meeting from 11:15 to 1:15. No, I hadn’t. Must have gone to my spam folder. In my mind I am already trying to decide how we can avoid spending the next 2 hours in the 150 degree heat outside. In walks Luke Albee, Senator Warner’s Chief of Staff. He immediately alleviates my concerns as he asks an intern to give us a tour of the Capitol. Then we will meet him for lunch and then we will meet with the Senator. And, oh, by the way, we don’t have to go back outside because there is a trolley from their building to the Capitol. I want to hug him, but I can’t raise my arms…..

Sen. Warner, Karen, Frances and Brad. July 2013.

Sen. Warner, Karen, Frances and Brad. July 2013.

We have a wonderful tour followed by a wonderful lunch. Miraculously my two, beautiful children acted beautifully. All of the teachings of all the manners seemed to come together during our tour, our lunch and our visits. There are small miracles sometimes… Then we are back to the office for our 3 minutes with Senator Warner. Maybe 3 and a half. But that is all we needed. Frances gave him her letter, answered  his question of what it says and we get some pictures.As I put my hand on his back to pose for a photo, I feel dampness. I bet if he took off his jacket he would have sweat rings too! Guess even the powerful have to deal with the same heat us little people deal with. Then we are being ushered out of his office. His next appointment is ready. I am panicking inside of my head (again). Wait. We haven’t gotten an answer from him. We haven’t really asked him to co-sponsor the Hope for Alzheimer’s Act. So I shake his hand, thank him for his time and quickly plug the real reason we have driven all this way. Again, my children are miracle workers. Senator Warner agrees to co-sponsor the Act. YES!!! SCORE! And our trip is a success. Two for two.

The next day I receive a call from Mr. Albee, following up and re-iterating that the Senator will be co-sponsoring the Act. I tell him “Thank you. I feel like I have done something good.” “It wasn’t you, it was your kids.” And Bam. I am back down to earth.

Doesn’t matter.  All that matters is the end result and we have gotten a very small victory in one battle of a huge, huge war. But, you have to win the battles in order to win the war.  And so I take a breather and prepare for the next round of battles.

posted by Karen in Early Signs of Alzheimer's,Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease,Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease and have Comments (3)

Morning Glory

Last year, just about this time, I lost it with Jim. I was so upset. I yelled and slammed a door or two and really was a jerk.

This year, amazingly, the very thing that had upset me so terribly, is something that Jim has taken care to protect and even has taken extreme caution to keep from repeating himself.

This is another example of what makes Alzheimer’s Disease the COMPLETE mystery that it is.

IMG_1678

Last July (it doesn’t seem that long ago but it must have been), I looked outside at our back hedge and saw a beautiful sight. A Morning Glory vine was in full bloom. Oh how I love Morning Glory’s. They remind me of my summer in Bermuda. I was so excited we had them blooming just outside of our backdoor I didn’t know what to do. The first thing I did, was to tell Jim that when he cut the hedge next, to make sure he DID NOT cut that vine. When I said this to him, it was in the morning and most importantly, the hedge did not need trimming. Not even close.

You can imagine my fury when I came home later that day and saw Jim working fervently on our hedge.   You know where this story is going…..

He was shredding not only our hedge but the beautiful Morning Glory vine as well. I couldn’t believe it. Hadn’t I just told him this morning specifically NOT to cut that area? Hadn’t I explained to him how much I loved those flowers and how it reminded me of my internship in Bermuda so many years ago?

Flash forward a full year. A year of education, understanding, progression and setbacks. Low and behold, there it is again. My beautiful cups of glory. Before I even can say anything to Jim and try to figure out how to keep him from repeating the massacre of 2012, he says to me,”I need to do the hedge. Show me exactly which vine is the one you don’t want me to cut.” Mind you, he has cut the hedge many times since last July. But, he had seen the flowers and somehow knew that he shouldn’t cut them. I was stunned. It really defies logic with other things that he forgets. Since that time 2 weeks ago, Jim has worked on our hedge a minimum of 5 days. Please understand, we have a small yard. He would typically work on the hedge 2 days every 4 months. I don’t understand it, but I love looking out the kitchen window and the back door and my bedroom window and seeing the beautiful flowers that bloom white only with the morning light. And I love this show of love that Jim gives me each time he works on the hedge and he DOESN’T touch the area where the vine is.

