God gave me the honor and privilege of taking care of my mother in the years that her mind waged war with Alzheimer’s. I am thankful that her brave battle with memory loss and frailty of body is over–the victory won as her affliction gave way to the ultimate healing when Jesus took her home to heaven.
My regrets are few, but if I could have a do-over of one caregiving thing, I think I would listen more carefully to the stories she told about her childhood. In my do-over, I would sit next to her more often looking through old photos, paying attention to the memories she shared. I would take care to write down all of the memories the photos coaxed from the places in her mind where the old stories still lingered.
With the help of my daughter, I did create a memory album for her, but it would have been nice had I started on the album sooner, capturing those stories for her to read and re-read as her memories slowly faded away.
While I cannot roll back the hands of time, I do find joy in knowing she is free from the bondage of memory loss and frailty of body. I find hope in knowing that those precious moments we did share are only a glimmer of the immeasurable time we will share together in eternity.
This post was written for Five Minute Friday.One word. Five minutes to write about it.
Today’s word: COULD
I’m not sure, but I think it has been gloomy and rainy since Sunday. The sun has made a few cameo appearances, but it’s definitely feeling rather fall-ish here in Wisconsin. I even dug my blue jean jacket out of the closet and threw it on before picking up my granddaughter Vi to transport her to a behind-the-wheel driving lesson this morning. (I know! How can she possibly be old enough for that?!)
Well, anyway. While I was gone today, hubby closed “my” windows and turned on the heat to take the chill out of the house. Thankfully, the weatherman tells me that the warmer, throw the windows open temperatures are returning soon. I sure hope so. Wasn’t it just last week that I was playing in the dirt? Yes, I think it was. I seem to recall being busy gathering seeds and dreaming of colorful annuals dotting my perennial flowerbeds next summer. Along with that fun task, I’d been cutting back spent foliage and taking diggings of favorite perennial plants I’d like to grow in other parts of the yard.
I wish I could say I accomplished everything on my garden to-do list during that spell of wonderful weather, but must confess that I am a wanderer in the garden – never quite finishing one task before wandering off to work on something else. Case in point, one glorious day last week, I was digging around in the flowerbed nestled under our locust tree when I spied a particular hosta plant nearby in a flowerbed by my 3-season porch. The hosta was looking a little tattered and sad. So, true to my garden-wandering self, I picked up my gardening stool and plopped myself down in front of this hosta, then pulled my pruning shears out of the pocket of my garden apron.
As you can see, some of the leaves are blighted and stressed. I found a super informative and well-illustrated pdf publication on hosta disease and am really hoping this isn’t something fatal (you can find that publication here). Maybe one of my readers knows what I’m dealing with here.
In contrast to the steady rain we’re having now, we had a pretty long dry spell in August where I wasn’t as faithful as I should have been in watering this area of my garden. Even though there is now a little river running through my back yard, last week there were areas of the garden with deep, water-thirsty cracks in the soil. I’m no expert on hostas, but I’m thinking this damage was due to drought stress. Most of the leaves looked really healthy and I didn’t see too much insect damage, so I decided to just snip away the unhealthy looking leaves. A few snips later, I had this bucket of damaged leaves.
With a little pruning and cleanup, the plant began to take on a bit of its former beauty. There! Now isn’t that better?
The Parable of the Hosta
My garden often teaches me little lessons in life – parables, I guess. This hosta reminded me that neglecting the essential disciplines in life leads to a rather shabby looking life. There are always consequences to my actions (or lack thereof) when important things are neglected. Too little sleep leaves me sluggish and crabby. Poor eating habits affect how my body feels and looks. Forgetting to drink enough water leaves my skin looking 10 years older. Neglecting to exercise early in the day probably means I will neglect it altogether that day, and I will feel it in the way my body moves (or doesn’t move).
Likewise, time in God’s Word is essential to my growth as a believer. When I neglect spiritual disciplines in my life, it begins to show up in the way I think, my attitudes and actions, and even in the way I speak. The beauty of Christ in me becomes marred and difficult to see.
