Chapter 24


Life wasn’t getting any easier. I decided Al needed to be home where his familiar doctors were. Al and I were not crazy about this idea. We both didn’t really want to walk back into memories that upset Al and made me sad.

The house listed and before we realized it we were packing up rooms, getting a moving van and were headed back to Indiana, our home town. There was really no excitement between the two of us as we saw the Warsaw sign come into view.

It was late and we were both tired from the travel and all the things that go along with moving. Because of the friction that was heavy in the extended family, Al and I didn’t let anyone know we were coming home except my kids.

My son was waiting on me to let me in to our new home. The movers were tired but went straight to work unloading the truck and setting up our beds. I believe Al and I finally flopped into bed around 4am.

The next day I wanted to pull my hair out as I looked around our home and saw box after box. Al and I  both needed to take morning medications so we dug clothing out of our  over night bags, got dressed and went into town for breakfast.

It didn’t take long while eating that Al and I started talking about the past. Had people’s views changed while we had been gone those few years? Was the talk about who was to get what past now that the estate had been closed long ago?

As we ate, we watched the news on the overhead TV and watched cars go by. Afterwards we went back to our home and Al started putting his room together. He complained of being tired and sore. I told him, ” Just do what you can bud. I will help you with everything else.”

He seemed alright with that. He went for his prize coca-cola and started setting it around. Then he got his clothes out and put what he could in his drawers. He cleared off his bed and laid down to watch TV.

That was fine with me. He didn’t feel well and yet he still helped. I spent most of the day busy putting things away. I started with the bathrooms and then the kitchen. I made sure that things we needed were unpacked first. Dishes, glasses, silverware, toilet paper, bath towels and wash cloths.

By the end of the day I was exhausted but still not finished; but at least I had a path to walk through. Al and I ordered a pizza for supper and had it delivered. For the rest of the evening we watched TV and went to bed early.

The next day was more unpacking. Within three days I had the place pretty presentable. I then started on the projects for Al. I called his former doctors and had records sent here from Florida. I called a company that Al used to work through to see about a Day Program.

By the end of that day we had scheduled appointments set with our new family doctor, Al’s old  heart doctor and Cardinal Center, the company Al had been associated with for years.

We went to supper at Golden Coral. Al loved eating there because it was buffet and he could make all his own choices. Al did pretty good walking. His top half of his body leaned to the side and his total side definitely was weaker, but he got what he wanted to eat all by himself.

As the days moved forward we discovered through the heart doctor that Al had suffered what is called a TIA, a silent stroke. This is what caused his upper half to lean to one side.

http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/AboutStroke/TypesofStroke/TIA/TIA-Transient-Ischemic-Attack_UCM_310942_Article.jsp

The heart doctor said for the damages that Al had suffered in his heart attack and the Angina he had now, he was in pretty good shape. She said he would not be able to keep us with most people and he would tire more easy than others. I was happy with this news.

The family doctor took Al’s vitals and had his records from where we had lived here before and his records from Florida. He asked many questions such as how was Al feeling on a daily basis, how was his appetite, did he suffer constipation, did he take vitamins.

After having an hour meeting the doctor ordered a CBC,(complete blood count) for Al and said to come back the following week.

We had only seen one neurologist when we had lived here prior but I had actually forgotten that so a new doctor was ordered. We went to see him a couple of weeks later.

We spent the in between hours enjoying the fall weather and looking at pumpkin decorations and houses that were fixed up for Halloween. We decorated our own home for the holidays and soon drifted between doctor visits and the thoughts of Christmas and snow. Neither of us were looking forward to that at all. I think this is what we missed the most about Florida, no snow.

We ate out a few times a week. My son told Al and me of car shows that were coming up. I decided to take Al to see them and before long Al had decided to add a new interest to his hobby; car collecting.

My son loved Chevy Bel Airs. He had one that was aqua blue and Al fell in love with it. Al started collecting these same type of cars. If he could not find one he would purchase an old car of another model. He loved the police cars from the era of Andy Griffith. By the end of Al’s life his room was filled up with these two special cars and many others along with his coca cola that he found.

Lessons In Every Situation, Roar Into 2014


2013 for me. I don’t remember a whole lot. Life seems quite a blur. Al was in the nursing home from January until June. I remember plowing through snow and cold to go see him. I never wanted him to think I didn’t care.

