Friday, September 30, 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Friday, September 23, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Steve and I got up by 6 a.m., to be ready for our caregiver's slated arrival time of 8:30. As a group leader, I planned to be at church by 9:00, half an hour before the attending ladies were to arrive. The morning began with really bad pain in my leg upon waking, and back pain with it. I'd been getting better, but of course, this was a day to serve and minister to God's women, and the devil doesn't appreciate that! At least, praise the Lord, I woke up only a moment before my alarm went off, so I'd slept through the night. Sounds like I'm reporting on a small baby, doesn't it? But God was faithful. Psalm 127:2 says: "For so He gives His beloved sleep."
Devotions were very sweet this morning, and our breakfast routine went smoothly. Steve laid hands on me while I prayed verbally, and he agreed silently, for my back and leg pain to desist.I just now reflected on one of God's greatest gifts to me--a praying husband, even if he struggles to articulate the words. God hears even silence.
8:30 came and went--no surprise there, since it was a Bible study day. I called the agency to see what the caregiver's ETA was, and she called me back to say 10-15 minutes. GRRRREAT! Ugh. Could I at least get there on time the first day? Apparently not. I finally was able to leave at 8:55. Highway 60 east was flowing well, so I arrived at 9:15.
Whenever I get aggravated over depending on others' timing and schedules, or the traffic they face, I am reminded of what Jesus said to Peter about his later years (and eventual death) in John 21: 18 (NLT):
I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don't want to go.
Steve is rapidly approaching this stage of dependence even though he is only 56. Increasingly, he gets confused by his shirts, especially pullover knit golf shirts with collars. He just can't figure out the right direction to turn the shirt to Button-up shirts are simpler, because it's obvious that buttons are in the front. Sadly, I've found that he's tried to avert confusion by slipping off a buttoned shirt over his head and trying to hang it up for next time. If the shirt smells clean, I'm up for a repeat wearing. If not, it goes into the hamper.
He is not alone in the shift to dependence being made here. Just like it is stated in John 21:18, I too used to just go wherever I wanted to, hopping in the car and running errands, doing ministry or socializing. I could tell Steve I was going on a walk, and just go out the door. Until a couple of months ago, I felt free to keep facial and party appointments for my Mary Kay business, with one of the kids coming over, or a caregiver, or Steve could just be here for a couple of hours. Now because of his confusion, all must be planned out in advance, coordinated with others, and the fun spontaneity of my business, where I could pop over to someone's house with a product or samples, or a hostess party packet, is almost past. I definitely have to allow time for Steve to get ready to go along; only then can I run over to a customer's place. The same goes for banking and grocery shopping. I do occasionally walk across the street or a few doors down by myself to visit neighbors briefly, but I make sure Steve stays in the house.
One of the strengths of our marriage has always been a measure of independence for both of us. If Steve had to work six days a week, I just managed the house and kids by myself an extra day. When I went to grad school during the kids' middle and high school years, Steve managed the house and kids a few evenings a week. (He'd gotten used to my absences on a small scale with PTA and twice-monthly school board meetings). It wasn't easy for either of us, but we respected what needed to be done when the time came to get it done! We always knew the Lord had goals and plans for our family, we'd lifted all incipient ventures to the Lord, and we didn't begrudge doing our part in support of each other.
Our stage of life now, arriving with Steve's early-onset Alzheimer's, is a call to another kind of interdependence. I'm retired so I can meet his needs as they evolve. He's here providing loving companionship and time for me to do something I never would have attempted while a career professional--writing my book, Galatians. There's a difference, though-- I need help a few times a week to help him. and he needs help in doing his household projects that only other men can provide--whether caregivers or volunteering family and friends.
The pastor who married us, Tim Weeks, once very positively described Steve's and my marriage, and me in particular as "dependently independent." I like that. In other words, 2 married individuals= 1 flesh!
Monday, September 19, 2011
5:04 p.m. Today's project was to pick up our lawnmower, with the help of John and his truck, from Empire Mowers in Moreno Valley. It has been a long time coming, with very high grass in both yards.
Saturday I had the pleasant news that the mower had nothing seriously wrong with it, just the problems caused by oil in the gas tank and vice versa, a mixup Steve had last month. The balance was half of what I had been dreading, too. God is so good!