Word Before World
I am grateful to have been invited during the month of August to participate in a virtual Bible study challenge called Word Before World hosted by Well-Watered Women (you can read more about that group here). It was just the challenge I needed for re-establishing the habit of making time in God’s Word a number one priority. First thing in the morning, before social media and other things which vie for our attention. It was fun to virtually gather together with women all over the world. A few of my friends from church were part of this group, so that was a wonderful way for us to spend time together around the Word, taking the sting out of not being able to gather with one another in person right now during the pandemic. I absolutely loved the friendship, the sisterhood, encouraging words, prayer support, photos, videos, Facebook room chats, and desperately needed the accountability.
“Put off” and “Put on”
My hosta parable falls short in perfectly illustrating this growth principle, but here’s the lesson I’m taking away from my little adventure in gardening. Just as my hosta needed me to take off the decayed leaves to restore its beauty, time in the Word helps me see what needs to be “put off” or “put on” in my spiritual life so that the beauty of Christ can be seen in me. And, of course, the water of God’s Word is as absolutely essential to my spiritual growth as the refreshing rain is to the lush growth of my garden.
A Month in Ephesians
During the month of August, I made an effort to read through the book of Ephesians each day (it only takes about 20 minutes). I learned something new each time through and there is still SO much more to glean.
I’m sharing my friend Wendy’s post today. I first called her eldest sister Bonnie my friend when I was in highschool. A few years later, her sister Suzy and I developed a bond of friendship through ministry in our local church – a friendship which has endured and grown. Fast forward a few more decades when pursuit of higher education brought Wendy (the youngest sister) to live in the area where I have lived for the past 20 years. It was my joy to see a sweet bond of friendship grow and it was truly a sad day when she moved away. But God was in the moving around my friend did for the next several years, for it led her to the man God had prepared for her to marry.
What a sweet privilege of friendship it was to create Wendy’s wedding bouquet and to witness the poignant moment that she has written about in this reminisce. I invite you to read it and, when you’re finished reading, implore you to linger awhile on her blog to read the related posts. You will be blessed. I promise.
I’m sharing a reblog of this post from three years ago, along with a note of praise and thanksgiving to God for the wisdom and direction He provided in the years we cared for my mom. I can only imagine what it must be like for her to be present with her Lord and Savior.
I love to get my hands and feet dirty. Try as I might, I can’t seem to keep my shoes or gloves on when I garden. I guess I’m a tactile sort of person who enjoys the feeling of the warm earth squishing between my toes or sifting through my fingers. I try my best to make things grow, but know in my heart that very little of it is up to me.
Landscape designer Tish Trehernewrote an article for Sunset magazine that I really enjoyed. Tish wrote about how she designed her personal garden space around their gorgeous waterfront home. She likes to keep things slightly wild looking by “loosely layering unfussy perennials.” I love her garden design philosophy and enjoyed reading her description of how the plants she chose nestle into one another like puzzle pieces to create a seemingly effortless whole.
While there’s still beauty to be found if I look hard enough, the garden is definitely winding down.
Honestly, the older I get the faster the calendar pages turn. I feel like I just said “hello” to August and now it’s nearly gone.
It’s been hot and dry lately. So dry that we’ve set out our sprinklers to give the thirsty lawn and gardens a little drink. We get a little tease of rain here and there, but it mostly just skirts around us. The last “almost rain” we got looked like it would be a doozy, but it was just a lot of wind and thunder, with narely a drop of rain. But, that weather front did push our hot weather out and paved the way for cooler, fall-like weather – perfect for cleaning out flowerbeds.
While there’s still beauty to be found if I look hard enough, the garden is definitely winding down. I could run around trying to get snapshots of some of the pretty stuff that’s hanging on for dear life, but thought I’d share a few of this season’s favorite garden helpers.
