Category Archives: challenges

The Beautiful Butterfly

Just about everyone I know is aware that I come from a dysfunctional family it was no secret since they all did come out of a dysfunctional family too. Not one of my friends knew anyone that came from a family that was functional, behaved in a normal manner; whatever that means. Even now I know only a couple of people that came from a loving home with two parents. There is no need to talk about living in an abusive home because everyone that resided in that situation knows all the common threads that patch their lives together, gives them a warped sense of humor and an outlook on life that cannot be understood by someone that has not been there.

There was this sad little girl. She was quiet and afraid to speak above a whisper for fear she would say or do something wrong and that no one would love her. In fact, she thought she was totally unlovable just because she was here and in everyone’s way. Her feelings set her apart from others and that made her know she didn’t belong anywhere. Sooo…

Once upon a time there was little green caterpillar that crawled on all of its many legs and just went through life silently without anyone noticing that this little creature was even there sharing life with them.

This ugly little green caterpillar was afraid of everything and always imagined the worst of things. I’m not sure how that came to be, but I only know that’s how it was. This ugly caterpillar shared a house with a mother, and four siblings. Its bedroom was in the attic and a chimney ran straight through the middle of the space. The brother slept on one side of the room and it slept on the other. There was a window in the wall between our beds and there was a huge oak tree in our neighbor’s yard, which they only knew as an acorn tree because of all the acorns that fell throughout the yard. In the summer it provided shade for their swings and that was nice, and at night it looked like a fluffy cloud that gently swayed from side to side as if it were dancing. The ugly green caterpillar loved watching the dance until it drifted gently off to sleep.

In the winter it was a totally different scene on the ceiling of that room. At night in the winter the limbs were bare and when the cold wind blew, the branches looked like crooked arms that danced wildly across the ceiling from my brother’s side to mine. I remember staring at the ceiling for what seemed an eternity, eyes wide open and remembering the Wizard of Oz with scenes of the flying monkeys. Oh, I just knew that they were going to get me and hurt me in some way. So I would stare at the ceiling with eyes wide open afraid to close them lest they come and grab me taking me far away from home. My heart would beat hard and fast while I shook from head to toe. I stayed that way until my eyes would close heavy with sleep too heavy to stay open, then sleep came only to bring on nightmares of what my thoughts had been just a short time ago.

I spoke very softly, hardly above a whisper and I remember people always getting closer to me and turning their heads’ always trying to hear me better. I remember the teacher always saying, “What? What did you say? Speak up; I can’t hear what you are saying.” It was quite embarrassing because everyone was looking at me and they laughed which made me even more embarrassed. Sometimes I wonder how I ever lived through some of those days. I was always wishing I could just disappear into thin air never to be seen again. I suppose every one of us goes through something in their childhood that was embarrassing in some way.

When I grew to be a teenager I fared no better. I did not fit in where ever I went and I’d lose friends as soon as I made them but never knew why. I was good at sports and swimming and was able to beat everyone in my class at all the sports and gymnastics we did. No one liked me because of that either. I just happened to be better at sports than anything else and I enjoyed them immensely. I loved going to gym class and it was the only class I was consistently an A student throughout my school years. By my teens I had learned to speak louder than I did when I was just a bit smaller. It still wasn’t loud enough because people had to still ask me what I just said, and I still stuck out like a sore thumb.

I had no sense of style and was lost in a sea of young adults not knowing how to behave since they all were lost and trying to find themselves within this sea of teens. Oh well, I got to graduate finally and now I thought that I would suddenly fit in somewhere that I didn’t fit in so far. I still was not comfortable in life or even in my own skin. I wanted out of the house. I wanted to be on my own but my parents wouldn’t let me so I resorted to the very thing that most girls resort to so they can leave home. My marriage was no better than the school years and I did nothing but cry the whole first year of our marriage. It only lasted another five years, and I left.

It was then that this little green caterpillar went into a cocoon and hid as if in a safe place to grow and change…Then I did something even worse than marrying the man I just left. I married someone much worse.

I finally started to change, but it wasn’t for the better. I was now driving an 18 wheeler across the country by myself and learning new things and acting quite differently just to survive in a man’s world. Oh I learned how to speak up, stand up for myself, and cuss as loud and as filthy as the next trucker. I’d stand up and stare down anyone who dared to flash me a threatening glance. I was sick of being told I didn’t belong out there by myself and that I couldn’t handle it. I was determined to show everyone I was just as good as they were. So I worked twice as hard to get half the credit that a man gets. I worked around the clock to get this load where it was going at the time the customer was told it would be there. If I had to drive 24 hours straight I got the load there on time.

