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getting a clearer view



What will I be when I grow up? I would ask that question of myself when I was 15. Now I ask myself: What will I be when the fog lifts and I am able to see clearly again? At 65 I hope to still have a few good years ahead of me. My Mum was 82 when my Dad died in January 2000 and never got close to being over his death. She was in complete denial for all the years she still retained her memory. She died last November at 94 from the Alzheimers that had been part of her journey for at least the previous 18 years. My story will be different to hers I know. I am younger, stronger and hopefully still have a good brain. But it is easier sometimes to slip into denial than to go forward alone.


This week has been a song in a minor key, nothing much happening, mainly routine. It was a short week of course with Easter Monday a holiday here. I found plenty to do as usual. There is always housework, yard work and the garden. There were visits to the hospital bearing nightdresses I had washed for Mum's friend Robbie, she is in week six of her hospital stay and hopes the specialist will make a decision she can go home maybe at the end of this coming week. She left for a week's holiday in February ansd is still here in April.


Having Robbie to talk to about Mum has helped me a lot. It is hard to set life straight on your own, you do need people to bounce ideas off and she has provided that for me in my grieving over Mum's death. I can now look at Mum's picture and smile. I try to remember a good memory about her every day. I try to see her life prior to Alzheimers as a good life. I know like us all she had her ups and downs, illness, heartache, worries and cares but she and Dad had a lot of laughs and fun together. I know she was proud of me, she only told me so once or twice but I value those memories.


I didn't see my three grandkids last week since our day together last Sunday. However on Monday I did spend the afternoon with Trev and family. We had spicy BBQ'd chicken wings sitting out on their back lawn near the pool. It felt just like when they used to live close by. I also visited this Saturday after I had been to the WAGS meeting and played with Alice, she is so cute. Ray would have adored her as I do. On the way home I go around the roundabout that I used to turn down to go visit Ray in the nursing home. Sometimes I can keep from crying, ofter I can't. I wish I could take Alice to see her "Pa" and place her in Ray's arms. It is such an intense longing that it causes me pain. I know I should go out the other way but it draws me like a magnet. It is so sad.


I hope that as I stabilise I can fill my life with worthwhile occupations and renew my mind and refresh my soul. In the meantime it is one foot in front of the other - at least a forward movement! I was asked to co-ordinate a group for Grandparents as Parents but with weekly meetings and a lot of research to do that is a fairly big workload. I declined as that is not my area of expertise. I really need to work on what I want to do, what I need to do, what I would have to do to achieve what I want to do. If anything. Sometimes it is better to wait and see what life has to offer instead of pre-empting it.


I did reconnect with a cousin ( well fourth cousin) who was looking for pieces of her family tree she seems to have lost after a computer crash last year. I know that feeling. It is bad when you haven't backed up files, photos and other precious memories and that blank screen shows up and it is all lost. I was able to help her a bit but my family tree has never really come together so I need to work on that at some stage too. I hope to do some clarifying when I go to England later in the year. I should be able to quiz some older cousins and see if I can add stories to names and faces


One of my friends suggested that I should take up volunteering again but I want to be stable first.I had thought of volunteering in Mum's Nursing Home as I know the staff and a lot of the residents there. But I want to be stable emotionally, no sense in getting upset when I am supposed to be looking after other people is there? It isn't just other people who wish I was "over it" I am starting to feel that way too, impatient with myself.


A Buddhist friend said I must try to practise self-forgiveness. He thinks some of what I am feeling is "survivor guilt". I think some of it is still the self-blame, did I do all the right things? Then there is the after midnight wondering: did I do all that I could have possibly done? I just miss Ray and in my less conscious moments wish I could somehow resume a life that still has him in it. I know that is a foolish thought but the thought of being alone for the rest of my life is a daunting one. How do you come to grips with that? It is so permanent.


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Sue: Mary Beth thinks along the line of seeing what life brings. She often says "things happen for a reason" meaning events in our lives. And even in her most stressful situations, this has worked well for her. Somehow her stars align and a solution or new pathway offers her some answers. This has never worked for me and certainly now, I can't afford to see what the Gods have in store for us.


But, you are out and about. You have your groups, do visiting and have offers. And just maybe that is the right direction for you - don't push unless you are absolutely certain something grabs you. But leave yourself open to opportunities that you may not have considered and you are doing that just in your daily routines, contacts with others.


I know Julie loves her work at the Consignment Shop and I did so love the Animal Haven. I would love to see you teach - maybe an Adult Ed program one night a week. Maybe take a class or consider a program at the local library. But I think it may just be smart right now to work on your own recovery. And I would definitely listen carefully to your Buddhist friend.


Just getting up and getting through your day, some sense of purpose and reflection. And that in itself is positive. You may come to embrace your independence, but way too early for that. Right now it is finding a comfortable routine and some internal peace. Love, Debbie

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At our ages now getting a clearer view is often times still a little cloudy even on a sunshiny day. I'm in that same boat just hope the water doesn't rise above my head!

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You really are doing so very well, in my opinion. I have complete confidence in you to navigate this major transition with grace and wisdom. I am already seeing it in action. I love that you are willing to wait in the "in-between" time for greater insight into what should be your next step. I do hope you allow whatever time is needed before you plunge in to a more active life. There is still so much to process and your body needs rest. You will know when it is time to move into more activity. As long as there is hesitation, it's not time. I say this to you (perhaps not true for others) because I sense from your writing here that you have had a very active life with many gifts and an abundance of ways to use them. Even in the midst of your own major caregiving responsibilities, you accepted other responsibilities that were a fit for your interests and skills. You are accustomed to being busy and I am sure you will return to that way of living. When it's time.


Many years ago I went through a pretty depressing time. It was hard for me to get enough energy to do anything and my whole world seemed dreary. I'm sure many people go through these times, even without all the stressors we experience from the results of stroke. I remember so clearly one spring morning when it was over. It was really like night and day. Suddenly, the sun was shining and the grass and trees were green and I was in love with life again. I was ready to go forth again with energy and joy. I don't know that everyone (or you) will experience their readiness to leave the "in-between" time so starkly but I was reminded of that time and thought I'd share it.


I don't yet know how you come to grips with being alone. I have always been a loner so, in my mind, I think I'll be okay when/if that time comes for me. But I sense that I have no idea what the aloneness is like when our spouse is gone and we are left to face the world in a new way. Here's what I do believe: you are strong; you are wise; you are supported; you are loved; you will find your way through. ~~Donna

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