This gardening stool was on my Amazon giftlist. My daughter and family bought it for me as a Christmas gift. I love its simple design – sturdy and stable. It’s lightweight, yet durable. Depending upon which way you flip it, you can be seated at 9″, 12″ or 15″. Best of all, I can just hose it down to clean it up.
I think I probably use this little “Corona CT3740 eGrip Hoe/Cultivator” nearly every day during gardening season. It’s a great weed cultivator, hole digger, clod-breaker, furrow digger, can’t-do-without gardening hand tool. Hubby ordered it for me from Amazon, where you can purchase it for less than $12.
This repurposed mailbox helps me stay focused on gardening tasks in the backyard. With a fresh coat of paint and a just for fun bit of artsy embellishment (it was originally used as a prop for a skit), it houses a few handtools and a pair of gardening gloves. No more running to the garage, then being distracted by something else along my scatter-brained way.
Oh, and let me introduce you to the hardest working garden helper I have – my husband of 44 years, Wayne. Along with a never ending list of household projects, he’s been busy this summer ticking things off my garden to-do list, including replacing and leveling flagstones on my garden path.
Today’s project finds him busy cleaning a summer’s worth of cottonwood fluff and other plant debris and critter mess from our air-conditioning unit. Projects, to name just a few, have included rebuilding two of our raised garden beds, building birdhouses for me to paint, emptying and moving a compost bin, digging plants from here and moving them to there, and doing his level best to be a blessing to his wife. Seriously, what would I do without him?
Okay, room for one more “pretty” as my garden bids August adieu.
There are my six, my gardening friends. Many thanks to The Propagator for hosting this weekly garden show ‘n tell.
Too much time to think and ponder as I pick tomatoes or deadhead borders can lead to retail therapy. As you know, gentle reader, stretching the daylily season has been a project for the past few years. Slow to occur to me was the idea of using REBLOOMING daylilies to get more late blooms. Of course, I have the obligatory “Stella d’Oro” which is just beginning its second bloom, but since I wasn’t all that impressed with it, I hadn’t looked for others. What a mistake!
After spending some time researching on the web, I decided to order from a company unknown to me, Iriswarehouse.com. They had an impressive selection of reblooming daylilies, at reasonable prices. Now when I say “reasonable” keep in mind that rebloomers are not as common, and are more in demand, so they are not cheap. After I…
Another post in my “Rewind” series. This post originally appeared on October 23, 2016 as a Facebook note in my pre-blogging days. As I journeyed alongside mom with her diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, I learned through her experience many things about the affect this disease had on her world. As my mother’s caregiver, I have leaned heavily on the experiences of those who have traveled this road ahead of me. In sharing my experience, it is my hope and prayer that someone else will be helped and encouraged.
Even though Momma lives in a little one-bedroom apartment, many days she has a hard time remembering where her bedroom is located. A few minutes ago, I overheard her talking to herself saying, “Now, where is my bed?” Groaning with each step taken toward bed, I could hear my sweet mother then exclaim as she entered her room, “Oh, there you are! I can never remember where you are.”
I’ve been staying overnight at Mom’s house since September 11th. That was the night when mom had a severe separation from reality, scary hallucinations, and I had the realization that it was no longer safe or wise to leave her in her apartment alone. Sadly, she was so afraid to stay in her room. Every time I would get comfy and start drifting off to sleep on her couch, she’d come in the living room, flip on the light, then stand in front of the couch asking me if I was awake. I would get up, gently guide her back to the bedroom, do the room search (looking for the intruders she was so sure were there) and I would try to reassure her that everything was okay.
I noticed that even during naps taken during daylight, mom wouldn’t sleep under her quilt. I would often find it pushed to the corner of the bed or on the floor. On the third night of no sleep, Mom told me that there were “faces swimming” on her bedspread. She was clearly disturbed by its presence. So, I replaced the bedspread with an extra blanket and mom finally settled down enough to sleep for a few hours.
The next day, a very kind friend from church came to sit with mom so I could take my brother to a medical appointment. When I returned later that day, I related the story about the bedspread to her. She took one look at it and said, “Of course there are faces! Look here! See the eyes?” In all the years that the paisley bedspread had been covering my parents’ bed, I had never noticed that.
