Jim and Brad in Mexico, 2007

Jim and Brad in Mexico, 2007

I have been a bit down in the dumps for the past couple of days. Not really sure why.  Could be the cycle of the moon, the stars, the weather….some kind of cycle anyway.

I tend to do that; highs, lows and in-betweens. I try to keep myself regulated with exercise, but I haven’t been able to do much of that. It is on my very long “to do” list.

I spent most of the past two days sitting at a ballfield watching Frances play softball. The girl loves softball. I think that is when she is happiest. I also think all of the other pains of life disappear when she can focus solely on the game at hand. Not what happened yesterday and not what is going to happen tomorrow.  Just focusing on the here and now. I could use a little of that. Couldn’t we all? Isn’t most of life’s pain reaped from thinking of what should have been or what is going to be?

One of the things I have tried to do since Jim has started showing more and more symptoms is to make sure he spends lots of time with the kids and to make sure he teaches them as much as he can while he can. The types of things that fathers teach their kids. How to hammer a nail, how to read directions, how to start a fire, about the games of football, baseball and hockey. Just life stuff that most of us take for granted. The fact is, most of the time (there are exceptions) we were taught many of life’s “need to know” lessons by our Dads. And Jim is full of knowledge that needs to be shared with his children. Things I just am not able to teach, share or demonstrate.

Since Jim was a military man, he is very good at lots of stuff. One of the things that Jim does very well is shine shoes. This may seem trivial. I am sure there are many people that have no clue how to put polish correctly on a pair of leather shoes . But it hit me the other day as I was driving down the road (as I usually am) that Jim needs to teach this technique to Brad. I am not sure why I wasn’t as determined he teach Frances (am I sexist to my own children?) but I called him immediately and asked him to put it on his list.

Today while I was sitting at the softball games I remembered the shoe shining request. I called Jim and asked him if he could do this with Brad before they had to leave for baseball practice. No problem. Except a 9 year old boy does not want to stop playing with his friends outside to come in and learn how to polish some shoes. I get it. I really do. But I also feel this immense pressure of time and uncertainty.

There is no guarantee for any us for tomorrow. How can I make sure as many of these life lessons will be worked into our daily routines at the most convenient time? When is it appropriate to make special arrangements and to push the lessons ahead of schedule?

Mexico, 2007

Mexico, 2007

It happened. Jim and Brad had some Father and son time. I am not completely sure but I have been told Brad got the gist of the task and has a pretty good idea of how to spit shine a pair of leather shoes.

I don’t like playing the “you need to learn from your Dad while you can because we don’t know how long we have” card with the kids. It is almost cruel and it is almost like blackmail. Or that is how I feel.  I do it sparingly and for the right reasons, but it is still pushing an agenda and reminding them of what is lying in wait for our family.

I would love to naturally let the progression of life take over and let life lessons happen in the time and fashion they normally would. But I don’t feel like I can. I feel like I will have regrets. I will think that I should have done more, tried harder, pushed more and thought to make sure things were done just so. It may seem like I put a lot of pressure on myself, but I think it is normal to want your children to learn and grow from their Dad. Especially if their Dad is an exceptional man with lots to share. Especially if he is encouraged to share said knowledge.

My heart is breaking. Every day. Sometimes it is overwhelming and sometimes it is manageable. Either way, it is the same really. It is for the same reason with the same ending and pretty much the same in between. How do I keep that “in between” from completely screwing up our kids? How do I keep that “in between” from completely screwing me up? How do I protect Jim? There are so many facets to think of and plan for. Who can really keep up and keep sane?

Jim and Brad in Mexico, 2007.

Jim and Brad in Mexico, 2007.

posted by Karen in Early Signs of Alzheimer's,Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease,Uncategorized,Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease and have Comments (6)

6 Responses to “”

  1. Shirlene Weber says:

    Thank Jim for his service to our Country. God bless you all.

  2. Mary says:

    Karen,
    I understand how you feel. It is natural for us to want to exert some control over our lives in the face of this awful disease which has stripped control from us. I’ve been there and done that. But once you can accept that you have no control over this disease, the losses and changes that are going to occur, the easier it will be for you and your family.

    The best advice my mother gave me, was after I had told her of my plan to request a certain teacher for my son’s 3rd grade. He’d survived an awful teacher combined with an awful classroom experience involving another student with mental problems in 2nd grade, and I thought he deserved the best teacher the following year because of that. My mother said, “Mary, you cannot go through life trying to pave a perfect path for your children. You are going to drive yourself crazy, and your children will not be better off for all your efforts.” She was right. Our children learn from everything they encounter, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Even if we were able to shield them from the latter two, they would not be better equipped for life.

    I am afraid by forcing these shoe shine moments in your son’s life, you might be adding unnecessary stress. This disease introduces a lot of stress into our lives and ironically stress worsens the situation for our spouses. We need to strive to reduce the stress wherever possible.

    Your husband’s role as father is measured by the love between the two; not by the number of tasks he can teach his son. I’d urge you to let your husband and son have their moments naturally, whatever they may be. If you are concerned about your son’s learning life essentials, I recommend the Boy Scouts. Whenever something is causing you stress, like the thought that Brad may never teach your son to shine shoes, ask yourself, “Ten years down the road is this going to seem important?” If the answer is “no,” then let it go.

    I hope this doesn’t sound critical; it’s meant to be helpful and to maybe save you from some of the stress I have experienced. Praying for you and your family.

  3. MarilynKlotzer says:

    Karen I know how hard it must be to help Jim I have known him since he was a little guy. My heart hurts for him so much. My love and prayers to your family.

  4. Wendy says:

    Karen, you are doing everything you should…there really are no right or wrongs with this disease. All we can do is try not to hurt anyone and that happens too, sometimes.

  5. Maureen says:

    When my Dad was only 7 his Dad died. Ironically, my husband who has early onset’s Dad died when he was 7, as well. They are both the most amazing men I have every known. My husband lost his only son at the age of 25. My husband said to me the other night, “honey I have had many losses in my life”. You can either choose to do your best to move on and be happy or you can be miserable. He said “I feel good, and I am happy”. My husband is at stage 5 of this disease. I choose to be happy – it is the least I can do for him and also for our children. “Let go and Let God”. And, why not ask Jim what he thinks. I avoided talking to my husband about the situation for way too long. When I finally did, he gave me the answers I needed to not only have acceptance, but to live and be grateful for what we have. And, we are stronger because of it. God bless you and your family!
    xoMaureen

  6. Michelle Fox says:

    5 steps forward, 10 steps back! When I was 7 years old my father died in a car accident leaving me and my two brothers ages 10 and 2 fatherless. My mom had no choice but to pick up the pieces and to go on teaching us the best she could. We had aunts and uncles who helped and grandpas and grandpas but there IS nothing like your dad. It was not meant to be. We grew up fine. Sure, I sometimes wonder what if….but we just made the best of a bad situation. My mom did not even know how to drive.
    I wish you had the capacity to live life with Jim and the kids and just enjoy life. How much fun was your son having playing ball when he had to be called in to learn to shine shoes? How often do people even do that anymore? We are a much more casual society or you can hire it done or better yet, learn it yourself.
    I do not mean to be rude, as I am an ally of yours in this terrible battle, and that it is. I just say, you have to accept this. It is your lot in life right now. It will not be forever. You want happy memories for the kids with Jim, not shoe shining???
    How ironic. That my mother is now nearing the end of her battle with Alzheimer’s. Have we been robbed? You bet. Were we robbed of our dad, absolutely!!

    Relax, dear, sadly, it gets worse.

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