Forty-three and Counting

We met through the mail when I was 15 and he was 21. He was in the Navy and I was in high school. Just before my 17th birthday we decided we wanted to get married, then got officially engaged on my 18th birthday, and married the next summer on my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary – July 3, 1976.

July 3, 1976

We’ve now been blessed with forty-three years of marriage and two children, Matthew and Elisabeth. We’ve seen God provide godly spouses for each of them. Icing on the cake…before long, the Lord blessed us with grandchildren: three grandgirls and three grandboys.

We’ve also been blessed to put down roots in only a handful of places: one apartment and three houses we have called “home.” I remember back in 1977 we discovered a little gem on 49th Street that would only cost us $10 more per month than we were paying in rent for our little furnished apartment. It wasn’t very big, but it was ours and perfect for our little family of three (soon to be four). God provided then, and He still provides for us now.

Over the years we’ve owned our fair share of pets (thankfully, not all at the same time) : one guinea pig, one cockatiel named ‘Jingles’, two gerbils named ‘Digger and Aaron’ (apparently NOT brothers, as evidenced by their very large family), one hamster named ‘Houdini’ (he actually did disappear and we’re really not sure where he went), two “free” dogs (Dusty and Hooch), and one porch kitty who adopted us three summers ago.

On this day, our 43rd wedding anniversary, I could think of no other person on earth who is as perfect for me as this man. May the Lord bless us with more years to walk together in love, as Christ loved us.

Ephesians 5:2:”And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God”.
Life is Good!

Cottonwood Music

Listening to the gentle rustle of leaves as summery breezes
play in the branches of a neighboring cottonwood tree –
wondering why would a tree with lovely wind-stirred song
leave such a terrible fluffy mess lying on the ground?

A squall of snowy tufts swirl by, tickling my nose,
blanketing the lawn in maddening cottonwood snow.
With hair covered in velvety fluff, I sigh as it drifts along garden edges,
then sticks like socklets to my feet wet and bare.

For a few weeks each summer I fuss, whine and complain –
“the tree’s such a much mess” and inwardly wish it weren’t there.
Well, the ‘snow storm’ quelled on this summer’s eve, and I thought I did hear
the cottonwood’s beautiful wind-whispered music beg my forgiveness.

Cottonwood Mess – photo credit treeandneighborlawblog.com

Linking up today with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday community for five minutes of free write on a weekly word prompt.  This week’s word is question. Hello, to my neighbor and friend Marianne, in whose yard this tree resides. I hope she enjoys my question to the stately cottonwood tree and my unexpected revelation that the beautiful parts of life may very well make up for the messy parts.

Alzheimer’s through a Great-Granddaughter’s Eyes

Let me introduce you to Violet. This granddaughter has held my heart for 15 years now and I am quite certain she has a special place for me in her heart too. Any time we spend together is special.

Not only does she love me well, but she also has a special softness in her heart for her memory impaired great-grandmother. Violet goes out of her way to be a bright spot in my mother’s day as often as she is able. Most recently she wrote a few letters to her and asked me to slip them in her purse every now and then so she had something new to read. On other occasions she will come with me to visit her GGma.

Violet and I share in common a love for writing. I love reading what she writes and especially love finding her thoughtful notes sprinkled liberally throughout my house. On a recent visit, Violet picked up a pencil and a notepad and poured out some thoughts on paper about Alzheimer’s. I asked for permission to share them on Barefoot Lily Lady.

Alzheimer’s
By Violet Cynthia Schultz

Family becomes strangers
‘Home’ becomes lost
Books become confusing
Memories become a maze.
Guests become intruders
Flowers become weeds
Shouts become whispers
Old stories are forgotten
making them new again.

Yet the smile of a stranger
can still brighten up the day
Help from a friend becomes a blessing
when you’re lost.
The old photo album
jogs memories new and old.
The surprise intruders
become a highlight of the day.
The countless weeds
spark the old passion of gardening
And the whisper of a voice ensures
comfort, rest, and security.

Beautiful Garden Partners: Peony and Iris

I’m known as the ‘barefoot lily lady’ in my neighborhood – and for good cause. I do have a habit of gardening in my bare feet and daylilies are right at the top of my long list of favorite flowers. In late June through early August, our gardens put forth a beautiful daylily show. Right now though, its all about peonies and iris strutting their beautiful stuff. Even though the wind and rain are doing their best to beat them down, these lovely garden partners are still exceptionally lovely this year.