Groceries were not bought much. The bills remained the same most of the year. The TV shows got sillier. None of them really grabbed my attention except American Idol. Somehow looking forward to two nights a week to this show made the winter months go by faster.

June came and Al came home and then life was still not that bad. Life is never as bad as we think it is in the moment we are living it. When we move on down the road and are faced with different challenges, we sometimes look back and think, I wish I could go back to that time.

For a while I was still able to get Al in the car. We went to some antique shops. We went out to eat. I was even able to take him to one more big car show. We went places and Al was placed in an adult program where he could socialize with others. Life seemed pretty good.

Then it was like a blink in an eye life began to change for the worse. Al’s MSA (Multiple System Atrophy) seemed to really kick in. No longer was I able to get him in the car alone, and with no help we had to give up the outings. Life became a little more quiet for him and me.

In no time at all Hospice was involved. Al went from being able to shave himself to me shaving him. He no longer could brush his teeth, I did it for him. He went from finger foods to some help with eating to now; which I feed him all of his food and drinks.

He went from a being able to stand with assistance in his wheelchair to his legs no longer holding him up. Today, he is bed bound. He gets all of his baths in bed. Only a month ago he was still able with lots of help to get a shower.

Now he stares at the TV when his vision will focus. His eyes water, his fingers and hands are locked in a prayer position. His legs are curled in a fetal position, not bad, but getting there.

Instead of him and I decorating for Halloween and Christmas, I did it alone. Al was in the hospital during Thanksgiving and he slept through Christmas. Family came but Al remained in bed.

I have learned to lean on God more and more through this illness of Al’s. I have been angry at God, screamed at him, asked for forgiveness for not being as faithful as I could. I have learned to lean on others for help, such as Hospice, homemakers and ministers.

I have learned who my true friends are and who I can count on when in need. I have learned that I have a huge support system with many people on the internet. I have been shown how many care about Al by all the cards and gifts that have been sent.

I have been taught that to gain strength, all I have to do is pray about it. I have learned how to cook for one and puree for Al. My laundry has doubled, cleaning is still going strong. I am tired and now try to nap when I can. I have learned that the house will always be waiting here for me. The dirt is going anywhere.

I am glad that this year is ending tonight. I would not really want to relive it again. I am hopeful that things will be brighter in 2014. I pray that the Obama Healthcare works itself out.

I hope more lean on their own strength and realize they have more to offer this world than they think. I hope Al finds peace and is reunited with our parents. I pray that I will be able to move on and remember Al with smiles. I hope jobs pick-up and crime is less. Schools offer the basics and we have less drop-outs than ever.

My family will expand by two this new year. I wish for my own family good health and common sense, so that they can survive yet another year. Life isn’t easy, it won’t be from this day on. But with careful consideration and a loving Mom standing behind them, they too will find what they seek.

I hope that each of you stay safe tonight. If you are going to drink, please don’t drive. Beware of your surroundings. Don’t be too proud to take a taxi home if you need to. Tell you children you love them. Hug your parents. Stay positive. We are in this together no matter how many miles separate us. It is up to you and me my friends, to make or break this world.

So to each one of you, Happy New Year, 2014.

P.S. Don’t forget to change your calendars and write 2014 on your checks tomorrow.

 

 

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Christmas Gone, New Year Song


Christmas Gone, New Year Song

Christmas is gone

No more songs

No more lights

Oh so bright

No more foods

That were so good

Unwanted pounds

Sneaking all around

Memories dear

I will hold all year.

Now another night

Where some will fight

Others party all night

But I will remain

Sober and sane

I’ll watch the big ball fall

And then I shall shout and call

Happy New Year 2014 to all.

Written by,

Terry Shepherd

12.30.2013

Written by,

Terry Shepherd

Here are a few photos of what I see left of Christmas from within my home.

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Teens Who Harm Others


When I was a teen I did the teen things. I wasn’t a terrible brat but still, I was a teen. I remember drinking my first taste of wine standing in an alley with my best friend while trick-or treating. Yes, I still did the get the treat things in my teens. I really didn’t go to the door, instead I was a teen stepping out of my guide lines set by my parents.bottle

When I was old enough to drive I would put on a Halloween mask and drive  up and down the streets in our city. I thought it was so much fun getting the looks from older drivers.

