Footprints On Our Hearts

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“Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon.  They stay in our lives for awhile, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.”

We lost a dear Christian lady, age 56, to cancer a few days ago.  Her funeral is today.  Her husband, mother, children, grandchildren and friends have watched her suffer for quite some time.

“Love the people God gave you, because he will need them back one day.”

It has been almost 6 months now since I lost my brother to dementia.  Being his caregiver for years and watching him suffer was so sorrowful. He left footprints on my heart and I will never be the same.  Grief becomes more bearable with time, but the loss is always there.  Never judge someone who is grieving until you have lost someone. Never judge until you understand grief is a healing process.

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Leaving Dementia Behind

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I had to place my brother J.R. in Hospice Care today and my heart is broken.  J.R.’s body is shutting down, dementia is winning the battle.

J.R. loved the sea and he has always had a fascination for sailboats.  He use to talk of sailing around the world.  I knew he had no sailing experience, but that did not discourage him whatsoever.  He never got to fulfill that dream.  I found this poem which fits J.R.’s wish so perfectly. This last journey toward death is sorrowful for those who love J.R. so dearly. This one is for you J,R. from your sister.

     I am standing upon the seashore.  A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.  I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
     Then someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!”  “Gone where?”
     Gone from my sight.  That is all.  She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear the load of living freight to her destined port.
     Her diminished size is in me, not in her.  And just at the moment when someone at my side says:  “There, she is gone!”  There are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: “Here she comes!”   And that is dying . . . . .  . . . . .               Henry Van Dyke

A Tribute To Our Friend Ronnie

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Our dear friend Ronnie passed away last night.  Ronnie was a gentle, kind, caring, good man who was 70 years old.  He received a purple heart for his service in the Viet Nam war.  We believe that Agent Orange was what caused Ronnie’s death.  He suffered for a very long time.  Our hearts go out to his wife, children, and grandchildren.  He was deeply loved by his family and friends and he will be greatly missed.  God bless those who feel the loss of this good Christian man.

The Shadows of Sorrow

 

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My brother has been in the hospital, he is better and returning to the nursing home today. I have been thinking about J.R. a lot during his hospital stay. I thought back to our childhood.  My brother J.R. was active, hyper, impulsive, and jumped up instantly as some exciting thought entered his mind.  There was no middle ground in his world.  My brother was either on top of the world or down in a deep pit of gloom and despair.

Years ago J.R. was staying with my husband and I to acquire support to go into the missionary fields in another country.  His wife chose to remain at home, in another state, with their three children.  My brother was excited, a letter had arrived from his wife.  As he opened the letter and began to read, the expression of joy turned to disbelief and sorrow.  J.R. passed the letter to me, I found out the reasons he looked so sad.  I sat watching my brother’s face.  I have never seen such devastation reflected on anyone’s features.  I felt his pain, the hopelessness, as his shoulders gradually sank lower into his chest.  His wife was leaving him, his children were disowning him.  They had decided that every family problem and all their unhappiness was my brother’s fault. This time it was not something trivial in my brother’s life, it was something gut wrenching.

I raised my eyes, looked at my brother’s face, and I saw tears streaming down his face.  I walked over to him and wrapped my arms around my brother in a protective hug and tears began to wet my cheeks.  There were no words I could utter that could possibly help my brother.  J.R. could not be consoled.  He hurriedly walked out the door, down the lane, and into the woods.  We left him to his solitude.

Several days later we learned the church had received a letter from J.R.’s wife.  Leaving J.R. was not enough, she chose to destroy him as a preacher and a human being.  She took thousand of dollars of collected support money and she disappeared.  She left J.R. to pick up the pieces of his shattered life.  She ruined J.R.’s reputation as well as ours.

There was no consoling J.R., there was nothing we said to him that mattered.  J.R. sank into his pit of gloom.  He told me his life was over.  Kind hearted, generous, loving J.R. felt his life had hit the bottom and there was no way back up.  I thought his wife had to be cold-hearted to do something like this to my brother.

J.R. packed his bags and went to Arizona to stay with out parents.  His wife would call my Mother and tell her J.R. was a horrible person and that he needed to be committed to a mental institution.  These phone calls truly upset my Mother.

For 20 years my brother grieved for his family to the depths of his soul.  He began a business, he continued to preach in Arizona.  He stayed near our parents to help them with their lives.  Not once did J.R,.’s wife or children contact him.  We were never able to locate his family.

Most of you know what J.R.’s business partner did to him in Arizona.  Stole everything he owned.  J.R. has been mistreated by so many people in his life.  He does not remember his family anymore and I am glad.  Life seems to beat all of us down and sometimes we lose the strength to get back up.  Perhaps God gave my brother dementia to relieve him of the burden of his pain, sorrow, and loss.

Dementia Is Not On the Decline!

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You look at this pretty scene from nature and you think the world must be right!  Well, for me at this moment the world is once again totally engulfed in dementia.