The little green caterpillar, which had seen herself as being ugly, and unwanted, had gone into a cocoon to hide and change. She felt even uglier than before. She got tired of the life she was leading. Now she didn’t even like herself and she wanted to hide from herself. This wasn’t her at all; she wanted the kind of life she had before. So she became calm, and stayed that way as she began to work inside that cocoon. Once she had changed quite a bit, she married again. She married into a calm life for a number of years. I found that I hadn’t changed as much as I wanted because I was able to manipulate this man into whatever I wanted so I always had my own way. When he passed away after a number of years, I decided I would not need anyone. I didn’t need anyone and I did not want anyone else in my life. My mind was made up.

Not too much time had gone by before one day a man began a conversation with me and in a very short time he just swept me off my feet. I knew that this was different. I knew that with the changes I was now making, the way I now saw life, the way I felt, (35 years younger again), the person he is, just everything was now different than anything I had ever known. This sweet charming man was very different, and she suddenly knew that even though she was nearing 70, she knew so positively that the best was yet to come.

Now, this charming man that found me and swept me off my feet is watching me change further.  When I looked in the mirror I could see color. Things were no longer black and white, a beautiful yellow butterfly is what I am and I am ugly no more. I am and will be beautiful for the rest of my life thanks to the charming man that swept me off my feet. He holds me in his hand so gently so as not to crush me for I was very fragile. He looks at me and he is in love with the most beautiful creature he has ever seen. Now I am becoming wiser and stronger as my wings become more experienced. I am happy now and am eager to grab the world by the tail. Now I am embarking on a new life where everything is different clean, and clear. For now I can see color where I could see none before. Yes, I may now be 70, but the best is just on the horizon.

Still My Charming Man

             Still My Charming Man

 

I am sometimes overwhelmed by the fact that he is even in my life. His capacity for love seems unending and his forgiveness for mistakes is truly amazing; when he forgives, the mistakes are totally forgotten and the subject is closed. When I used to sit down and write the qualities that I would love to see in a prospective marriage mate, I never thought of many of the qualities he possesses. These very ones are what I have needed all my life and I’ve known it but didn’t know how to find a man with them and didn’t believe that I deserved anything this fine, so I never even looked.

Mothers should find some system that works between them and their young daughters to let them see that they have choices in life and they need the Continue reading Still My Charming Man

In closing this series

Not that I fear death nor do I forget that this is a sensitive subject. This is particularly something that is on my mind since my husband passed away on December 7,  2017. There is only so much that one person can do by themselves and everyone expects them to hold it together. My stepson and a brother-in-law have been helping me with the details.

Well, we are burying him in his hometown of Fairbury, NE two days after the memorial, those were his last wishes. Therefore since I don’t have a car anymore, and I was in an extreme state of emotional turmoil these were the reasons that kept me from making another simple decision. Whether I could drive myself up there and/or stand this emotionally, I needed someone to tell me what to do. I could not make another decision on my own. My wonderful step son added his opinion and tried to help me make a decision.

I finally did make the decision not to go. I knew Continue reading In closing this series

Feelings

This is another entry about the feelings my husband hides within his heart and memory. He is weighed down with dementia and at times, he believes he is carrying this burden by himself.

He’s not alone, for this is a two-person journey from beginning to end. What I’ve seen in Bill is the sadness of losing each skill, each thought, each piece of him to oblivion. I’m not morose, or a negative person, but this is a sad condition of the mind. Dementia is a condition of the mind that two people have to deal with. Each must adjust and help one another cope with the stages that must take place.

Continue reading Feelings

Not much difference

This will be a shorter post because I have been tending to Bill. I let this go a long time because of that, but I will be catching up soon I hope.

Let’s see, I left him at the memory ward, which was not necessary for Bill to be there, but I needed a break from the frenzied life we had been living. With all the doors slamming shut, and only small windows opening, I needed the break. Therefore, when I left him there, I went to NE, then Denver. I visited with old friends, but by the time I got home ten days later, I needed to rest up. Continue reading Not much difference

Mom’s Alzheimer’s

When mom started doing strange things, we sort of laughed at her, as she herself did along with us. She was living with my brother in his house at this time. However, things didn’t stay funny, they got worse, and things had to change. It was up to my sister and me to do something.

