I thought it was going to be a bad time. It was after lunch, and near nap time, and I wanted to interrupt it. I needed to go to one more store, and I really hated to wait until tomorrow, since I want to stay home and clean house, do laundry, and start on any food prep I can do ahead for his party. He wasn’t smiling, but he wasn’t crying either, so I had no signal as to what I was in for. We went to one store and looked around. He rode the scooter, and I walked, using his cane. Actually, that cane was pretty nice. It gave me something to lean on, and hurt my back less, but I am not ready to get too used to that tool yet in my life.They didn’t have what I needed, but I did find a pretty blue butterfly chime. It is on a spring, so any little wind will make it wiggle and force the chimes to sound. Half way down the chimes is a clear, crystal ball, that the chimes can bump into. I love butterflies, and I love the vibrant, deep blues, so I had to have it since it was in my price range. He did pretty good going through the store isles today. He is beginning to recognize how far in advance to turn the wheels, keeping him from bumping into the products on the shelves. We got back in our car and drove to the other end of town. I knew I was pushing my luck, as it was definitely his nap time now, but I asked him if he minded that we go to one more place, and he nodded his head that it was alright. I was looking for closet doors for his bedroom. His doors have mirrors in them, and he had fallen into one of the doors, shattering the mirror, and fortunately, he was not injured, just his pride. We went into the store, and thank goodness there was another scooter for his use. He climbed on and we took off down the rows of items, calling out to us to buy them. Back in the door section, they carried the same mirror door, but you had to buy the whole set, which upsets me, as this is a money issue for the store. I only needed one, and I wasn’t going to spend the mega dollars on the whole set. I looked at wooden doors, that would fit in his gliders at home, and was told, I would need to measure the whole closet opening. I had only measured the doors. This ended up being a wasted trip, except the fact, that I had purchased my chime. I was proud of Al for not being upset with me taking him out during nap time, so I offered to stop at a restaurant to get him his favorite drink, a chocolate shake. He likes ice cream, but shakes are his best. I didn’t get a smile, but I did get a nod of agreement. We got him situated in the front seat of the car, we both buckled up, rolled back the sun roof, rolled down the windows, and off we went, me singing to the oldies, and him trying to click his fingers together to the music. I pretended not to notice his struggle as he tried to get those fingers to work. I just kept on singing. A beach boy’s song came on that he liked, and I could see a slight tap of his one better leg tapping lightly on the floor. The trip was not wasted. I had found something to deter his mind from what ever sadness has been plaguing him today. We went in and got his shake, and I got my diet coke, and I sipped mine and he gulped his. I was wondering if he was getting a head ache from the coldness and drinking so fast, but he said nothing. As each of us were people watching, I looked at him when he wasn’t looking, and I almost choked on my drink, as my father’s vision came smacking me right in the face. The last four months of our dad’s leukemia, his facial expressions changed so much. He stood like Al stands. Weak and slanted to the side. The underneath of dad’s eyes had drooped permanently, and you could see the blood shot in his eyes. I don’t know if it was from the illness of the leukemia or from crying. My father cried a lot the last four months. He knew he was going to die. As I looked at Al, I could see the same droopiness in the eyes, and the same redness also. Dad and Al look very much alike. Both have wavy white hair, and thick. Both have almost identical chins, nose, and even the same style of glasses. It was like looking at my father near his day of departure. Al was complaining a little bit at the restaurant about chest pains. I glanced at his finger nails and noticed some graying. His nails do this quite a bit. They will turn gray and then back to normal, a circulation problem. I can tell that God is with me at all times, because with no hesitation, I grabbed my brother’s fingers, and prayed right there for God to keep him with me. Please don’t take him until after his wonderful birthday party. I know I have no right to ask this, but I want Al to have lots of smiles and attention that day, so if God was thinking about it, please delay for a few more days. Al’s birthday is tomorrow, the third, but the party is on Saturday, the fifth. I have had comments made to me this week, that they are noticing he is losing weight. As I watched him , I could see the bones in his fingers and in his hands were more prominent. He used to weigh 295 when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and dementia, and the last visit at the doctor, he weighed 254. I am praying that at his blood work next week, he has not lost weight, or maybe only a pound or two. Dad weighed 205 when he was diagnosed with leukemia, and two days before he left, he weighed 145. So as I sat and watched him enjoying watching other people, I grew sad. I had been made gently aware by God that my brother is slowly slipping away from me. I kept strong, I let no tears fall as I sat there, but seeing dad through Al, was a wake up call to me. I feel as if God is preparing me once again for a new stage in this disease, and I better start thanking God for every day Al and I have together. Please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying Al is leaving me tomorrow, but the wake up from God was an awareness call. Things are changing, get yourself prepared. He and I had finished not only our drinks but also watching people. I asked him if he was ready to go, and he nodded his familiar yes. He has not spoken hardly now in two days. He looks sad, or not here. I can not explain it. The peace that he had for those few days was a different kind of look with a genuine smile. None of that is here for now. We are home, and he went immediately to take his nap. I thanked him for being patient and letting me go to the stores.