I once went to Fort Wayne with some friends. I wasn’t ever to go out-of-town and I was also to tell my parents where I was going. When we do something we know is wrong it always comes back to bite us in the ass, and it did.

I was at the busy intersection at a stop light and it was dark. The laughter from inside the car immediately stopped when all of a sudden steam came barging out from under the hood of the car. I had broken a hose.

I immediately froze and became serious as I was trying to figure out a kind way to call my parents and tell them what happened and where I was. Luck was on my side as one of the guys knew enough about cars to temporarily fix it until I got back home.

So I did the teen thing but never anything bad. So you can imagine how angry I was at the local news on TV tonight when a family who loved to over-decorate outdoors for Christmas. When they woke up this morning they were so sad when they discovered that teens had ripped apart so many of those expensive decorations.

Stomping on lights, smashing Santa and Frosty the Snowman. Tearing lights out of the trees and busting them. What a very expensive teen episode that was. I felt so bad for that family.

They enjoyed having people drive by and being entertained by their hundreds of lights only to have them blown out by teen pranks. I don’t get it. What was the ending goal that was on the positive side?

Why weren’t those teens home going to bed so they could get up and go to work? I was an ornery teen but I also knew if I did something this horrendous, my parents would punish me so badly it would be weeks before I was let out of the house.

I won’t try to place blame here on anyone. I will just say that the word respect for other people has been tossed out the window in the past few years. What a sad situation this was.

Here is a similar video of what that house looked like that got torn apart.

Same-O


Is it because it is the end of the year? Or is it because the hype of exciting and fun days of Christmas is gone? Or maybe it is because Al‘s illness just reminds me of an energised bunny; keeps going and going.energizer bunny

Is it because it is cold and dreary outside? Wow, too many questions. Now let’s look at the flip side of that coin.coin

The facts are I am sick at looking at myself in the mirror. No real hairstyle anymore. No cute clips, no real make-up.

Same old clothes, same slippers, same old thoughts.

Now this sounds like a woman who has been in a pile of knee-deep crap for some time.

I think this woman needs a change of pace. But how can I do that? I need, I want, I yearn. I sound like a whiny toddler. I am restless I guess. For years, and months, weeks and days, life is going in one direction.

A direction that will bring nothing more than sadness, tears, and a void in my heart. I want to stop it. I want to flash back to earlier times. I want to pull my hair out.

No wait! I want to roll my hair up, put the make-up on. Squeeze my fat feet into those four-inch spikes. Put that mini over my plump thighs. Put on a push-up bra and pretend I have something to show.

How about some long glue-on french nails? Some plum lipstick and some gorgeous blush. Maybe I will even get in my trunk and pull out those fish net panty hose that were so popular back in my day. What do you think? Do you think I am ready for a change?

Who’s with me? Paris, Hawaii, The Bahamas? Oh wait, I don’t have any money.

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Weekly Writing Challenge; DPCHALLENGE


http://jackiespeaksit2014.wordpress.com

#DP Challenge

This week, weave a story about yourself told through the lens of your past December 23rds.

When I think back to past Christmas years on the 23, I get mixed memories. Smiles, sadness can appear and then fade a way as I go year to year.

Christmas as a kid was always the same. Wonderful, magical, excitement! Those were the days.

Christmas as a married adult meant working over-time, need of more money, lots of presents under the tree for our children. Giggles and screams of delight as wanted gifts were opened.

A divorce and remarriage on the rebound means sadness to me. A husband who made life hard to exist. Him hiding when people came to our house. Embarrassment, replaced delight of seeing people. Wanting to get the day over with. No money, very few gifts. It was always a sad time for me and an angry time as well. I saved my little bit of money I earned each week and finally was freed from this relationship.

The loss of parents that you love leaves the biggest gap in your heart. Christmas joy is ripped a way. Tears and sorrow replace all other feelings. Robotic movements kick in as you try so hard to carry on in a normal way that Christmas is supposed to be. Always glad when it is over, but sad when my kids leave to go back to their homes.

Christmas this year I dreaded with all that I have. Excitement over my kids being here. Sadness over wondering if Al would make it to the holiday. Thankful he was here, sad he slept through it. Not as many gifts but gifts that were wanted and enjoyed. Plenty of food and good conversation took the sting out of what was happening in my brother’s bedroom.

