Facebook kindly informed me that one of my favorite garden centers was having a sale on mums and asters.
The ad looked like this.
The garden center is on my way home from work (well, sort of), so I stopped in today. Wow, Fitchburg Farms has an amazing array of healthy, colorful mums, and gorgeous asters in shades of purple! As I mentioned in a recent post, I’m noticing that my flowerbeds are in dire need of some more color. Well, “dire need” might be a slight exaggeration, but they are looking a bit drab.
I drove slowly down the gravel drive into the garden center, admiring the nicely shaped trees along one side and could see that the front of the store was awash in autumn colors. I pulled into one of just a few paved parking spots, then donned a face mask and made my way over to the area where the carts and flatbed wagons were corralled. Three mums and three asters was the “buy limit” I had in mind, so I chose one of those flatbed wagons and set off in search of just the right colors to complement the mums Wayne bought me earlier in the week. There were just two customers shopping in the outdoor section of the garden center, so I picked an area other than where they were shopping so that I kept adequate social distancing in mind.
Since I was in my own spot, I could play with colors. I’d find two or three that I liked and then play with the combinations on my little flatbed. I couldn’t help but notice that there was this lady staring at me as I played. I wondered if she thought she perhaps knew me from somewhere, but couldn’t quite recall. Before I knew it, she was in the same garden aisle as me, so I moved to the next one over to give her (and me) some space to shop.
She followed me.
I couldn’t help but notice that she kept an eye on me the whole time I was there. Wherever I moved, she moved.
Strange. It wasn’t creepy. Just weird. It reminded me of those detective shows where a private eye detective is tailing a suspect and trying to stay incognito (and doing a bad job of it).
I moved to another aisle where I spied more amazing colors that I could play with. She tailed me again. This time the lady finally spoke up and said, “Please, don’t mind me. I am watching you as you’re arranging and rearranging the colors.”
I chuckled, “Oh! I was hoping I wasn’t getting in your way.” She grinned as she shared that she had been there for awhile before me and just couldn’t make up her mind. When she saw me breeze in and start playing with the color combinations she knew what she would do. My garden center stalker-friend shared, “I like the color palettes you are creating and decided, whatever you buy, I’m buying.”
Sure enough, weird turned into a compliment when I looked at her cart and she had duplicated every flower I had chosen.
My husband Wayne has been trying out a new hobby – flying a drone. So far he has been sticking close to home as he practices maneuvering his new toy. I asked him to take a few aerial photos of my gardens. One thing I noticed was that color is quite lacking in my fall garden. I have a few mums and asters to plant, so maybe that will help.
While the gardens are a bit drab at the moment, I do have a few things which are looking quite pretty. Maybe you’ll remember the pots I planted (with a little help from a squirrel). My theory was correct. He stole the seed from another area and planted a sunflower seed in the middle of one of those pots. It ended up being ‘Teddy Bear’, a short and bushy variety, which sports a long-lasting golden yellow flower. I will probably plant more of them next year.
Here’s an update on Datura ‘Blackberry Swirl’. It’s still blooming in my garden and I’m still undecided as to whether I will keep it. The flower IS pretty spectacular, but it is an evening bloomer, so is rather ‘meh’ during daylight hours. This post explains my thoughts concerning the drawbacks of Datura. I did go ahead and snip off the seed pods so as to not invite more of the plants.
I planted quite a few peacock orchids earlier in the summer. They’re blooming now and quite lovely. The flower is rather demure, but the fragrance is incredibly beautiful, reminding me of jasmine. The flower isn’t an orchid at all – it belongs to the iris family. I plan to dig them up and store the corms for the winter to replant in late spring. Next year I will plant them in larger groupings, as I think they’ll make a bigger impact that way. If I plant more of them in the little flowerbed by the mailbox, the neighbors who pass by on their walks just might get a whiff of their perfume.
My garden does have a few areas which still have color. The clematis on the arbor that leads to the backyard is finished, but the phlox planted at its base is still strutting its stuff. The sedum in the foreground is still hosting parties for the bees and butterflies too.
One last photo of the shaded area beneath our locust tree. The color is courtesy of potted impatiens in my favorite shade of pink. I’m really happy with how this flowerbed turned out this year.
Next year I plan to plant up more pots to help layer my garden with color at various heights. I shared my thoughts about that plan with my husband. Next thing I knew I had a stack of pots and bags of potting soil in the garage. Yep, he totally supports my barefoot gardening endeavors.
