Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

Went to work at 5 am
Customers at 6? Not a soul. Around 7 some came straggling in.
I did every mistake in the book.
I had to redo every entry, every counting, every balancing.
What should have been done in 2 1/2 hours took me 4 hours.
Mgr. said not to worry she was working on half energy too.

Thanksgiving dinner was great, we managed to find ways to please everyone (I think)
Sabrina had been the hero of the day, she joined me early in the morning and
had already peeled and cut 16 lbs of french fries, we finished almost all of them.
Little left for lunch today.
Then she vacuumed my bedroom and changed the room around.
I never change furniture but she loves to do that.
I am pleased with it all.

Ankles very swollen so today is a couch day.
Do not know why the endema is back, big time.

Tomorrow Sabrina will take old dad for the day so Bobby and I can have respite.
Glad, for that while I will visit Rhonda and if feet permit will run around downtown Asheville a bit.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Day

Happy thanksgiving day to all of you.
I can't wait till tonight when all 9 of us will be here
and making fun noises.

Tomorrow I will pay for this season, I have to open the store at 5 AM
Not so funny last year we had 2 ladies walk in at 6
every one is at Walmart.

This season lets all try to dig in our pockets even if they are empty, there must be something that we can give to the less fortunate. So many people have little to celebrate today.
But a new day is dawning so lets KNOW next year we will all be better off.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


It is about 6 weeks that we lost Toto. I can't remember having so much grief before, hate to admit it but I think the shock was so much to me that I can't think feeling this hurt with people in my family going. That is pretty bad, I thought, but since then I have found others who experienced the same pain.

How in all sincerity can we even thinks that? I don;t know. All I know is that I hurt so badly that I had to find a way out. So then I decided on a new puppy. Mind you I kept telling myself that I was not replacing Toto. All I needed was to hold a furry little guy. I wanted the same temperament and then natch the same breed. I called the Humane Society if they had a Maltese and they did n't, but then my son said not to get a rescue dog as I am too emotional in my situation and what if the dog would become sick? what would the rescue dog bring along?
Start with a puppy , he advised, you can train it the way you trained Toto.
It's a little over a month that we acquired Bijou(thank you again A) so now I have the furry little white ball.

So what happened in the month? Where am I, where is Bijou?
I soon learned that I had been lying to myself. I did want to replace Toto. I wanted the understanding we had for 4 years. I wanted the puppy to follow me everywhere and protect me like Toto did. I wanted Bijou to know what I was thinking just like Toto always knew.
Poor Bijou. He is so adorable and he turns his head sideways when I talk to him, it seems to me that he is asking :what are you talking about old lady?
Make no mistake he is a little jewel but as young as he is I have competition.
He also belongs to Carwen, the Corgy, she washes him, she teaches him how to play tug war with their toys. He falls asleep cushioned against her, he does not come (yet) to beg me to hold him.
He is the baby for Corgy. They are so cute together.
Now Toto did not have any of that. He came into a very quiet household with just one kitty who he adored and she learned to like him. The only play when he was a puppy was with the kitten if she was in the mood.
I bought him toys and he never liked them. Never took one in his snoot, he'd look at them and then at me as if to say "what do you want me to do with that silly thing".
Itried different textures but all were denied by his majesty.
Bijou can't have enough of them and has the stuffing flying about in no time.
I am now wiser and following instructions on TV about the dog man and his techniques so I am determined to have Bijou listen to me when I give orders! (yes I can do that)
At 3 months I read their adult brain is 90 percent present.
By 5 months he will be approaching adult height as he is a small breed.
So I am hoping that Carwen will let him go and that I will have a great relationship with him for as long as I have time around here.
I have learned that I can't replace Toto even if I wanted that so badly but I am also learning that here is a new little guy full of joy , vigor ,kisses, and bites. He does make my days a lot more pleasant.

Pictures on the wall

From my post in :

About 5 years ago I read that we must keep showing photos to the ones who are beginning to forget about the family. The dementia, Alzheimer patients.

I showed album after album to my husband and he still had some recollections of our trips, his brother, his sister. Then I purchased the kind of stick on cabinets photo frames and put them on the kitchen cabinets. A view of the whole family every day.

