Five Minute Friday: Enlarging my World

My world has been relatively small the past few years, staying pretty close to home. Life has revolved very much around taking care of my mother as she battles Alzheimer’s. Over the years, I found myself growing weary and having to stop doing several things I love in order to be able to focus on her ever-increasing needs.

In late March, my sweet momma took up residence in a beautiful assisted living facility devoted to those with memory care needs. I still spend a few hours each day with her, but I can sleep throughout the WHOLE night in my own bed and am no longer fully responsible for her daily care. I’m beginning to feel more rested and able to resume some (but not all) of my former activities and ministries. I can take a little road-trip with my hubby, play in the dirt in my garden, or prepare a Sunday School lesson for the kids at church without interruption. It’s truly a blessing from God’s gracious hand.

With this new freedom, my world will enlarge even more in September when I accompany three of the men from our church (including my hubby) on a teaching trip to India. My responsibility during this trip will be to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) to the students who will be gathering for the purpose of enjoying some seminary-level training. I have never taught ESL, so this will be a huge stretch for me – something which will also enlarge my world as I help this group of adults whose first language is Hindi in their continued quest to become more fluent in their conversational English.

This is my hubby Wayne’s second trip to India (he’s the handsome, white-bearded guy on the lower left of the group photo above), as he traveled with our pastor and another friend on a teaching trip last year. This fall’s trip is a giant leap for me, as I’ve never been out of the country. [Well, unless you count the time when my hubby and I were honeymooning 43 years ago in a rented recreational vehicle and we drove over the Canadian border in the days before a passport was required.] This trip to India will be my first trip overseas, passport, visa, shots, long international flight, and all the cultural adventure that will surely come with that experience.

In the meanwhile, I will need much prayer support as I prepare for my role as a teacher on the other side of the world.

This post is written for the Five Minute Friday Writing Community. Please come join us! https://fiveminutefriday.com/

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.

Peony and Iris on Parade

Just about the time the last tulip drops its pretty petals in a graceful exit from the yearly garden show, iris and peonies are beginning to unfurl their lovely petals. I love to see my neighbors stopping to admire the gorgeous blossoms. This year has been a spectacular year for these little beauties to parade their lovely petals for the world to see.

I wish the parade was longer. Alas, one by one, the peonies are dropping their lovely petals and the iris are calling it quits too.

Well, there’s my Six on Saturday, where fellow gardeners around the world share six photos of what’s going on in their own little botanical spaces. You can take the tour too by visiting The Propogator’s blog here. We’d love to see YOUR gardening photos too.

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

Feeling Discombobulated

On one recent visit to see Momma at BeeHive, I stopped to chat with one of her bevy of sweet caregivers. With a note of concern in her voice, her nurse informed me that they found mom sitting on the floor twice the day before, but weren’t sure whether she had fallen or if her story of being down there on purpose was the truth. I was neither surprised nor alarmed, as I know my mom’s ambulatory skills are precarious at best. Momma didn’t appear to have any injuries and they were able to help her get back into her wheelchair or bed.

I further learned Momma had not been cooperative this particular morning and had no interest in eating breakfast (a common theme) or coming out of her room. I expressed my thanks for the update then headed toward mom’s room to check on her. Expecting to find her awake and futzing around in her room, I found her lying on her disheveled looking bed and it appeared as though she had been crying. Her face lit up momentarily when she saw me, then the smile abruptly broke into a quivering lip, soon accompanied by a free-fall of tears. I sat on the edge of the bed and rubbed her legs, casually examining them for telltale bruising or other evidence of injury from her suspected falls. Momma lamented she didn’t feel right in her head – something was terribly wrong – that she felt discombobulated. Her right knee was her chief complaint in the pain department making it impossible for her to get out of bed. It did look a little puffy, but there was no bruising that I could discern.

Comforting her as best I could for a few minutes, I thought I should try to get her up and ready for joining her new friends (new every day) for lunch. When my attempts to get her out of bed for lunch failed, her resourceful CNA brought in her lunch, playfully waved the delicious aroma of chicken toward her and cheerfully convinced mom to sit on the edge of her bed and try a few bites. Success! Between bites, mom peppered me with questions about where she was, how she got here, when her parents were coming to get her, what was happening in her head, and other such concerns. I tried all the reassuring answers and diversion tactics I could muster.

When she had consumed about half of her lunch, she wanted to try to get out of bed again. I parked her wheelchair at the end of her bed and came alongside to assist her in standing. Pain prevented her from standing and pivoting to sit; rather, she skootched as close as she could to the wheelchair, then began sliding her bottom off of the bed and plopped onto the chair. All I could do was try to keep her from hitting the floor. Definitely NOT an approved transfer technique, but her unorthodox methods proved successful.

Using her feet to propel herself, Momma navigated herself to her window to watch the birds at the feeder. Pointing at a visiting woodpecker, she proffered, “That looks a little familiar, but everything looks so strange.”

Next, she baby-step shuffled her wheelchair to her nightstand and gazed at her nursing school graduation portrait. Carefully lifting her baby doll up off the bed, she sat her baby in her lap, pointed to the portrait, then whispered in Dolly’s ear, “That lady looks so familiar, but I can’t remember where I know her from. Do you know who she is? I can’t remember her name.”