That’s it for my Six on Saturday. Many thanks to our host, Jon the Propagator. It’s always a pleasure for me as a gardener to see what fellow gardening enthusiasts all around the world are doing in their respective garden spaces each week. I hope you’ll check it out and perhaps share your own six next week.
Today I complete another trip around the sun. Most people get a little forgetful as they age – you know, the searching for the glasses perched on top of the head sort of thing. As I now approach the middle of my sixth decade of life, I am keenly aware that I am spending a tad bit more time looking for mislaid things, and much more time trying to figure out the names of people whose names I should remember. My sweet mom had Alzheimer’s in her later years of life, so I will confess that my own little forgetful moments cause me to think about what may be down the road for me. I suspect the day is coming when my memory will fade, and perhaps gradually vanish.
I write this post for any of my readers who are faced with loving and caring for someone they love who has heard their physician say “Alzheimer’s” when delivering a diagnosis. My dear family, I especially write these words to help you in the event that I someday hear my doctor say that dreaded word, or any other diagnosis which spells memory loss and dementia. You will likely need to make many hard decisions on my behalf – like taking away my car keys and deciding when it is time for me to live somewhere else. You were there when I made those difficult decisions on behalf of my mom and likely remember how hard that was for me. Take heart, God will give you wisdom for each decision and shed light on every step you need to take.
If I get Alzheimer’s, don’t ask me to remember; instead, reminisce and tell me stories from our past. What do you remember that we did together? Tell it again and again to me.
If I get Alzheimer’s, and I perchance do tell you a story from my past (or yours), you might want to write it down or record the story I’m telling you. I may tell you that story over and over and over again, just like your grandma did. Do you remember her talking about how she made her blue flower pots when she was in West Virginia, or how she dug the purple tablecloths out of the trash, or the stories about her wedding day? Just remember that the day will come when I will tell my story for the very last time and you will one day wish you could hear me tell it once again.
If I get Alzheimer’s, I might stubbornly refuse to bathe. The fear of bathing is the sad and stinky reality of this horrible disease. There might be a lot of fussing and crying, so let me tell you right now that when this time comes, you might find that hiring someone to help a for a few hours a day or two a week will be just the thing.
Tip: You might also find that dryer-warmed towels, blankets and clothes will calm my anxiousness. If all else fails, those disposable washcloths you can warm in the microwave are wonderful.
If I tell you I am cold, more than likely I truly am cold. In Alzheimer’s, the part of the brain which regulates body temperature and thyroid function goes kerflooey. Rather than subject yourself to turning up the furnace year-round, when you help me get dressed, start with a soft sweatshirt, then add lighter layers and keep soft blankets and throws handy.
If I get Alzheimer’s, I probably won’t remember to brush my hair. Will you please do it for me? Please use a detangling spray when you brush my mane of hair. I use a detangling brush, working from the ends and then all the way up to gently coax the tangles out. I like my hair long, but cut it short if you must. I might be mad at first, but will likely soon forget what once was.
By the way, if I tell you my hair hurts, I am not confabulating or telling a fib. When my hair gets dirty, my scalp truly hurts. It feels like bruises on my scalp, so please try to keep my hair clean. Perhaps a weekly trip to the hair salon for just a wash will be just the thing.
If I get Alzheimer’s, it might be challenging to keep me occupied, so here are some ideas for you to try. Gardening is my happy place, even if it’s just my own blue pot or three, encourage me to play in the dirt as much as I possibly can.
I also really love to work on puzzles, and might enjoy working on one with you.
Oh, and I like crafts. I once helped my grandkids create things with beads and paint; maybe, in time, it’ll be their turn to help me.
Baking was a joy to me when my mind was clear, so I might enjoy helping you in the kitchen. Even though I am old, remember that my mind is becoming child-like. What can a child do to help? Perhaps I can stir the batter, whisk the eggs, or pour in the bag of chocolate chips.
I could set the table, dry the dishes and wipe off the countertop. It won’t be perfect, but I will feel like I have made a contribution. It’s very important to feel useful.
If I get Alzheimer’s, remember that I’m a blue-jean wearing momma who likes pretty knit tops – ones with interesting details like ruffles on the sleeves and pretty buttons and lace. When you buy clothing for me, I suggest you buy two of each of my favorites. This will help you cope with me when I insist on wearing the same shirt over and over again. Unless you’re handy with a sewing machine, you might even want to buy two in the next size down, as those with Alzheimer’s lose interest in food as time goes on.