I have watched Bob look at them often, in past years he would smile, put a kiss on his fingertips and onto his favorite people, the ones who had already left us.

He would smile at our picture in Hawaii even so he did not remember the trip anymore but to see us together smiling being happy gave him joy.

For the last few years this too has vanished , he often looks at the pictures but no signs of recognition for anyone.

Even himself he is not sure off, he is the last one he vaguely knows. He will point at the photo and say "Is that me?" I answer in the affirmative and then say "this one here is me, Jeannot, your wife" . He turns from the photo to my face and shakes his head. He does not care he goes back to his cup of coffee.

I said to my daughter that I will take the photos down, I think they are now a stage of frustration. He must be wondering who are all these people and he does not have a clue.

My daughter suggested that it will make my kitchen look bigger. Even she who knows me so well and loves her dad so much, she does not have a clue what day to day living with A. truly is.

She thought of the look of the kitchen. She did not see him when he stares and stares at a photo, she does not see the daily changes and this is what is so hard with mental illness.

Unless you are 24/7 with someone you just can't know.

A friend of mine with the same situation packed her bags and sent good old dad to her son for a week. She simply said: You have to find out what it is I am dealing with. Her son begged her on day 3 to come and get dad. She took her week off and stayed in a motel reading books and eating out.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bad times, good times

As I review my blogs since last year I am thinking how very sad they are.
My one daughter can't read them because they are making her upset.

So I pondered about this for awhile and thought that I should start to write upbeat stuff and be very positive and even cheerful.

OK, tried that for a few hours, maybe even one day.
But guess what? The title of this blog is coping with Alzheimer.

It is not a blog about my last dance and I looked charming like the woman on Dancing with the Stars, forgot her name already (senior moment)
This is not a blog about my latest recipes.
This is not a blog about my next trip nor is it one of the latest movie I saw in a movie theatre or a live show.
It's not about my dentist visits which I keep postponing, not about my the "golden years". Who in the h......called them "golden"?

So I am a bit bitter tonight.
Had an hour again of trying to tell somebody that I belong in this house, that he has a son in the other room.
He knows nothing of this except he knows he has paintings and tomorrow he will open a shop and sell his paintings. That much he knows.
He gave our son a long discussion about HIS house and son being unwelcome and my son just answered "you are killing me dad, you are f.....killing me".
My heart broke (again).
How can I write upbeat , pleasant times as a caregiver?
If you know, please tell me.
I have tried so many ways but come back again and again that this "sucks".


Sometime during the year I made a very big statement.

Told the kids "no more Thanksgiving and Christmas parties at my house, I am done cooking".

I followed it up with putting my nice dining room table along the hedge on the road with a sign :"FREE". It was gone in 20 minutes.

I felt relief. After all, how many years was I the chef and could never cook enough. I always thought an army would come.I always had to have 3 vegetables, home made bread, 3 different desserts, it never ended. I loved it but lately the energy has left me. Blame the good old thyroid.

Then son moved back home when he lost his wife and he has agorophobia, big time, he can't leave the house and under no circumstance will I leave him alone in the house on the holidays.

Add to this that old B. gets very upset in daughter's house.He is better at home.

OK , now what?

Bring out the pic nic table and the garden chairs and start more time ....Happy Thanksgiving to all of you

Friday, November 21, 2008

Photo of the artist and his work

I have been writing so much about my husband and his memory loss.
This is what he is forgetting , his daily painting sessions for all these decades.
Now he does not know the difference between blue and green.
A master still life artist, decorated and named Commandeur in Brussels in 1972
for his trompe l'oeil work, a painting called "View of Infinity" which now is in
a museum in Israel.
So feast your eyes on the Clock painting which took him 5 months of daily work.
It was sold at a one man shop in San Francisco in the then Hartley Gallery.
The lady who purchased the painting told us that one day it would come back to us.
About 12 years ago a package arrived with the painting in question plus 4 others of
his still lifes.
The collector had passed away but kept a promise after decades.
It will go on in the family and will belong to my son.

The artist may be forgetting but what a legacy he is leaving to collectors
all over the world. Even Maria Callas had one his paintings as did Perry Como and
another opera singer who's name is lost in my senior moment.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I just could not figure out what was wrong with me.
I got up in a bad mood, black cloud hanging over my head kind of mood.
I can do that in the evening but most mornings I get up feeling somewhat UP.

