Apologia for these journals:
They are not about taking care of a relative with moderate to severe Alzheimer's/senile dementia.
For an explanation of what these journals are about, click the link above.
For internet sources that are about caring for relatives with moderate to severe
Alzheimer's/senile dementia, click through the Honorable Alzheimer's Blogs in my
links section to the right.
On this date and at this time last year...
...my mother's body was leaving our home for the last time.
It's been a year.
Funny, but it wasn't my possible reaction to today that's been capturing my anticipation for the last few months. It was my reaction to yesterday, December 7th, the last, most confusing and most surprising 24 hours of my mother's life. Considering how those hours went down, last year, and how I've been vividly reliving, in memory, the parallel six months of last year, I was not looking forward to yesterday. Our first winter storm of the year started early in the morning yesterday, though, and continued well into last night. If you're a regular reader of these journals, you won't be surprised to learn that I was ecstatic. The storm began as driving rain. Of course, I headed out in it to do errands. Impossible for me not to get right out in a storm. Once the snow started, I was home, snuggling with my cats and watching this area turn into its usual snow storm Christmas card ambiance. Wonderful! It didn't stop me thinking about last year, but the storm overlaid all my thoughts with snow-storm-elation, so I had a good day.
At 2325 last night, just about the time, last year, when I began to wonder if my mother and I were conducting her death watch, the power went out and stayed out until 0805 this morning (minus a few teasing surges every couple of hours). Now, this is something you don't know about me: I LOVE emergency living situations. I was introduced to them, long term, on Guam when I was of elementary school age. We lived through Typhoon Karen in 1962. Yes, (now called) Super Typhoon Karen was so significant that Google lists 247,000 pages that mention it. Wikipedia has an article on it. The tropical storm name "Karen" was retired for the Pacific. I looked through a smattering of first-listed articles to try to determine how long we went without power and running water. No luck. My memory tells me it was at least a few weeks. I can tell you that, for us girls, life was exhilarating during that time, during and after the storm. Our home, which was a sort of pseudo quonset, without the round tunnel construction but made out of corrugated metal and held to the ground with guy wires, sustained some damage but not enough to render it unlivable. We had a constant cook-and-water-boiling fire outside during the day into the evening. My father would pick up drums of water from one of the bases for us. In the area we lived, called "Old NCS", although no longer owned by the military, all houses that weren't quonsets were destroyed, as well as a club, a community church and a weather station near our home; all of them were standard concrete structures. During the days we kids would happily plunder the remains of the destruction. In the evenings we'd prepare and eat dinner al fresco and continue to take our usual evening walks around the area with our intrepid dachshund, Fritz. I loved the experience. I seem to remember that my sisters did, too. I doubt that my parents relished it but I don't remember them ever complaining. You just did what you had to and went on. After that experience, I tend to think I can live through anything.
So, last night was nothing, except that it distracted me from obsessing about Mom's last night on earth. That was nice. Today, with the sun flooding in the front windows, the house warming nicely (it got pretty cold, last night, without power), I'm imagining that the storm was perfectly timed...maybe even "engineered from beyond" to get me through the last 36 hours or so without undue sadness.
Tomorrow, finally (I've postponed the trip twice, once by choice, once by life fiat), assuming I can dig my driveway out before then, I'll be heading down to Chandler for a visit with my nephew and maybe a few more members of that family. I'm looking forward to it. It comes at a good time.
I decided not to spend Thanksgiving day or Christmas day with family. Once I'd made plans, I began to feel that, this year especially, I wanted to reinstitute my usual habit of spending the holidays alone, which I haven't done for 15 years. I've been looking forward to it. Thanksgiving went well. I expect Christmas to go well, too. I'm still visiting family, just not right on the holidays.
I haven't yet put up my favorite fiber-optic tree. I expect to erect it once I return from Chandler on Thursday. I'm looking forward to that, too. I haven't decided whether to decorate it. Mostly, I want to have it throbbing and glowing in the living room in the dark. It has always been one of my favorite holiday displays.
It's been a year. It doesn't seem like that long. The worst of the remembering is over. In retrospect, it hasn't been that bad...emotional but not devastating.
Think I'll go out and survey the snow; get an idea of how much shoveling I might have to do to make sure I can get out of my driveway tomorrow.
All material, except that not written by me, copyright at time of posting by Gail Rae Hudson