Usually I go to sleep with my television on, but last night I never flipped the remote to on. I also read the local newspaper, but instead, I lay my head down and I feel the panic attack trying to come over me. I used to suffer from panic attacks on a regular basis, sometimes having two or three in one day. With much will power and the help of a christian therapist, I now only have the beginnings of one in a tired and stressed out body. I lay there feeling my tense body, and I was tired of fighting from the whole day’s roller coaster ride. As tears were still falling, I prayed. I don’t even remember this morning what I said to God, but he heard and answered. I slept. I must have slept very well. When I awoke this morning, I noticed the covers had been barely messed with and I had not gotten up once through the night to use the restroom. I awoke, wide-eyed, and ready to face this new day. I took a shower and got dressed. I poured myself a coffee, and am sitting here in the stillness of the morning. Not even the leaves are rustling on the trees. No one seems to be up around the neighborhood. It is as if God has commanded all to be still, giving me a surrounding peace outside and in. I ponder on what today will bring. I pray for peace once again for Al. It seems that the peace he received last week has now vanished, and the dementia is once again sitting in familiar territory. Today I am going to go to the store one last time to pick up some items that I had forgotten. Even with my list, my brain had not commanded all written things down. I will have to take Al, so I hope this is going to be a smooth trip for the two of us. He is still sleeping, and I will most likely have one more half hour to my thoughts before he rises. It is very hard to deal with a person who you know is your family. I have his birth certificate here to prove such. When the dementia is here, I do not know who he is. Science is able to now grow new body parts from cells. I wonder why they can not grow new cells for the brain. Replacing dopamine that are dead, with new fresh ones forcing a new community of lively cells. I don’t dwell on this. What good does it do. God has allowed this to continue in Al’s life for reasons only he, himself knows. If I could close my eyes, and take myself out of the real world for a moment, I would picture a cartoon, with the mob king and me. I would be holding my gun at the king and forcing him for answers, threatening his life if he didn’t fix it. I would become the master. He would break down and cry to me to please not kill him, as he has a wife and kids at home to support. He would call his followers and in no time at all, my world would be perfect once again. I know this is an unreal dream. We have a God who can cause miracles to happen just like this. With no guns to use as power, but just two words would be all that would be heard. BE HEALED. This is where my faith comes in. I must have faith that God knows what he is doing. I must have faith that he loves me. He wants Al and me to have a wonderful, fulfilling life. A life filled with love for each other, a compassion from within us for others. God wants us to have his blessings. I can see on the news and even in my own neighborhood, illness is not just within the walls of this house, but everywhere, afflicting all types of people. The only difference between some and me, is nothing. People everywhere are praying. Praying for their loved ones, praying for a job, praying to put food on their tables. Praying to fix their marriage or kids. When I think on this, I realize I am not alone in this world. Our problems are no different from others. We all want to be happy and have peace within us. Faith. It is a small word, with great power connected to it. I have to cling to my faith, what other choice do I have? I do not want to cry again today. I want to stand tall with my head held high. I want to have pride on who I am and on the goals I am working on. So, for today, faith will not leave me. It will be my shadow, never leaving my side.