I do not like this person when she is in a bad mood.
I fight with her. I did not win the battle yesterday.

I did not feel like doing a darn thing that was on my TO DO list.
I did n't vacuum my bed room I did not even put the Roomba to work
I sat and sat and fell asleep, sat some more and fell asleep some more.
I fixed minimum work lunches, like frozen waffles.
I fixed minimul dinner , like macaroni and cheese out of the box and went back to sitting.
Watched a movie, title I forgot, it was a silly one with a man doing a marathon race and finishing it against all odds. It was so predictable an ending that I was writing the script as the movie was rolling.
Fell asleep and then noticed that I had been coughing a lot and that I had a soar throat and a fever too.
Voila, that was it.
I was allowed to be cranky. My body was telling me to slow down.
I am not sure if I know how to.
Son just told me that no way can he keep up with my misguided energy.
"you run here and there, do this and that and then some more, I can't keep up with you "
Maybe, just maybe when I retire next year, 24 working days to be exact, maybe I will slow down and not get up in a bitchy mood.

part two copy from Trusera

Part two on coping with Alzheimer/dementia which was my entry in

From the beginning of the diagnosis I tried to read everything about this disease. Many times I could not finish the books. When it comes to
the patient being in bed not able to do anything anymore for themselves, choking on their drinks and food, that part I just could not handle, just seeing the words in print made me run for the woods.

Now I am petrified and thinking when will this be our reality?
Next year, next month?
How will I cope then, I am not exactly Florence Nightingale.

So wisdom tells me that experiencing day by day teaches us what to do next. After all this is how I worked the last decade.
I am probably very lucky as so far everything is gentle and friendly.
So many a patients become violent.
It never was B.’ nature but that does not mean that it can’t happen.
I have known such cases.
Did I expect to have to watch the mailman so husband will not be able to hide the bills.
Did I expect to have to force him to bathe and wash him myself?
He was Mr Clean and would shower 3 times a day if he felt he needed it.
Did I expect to have to beg for rides to the grocery store and the drs.?
Did I expect that one day he would not know who I was?
Yes, I thought I was prepared for that one and ..........I can assure you
that I was n’t.
Did I expect him to tell me to get out of his bed? his house?
Did I expect have to hide some of our little small treasures?
We are still in the dark on what he did with a Netske collection.
Did I ever expect him to not know the difference between an
etching and a woodcut?
He was an expert on them.
Did I ever expect that this man who painted every day of his life
would not be able to tell colors, not be able to draw at all?
That was probably the hardest reality, when I told him to put
the bottles in the blue bin for recycling and he asked:”which one is the blue one?”
The man was decorated in Europe for his trompe l’oeil paintings.
He had dozens of one man shows from San Francisco ,Marbella Spain,
and so on.
Asked him to draw an apple and he scribbled some lines and what is worse
he thought it was an apple. Did I ever expect to see that?
Did I ever think he would call our son, his most beloved child, did I ever think he would call him “that man in the house”?

When the man at the Alzheimer meeting told me that nothing will be the same anymore, did I ever comprehend what was going to happen
in spite of what I read? No , I was in denial for everything because
it is too much to take in, too much to break your heart and your spirit.
You do your best one day at a time. If that day is not so good then you will try and do better tomorrow.

I am thinking of all the parents on Trusera who are dealing daily with autism in their lives.
I have seen it first hand in our family. It is hard, it is difficult, it seems at times to be too much to handle. But they do it sometimes one hour at a time.
These are the cards we have been dealt and we must play out the game with all the rules.
On that note I will also say that my Asperger afflicted grandson is an absolute genius and a doll.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I am one tired bunny after getting up at 5 30 for work.
Lucky I did get a ride home, I hated to think to walk home.
A long time friend from DC came by for a short visit so we do
get some of the Beltway gossip.
Unfortunately he will miss the inauguration as he has to work a show
in San Francisco.
I did think that I would fall asleep during his visit but I managed to
be entertained by my own voice and my own stories.
What a drag that must have been.
I think it is hard for the occasional visitor to see B. and to know that
he does not remember them.
Bijou made a hit and so did the other dogs.
Sale at work was behind yesterday, hope we made up for it today.
One never knows right now what store may be suddenly closing or
filing chapter 11. Even QVC is having major lay offs.
I will be happy to leave at the end of the year, I am very tired but then
how will I be with being home 24/7 and no conversations or people
to just talk to about something besides Alzheimer and the loss of people
we loved.
I watch stupid TV shows and son asks me why I even look at this and my reply is always : because this show is not truly real (even reality shows) and because for 30 minutes I am involved with that screen and not anyone else.
A friend of my son bought Bijou a Santa Suit, he looks precious in it.
The Corgy wanted it off so she started to pull on it, we did manage to save it.
I have to get photos with that.
Goodnight, do not let the bed bugs bite.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Chicken Soup