Perhaps you have noticed that I practically live in an apron. I wear one in the kitchen, while I’m cleaning, or when I’m gardening. If I get Alzheimer’s and the day comes when I become ‘messy momma’ at meals and perhaps need a bib, you might spare my dignity and try an apron instead. If I need to graduate to a bib, please make me some pretty ones…with lots of flowers.
If you can’t get me out of my pajamas in the morning and I stubbornly refuse to get dressed, just put on your pajamas and declare it “Pajama Day”! Conversely, if at day’s end I refuse to put on my pajamas, please remember that there’s no harm in wearing my clothes to bed. Unless the clothing is soiled, it truly isn’t worth the battle.
Dear family of mine, you know that I love the Lord with all of my heart and go to church every Sunday. If it is within God’s providential plan that I get Alzheimer’s, may I ask you to please take me with you to church for as long as I am able? It will do my heart good to gather and worship with my family and friends. One day you may find that I fidget too much or speak out of turn, then you will know it’s time for me to stay home with a caregiver while you go praise and worship our Lord, fellowship with your friends, and feed your soul. I’m God’s child and He will be near, whether I’m at church or at home, so don’t feel as though you are leaving me alone.
If I get Alzheimer’s, help me stay in touch with friends, be they old or new. I loved to have family and friends come for dinner. Much like your grandma did, I would probably enjoy company, but may get overwhelmed with crowds, so make it just a few. They may not understand what is happening to me, so gently explain before they come.
Remember how I used to take a photo of your grandma with her guests (or snag one off of Facebook), then give her the card to hang onto when her guests arrived. I would add their names and how she knew the people, then laminate the cards. It helped her remember their names. Maybe it would help me too.
If I get Alzheimer’s, please get me outside as often as you can. I always enjoyed walks in the park, so you might try that again. Push me in a wheelchair if you must, but let me enjoy nature and a bit of fresh air for as long as I’m able (and willing).
If I get Alzheimer’s, one day, you may find, I’m terribly unwilling to leave the house where I live. Going outside may become a terror, rather than a joy. If that day comes, try to create a comfy spot where I can sit near a window and enjoy the beauty of flowers and trees planted nearby, or a grandchild-painted birdhouse within view where a sparrow family might keep me occupied with their comings and goings.
If I get Alzheimer’s, you might like to know that I love to listen to music and would enjoy Christian radio. But if I’m anxious, you might find instrumental piano or guitar will help me to relax. I especially enjoy listening to great hymns of the faith. You’ll find what I enjoy on my Spotify and Amazon Prime music collection.
If I get Alzheimer’s, please remember my children and grandchildren are especially dear and I hope they will visit when they are near. If they can’t come to love on me, please tell them to send me cards and sometimes include a photo for me to treasure.
If I get Alzheimer’s, I might like to carry a purse even though I don’t carry one now. When memories no longer stay tucked away in my mind, a purse might give me a handy storage space where I can pull out special memories any time I like. You might want to tuck a few of my treasures inside: little photo books filled with family (be sure to label who is who), something to color and an array of colored pencils, little books of flowers and butterflies to help me enjoy the things God made. Oh, and finding milk chocolate or a cookie in my purse would be especially nice.
If I get Alzheimer’s, the day may come when watching television is my thing. I really enjoy mysteries, but nothing super scary. Put on a gardening show or gentle children’s programming and I think I’d be content. I don’t like to watch television alone, so would you occasionally sit with me?
One more very important reminder. If I get Alzheimer’s and ever forget your name, please know that my heart still loves you and someday (sooner than you realize), the day will come when God will take me Home and make all things new, including my memory of how special you are and how very much I love you.
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.
Fridays are date-night at our house. I always look forward to this weekly time away from the responsibilities of taking care of my mom, who has Alzheimer’s. We are so blessed to have a wonderful caregiver who spends time with Momma while we’re away. Tonight, courtesy of a generous gift card, we dined at a fancier-than-usual restaurant called Tornado. Well, the place wasn’t that fancy, but the food, service and menu prices were.
Last Friday night we were enjoying a dinner together at a restaurant that we were giving a second chance. While we dined, Wayne asked me if I had any goals for the new year. It was a good question and a great conversation starter. I’m not very good at making resolutions, and even worse at keeping them, but I had given a little thought to some goals I would like to achieve. There were several areas where I wanted to do life better this year than last.
I didn’t mention the one thing that is always on my list of resolutions or goals – losing weight. I’ve taken steps in the right direction, but it still somehow eludes me. I’m going to still keep trying but, if I’ve learned anything in my years of chasing after that goal, it that there’s more to a better life than being the perfect weight.