Let’s go back to when we started noticing things that we all thought were funny. We would find her keys in the refrigerator, an item that she misplaced we found in the back of a closet. That day she may have driven 3 or 4 blocks out of her way and didn’t know why. She forgot to pay bills so Lynn and I started doing her shopping

Then things got worse. She was going to a friend’s house that was close to mine. The nursery at the corner called me and said that my mother drove in a ditch in front of the nursery. Being concerned, I told them I would be right over to get her. They told me the forklift got her out and she seemed dazed. I asked to speak to her and they told me that she’s not there, she was gone. NO…NO…NO I thought to myself why did you let her leave I wanted to say but didn’t. Instead, I got in my car and went looking for her myself. When I couldn’t see her on any road, I went home and started calling her on the phone. It took her three hours to get home. We only lived 30 minutes to her house.

The second incident put her in far more danger than the first one. She went to NH to visit her sister and spread dad’s ashes at his former college. I got a call at midnight from my aunt Margie in NH. She further told me that when she had called and didn’t know where for sure Margie told her to ask someone and then mom said that she was in some town on the shoreline which was 200 miles out of the way. Mom said that she was going to stay at the B&B she was at and would drive to her house in the morning. Mom got there the next day after noon. She had been a long way from Alstead.

Definitely, we knew that something was wrong and it was time to find out what. Lynn found an expert in geriatrics who was teaching classes in Alzheimer’s and Dementia at the University of Colorado which is where mom went for all her doctors. He asked if we could hang around for part of his lecture so he could show an example of an Alzheimer’s patient. My sister and I agreed. When he introduced her, he mentioned a couple of symptoms. Did he have to point out that she looked a little lost and scared?

Then my brother had us all over for a picnic. He asked my mom to go get the broom for him. She got to the top of the stairs and began to get that lost look on her face. Meanwhile, I went upstairs to get something for my brother and my mother was standing in the middle of the small hallway at the entrance muttering that she was afraid to ask Ronny what she was supposed to get. I yelled down at him to find out what mom was supposed to get. Ronny said impatiently that he already told her 3 times a broom and I pointed to where it was. In the meantime, I had gone and got what Ronny wanted. So here, our mother was handing Ronny a bag for trash. Ronny told me that she was deliberately trying to make him crazy. I tried to tell him it was the Alzheimer’s and she couldn’t help her forgetfulness and wasn’t trying to make him crazy.  He said that Lynn and I had to move her out of his house and that he couldn’t take anymore of her pretending. Again, I tried to explain that she can’t help that she forgets. It’s not a game or trying to make you nuts, but if you really want her out, we will move her.

Lynn and I started looking for a place for her to live and I (for lack of anyone wanting the job) got to be her POA. Lynn found one right away which was a new place. It was a one-bedroom senior’s only apartment building. The manager told us straight up that this was not assisted living and there’s not always someone there so she has to get things done and if she gets a lot worse, she will need assisted living arrangements. Therefore, the long road begins. In 1999, Bill and I decided to move to Missouri. Somewhere quiet and settle down there. You know, someplace with a couple of acres. We had bought a 4plex in Joplin and the first floor was empty. Until we sold our house in CO, we had nowhere to go, so we stayed on the first floor of our 4plex.

We had been out here for 6 months and Lynn called and said that she wanted mom to come out here. Lynn insisted that she didn’t want to take care of her anymore. Therefore, I went back to Denver got mom and brought her out here. The first place I looked was perfect for her. The staff was wonderful, the administrator involved with the patients, and the food just like mom cooked. The décor was classy.

Each and every day I went to see mom and spent four to five hours with her. We’d read, put puzzles together, and talked. I got to know mom as an adult instead of a mother. Getting to know her as an adult was a privilege that showed me why people loved her so much.

Then in 2008, I fell and broke my shoulder, had to put mom in the nursing home, and Bill had already been diagnosed with dementia and so begins the long journey …

Lurch

Ever played dodgeball? Well, we played it a lot at lunchtime break in elementary school. That was grades one through six for you youngsters. Now mind you, I was a shy child and always got picked last for any team but I did play and I was good at most sports. Still, my school years were not my best years.

It was me that was usually chosen first in dodgeball. Believe me; it was worse than being picked last on team sports. Chosen first in this game meant being the first one everybody threw the ball at. Oh come on, this meant low man on the totem pole and the boys threw hard enough, but the girls matched and sometimes beat the velocity of the ball.

Here I am in my hand me down dress that I hadn’t grown into yet, and bubble gum still stuck in my hair from the night before. I closed my eyes and just knew that this was going to hurt. The first throw made me lurch forward and I fell in the dirt. The second throw hit me before I got up and somehow landed under my dress. Of course, that made my dress fly up and show my panties which made everyone laugh. Therefore, with a heart full of indignity I took my rightful place in the circle.

