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.

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.

Enough is Enough

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Since my brother died, DHS wants me to pay his bills. There are two quotes I have been thinking about lately.

“You don’t have to do anything in life except pay taxes and die.”  lol

“Stop jerking my chain.”   (popular idiom used in the 1980s)

There is a quote by Paul Coelho – “If you want to control someone, all you have to do is to make them feel afraid.”

Well, I am a little sick and tired of DHS, nursing homes, doctors, and lawyers trying to jerk my chain.  I am not legally obligated to do things  for my brother anymore, since his death.  My power-of-attorney ended when my brother died.  So, why is DHS saying his Medicaid ended months ago and I have received no word to this affect?  Why am I receiving his bills?

The greater the power of these government organizations, the more dangerous the abuse.  When the IRS, DHS, etc. jerk your chain they are : making fun of you, harassing, pushing your anger buttons, and making life difficult.  They do all this in order to get a reaction, they deceive us into believing, our nightmare  situation will never end.

When it comes to American Government Organizations they mislead, manipulate, irritate, and try their best to literally stress us beyond endurance. They abuse their power.  They either want your money or your life.  If a person is strong they will not let the harassment change them as a person.  You might say when I was young I admired clever people.  I am older now and my admiration has turned to kind and compassionate people.  These kind people do not include those I am dealing with at the moment.

Sid Vicious (yep, that is his last name) made this statement: “Undermine their pompous authority, reject their moral standards, make anarchy and disorder your trademarks. Cause as much chaos and disruption as possible, but don’t let them take you ALIVE.”  I’m right there with you Sid.

So, when you are trying to do your best to take care of someone you love, you are vulnerable to the government establishment.  Do not let them deceive you when you are next of kin or a power-of-attorney for someone.  You are not responsible for paying your loved one’s bills.  They are not taking my money, my home, or taking me Alive (ha), because I know I am not responsible for my brother’s debts.  DHS has jerked my chain for the last time.  Enough is Enough, I have had all the stress I intend to endure from these heartless people.

 

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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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.

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.

 

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.

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.