Part way through my last decade of life, I realized that I like to write. I shared with my hubby that this year I want to get better at writing and be more intentional in the time I spend doing so. I have the aspiration of writing a book some day, but don’t have much of a plan for getting there.
I want to be a better gardener. In addition to spending more time with my hobby of cultivating a beautiful flower garden, I want to begin adding some nutritious veggies to my garden in 2019. Not enough that I would have to commit to canning or freezing, but enough to enjoy some fresh nutrition during the growing season.
I want to be a better grandmother. I feel as though my responsibilities in caring for my mother have sidelined (or at least diminished) my opportunities to spend time with my grand-blessings. I wanted us to be more intentional about carving out time for them. I’m thankful that Wayne has a similar goal this year, as this will be much easier to accomplish if we are like-minded in this endeavor.
My heart’s desire is to be a better student of God’s Word. Not just a daily devotional snacker, as has been my habit while caring for my mom, but an endeavor toward a deeper, life-changing study of God’s Word. I plan to review a favorite epistle – James), comparing it with the early chapters of Proverbs. I’ve discovered that James borrowed much from that book in his writing. I’m also going to delve into a book I have read, but never studied – Hosea. May the Lord give me a better understanding of His precious Word.
I know! I know! I’m late again! This slightly tardy post was brought to you courtesy of Kate Motaung’s blog Five Minute Friday and the word “better.” Wanna-be writers like me set the timer for five minutes and then free write on the posted word of the week. I think I wrote for about five minutes, but switched to a different Word Press editor (something about boxes or blocks). I sort of like it…but there is a definite formatting learning curve in it for me where it comes to adding pictures.
Just over one year ago I wrote, “Honoring Your Parents: Nursing Home or Your Home?” (I invite you to read it here.) In that piece I endeavored to describe the process which had guided my decision-making related to caring for my mother as she slipped further and further into the horrible world of memory loss. Countless decisions have been made since moving my mother from Milwaukee to our home in Fitchburg. Each decision to be made along the way was generally preceded by some sort of adversity which required a change. We prayed about each change, each process, and each decision. Our faithful God always answered, shedding light on each uncertain step.
Change is in the air once again.
Mom’s advancing Alzheimer’s and a few recent difficulties have made it abundantly clear that we need to prepare for what the next level in mom’s care might be. There have been many “nudges” toward planning for the possibility of mom’s future care taking place outside of our home setting. But three things in particular:
A gentle nudge in the form of a well-timed question from Diane, mom’s palliative care nurse practitioner. “So, have you considered what the next step in your mom’s care might look like?” We had a good chat about that, and she gave me several helpful suggestions.
My hubby’s trip to India. I had to ask myself what I would do if something happened to him and he could no longer help me. Even though my family and friends rallied to help me out during his trip, it became very clear that caring for mom on my own would be at too great a risk to my own health and welfare.
My own frailty. I took a fall down a short flight of stairs in my own home. Aside from a scrape to my leg, a few sore muscles and toes, the greatest injury I sustained was to my own pride. The fall served as a wake-up call causing me to consider how Wayne would care for mom if something happened to me.
In the past year, I’ve looked at the websites of many assisted living places, have talked with a few representatives on the phone, traded emails with yet a few more, and even toured three that I liked and thought might be able to at least provide some respite care. In each case, I could not imagine my mother living there. After my little chat with Diane, I looked into a newer one she suggested and rated very highly. BeeHive is a 16-unit specialized memory care facility designed to look and feel very home-like. It is ideally located in Oregon just a few miles down the road from us, and about a mile from the nursing home where my brother resides.
Wayne and I scheduled a visit in early September before his trip to India. I was favorably impressed as I watched staff interact with residents. Compassion and respect were palpably present. We met Gina and Andy, two of the owners, and felt their pride of ownership and desire to serve their residents.
Standing on the sidelines, I watched one sweet lady receiving a hand massage. As the aide gently applied lotion and stroked her delicate hands, she looked into this resident’s eyes and spoke with her like she was a familiar friend. I knew in my heart this was the right place. A puzzle was in the works at a nearby table and I could hear one resident talking to another in friendly banter. Yes, I could definitely picture my dear Momma sitting at one of the tables, working on a puzzle and telling (or re-telling) one of her many tales.