It’s the little things people. It’s the little things.

posted by Karen in Early Signs of Alzheimer's,Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease,Uncategorized,Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease and have Comments (3)

Who wants to play a game?

Frances with Blue Crab at a camp in 2011.

Frances with Blue Crab at a camp in 2011.

Our family loves playing games. We play board games, card games, sports games, video games. It seems it really doesn’t matter, as long as the game is some form of competition.

Last night it was pouring rain so all other activities were cancelled. I seized the opportunity to stay put at home and actually fix a nice meal and hang out as a family. By 7:30 we were all trying to figure out what to do (we don’t watch much tv). The kids suggested we play a game, so I sent them off to find one, which they quickly did. Monopoly Deal. We have played this game several times, but as usual, the kids understand and know the game much better than either Jim or myself. No problem. They quickly re-capped the rules for us and we were off to the races. Well. 3 of us were.

This became another one of our much more frequent “ah-ha” moments. Have I mentioned lately that I don’t like these “ah-ha” moments very much? Have I mentioned what a smart, insightful person Jim is/was? Yes, I know I have. But it doesn’t stop these moments from just being raw, head spinning, throat catching and worst of all, real.

As we were playing the game, I soon realized Jim was a little confused and unsure of what he was doing. He is very adept at staying under the radar so it isn’t quite obvious that he is not completely comprehending what is going on around him. The man has skills.

So, during one of his turns, when he just seemed a little out of sorts, I offered to look at his hand. Wouldn’t you know, I played the correct cards for him, which quickly put him in the lead and when his turned rolled around again, it was he who won?

At first, when I played the card that showed all of us the way the game was turning, Brad and Frances quickly were complaining that I was helping him. ONE look from Mama bear and they fell silent. Then, magic happened. They seemed to follow my lead and started getting excited that Daddy was winning and that he beat us. What a great job he did! The mood shifted, everyone was happy for Daddy and it was soon time for bed.

Brad goofing around, April 2010.

Brad goofing around, April 2010.

Another moment that transitions our family. Another proud parenting moment. Another devastating realization.

So, as the saying goes,”you take the good with the bad.” Yes, we have good all around us. Our friends. Our family. Our home. Each other. There are times I have to look really hard to see these good things, but eventually, it finds me. And I realize it has been there all along. I just have to keep my eyes open to find it.

Actually, every time I look at Frances or Brad I see the good in my life. I see the good that I am doing. I see my reason for living and for trying my best to become the person I am meant to be. When I stop and think about Jim not being able to tag along for the ride of watching them grow and become the people they are meant to be, it just strips my soul. We are blessed. In so many ways. Yet at the same time we are cursed. What a wicked world we live in. To be blessed and cursed all in the same breath.

Tomorrow brings more games. Softball games. Baseball practice. And the trickiest game of all: Life.

 

posted by Karen in Early Signs of Alzheimer's,Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease,Uncategorized,Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease and have Comments (2)

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

 

Our 4th of July, 2013. Thank you Mr. Poole for the wonderful family photo (again).

Our 4th of July, 2013. Thank you Mr. Poole for the wonderful family photo (again).

I have a dream husband.  Really.  I know so many women complain about their husbands controlling the remote or not letting them drive or not asking for “permission” to go out with the guys.  So many men are determined to be in charge of what is for dinner and what the family does on weekends (or doesn’t do in some cases).