Amazing what it means to me not to have a full night sleep.
Shop has a 14 hour sale that translates into me being there at 7 am.
Moi is not a happy camper.
Came home and took naps all day long.
Bob wakes me every 10 minutes to see if I am "well".
He does not understand naps.

After Thanksgiving we start holiday hours and then it gets worse.
It is 7.00 almost every morning.
Our Florida office does not understand our logistics, we sell to
little old ladies for the most part. They are not coming in at 8 am.
They have the whole day.
Neither do we offer such big bargains for the first hour or so, it is an all day sale.
Lord knows we have enough stock as does every shop in the nation.

I was blessed with a dear friend surprising us yesterday with a yummy
chicken soup. Bobby has been ill for a couple of days and I am thinking the chicken soup will help him. He loved it even so he usually picks out veggies,
he did not do it this time.
Friend A. if you read this, it was a winner and I have left over for lunch tomorrow so I will just crash for more sleep after that.

I do not see any changes yet with the thyroid meds. Do not know how long that will take. But in an American living style we do want things to be fixed RIGHT now.

Old Bob had hid my purse last night and at 6 o clock I just could not find it so
went to work kind of wondering where it would be.
I still have not found my hearing aids which he hid 2 years ago (=$2600)
I think I would still be looking except for the fact that I took my nap on top of the bed and looked up to find my purse hanging on the poster bed wrapped by my jacket. Life is interesting in this household.

Got to go to bed. The early morning hour will be here soon enough to start counting money for Mr. Stein.
Oh Mr Stein sent me his usual diploma looking piece of paper thanking me for a job well done hence my employee of the month bonus.
I did well, I was there 3 years and got one every year plus the employee of the year.
I would patmyself on the back but for the fact that we are not that many employees and they have to come up with a different person every month, so no biggie. The employee of the year is by vote of everyone and that was swell (as we used to say)
Goodnight Blogger Fairy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ari would be 33

Ari would have been 33 tomorrow.

She was my daughter in law and left us in May from an accidental overdose.

She mixed over the counter medicine with her own. Sleeping pills mostly.

My son moved in with me and is in a depression. They were married 7 years and very much in love.

Both of them had mental illness to deal with but for the life of me I do not know where our mental health system is, this rich country with all the answer (so they tell us) has very few answers and ways to get mental health restored. Not enough places to go when you do not have the money, not enough clinics to keep you should you need prolonged help.

Ari had her master degree in psychology but could not help herself. My son suffers from panick disorder and agorophobia.We had to drug him for the trip back home.

Ari will be remembered by many. For years she worked in group homes and helped hundreds of people, she went to Raleigh to get financial help for them, she was a fighter in a system which is inadequate. There were times the group home did not have enough money for groceries and she would feed them out of her own pocket.

An only child left her mother in so much grief that she too left us with a major heart attack. She was 56.

I am concerned over my son 's well being during the days which no doubt will remind him of what he lost, again and again.

I miss her, I was a second mother to her. She was always very kind and loving to me. At her age she did more for humanity than most of us will do in a long lifetime.

Rest Ari, rest and watch over B.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Thyroid problems

As a caregiver I hear all the time the same mantra:Take care of yourself or you will become ill.

That sort of lands on deaf ears, I have always been the bunny that keeps going and going.

Lately the "going" has been deminished to 2 or 3 hour naps in the afternoon. I feel exhausted most of the time. I resigned at work as of Jan 1, thought it time to retire. I need the funds but not the exhaustion.