They rushed my brother, by ambulance, to the hospital early yesterday morning.  The nurse from the nursing home said she had found him having a severe seizure.  When I got to the emergency room my brother was having trouble breathing.  From the cough and the congestion I heard, I knew he had pneumonia.  My brother woke up and began to call for Mama.  I held his hand, I talked to him, I tried to comfort him, he thought I was Mama.  He was back in his childhood.  I told him he was sick, I told him to close his eyes and rest.  He had a death grip on my hand.  He said, “Mama, I am sick.”  I said, “I know baby, close your eyes and go to sleep, rest.”  I stroked his forehead and his cheek and I thought of the long road of physical suffering for him as dementia destroys his brain and causes his body to stop functioning.  I told every nurse, doctor, or person who tried to talk to him and ask him questions that he had dementia and could not correspond with them.

My brother had a mini-stroke, has pneumonia, and his second bladder infection in 3 months.

I have heard on the news that they think after the baby boomers get through old age, that dementia will decline.  I do not believe that and I know many in the medical field who do not believe that.  With preservatives, dyes, pesticides, pollution and many other factors, we as human beings are becoming more and more susceptible to diseases.

I am reading a book written by Richard Taylor called “Alzheimer’s From The Inside Out.” Richard worked hard after his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s to maintain enough brain power to let others know how it felt to have this disease.  Richard was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 58.  He died July 25, 2015 of Cancer, a blessing in a way I suppose.  He did not have to suffer on that extra long trail of Alzheimer’s because cancer took him.

As a caregiver I researched and read everything I could on Alzheimer/Dementia because 4 of my immediately family died and are suffering with this disease.  I want to know how to help those who are touched by this disease.

I returned from the hospital yesterday and am going back this morning.  I said my goodbyes to my brother long ago, but it still touches my heart to see his physical suffering. I shed a lot of tears yesterday and my compassion was overwhelming me.  I prayed and I ask God to help everyone in this world who is suffering mentally, physically, and spiritually.

At the end of Richard Taylor’s book he wrote one last paragraph which I will share with you.  “Caregivers who are filled with fear and depression, use this pent-up anxious energy to educate yourselves, your families, your friends, and those around you about how our society treats those with the diseases of dementia.  If any organization that deals with dementia will not be worked up to action in the name of your loved ones, perhaps self-interest will motivate them.  The bell tolls for us all:  it is just a matter of time when and where we hear it. I’ve heard it. I have Alzheimer’s disease. Act Up! Ring Out! SPEAK UP and OUT!”

Everyone needs that champion, that loved one, that helper, that caregiver to fight for them and help them endure their suffering.  The only way to do that is to educate yourself about the disease your loved one is dealing with.

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A Tribute to Mom

My mother Wilma died over a decade ago on July 16, 2002.  Mom’s absence from my life is still overwhelming.  My Mother was my best friend.  I am certain I will miss Mom until the day I die.

Mom’s diagnosis of dementia was extremely hard for me to process.  Mom was such an intelligent person with so much common sense.  Mom kept us laughing with her very funny sense of humor.  She was a good Christian, a strong person, very loving and kind.  She loved her four children equally, she nurtured us, fought battles for us, and instilled morals and values in our brains.  We never doubted Mom’s love for us.

Dementia is a sorrowful, grieving process.  The hardest part of dementia is dealing with the disappearance of a person’s mind.  When someone who loved you so much has forgotten who you are, it is devastating.

So, “Mom” here is my tribute to one of the best Mothers that God could possibly have given me.  Mom, I love you, I miss you, and God willing I will see you again one day in Heaven.

2 Timothy 4:6-8

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:  Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Sorrow (Dementia)

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There are so many fellow bloggers out there who are caregivers for loved ones with dementia.  My heart goes out to all of you, I have been there.  These cows are in the field next to my house.  I think of my brother J.R. when he was living here, how much he loved the cows, the rabbits, the birds, the flowers and everything to do with nature.  All of those feelings he once had for nature are lost in the fog of dementia.

When you deal with a loved one with dementia, there is oppressive pain and unbearable suffering, because your loved one does not know who you are anymore.  That vital, close, intimate relationship has disappeared.  It’s so unbearable it is beyond comprehension.  You are miserable when you dwell on what once was and can never be again.

Dementia is a terrible, painful disease to watch a loved one endure.  Dementia is actually harder on the caregiver than the one with the disease.

Is there an answer to how to deal with the dilemma of Dementia?  What is distressing or painful about this dilemma is you have to make choices you do not want to make.  There is no clear answer on how to deal with our emotions.  What have I done personally? Back in May of this year I wrote a post, “An Early Goodbye to Someone You Love.”  I realized the person my brother once was had disappeared.  I decided at that point to make sure J.R. had a safe place to dwell and receive proper care.  I placed him in a nursing home for many personal reasons.  Do you feel guilty when you place someone in a nursing home?  Yes, you definitely do feel guilt.  For all those out there that judge you for the nursing home decision, I say, “Have you been a caregiver, have you walked in their shoes?”  Not everyone is strong enough to endure to the end of the Dementia Journey. Each caregiver has different abilities on how well they handle the tremendous stress involved with caring for someone with dementia.  Each dementia patient has different problems and actions involved with the disease.  Some people with dementia are extremely hard to handle due to insomnia, anger, wandering, attitude, and the list continues.  So Caregivers, who totally give up their own lives and their own health issues, my heart goes out to you.  God bless all caregivers, and never let others judge you when you have done your very best.