Danielle Swett Olander describes herself on Facebook as an “Accomplished Instructor; Convention Exhibitor at Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) and Multitasker Extraordinaire at Olander household.”
An apt description. Though we’ve only met in person a few times, our friendship grows deeper by the day as we each take care of someone we love who has Alzheimer’s. Danielle is a family caregiver who watches over her father-in-law, Tim, who happens to be my husband’s and my close friend.
Danielle graciously gave me permission to post this Facebook essay on my blog. I know it will touch the hearts of many of my friends and followers whose lives are also impacted by this memory-robbing disease.
I grew up in churches that would allow you to say you had an “unspoken” prayer request. Usually it was something that was a little too private to share in public but that you desperately wanted someone to pray about. Or perhaps it was just to have something to say when it was your turn to share prayer requests. Today I have a little story about a different kind of unspoken request.
On Monday, the young lady who is helping me with Tim’s care dropped him off at our house around lunch time. He had a sandwich and was resting in his favorite chair. Our kids turned on a classic TV show, but he obviously didn’t want to watch it. I put out a chair in the driveway and suggested that he sit outside until the show was over. It was a beautiful day, the kind we endure January for around here. A little later I went out to the garage for something and didn’t see him in the driveway where he usually sits. I went back inside thinking perhaps I had missed him in the living room. When I didn’t see him there, I sent a child to the basement and another to the backyard. A third jumped on her bike to begin riding around the block. He wasn’t anywhere nearby. I realized that he had left without telling me where he was going.
I opened up Find My Friends on my phone and began a search for Tim. Thankfully he had his phone with him. A little blue dot “TO” appeared about 3 miles away, not far from his apartment. For the first time ever, he had decided to go for a walk, from our house all the way back to his apartment, 4 miles away. I called him and ended up bringing him back to our house where he declared he had done enough walking for one day.
Sometimes we know specific requests to pray for our friends. Other times, we simply bring them before God, knowing that he “knows what you need before you ask.” (Matthew 6:8) In our bowing before the Father, I know I have simply asked for his guidance, grace, or comfort for a friend, not knowing exactly what their need was. I know many of you are praying for Tim daily. You probably didn’t pray on Monday that he would protect him when he went for his “walking spree” (Tim’s words that day). But God knew what Tim needed. It gives me great comfort and strength to know that Tim’s care doesn’t rest completely on my shoulders. Thank you for praying for him.
 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (ESV)
Caregiving can cost much more than the investment of time and energy caregivers share with their loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s or other dementia disorders. Oftentimes loving caregivers dig deep within their own pockets to supply resources their loved one cannot afford for themselves. I’m sharing this wise investment advice from my husband knowing that there are many family care givers who have risked their own financial resources to care for a parent.
A potentially risky decision that some caregivers make is to take out a home equity loan in order to pay for nursing home and caregiving expenses. By no means am I suggesting by sharing this article that we should ignore the needs of ailing parents and loved ones; rather, that we should all give careful consideration to planning for the uncertainties of the future so as to avoid risky financial decisions which may haunt us for a lifetime.
Source: Borrowing to Invest – HELOC
I will probably run out of friends and family before I run out of things to give away. But, in this process, I’m learning much about the value of things in comparison with the value of being a blessing to others.
I’ve been working my way through some of mom’s possessions which followed her from her apartment to her new abode in our home. I’ve been trying to put as many of her decorative objects into use here as I have room, so as to make her feel more comfy and at home. Though she has already been through two other downsizing events in the past two years, we are still left with way more items than she needs (or can appreciate in this stage of Alzheimer’s). As much as possible has been given to family members who have expressed an interest in her belongings. My daughter took on the responsibility of selling or giving away the furniture that was no longer needed (and I am SO grateful for her help). Each day the invasion of moving boxes on my 3-season porch gets smaller as I carve out time to go through their contents. For this, I am grateful. Continue reading “Stuff Exchange Blessings”
Sometimes “church” doesn’t just take place on Sunday morning seated in a pew in a sanctuary.
Last night Momma sat at her end of our kitchen table smiling. Seated around our table were some pretty special dinner guests: my girlhood pastor and his wife, Ed and Diane Fuller, and their son and daughter-in-law, Scott and Dianne Fuller.
I told Momma about the visit shortly after she awoke in the morning. It’s funny how certain future events linger in the mind of a person experiencing significant short-term memory loss, yet other things slip right through like sand through a chicken wire sieve. Continue reading “Church at the Kitchen Table”
My 3-season porch is looking more like a porch than a moving company warehouse. Slowly but surely, the boxes are being emptied, things are finding their home, and order is being made of boxed chaos.
I’ve been spending time sorting through dozens of photo albums over the past few days. It’s been a trip down memory lane – complete with laughter, a few embarrassing moments, rushes of happy thoughts, a few tears and momentary sadness.
My sweet Momma spent countless hours at a little table in her basement putting the incredible number of photos my Dad took through the years into carefully labeled photo albums. Dad took LOTS of pictures. A CrAzY number of pictures. Every time you scratched your nose or stuffed something in your mouth (or so it seemed to me), he was there snapping a photo. But, he captured a LOT of family memories too. Continue reading “A Smile from Dad”
If you’re one of the lovely people who write my sweet Momma, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Letter writing is an all but lost art. Who doesn’t love the surprise of opening their mailbox and finding a letter or card from a loved one or friend? Continue reading “Sending Love in an Envelope”
Every now and again – at least once every summer – I get a hankering for a good Three-Bean Salad, so I pull out my trusty “The Good Housekeeping Cookbook” circa 1976 wedding shower gift and turn right to page 395. (I’m baffled as to why I can remember something as obscure as a page number in a cookbook I use once in a blue moon, but can’t remember where I put the book I was reading a few minutes ago).
Momma and I aren’t the only ones who have difficulty keeping our thoughts on track though. Case in point. Continue reading “Where do Garbanzo Beans Come From?”
It’s amazing how living with a loved one with Alzheimer’s changes the way I view the world around me.
There is a lovely park within walking distance of our home. In the eighteen years we’ve lived in this neighborhood, I’ve spent many hours at this park walking its paths, playing with my grandchildren, thrilling at the occasional firework display, and enjoying the park’s quietude and simple beauty. Today, I stumbled upon something beautiful along one of its meandering pathways. It’s a wild rose, a beauty hidden from the view of the casual observer as it scrambles up the trunk of a somewhat scraggly pine tree. I “discover” it there every year without fail, yet it always seems to momentarily surprise me when I spy it for the first time each summer. Continue reading “Beautiful Forgetfulness”