I also hear complaints from women whose husbands have Alzheimer’s Disease just like Jim. Their husbands are angry. Their husbands won’t admit anything is wrong with them and deny any problems when visiting the doctor.

I am fortunate. Even while fighting a disease that is taking over his mind, my Jim is still an amazing husband, father and not following the typical husband line.

My personality is a very strong one.  Even though I can be insecure and at times indecisive, I am also very loud and straightforward.  Jim has always been a great match for me.  Let me have my way until he didn’t.  What I mean is, he got the big picture.  He understood those cutesy sayings you read on Facebook and Instagram.

“If you don’t care and it isn’t important, let it go”.  If he didn’t care what he ate for dinner, he let me choose whatever I wanted.  If he didn’t care what he watched on tv, he let me choose.  Of course one of the things he always said he married me for was the fact I liked pizza, beer and football.  That always helped with the decision on what we were watching and eating on Sunday’s.

If something really mattered to him he would let me know.  Or I could ask him and with enough prodding, he would decide.  Every once in a while this would annoy me and I would tell him I wanted him to make more decisions and speak up more.  I wanted to know what he thought and how he felt about things.  And he would.

Flash forward 16 years.  Alzheimer’s has released a fog over Jim’s mind.  A fog that lies thick on the cortex of the brain that determines what you really want to do or how you feel or what will make you emotionally involved in something.  There are glimpses of the fog lifting every few weeks, but for the most part, the fog rolls around and around and Jim doesn’t seem to notice or mind, no matter how many times I ask him to blow the fog away.

Almost a year ago I decided we needed to get rid of our smallish SUV, get back to a minivan and lower our monthly payment.  Please notice I said “I decided”.  That is right.  Me.  I did the research, I contacted every single dealership in our area. I went for a test drive by myself (twice). I determined the make, year, model, color and add -ons we got.  All while I was working full time.   I was also planning our annual vacation to family camp and keeping up with the kids schedules. I would be so happy if I never had to purchase another vehicle again.  Ever. I already have 28,000 miles on that van. I basically work out of it. It is my office. And the kids’ taxi.

Now on one hand, many people in this world would be ecstatic to be the one making the decision.  But I also know there are those out there that will understand and totally get where I am coming from.  You get married to have a life partner.   A partner in decisions.  The other side of the equation.  Should we get this one or that one?  Should we do it now or later?  Should we get blue, black, white, tan or red?  Or should we just keep the vehicle we have since we will have it paid off in a year?  No, the payments are too much, the warranty is within weeks of being gone, it takes premium gas which is way too expensive (keep in mind the amount of miles I drive), the tires are expensive….well you get the idea, right?  But the flip side of the coin conversations were between me, myself and I.  I would say these words out loud and Jim would just agree with what I wanted or sit quietly.  He was fine with whatever I wanted.

My chest literally is constricting now as I think of the loneliness and emptiness I feel focusing on Jim’s lack of any involvement in not only our day to day decisions but the major ones as well.

Financial decisions.  Disciplining the kids.  Large and small purchases.  Gifts for family and friends.  Birthdays.  Christmas.  Home repairs. Bill paying.  Every single decision comes from my mind.

Yes, there are those of you that would cheer this way of life.  Until you got your wish.  Until you realized the weight of the world was on your shoulders and it was you that had to forge ahead a path with the right choice.  If you make the wrong decision, it may keep your kids from being able to take music lessons or you may lose the house or it may cause you to have to dip into the savings that you have worked so hard to build up to its current measly level.  You have to figure out a way to pay for home care for Jim  (at some point) AND work full time AND take care of the kids AND keep up the house AND keep up with bills and schedules AND figuring out if there are bagels left for breakfast. You would rejoice at the idea of being in charge and determining your own fate, until you do it day after day and week after week and that grows into months and years.  Suddenly, the very last thing you want to do is make a decision.  OF ANY KIND.  You don’t want to decide where to go out to eat.  You don’t want to decide which cable company to use, or if you should even still have cable.  You want someone else to take over your mind and pick out what to wear, which load of laundry to wash, what is for dinner, what tv show we will watch(when we actually sit down to watch it)….. I could keep writing this for hours.  Well, maybe not hours, but you get the picture.