As I thought about my sweet friend’s observation, I recalled reading in several articles related to caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s that busy fabrics give some patients great anxiety and that it is helpful to use solid colors in clothing and decor choices. Even busy wallpaper patterns can take on frightening proportions that terrify the confused mind. With that information in mind, that very day, I stopped at my local Target and purchased a plain, simple white bedspread for her.
No more swimming faces – and every so often, I catch a heartwarming glimpse of mom gently fingering her new bedspread, running her hands across the soft fabric as she drifts off to a much more peaceful sleep.
I love hearing the little ‘ping’ when my granddaughters send me a text. I received one from Mia last week asking me to identify this plant that she noticed growing at her church. She remembered seeing them growing between the cracks of my flagstone path when she was a little girl and she had always enjoyed them. Of course, I recognized them as portulaca (moss rose) and told her I have a few little bits of it growing in my garden this year.
I plant moss roses every now and again and am always delighted when a plant throws seed and new moss roses come up willy-nilly somewhere else the following year.
Mia’s question spawned a curiosity within me about seed gathering, so I decided to look up a video demonstrating how to collect the seed from some of my moss roses so that I can plant some of my favorite colors more purposefully in areas where I’d like them to grow next year. There are plenty of YouTube videos on the subject of gathering seed from portulaca, but I appreciated this one .
I enjoy growing petunias in my pots. They’re just so pretty – especially the purple ones. I decided to watch a few more videos on how to gather petunia seeds so that I could perhaps save a little money by growing my own next year. I discovered it’s very similar process as the one used for portulaca seed gathering. After watching this particularly helpful video, I decided head out to my front porch and check my favorite petunias to see if there were any seeds to gather.
I was so excited to find the little seed pods mentioned in the video, so picked a few and tried harvesting them myself.
I used this little strainer from my kitchen drawer to sift and separate the seeds from the little pods. Next, I slipped the harvest of seeds into a white paper envelope and then labeled the envelope with what kind of seed was within (knowing full well I would forget by next spring). Before sealing the envelope, I slipped the plant tag from this year’s plant into the envelope too. I am looking forward to planting my seeds next spring and really hope they will germinate. If they do, I’ll be sure to post some pictures!
What about you? Have you had success in harvesting seeds? Do you have any tips to share? I’d love to see your ideas and tips in the comments below.
I’m not sure if I should consider this cicada a gardening friend or foe, but it seemed to be quite interested in what I was doing as I worked on cleaning out one of my flowerbeds.
I’m a curious gal, so did a little reading about cicadas today and enjoyed this National Geographic article (see link below). I learned that the male cicadas mating vocalizations can damage our hearing. If you’ve ever heard a cicada, you will certainly believe that.
I also learned that the cicada that hung out with me is an annual cicada. I also learned that my state of Wisconsin is expecting this cicada’s cousins, the “periodical cicada,” to show up for their big event in 2024. That cicada is distiguished by its orange and black body and red eyes, compared to the dull green of the annual cicada. I learned that we can expect a very loud show in 2024 when those cicadas are expected to emerge by the millions.
I confess. I’m not looking forward to that show…or gardening with them.
I would be well on my way to becoming a very wealthy woman if I had a dollar for every time I answered that question posed by someone who stopped to admire the pink hibiscus in our front yard.
As a gardener, it is very gratifying watching people stop to admire our flowers, and even more so if they want to talk about them or ask a question. This time of year, admirers often want to know more about the giant pink flowers by my front porch. Gardener-types usually want to know what type of hibiscus it is. I know there are many types of hibiscus, but I really know very little about them. It was time to learn more about this amazing flower. Like any good student today, I went to Google and did an internet search. There are many amazing tutorials and articles from which to glean, but my favorite was this excellent post. Please click on the hyperlink if you are equally curious to learn more about a flower which delivers such beauty to the late summer garden.