Can’t Stop the Leaves….

Jim playing softball at family camp.

Jim playing softball at family camp.


We are back from vacation and “normal” life begins again. Family camp was just right. I was so grateful, thankful and happy to have my parents with us for a full week. That doesn’t happen often enough and I am finally at the stage in my life that I actually appreciate the time  I can spend with them.

Why can’t I appreciate the time I get to spend with Jim? I want to. I know I should. I think I do in my own way but appreciating my time with him means focusing on the fact he is going to get worse and realizing I don’t have all the time I want with him. Why don’t we ALWAYS appreciate the time we have with those we care so much about? Why can’t we see how special all these moments collectively put together are as we are living them? We always take for granted those that mean the most to us; the ones we always expect to be there. One day, whether we like it or not, either they won’t be there or we won’t be there. What happens when the person you want to be there is with you physically, but mentally they are a little different? A little “off”? How do we relate to someone that looks healthy and the same, but can not figure out how to put batteries in a flashlight?

Yes, we had a wonderful family vacation. It was so good to see our friends at camp. It was so good to let the kids have some freedom and independence. It was so good to see Jim in his element; playing volleyball, basketball, soccer, softball and hockey. Honestly, I didn’t spend a lot of time with him. He was happy to play his sports and read a little. It was like nothing was wrong.

We tried playing a card game with him. He was having difficulty remembering the rules and how to play and what was going on. So the next night when we played, he abstained. I was hesitant….stop playing myself and just sit and watch with him or enjoy myself and play with my parents and friends? I played and felt torn the whole time. It is tremendously sad to watch him walk around,  searching for something he can’t seem to find.

JIm rafting the Yough River.

JIm rafting the Yough River.

We were able to go rafting. Years ago Jim and I rafted the New River in West Virginia. It was a blast. We both loved it and vowed to go again. This time we did the trip on less thrilling water, but he seemed confused on when he should paddle and what to do. I am afraid we won’t be going back again. That hurts. For so many reasons.

Something else happened the night we returned home that many caregivers deal with on a daily basis. I know this. I am aware that it is typical. I realize it is a symptom. But knowing something is coming and then actually having it happen are two different things. And when it does finally happen, it jabs my gut. It depresses me. It brings that reality of needing to appreciate our time together front and center.

Jim jogging around the lake.

Jim jogging around the lake.

I was up late working on our mound of laundry. Jim had gone upstairs to go to sleep hours before. When I finally went upstairs to go to bed, Jim was standing in Brad’s doorway.

“Jim, what are you doing?”

“I am going to bed.”

“No, that is Brad’s room.”


I took the basket of clothes I was carrying to my room. When I returned, he was still standing in the doorway.

“Jim, what are you doing?”

“Going to bed.”

“Our bedroom is over here.” I turned the light on in our room and had him come look. He didn’t argue, he didn’t really say anything. He just simply went to bed.  I was emotionally unhinged. Another sign. Another stage. Another symptom. Another progression. There is nothing I can do to stop it. I don’t want to watch this brilliant, witty, athletic, handsome, loving, caring, dedicated, hardworking, fabulous man turn into something that I don’t recognize.

Like the leaves that turn each Fall. One day they are green. The next they have started to turn a little red or yellow or brown. Then one day you wake to a glory of colors and it looks brilliant. But it is a sign that the leaves are about to fall, billowing in the wind, eventually falling to the ground. There is nothing you can do to stop nature from it’s glorious cycle.

Knowing there is nothing I can do doesn’t make any of this easier. Knowing what is coming definitely does not make any of this easier. Seeing my husband confused, detached from conversations and void of emotions is already old. And our journey has really just begun….

Jim and Frances at Family Camp, Aug. 2013.

Jim and Frances at Family Camp, Aug. 2013.

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

2 Responses to “Can’t Stop the Leaves….”

  1. Connie Howard says:

    I completely understand and identify wiith your thoughts. My 26 year old daughter accompanied me to the Dr viist and then Glenn, 57, went home with her and then to his mothers to give me a break. Dr. gives us about 1 year before he will need to go to a memory care faciility. Because he is so young, it is best to keep him home as long as possible since most of the people in assisted living and memory care facilities are much older than Glenn. I have someone who comes in to the home a couple times a week and Glenn goes to Emeritius for one day a week and a Council on Aging one day a week. He is still the youngest in the group and there is some resistance to going but I need it for my sanity and he needs the interaction with other people. I am very short sighted in living life. Too busy dealing with financial preparations and arranging his care to face the reality there will soon beome a life without him. My faith in God sustains me and gives me hope.. Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans for welfare,and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope…. then you will call on me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Prayers as you navigate your life and the multitude of changes you both face daily.

  2. Mary says:

    Glad you were all able to get away and I agree with you. We go to the same vacations spots but it’s nit the same because Shelly is not the same. One night last week I had just gone to bed and Shelly came and just stood by his side of the bed. I asked him what he was doing and his reply,”I don’t know how to get in bed.” Another loss,another stage and my heart breaks a little more. On a daily basis I wonder,what’s next, what stage is he in?
    So you are so right on all issues. As far as spending time with our husbands, it hurts because they are nit the same. After 38 years of marriage, I look at him and think about the way he and we use to be. Now it’s one sided, I ask him how he’s feeling, or do you need anything when we are watching t.v., how his day was but Karen no one ask me those questions anymore. God do I miss him ! Just finished reading a book that suggest we morn each loss,like Jim standing in front of the wrong bedroom. Morn that loss, light a candle in church, let a balloon go into the air, plant a flower. God only knows how many losses we’ll have over the course of the awful disease. Anyway, thanks fir sharing your story. Mary

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