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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Gone From My Sight

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This picture of my brother J.R. was taken a few years ago before he was diagnosed with dementia.  My husband, J.R., and I were on vacation in the Pacific Northwest U.S.  We were camping in J.R.’s motorhome in Hells Canyon on the Snake River which borders Oregon and Idaho.  Two weeks of fun and relaxation.  He called this his, “Indiana Jones” hat.

My brother J.R. is, “Gone From My Sight,” now.  Dementia took him away from me in November 2015.  I will never forget J.R., he was my closest, dearest, sibling

J.R. had a twinkle of mischief in his eyes most of the time.  An over abundance of humor.  He loved to pester me, which I returned in full. He had a hugh smile on his face when he was happy or excited.  He loved people and he greeted everyone with a hearty hello.

J.R. was a wonderful Church of Christ preacher for several decades.  He was a very good locksmith. It upset me when I had to put him in the nursing home after 2 1/2 years as his caregiver. He gave the staff at the nursing home fits, taking their keys and disesembling doorknobs (without tools!?!).

No, J.R. was not perfect, but then who is perfect.  He got depressed or down when tragic things happened in his life.  Several major tragedies happend in his life, that left deep scars of pain and sorrow on his heart and soul.  What others did to him left imprints on my heart and mind.

I was raised with 3 siblings, but I really only had J.R. and he only had me. Funny how some of your siblings drift away and cease to be a part of your life.  I loved my brother J.R. so much and I knew that love was returned. I’ll think of him, get misty eyed from grief and loss.  I will hold his memory in my heart forever.

This new year – 2016 – will be lonely without you J.R.  So, I blow a kiss into the sky, to say a temporary goodbye.  God willing, I hope to see you again one day in Heaven.

God bless all of you who lost loved ones in 2015.

God Comforts During Loss

My precious brother J.R. passed away, Saturday, November 7, 2015 at 2:15 p.m.  J.R. has escaped the pain and suffering and left dementia behind him.  I never expected it to happen this fast, I had just placed him in hospice on Friday, November 6.

Saturday evening, November 7 I saw one of the most beautiful sunsets I have seen in a very long time.  I was a little disappointed my camera did not capture the exact images that my eyes captured.  This sunset lasted much longer than normal, the colors continued to change.  I spoke to myself, and I said, “This one is for you J.R., God is letting me know you are ok, God speed to you J.R., I love you.”

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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.

An Early Goodbye to Someone You Love

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I always thought the final goodbye happened when death took you from this earth.  Then on Mother’s Day, I realized the final goodbye for someone with dementia may come much sooner.

My brother J.R., who has dementia,  has been spiraling down hill since February of this year.  He was in the Psych Hospital in February and now on Mother’s Day he was placed there again.

J.R. has had 4 altercations with other nursing home residents since February.  Saturday he went into the room of an elderly female patient and kicked her in both of her legs, bruising them very badly.  He took her flyswatter to hit her and she began to scream and yell for help.  J.R. does not know what he is doing, another section of his brain has died. That does not help those that he assaults. A police report was filed, an aide assigned to watch J.R., and a trip to the Psych Hospital the next day.  I do not know yet if J.R. will be placed in a lock down unit for violent dementia patients.

My brother was always a kind, caring person, a preacher for 40 years.  He was a great son, brother, friend, and human being.  We miss his humor, his love, his hugs, his smile that would light up his whole face. J.R. has not known those who love him for sometime now.  I see mentally that J.R. has disappeared before our eyes.

The stress for me for 3 years has been overwhelming and the guilt of my decisions for his life have caused me sorrow and remorse.  I am once again shedding tears for J.R.   You see – at last as I sit here on Mother’s Day I said goodbye to my brother J.R. and it broke my heart.  I will continue to make decisions for his care.  Do not judge me for saying my goodbye now unless you have dealt with the devastating disease of dementia.  You have to eventually, emotionally, detach yourself from some one you have loved for years.