So last week Sunday it took me 6 hours at work to accomplish what I do in 3. As an auditor I have to balance everything before I can leave the store. I sat in a daze with a 50 dollar bill and did not know where it belonged. I have done this job for 3 1/.2 years I do it in my sleep. I was so dazed that I just could not think straight and almost fell asleep at my desk.

Doctor thought I may have had a mini stroke. So first test showed that the thryoid was extremely low. Second test for the veins showed that I did not have obstruction of any kind.

Next week comes the MRI. I truly do not think I had a stroke of any kind but the fatigue, no doubt, is from the thyroid. So it is time for medication.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Today is the anniversary of my mom's passing.
It was 15 years ago. She was 83.

I remember on the flight to Belgium that I looked at the stars
and suddenly thought that she would not see the next
daylight. That felt truly weird.

Since I saw her once or twice a year the shock did not
set in. That took some time.

15 years later I still talk to her.
Make no mistake this was not the best relationship.
My mom was strict. Rare were her compliments,
Her greenish eyes would turn grey when she was angry and
you knew there would be hell to pay.
She wanted perfection, she demanded perfection from herself too.
A task master with few friends at the end.
Her friends had left her one by one.
She had demanded too much from them.

She had a hard life in many ways.
Husband cheated on her and left her.
It was not being done in the early 1940's.
She had to start from scratch after a cruel war.
She worked her way up, went back to school to get a degree
as a CPA.
She held her job for decades while men around her were trying
to unseat her.
Her only child left for America.
Her alcoholic father became very poor when his second wife's relatives
put him outside the door after her death, so he moved in with her.
He was not easy, often he threatened her or her friends.
She had promised her mother that she would always look after him.
She always kept her promises. Always.
She did not know the meaning of unconditional love.
Not with me, not with others.
That was a hard nut to crack.

Still I miss her.
She could have let me go with my father and looked the other way.
She could have given up on me, instead she insisted that I become strong.
I am still under her spell.
I just want to please the world.
Confidence is a word that skipped my dictionary.
Hence my children too have lack of that, how could I teach them
what I did not have.
Every franc I inherited from her I had to turn around and around
and wonder if she would have approved on how I spent it.
I am sure she would not have.

She left us without pain.
She just said she did not feel well and she was gone.
4 hours before she had written me a letter.
The last line in the letter says :I love you, mom
That always touches me, I knew she loved me, she cared a lot for me,
she just was still so dissapointed in me.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I should be sleeping .......

When we first met four decades ago I would wake up during the night
and just touch him. I wanted to make sure he was still there.
That he had not left me in the night as I was deliriously happy for the first time in my life.
In the wee hours of the morning I wanted to know that I had not been dreaming
about this warm, fuzzy feeling which engulfed me.

Last night I was reminded of these wake up sessions as I am doing the same thing now.
I touch him, feel his breathing,feel the skinny arm and boney hand.
Yes, he did not leave me, he is still with me and yet hours ago when he had his
"fittles" when he walked from room to room for hours, when again I would have to explain that
I sleep in the same bed, when he opened the doors and locked them again and again,
when I was so exhausted , then at that moment I wondered how much longer I can
take all this.

I beg God then to take me away followed with but who will take care of him like I do?

't is morning now and the sun is coming up, the trees have never given me a display
of color like they are this year. I am ready for world.
Take out Bijou who is learning fast and waits for his walk.
The world looks good, we have a new President, life is good.
't is another day try and rejoice in it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Voting time

A week or so before the election the important letter came for an absentee vote.
Son and I joked as we know how old Bob feels about politics.
He was a democrat in the womb and I do think that his mother would have put him back if he was n't.

We both sat down by the kitchen table while I asked:
Bob, are you a republican?
The tired eyes took on a different color as he shook his head and said "NO"
while he stared at me. His look was like to say "you know better than that, what a stupid question".

Then I said: "Are you a Democrat?"
The eyes were twinkling and he looked and said with great conviction:
Of course.
Then he added: my mother too.

We filled in the form, sealed it and made him sign where needed.
I said: You are voting for a new President and that is him pointing to the
TV Obama commercial.