I am glad Christmas is over. My tree is down and the house looks more back to normal. Al is still here having bad days, and some better days mixed in. I treasured each moment with my entire family, knowing in my heart that there will never be a Christmas like this again.

Christmas will come once again. The 23rd will arrive without delay. People will come and some will never be seen again, but hopefully the future will open new doors. New memories and I will once again smile, remembering the pasts and looking forward to the future.

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Christmas, 2013


I didn’t really think that Al would be here today. For Christmas and yesterday he was very quiet, refusing to eat. All signs pointed to he was leaving for heaven.  I was actually counting down the hours mentally. I was emotionally crying.

What held me together was my children. Without realizing, them being here Christmas Day and the day after saved my sanity. He is here today, and has been very chatty. He is confused. I showed him his favorite photos of family members and he didn’t recognize any of them.

He has held his cars today and has not taken a nap all day.

We got some more Christmas Cards and I wanted to thank them for helping Al’s Christmas.

Lezlie S. from Indiana,thank-you for the adorable hand-made card. I love it!

Teresa F. from N.C. thank-you from the two of us.

Julie G. from Australia, thank-you very much. The card is adorable.

Lise and Louis A. from Ontario. Thank-you for the two cards and the nice letter.

Tobi B. from California, bless you for the awesome card.

From Fischer, MN, I want to thank-you for sending Al a card. Unfortunately, there was no card inside. I don’t know what happened to it, but thank-you for thinking of Al.

Here are some photos of grandchildren and my children and family.

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The Best Day Ever


http://dailypost.wordpress.com, DP, Daily Prompt

You get to enjoy the best day ever — describe in detail what that means to you. Where are you? What will you do? What’s the weather like? What will you eat? Who will you see?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us INDULGENT.

Let’s forget reality for today. Let’s pretend that every wish I wanted does exist and come true.

Today is Christmas. The lights are twinkling on the seven-foot tree. Christmas music is playing in the background. The scented candles are lit. The scene is lit and I am standing calm in the doorway. I have my velvet red dress on with matching necklace and earrings. My shoes are the matching color of my dress.

I open the front door and welcome with a big smile my family and hug each one as they enter my home.

Everyone comments about the delicious smells that are drifting their way from the kitchen. They each place their wrapped gifts under the tree. There is no worry from me this year that all here will not walk a way without a few gifts and goodies of their own.

Al is in his recliner watching The Christmas Story. I call out to him and he comes out to the kitchen with the biggest smile. He hugs me and thanks me for making this such a wonderful Christmas for him.

Everyone is seated in their marked seats at the big dining room table. Candles glowing bouncing off the crystal glasses. Festive red and green napkins hug the bright red tablecloth.

The conversation is awesome. Everyone is on their best behavior. The food is delicious. The desserts are eaten. Afterwards all jump in to help clear the table and do the dishes as the kiddies are mingling around the Christmas tree with squeals of delight on opening their gifts.

I take lots of photos so that I may share them with my friends here on WP and FB. The day lingers and the memories I am building are that this is the best Christmas ever.

But the bubble is burst and I sit here in the silence on Christmas morning. I haven’t heard any stirring from my brother and I fear just a little to walk in his room. For he has repeatedly told me he will not be here for Christmas.

But hopefully I will walk in and wish him a Merry Christmas. I can hope that he smiles back at me in silence. I will bathe him in bed. Place him in a dry brief, position him on his side and turn the movie on which has to be The Christmas Story.

I will go to the kitchen and find some clear liquids for his breakfast since yesterday he vomited three times. Thick mucus is building up in him and he is choking. Swallowing as of yesterday has become a very difficult thing for him.

I will sit with him and feed him and give him his medicines so his pain is lessened. Afterwards I will swab his mouth and shave his face. I will go to the silent kitchen and begin the preparations for the noon meal. My memories will come alive as I relive past Christmas Days when Mom and Dad were not in heaven.

My son will arrive shortly before noon and they will  play with their children while I cook. Silent tears will fall for what once was. My children in our home. Al not in his bed dying. Laughter and music filling the air.

Dinner is served. Some conversation will be done. Al will be in his room and I will make the best of this situation with God‘s help. Gifts are opened and then they leave for another day of sharing with their extended family.