To those who are caregivers I want to say – when the mind is gone it is ok to say goodbye. Never feel guilty for decisions you have had to make for your love ones with dementia. Through stress, sorrow, and tears know that you have done your best.  God bless all caregivers.

Dementia Robs You of Your Mind

Just as winter robs this Oak tree of its leaves, Dementia robs a person of their mind.  Your mind slowly dies and disappears.  It takes from you, your personality, your ability to understand, the memories stored in your brain. It causes you confusion, takes your skills on how to perform daily tasks of life.  It takes you from those you love.  I have shed many tears for the loss of the brother I once knew.  How many times have I wanted my brother to return to me.  I cannot count all the things I miss about my brother, they are too numerous.  The hardest part of dementia, for a caregiver, is to watch their loved ones deal with the loss of being a normal human being.  Their dignity gets lost in the shuffle as their mind slowly fades away.

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Sorrow really rears its head when you are a caregiver, but the emotion that truly hits home is guilt.  It is not the caregiver’s fault their loved one has dementia.  You never feel as if you are handling the situation correctly.  You do not want to make the decisions for another human being.  You feel helpless when those in authority force you into making a choice, between 2 alternatives, for your loved one’s care.  At times grief kicks in and the tears flow.  You feel selfish, because you tell yourself you do not want to be a caregiver any longer, yet you know that is what you have to do.

Anger plagues the caregiver, because you try to protect your loved one from all the drugs that doctors prescribe.  You see your loved one with dementia turned into a robot that the nursing home can control.  It makes you feel as if the drugs are destroying what brain your loved one has left.  I fight for my brother constantly about the over use of drugs.  I have to admit it seldom does much good, but I have to try.   Caregiver means you are required to protect a person who is incapable of protecting themself.

It’s hard for me to enjoy my life, because I realize my brother has an inferior life to mine. Somehow this seems cruel and unfair.  You want to turn the clock back 20 years and give back to your brother, the life he lost.

Perhaps someday no one else in this world will have to suffer with this horrible disease called Dementia.  That cure will be discovered.  I know it is too late for my brother, but I pray to God that the cure will be found soon.

Memories

I think of the song Barbra Streisand sang years ago, “Way We Were.”  The first two lines go like this – “Memories light the corners of my mind.  Misty water-colored memories of the way we were.”  This is really a song about lost romantic love, but these lines remind me of the memories I shared with my brother, who is now lost in the world of Dementia.

I have 3 siblings, but the only sibling I had in adult life was my brother J.R. who was 17 months younger than me.  Two of my siblings chose not to be involved in my life or in J.R.’s life when we became adults.

I hear a song my brother loved, I see something my brother loved to do, I think of the things we did as children.  J.R. was a good preacher for many years, one of the best locksmiths in the area where he lived.  Those skills are lost to him now.  My brother had an overpowering love for his Mother.  He was a kind, caring, loving, nice man.  He is one of the favorite patients at the nursing home where he resides, he is still a gentle soul.

We had so many adventures as kids, we use to reminisce about the things we did and the places we had lived.  We were what you would call, “Construction Brats.”  By the time I reached 18 years of age we had lived in 20 different places, in 8 states.  We met so many wonderful people during those years.  We would make friends, cry as we left those friends, and become excited when we arrived at the new town we would call home.

I love my brother, I will always love him even when this dreaded disease of Dementia takes him from this would.  I weep for him now, I pray for him, I miss his humor, I miss him saying, “I  love you Sis.”  He does not know my name anymore or that I am his sister.  I simply miss the person he was, before Dementia, with a sorrow that reaches to the depths of my soul.  My brother has been mistreated by so many people in this world. Despite those cruel people in his life he had Mom when she was alive, he has my family, but most of all he has God and his son Jesus.  He is loved and he is cherished as a human being because of those who love him.  God bless you my dear brother.