Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sing me to sleep

A little more than a year ago, we brought Momma here to live with us.  Though it was only five months, it seemed like much longer.  We learned so  much about not only ourselves, but Momma and Alzheimers.  To spare ya'll, I'll not go into it.  It wasn't all bad and it wasn't all great.  Please don't think I'm just an awesome daughter. Ha!  I'm far from getting the "Daughter of the Year" award. I've seen the ugly in myself and didn't like it one bit.  We're a family attempting to do the best we can, figuring it out along the way. We have much to learn.  

As Mom continues to decline, her anxiousness increases
and slowly she struggles to remember if I'm her daughter or sister.  She wants to know where her Mom and Daddy are, and can't remember what she is constantly worrying about, though we know.  She can no longer remember how to spell or write her name, what her friends' names are, or much else.  Reading is no longer. She believes she is still in her beloved state of KS, and that we drive hours each day to be with her. She claims she arranged Honey and my's marriage, and she loves to help out by wiping tables, picking up any trash and dusting the rails. We learn and grow as the disease progresses.  

Thankfully, the nursing care facility, we have her in is very close by and we visit her almost nightly.  It's not the largest in the area, nor is it the most state-of-the-art, but they have two special Alzheimer's Lock-down units. It is small and homelike.   If you've never been to a nursing home/ Health and Rehab facility as many are now called, they can be a bustle of activity and noises of regular residents wandering the hall, call alerts going off, the telephone ringing, someone's tv blaring, people coming and going... Something is ALWAYS going on, but if you were to walk through the Alzheimer's units, it's quiet and calm -   Something we really appreciate each time we are there.  It's not a perfect place, but it's the perfect place for Momma and we have learned to love it. God has His Hand there.  

Those who give:  We love to go in, greet the director and she knows us by name.  The nurses and aids recognize us and chat with us.  Letting us know how they interacted with Momma during the day when we can't be there.  We've learned to know them and appreciate what they do.  The nurse who is struggling with a rare form of breast cancer, or the single mom who is working and going to school for her degree, college students juggling work and classes, the director who is a huge Hog/Razorback fan, the CNA (certified nurses assistant)  who has such compassion and is so in-tune to the residents he cares, to the CNA that brings fingernail polish from home and treats the residents to weekly manicures.  They know their residents by name, give them love and hugs, know who likes to dance and sing, read books, play a game, play "kick ball" in the hall, do crafts, bake cookies, or even catch their favorite show Wheel of Fortune.  They give them hugs, kiss their cheecks, brush their hair, give them showers and tuck them into bed at night.  I can't tell you how many times we've visited and found them sharing their late dinner with a resident because they thought it looked yummy or wanted to try it.  That says love.  I cannot do the things they do.  I'm not even sure how they do it, but they do it with love.  

Residents:  We love to hug and greet the other residents, kid around with them and learn their stories, some of which are pretty fascinating.  One gentleman fought in the war and was a sniper for the US,  another a bank president, a mom, a business woman who fought to build up and save our little downtown and put it on the map.  We learn who likes chocolate ice cream or strawberry, some love to read and we gather their books and trade them for different ones at a local used book store.  Behind some of those grumpy faces, there are smiles and wonderful people locked away in their fading minds. when we take the dogs, they love it and thank us for bringing "their" dog to see them.  Sometimes, we let the dogs off their leashes and let them roam from resident to resident, gathering pats on the head, which are rewarded with many wags of the tail or a paw on their leg.  

Music     One thing that makes a difference to Momma lately is when I'm able to put her to bed at night (7 pm), music makes her less anxious about me leaving.  I'll pull up Pandora on my phone and play old church hymns.  It's pretty amazing to see this woman who cannot remember very much, suddenly start singing along, tapping her foot, and even smiling.  Tonight, after I placed a CD player in her room, and hit play, the CNA was getting her ready for bed and I  could see her lips moving. Softly singing along with old-time gospel hymns from Alan Jackson  and the Don Marsh Chorus.  She peacefully fell asleep, with her toe moving slowly to the beat, she sang:  
What a Friend we have in Jesus,all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear.... 

So, while Momma can really no long tell us who Jesus is, He is there and He knows her.  And I'm okay with that...

If you would like to read an all out, honest account of a wife struggling with her husband's Early Onset Alzheimers Disease, I'd recommend Missing Jim by Karen.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Falling in Love...