My flower gardens have been a bit neglected over the past few years as I have focused on caring for my mom. They’re still beautiful, but weeds and more than my fair share of invasive plants have taken more than just a toe-hold in these years of less attention. I am so thankful to have a little extra time to play in the dirt these days now that Momma is cared for and content in her new abode at BeeHive Homes of Oregon. Gardening is my ‘dirt therapy’!

Two of my dad’s peonies flourish beneath our locust tree’s dappled shade: one hosts magnificent rosy red flowers and the other is a lovely white with a hint of cream and pink at its center. As I dig and carefully coax the weeds and invasives from this bed, my mind’s eye can still see my daddy carrying his big galvanized watering can around to the west side of our Milwaukee home so that his show-stopping peonies would flourish.

Dad’s white peonies are equally beautiful balls of fragrant fluffiness. The closed bud is tinged with pink. As it unfurls its white ruffles the center has a sweet creaminess tinged with pink.

Side note: Today I found this fantastic blog post by Christine Covino which thoroughly discusses everything you could possibly want to know about growing peonies.

I’ve long since forgotten the name of this iris, but call it ‘Beth’s Favorite,’ as it is a favorite of my daughter Beth’s. It garners quite a few ‘oohs and aahs’ as neighbors stroll through the gardens. There is not a more perfect purple and lavender combination in the world.

Let me close with a shout-out to my husband Wayne for taking many of these photos. Hope this little garden visit brought you a bit of joy and wonder at God’s amazing creation.

Bye, for now.

Paeonia ‘Gold Standard’ – a Japanese (Anemone Imperial) form

In Everything Give Thanks

I just re-read this today and was reminded once again of the deep-rooted faith my sweet mom has in the middle of her trials of life. Much has changed in my mom’s body and mind in the two years that have passed since I wrote this…but her prayer life continues unscathed by Alzheimer’s.

Barefoot Lily Lady

One of the greatest indignities of the disease called Alzheimer’s is that in the later stages your body forgets how to do the most basic of daily routine care.

Like how to use a toilet.

In the hospital setting, a family member is not allowed to assist with these very private needs. Hospital safety regulations prevail subjecting that person you love and care for to accept help from a bevy of healthcare nurses and aides. All of them very capable and kind, but scary strangers to a confused mind.

In the wee hours of the morning, two of those beautiful people were assisting mom within the tight quarters of the hospital bathroom. I sat outside in her room listening. While they assisted Mom, her nurse asked a routine memory assessment question: “Do you know why you’re here, Charlotte?” Momma thought about it for awhile, then shook her head ‘no’ when…

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Charlotte P. Boyles, RN

Momma was still in bed when I arrived for a visit earlier this week. I learned that she had experienced two nights this week without sleep and it seemed to be catching up with her today. She did NOT want to get out of bed and had already missed breakfast and lunch. The hospice nurse was there visiting and asked me if this sort of thing had happened while I was still caring for her in our home and, if it did, how did we handle it.

I told her that it did happen. It was usually just one night and full day without sleep, but that Momma could sometimes go for 2 or 3 days with little to no sleep. When sleep would finally come, she’d be much like she was today – out cold. I soon learned it was very difficult to awaken her and try to cajole her into doing something she didn’t want to do (like changing clothes or bathing). She would be so groggy and uncooperative. On those days – right or wrong – I would just adjust my schedule to hers.

“So, when she does wake up, what’s she like?” the nurse further queried. I told her she would perk up and she’d be like a different person. The kind and thoughtful Charlotte would replace the grumpier, exhausted Charlotte.

Sure enough, before the hospice nurse left the building, Momma awakened. She was sitting up, got dressed, was chatty and very hungry. Previously verbally unresponsive and only opening her eyes a sliver, she was now bright-eyed and complimenting the nurse on her outfit and telling her how nice her hair looked.

A night and day difference.

I decided that the crisis was over and it was time for me to go home. Momma had already wheeled herself out into the great room and was chatting with one of the other residents. As I exited the building, I threw a glance over my shoulder and saw that my mother had wheeled herself up to another frailer looking resident. There they sat wheelchair to wheelchair with my mother gently stroking the woman’s arm, asking her how she was feeling today and wondering if there was anything she could do to help her feel better.

Charlotte P. Boyles, R.N. was on duty. My heart couldn’t help but swell with love and admiration for my mother, the nurse.