After some discussion and prayer, we decided we would put down a deposit to reserve a place for mom. She is currently number four on their wait list. While it is still my heart’s desire to keep my mom at home with me until God calls her to her heavenly Home, I have great peace knowing I have another level of care reserved for her. My greatest comfort comes in knowing the One who is guarding our steps as He walks before us paving the way for whatever our future holds.
I know in my heart that my dear mother would skip along to heaven tonight if she could. Nearly every day she tells me so. Momma’s greatest comfort comes in knowing that Jesus promised He has a placed reserved for her in heaven.
Like last week, we awoke again this morning to a thin layer of fresh snow covering the yard – and a promise of more to come. In between snowfalls, we had two days where the temps hovered near 40 degrees. I managed to get those daffodil and tulip bulbs in the ground, but had to tuck them in close to the house where the ground was warmer.
The sunshine lured me outdoors this afternoon while Momma took a little catnap. Drinking in the fresh, clean air, I took a little stroll through the yard and snapped a few photos of things that caught my eye.
Do you think this garden bench would look pretty painted a grape-y shade of purple? I’m toying with the idea. Or should I leave it to weather as is? What say ye?
Hubby found this discarded ladder a couple of summers ago and painted it a lovely shade of green to serve as a trellis and whimsical piece of yard art with my painted bird houses perched on top. The garden ladder supports a clematis vine I snagged from my mother’s garden before I sold her Milwaukee home. I’m so glad that I was able to dig a few of her pretty flowers to make the move with her. I’m not entirely sure what pruning type this clematis is, but decided to take a chance and prune it back today to make the area look tidy. My mom can see it from her usual spot at the kitchen table and often comments about how the gardener really should clean that up.
Hubby added the rope to assist little climbers after he cut off one of the lower branches they used to hoist themselves up into the crab apple tree. One of my favorite memories is of my granddaughter Violet sitting up there perched as high as she dared singing praises to Jesus and thanking God for this tree to climb.
Friday night is date night at our house. We pay a caregiver to come and hang out with my sweet Momma while we go out to dinner, see a movie, or do some shopping. Last night we found ourselves at Menard’s where we replenished our birdseed for our feathered friends. I also replaced my worn out garden gloves with some brand new hot-pink ones…hopefully won’t lose them next year.
It has been a crazy week here. Short on sleep most nights and long on trying to keep mom awake and occupied during the daytime when she’d really rather sleep. Sometimes I’m just so tired that I give in and let her nap. Today is one of the days when I did my best to keep her awake, thus putting off my contribution to Six on Saturday. It’s still Saturday and here it is.
If you would like to join in with this fun weekly meme started over at The Propagator, take a look here.
It’s hard to believe in less than a week hubby and I will be gathered with our kids and their families celebrating Thanksgiving. I’m personally looking forward to time away from caregiving (thankful for my sister who will care for mom while we take a little break), time with my grandkids, a little uninterrupted sleep, good food cooked by my kids and a few of their kids with a little help from me (When did THAT happen? Used to be the other way around!), and everything else that goes with spending time with family reflecting on God’s goodness to all of us.
I have so many things on my always growing “to-do list”. In my world of being a full-time caregiver for a mother with Alzheimer’s, there are days when I may as well throw my to-do list in the trash, as Momma’s needs trump my would-like-to-get-done checklist.
One thing has helped. Simply focusing on one thing at a time.
“One bucket of weeds” is doable. I can certainly grab a 5-gallon pail during one of mom’s catnaps and do a quick cleanup of one area of my garden. That one bucket often leads to two…or maybe even more.
“One load of laundry” is much more attainable than devoting an entire day to the job. It’s an on-going job that is never truly accomplished anyway…so just do ONE load now. The rest will follow.
Sometimes it does help to break my big job up into lots of little “ones”. Spending time in the garden is one of those things I love to do, but also one of the things that is HARD to do while taking care of my sweet Mom. But, truth be told, even on the worst of days, I can get ONE thing done if I create a few bite-size chunks.
Trim back the red peony and bag the leaves
Dig out the aggressive lamium
Divide the red iris
Plant a piece of the red iris on the other end of the flower bed
Trim back the clematis to 1 foot
Plant the tulip bulbs
Repaint the birdhouse (a rainy day project)
Very few of those jobs take longer than 10 minutes to accomplish. A little here and a little there. One small bite at a time. Each little job accomplished leads to the satisfaction of being able to cross the big job off the list.
There you have it. My ONE contribution.
Now, I’m going to fold ONE load of laundry before a much needed night out with my ONE guy.