Only and
 Her Guy 

Engagement Pictures
           Fall 2014

My favorite

I know I'm about half a year behind of blogging and posting these, but on Only's 21st birthday, I thought it was a perfect time. Happy Birthday Sweetie!  We sure love you!

Come Saturday Morning...

I think all kids come pre-programmed to wake up early on Saturdays.  Seems that during the week we had to drag them out of bed, literally. Made for very grumpy kids and parents.  But come Saturday morning... Yes, you know what is coming.  The feet would patter quietly down the hall, whisper and giggle at our door,  until somehow they inched their way to our bedside.  Oh keep them shut, don't blink, don't move... Oh, I can feel them staring at me, breathing, bumping the bed...  "Mommy..."  they whisper.  I lay still, fake a snore... Maybe they'll go to the other side and wake their daddy up. 

Bandit and Penny
I just wonder what would happen if parents woke up early on a Saturday, before their kids, sneak into their rooms, and jump on their beds begging them to get up so we could watch some home improvement show or go to the store for groceries, lumber, fabric, or car parts.

We are working towards the Empty Nest.  Youngest is 16 and clearly loves his sleep and it has been many years since we've had someone romping on the bed begging for us to wake up... Until last weekend... *sigh*

5:30 a.m.  Yes, 5:30 a.m., these two goofballs bounded up on our bed with tennis balls and chew tire.  Honey attempted to hide the ball under the covers, but Penny the hound, dove under the covers and frantically began searching. Covers were flying, dogs were growling and barking.  We ended up laughing our heads off.    I've got to teach these dogs that Saturdays are days to sleep in!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Just call me cupcake

We HAD to add some color!
Cupcake stake
It was a celebration time and we NEEDED some kind of fun, celebrating that all four girls made it down the wedding aisle - three flower girls and then there is the bride and her daddy. So how does one go about celebrating this pre-school reason;  Our solution?  make cupcakes!  There were no ordinary cupcakes... They were THEIR cupcakes.  
Poor Miss C couldn't decided which color to decide on
cupcake complete with SPRINKLES

icing on the cupcake, icing in the hair

Hmmm, I'm gotta lick that knife.....

Sprinkles, sprinkles, sprinkles

How many licks to the center of the cupcake?
I licked off the icing - Done!!! 

Yummo!  Starting on my second one and feel

Colorful inside

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Only's Wedding preview teaser

Family Fun
One "last" dinner with the kids

Our blank starting point

Almost  Done

Surrounded by family and friends in prayer

Behind Door #__?
The Barker Girls hard at work creating beautiful bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres (using riffle shells) and more!  They were amazing!!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hold on tight!

Ever been involved in a car chase? Me neither, but maybe the events of the day seem so hectic that all you can do is grasp for something to hold on to?  Lately, it seems that life is going at lighting speed fast - like on a twisty wooden roller coaster. Noisy, fast, and there is no way to get off until the ride is over.  I actually love roller coasters - the thrill of the ups, downs, twist and turns.  

Our daughter, Only, is getting married next Saturday.  Counting less than seven days!  I

Oldest is home from Bible college for a little while.  We are all so joyful to have him back, even it's only for a few weeks.  I love hearing our boys playing games in the living room, laughing and giving each other good natured jabs... 

Hmmmmm,  who is that cute brunett he's got his arm around???  

I'm taking my first ever requested vacation days from work, so we can work on wedding stuff.  Not sure I'm quite mentally ready, but we will see!  She has been working steadily on packing up her room... *Sigh...*   

I've been staying up late working on the flower girl dresses. Still much to do. 
Isn't Miss C so cute?  Want to make a guess  on if she will really make it down the aisle?    Honey has been working on the special rifle bullet boutenerre holders, and the antique doors being used on the stage areas.  
This week, it's blue mason jar, work, and then who knows what... 

Been visiting Mom each day and we have really seen the decline since thanksgiving.   Night nurses are our favorites because they treat each resident on A-Hall (Alzheimer's Hall) like family.  Sometimes we take our German Shepard (everyone thinks se is perfect),  but most times we take a jr  malt from braums.  Anything to try to get her to eat.  

Oh boy, I've suddenly become tired and it's almost midnight!!!  

Till another time,