I got to throw the ball first and I missed. Even though I was able to regain my dignity, I caught the ball again. When I did anything, I really put all my energy into it and play my best. I guess that can be expected growing up in a family of tomboys, and being raised in a neighborhood of all boys. I had to play tough. The trouble was that while I was a tomboy and could climb trees with the best of them, I still threw like a girl. My turn to throw again landed smack dab in the middle of a girl’s stomach. Noticing that she didn’t even move when I threw the ball, I knew that I was being set up.

Back in the circle again, I lurched to one side and then the other trying not to get hit. The next thing I knew, I was eating dirt again. Of course, that is when the bell rang and playtime was over. I stood up, brushed the dirt off me and once again tried to regain my composure. Once inside I breathed a sigh of relief. Another day of indignity put behind me. I shuddered to think of what tomorrow might bring.

Of course, I wasn’t raised in a good environment growing up. The five of us would have been removed by social services if raised in today’s society. I was picked on a lot by the boys in the neighborhood and always felt as if my heart lurched backward every time I would get a cruel comment. I’d head home each time but stopped crying as I neared house. Unfortunately, I would end up crying before bedtime got there, and even more when I went to bed.

Occasionally I remember those school days. I don’t look at them as being too terrible. I survived into adulthood. When I got into my 30’s, I got five years of therapy. Believe me, once I understood that when a person becomes an adult, they do so by letting go of the past and taking responsibility for the adult you want to be. If we don’t do that, then our childhood continues to rule our lives and we never mature.

 

 

Shimmer

There was a time I was shy and it was in the childhood years. The feelings within me were too much for me to bear alone, but alone I did bear them. I was only five or six years old. It’s truly strange that they were so severe that I wanted to go to sleep and not wake up. I wanted to die but I didn’t know how to do that. If I could just disappear, I would have been happy. I never could do that either. Continue reading Shimmer

A letter to my stepson

 

 

My dear Stepson,

From the first day you came to live with us when you were eight years old, and the cutest little boy I had ever seen. You looked like your father, walked like him, talked like him. You followed after him all the time. Your brother had come to live with us at the same time. I’ll have to admit, we had some issues settling in and thinking of us as a family. I’m not sure that either you or your brother ever did.

I know you remember the house we lived in when your dad and I were married. Remembering one instance still brings tears to my eyes, and that is when your brother got up on the roof to help your father repair some shingles. I was standing there when you asked if you could help too. Your father said “No you can’t, just your brother can.” I saw the tears welling up in your eyes as you looked at me with disappointment on your face. Do you remember what I said? I do. Continue reading A letter to my stepson

End of phase

End of retirement phase

 

Along with dementia comes a loss of many things in our lives. When one party is sick, and the other has dementia, the medial bills stack up fast on the credit cards. With medical and bills piled up, something has to give.

Therefore, another phase of our lives ends after retirement. We had to sell our beautiful four-bedroom home on five acres. One reason was the medical bills that stacked up leading us to bankruptcy which put an end to our good credit we had at the time. Alzheimer’s had resided with my mother for 15 years by now. Dementia had been diagnosed in my husband Bill’s life. No more trips, no more dropping everything and going somewhere. Yes, the carefree phase of our lives had slammed the door quickly.

We had entered a new phase. It was one of high medical debt, and maxed out credit cards. There was no end in sight to this new phase either, especially after I fell and broke my shoulder. Necessity left me with five surgeries in the first year alone. My mother had to be moved to a nursing center and I still needed to be with my mom often. My mom needed me in these last of her days, even if she didn’t recognize me. I had to be sure that she still was taken care of properly. I had to take her laundry home and wash it because her clothes disappeared when they went to the laundry there. Dementia in the first stage was waiting at home for me.

It does sound like I’m whining, but I’m not. My mom died a few years ago. My husband’s dementia is in the second stages, but I don’t mind. Our bills are under control and we now live in a one-bedroom apartment. I wouldn’t say that life is good, but for me it is. I still have my husband home with me. I rejoice each day that we are able to communicate and be understood by each other. That is a joy in my life.

In the early years of our marriage, he had to care for me. He did it so lovingly and never complained. He was there for each medical emergency, and each surgery. Now it is my privilege to care for him. I hope that I can do that with the same love and gentleness that he has done for me all these years. So now begins the final phase of our lives and I will still thank our heavenly father for the Kingdom we pray for, the Kingdom that will rule over the entire earth, (Rev 21:4) and tells of no more death or tears.

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