Him? was his question. Yup! Him!.
Him? again was the question and again I answered yes.
He looked at us like we were joking.
We assured him that was the man he voted for, a democrat!
He said"very good"!
Just sat there and smiled like a cheshire cat.
I told him all the stories around Obama , where he had been and so on
and he just listened, again said :Very good.

My husband never had a racist remark or thought in the 40 years
I have known him so I know he is well pleased.
Since then he watched the results and the speech and I am sure
that he knows Bush is out (he disliked him so much) and there is a new guy in town.

Would I have voted for him if he did not remember, yes, as I know the man.
He always voted a straight ticket and I voted for the person I liked.
Gave us some time to bicker over it but we did vote that way.
I have power of attorney and did not have to use it in this case but what
surprised me that a member in our family said that this was not
That he did not understand the policies and did not know what it was all
about. This person is an in law and he does adore my husband so I
was surprised to hear that.
I feel that as long as my husband is here with us, pays his taxes,
has never even had a traffic ticket, born in this country and served in WW2 in the Pacific
should at the very least be able to vote for the party he is registered in
and voted all his life for.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Time to retire

I told my assistant manager that I was retiring on Jan 1st.
It was hard to say.
We both had tears.
I had been there for 3 1/.2 years.
I set out to work till I reach 80.
I made it to 76 1/2 .
I am exhausted, can't keep up with the house and a zillion other things I would like to do.
Something like sit on the couch and read a book would be a novelty I hope to enjoy.

I was self employed for most of my working life.
This last experience was new to me. Retail had been my life but this was working for Mr Stein and I just loved the fact that when I left the store the worries were up to Mr. STein and Co and not me.

When I used to leave MY store, the worries followed me into the home and into my dreams.

The experience was so pleasurable because I have two mgrs who are absolute dolls.
They made my experience there one of the best working years in my life.
They gave me rides to and fro work, they adjusted their schedules to mine.
They became my daughters.They scolded me when I would not take care of myself. They watched me like hawks.
I will miss them a lot, I will miss this camaraderie we had and the last
touches I have with the outside world.
BUT I feel I need to give up something in order to try and get a more organized
life at home.
I am tired and I need to focus on the last stage to come with Alzheimer and
my job as a caregiver.

different dementia behavior stages

I am finding out that everything about dementia/Alzheimer comes in stages.

Recently I met a professional caregiver who works a lot with A. and she tells me that she loves it because the patient always finds something new in his or her behavior.

Well perhaps you can take it more lightly if you only work a certain amount of hours or if you are truly detached from the person.

For me this week to see husband run to the porch in underwear and 40 degrees and wave to the garbage men
was not funny. It could have seen the humor in it but at that moment I just could n't.
So I am wondering is this another phase?

We had the stone phase for a long time, maybe even a year.
We have a driveway with little grey stones about 1 inch or so in diameter.
Old Bob would pick them out, the pretty ones, of course, and would put them everywhere.
Where is everywhere? You name it!
With the forks, in my breadmaker machine, with my underwear, with his underwear, with the cat food,in the oven,
under the pillows. Then I found the stones lined up like decorations around the bathroom sink. The sink started to look like Stone Henge with a pond in the middle.
When I found stones with the chocolate baking chips I was not amused. When I found them in my purse I was less thrilled. Then suddenly like a ribbon cut with a scissor the whole phase was gone.

The phase with toilet paper rolls went on for months. As soon as we were NEAR the end of a toilet paper roll he would remove it and hide it. So now where there used to be rocks I found toilet paper rolls with a few sheets on.
I found a huge carton full of them, I do not know how long he kept this up because this was a large carton full.
Now what do you do with toilet paper rolls having about 10 sheets left on them.
Maybe I could start a new craft.

When he was still able to walk to the post office he would come back every time
with more free postal envelopes , the kind for priority mail.
I have so many boxes full of them in his studio that I am afraid to be arrested
by the Post office police.

Then he would pick up all the free magazines published by hungry realtors.

Throw them out you say? Easy choice, put them in the trash.
Not so fast, he still daily checks what is in the trash and often takes out what he
thinks should not be there. I have to wait till I hear the garbage men come
and them throw it in the bin, and in the meantime make sure my husband
does not make an entry in his underwear to wave at the men.