Yes, I am one lucky woman.  I have a man that lets me decide my family’s activities and path ahead.  I look forward to the day that everytime I yell “heads” the coin lands on tails and it isn’t my decision anymore.

posted by Karen in Early Signs of Alzheimer's,Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease,Uncategorized,Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease and have Comments (5)

The glass IS half full.

Brad and Jim enjoying the ball game.

Brad and Jim enjoying the ball game.

I want to share a very quick story with you. This story perfectly illustrates how my two children not only teach me life lessons everyday, they help me become a better person.

Last night Jim, Brad and I went to see a local minor league baseball game. It had been raining and we weren’t even sure the game would get played. Luckily, it did. During the first couple of innings we sat in the drizzle of rain, Brad and I sharing an umbrella while Jim decided he was fine without anything other than his hat.

As most 9 year old boys do, Brad REALLY wanted a foul ball. We were sitting behind the netting behind homeplate and would not be getting a foul ball. Not too long after we sat down, the usher that had wiped the rain out of our seats came past us, walked over to the dug out and said something to the ball boy. The ball boy proceeded to hand over 2 baseballs. As the usher walked past, I asked him what the secret was. He smiled and said it helps to work there. He also mentioned he gives them to kids in his section. Wait. Aren’t WE in his section? I look around. There are literally 4 kids in his section. The rain has kept most at bay tonight.

So I told Brad to go over and ask for a ball. After much prodding over the course of an inning or two, he finally did. IMMEDIATELY, that same usher came down and told him he needed to return to his seat and that those bat boys were working and he was disturbing them. Well! Being the Mama Bear that I am, I was…..let’s say, a little unhappy. I didn’t say anything to Brad, but in my mind I was saying a few words.

By the 7th inning, it is apparent the home team isn’t going to win, but thankfully it isn’t raining and it is an enjoyable night to watch some ball. Also in the 7th inning, the very same usher comes down to Brad and asks him if he really wants a baseball. Brad says, “Yes sir.”  The usher prods him a little more. “Are you sure you do?” “Yes sir.”

From his tattered, red vest pocket he produces the elusive  baseball that lights up my son’s face. “Since you really want one. I like to give them to kids that really want a ball.”

I make sure Brad tells him “thank you.” Then I thank him myself and I let him know the little boy sitting behind us really would like a ball too. Sure enough, the usher walks over to the dugout, waits a moment and gets the other boy a ball too.

This is all confusing. Instead of switching my thoughts, I try to figure out his motives and why he had a huge change of heart. It was nice, but why?. I am learning just how cynical I am. Much to my dismay. First impressions are the hardest to change.

Fast forward to our 20 minute ride home. It is late and dark. I am lost in my own thoughts planning for the next day at work. Out of the blue Brad sets me straight.

“Mom!”

“Yes Brad.”

“I know why that man told me not to ask for a ball.”

“Oh really? Why?”

“He had planned all along to give me one. He just wanted to surprise me. He waited until almost the end of the game and then he wanted to make sure I got one from him. He knew he was going to give it to me when he told me not to ask for one. You noticed he didn’t tell anyone else that came over to leave the bat boys alone?”

“Yes, I had noticed that.” (and had sat steaming in my seat)

“He is a nice man. He wanted to give me the ball himself.”

So, I continue driving, letting his thoughts, his simple way of seeing the glass IS half full sink into my mind.

And again, I am ashamed. I am ashamed that I preach everyday to my children to be positive and to not judge others and to let things go. But I am guilty of not practicing what I preach.

Thank you Brad for teaching me.

posted by Karen in Early Signs of Alzheimer's,Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease,Uncategorized,Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease and have Comments (3)