I look at the mess and I check on Al. I begin clean up duty as it won’t be long until the aunt I haven’t spoken to in six years comes to visit Al at his request. I pray that the visit is nothing less than good.

I ponder on what time my daughter will arrive on Thursday and begin to prepare for the new day.

Merry Christmas Al, Merry Christmas my children where ever you are. I miss you Mom and Dad. I wish things were different.

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Al’s Requests


Hi my friends. Today was a little different from other days. Al woke up after a restless night. He seemed alright but soon after broke into an ocean of tears. This went on for over two hours. He was asking for forgiveness, I don’t know why. He was naming off relatives, phone numbers, old jobs.

It was like he was revisiting a movie of his own life. He sobbed harder than I have ever seen him. It scared me, I couldn’t help it. I had never seen him like this before. I called the minister from Hospice and he paid a visit.

Whenever this minister, Bob, comes Al calms down, and once again this happened. Ever since the minister left Al seems to have accepted his own death nearing. I was told that Al is in the process of dying, what ever that means.

Al asked for different  people. He started off by asking for my son, who came to see him. The two relatives in our lives that although I have forgiven, still make me very sensitive when I hear their names.

But Al was adamant about speaking to them. I finally gave in for Al’s peace of mind. I located the phone number in Florida and will make that phone call in the morning. The other relative I called tonight and Al was able to speak to her over the phone. The aunt is also paying a visit to Al within the next two days.

Al cried like a baby upon hearing her voice. After the phone call ended he told me that this was his last request. I feel it is nearing, a gut feeling I have. Changes have happened. Al’s tremors have ended.

His eye lids no longer work. The MSA has taken the eye lid muscle and weakened it. He can open them in the mornings but by afternoon he can no longer do this. He has told me how much he loves me and Rhino.

He has made many comments about how I will be after he is gone and I have answered him as honestly as I can, letting him know I will be alright. It is as if he is saying goodbye. His breathing has changed. He struggles and his swallowing has been effected. I can see that he is struggling to swallow anything.

I pray with all my heart that he is taken soon. My heart will break into pieces. I will miss him terribly, but he will be out of pain. He keeps telling me his arms are glued down, but the truth is, the brain is not telling the arms to move so they seemed locked along with his body contracting.

The only person he has been asking for is our half-sister. Although I have pleaded with her to come see him, I can not make her do it. I had to tell Al that I am so sorry but I just can’t make this request happen.

I told Al he is the best brother I could have ever asked for and I told him how proud I am for all he has done in his life. I thanked him for being my good friend and for going to all the auctions and flea markets and out to eat.

He held my hand and began struggling with breathing again. I quit talking as I didn’t want to get him upset. Al has never been able to accept that he is a good man, but I had to tell him. I sat with him until he finally drifted off to sleep.

Tomorrow I have foods to make and I have ignored the house so much. The Hospice nurse will be here also and my one daughter-in-law will be stopping by. Christmas Day my son and his family will be here for the noon meal and our Aunt will be paying Al a visit. Thursday my daughter will be arriving sometime in the day and the caregiver will once again return.

I miss Stacy already. She is a big help to me and to Al, but she deserves off her holiday also. So I will be busy, too busy for my taste. Al is the priority, the foods and holiday will work around him. I will do my best to touch base tomorrow night. Hugs to all of you.

Merry Christmas From Me To You


I am sneaking in here on the computer for a few minutes to touch base with you. Al has not changed at all. He is constantly talking but most of the time I can’t understand him. His latest words are 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1,dead.

Imagine listening to that all the time. He has asked to be taken to Indianapolis. Of course he is sort of out of it. He has said that his taxes are behind, and they are not. He is so scared of the dark, that he request to have his light left on all night.

He says if he sleeps he will die, so he does everything in his power not to sleep. I was up most of the night last night. It is hard to even sleep through the day because when you do not respond to him he starts yelling.

I don’t want to be this way but the thought of Christmas doesn’t bring a smile to my face. I just want it over. I am looking forward to seeing my kids but that’s it. I want to tear the tree apart. Shove it in a box along with all of the happy, pretty decorations and just call this year a mess and hope for a better year next year.

But to all of you, my wonderful friends, I want to wish you each a Merry Christmas. May your day be filled with joy and love and peace.

Hugs,

Terry

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