The three of us arrived about 9:15, I paid the balance owed, and the mower made a loud entrance near the front of the shop. I didn't realize it, but the reason the mechanic was showing me a terribly worn blade, and lecturing quite seriously about keeping the blade sharpened, was that he had replaced the blade! Same with the air filter--he was holding a dirty one and telling me how to blow out the dirt a few times a year. I was just listening and staring without comprehending that he'd changed that, too. Because the mower came up to the front near John's truck so quickly after I paid, I hadn't had time to read all of the work that had been done. It was a full maintenance, not just cleaning out the fuel lines. John said, "He replaced the blade and filter." Oh, I finally realized, those were the old parts from OUR mower, not just some parts the mechanic was telling me about! How dense could I be? I was just so preoccupied with relief that the mower was fixed, I suppose.
It goes to show that any one of of can be utterly clueless in a situation. It just depends on the situation. And I don't think Steve was paying attention, although he was standing right next to me, because the gentleman was addressing me...is Steve's condition so obvious? I often wonder if people think he is mentally retarded or has a speech impediment. I don't necessarily bring up his Alzheimer's in a momentary situation like at the mower shop. What do others do in similar situations with an affected loved one? I'd like to have some advice.
I am so grateful that our all-knowing God has others in place who are knowledgeable, skilled craftsmen like Bezaleel in Exodus 38, who supervised the building of the Tabernacle in the wilderness!
That's exactly the kind of man Steve used to be, a mechanical genius, able to figure out, repair or fabricate any kind of equipment. And that's why I never paid attention to the details of the motors, appliances or engines he repaired over the last 30 years, any more than he involved himself in my chosen brands of diapers or recipes! We just enjoyed the fact that opposites attract and have been blessed to have been completed by marriage so perfectly by the Lord.
When we got home, Steve got right to work, once he grasped putting the mower onto the front lawn instead of turning it around on the driveway. He pulled on the starter cord, and nothing. Oh, no! Then he remembered to prime the engine with a push buttton in the front, and the mower started just fine. Praise the Lord, because we would have had no way to take the mower back to the shop. After a few rows, not like he used to mow so beautifully even a month ago, but rows still the same, the mower stopped. Instead of getting irate, we prayed, and God showed him what was wrong--the grass catcher was full. Steve was pulling grass out with his hands instead of unhooking the catcher, so I helped him detach and lift out the bag. He put those clippings into our wheel barrow instead of just dumping the contents directly into our compost. A lot of time was passing, and I was needing to attend to my own tasks. It was time now to put the grass catcher back on the mower and proceed, so I helped him get that done. He was able to finish the front lawn with direction to not take the mower over the barren section near the bank, but to focus on the real grass. I had moved the green waste dumpster over so that he could more quickly empty the catcher as needed.
It was time for a break for water and the strawberry Ensure he likes, and then Carlos, one of his caregivers, came over. I had already decided that whether my facial appointment held or not, I'd let Steve have help doing the backyard and in fixing his lunch. With Steve having supervision, I could run over to my doctor's office with my spine x-rays, and I'd have uninterrupted time studying for my Thursday teaching of I Samuel 31. I arranged all of Steve's lunch food, told the caregiver where it was, and then let him take over with Steve. I could hear a few yells coming from out back, but overall, even though Steve had frustrated moments, they got the job done, and I accomplished all of the research portion of my study that I normally spread over two days.
As I later watered the lawns, one station at a time, I was taken away by the emerald brilliance of our front lawn's tall fescue in particular, and the smooth flatness of our backyard's mixed Bermuda (I guess). It's not House Beautiful , but we've managed to be wise stewards of our property.
We have trees to be trimmed and roots to be removed from our lawns, and another layer of paint to apply to one wall of the room we want to rent. But we're happy with our progress. So far, so good!
Going to the Lord in prayer made our tasks go more smoothly today, even with the obstacles and shortcomings that are characteristic of life in this world.
Jesus told us in John 16: 33,
In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Friday, September 16, 2011
Thursday, September 15, 2011
I didn't fill the prescription because I'm a little leery, but Steve and I went to Healthcare Imaging, which doesn't take appointments, to get the x-rays done. We stepped into a crowded, chaotic-appearing scene! Good grief, I thought, signed in, and a gentleman got up and gave us his seat next to an empty one!! "Sitting's no good for my back anyway," he declared when we thanked him for accommodating us. "There's no good position for my back, I mused bitterly, as I sat down. A word to the wise: don't go to any doctor's office or medical facility without a book to read. The selection on the tv is bound to be ignorant, so you may as well have something of your own choice to read. Steve had God's Promises for Every Occasion, and I delved into Never Far from Home, one of dozens of faith-building Amish novels I collect.
Two hours later, my back was killing me from sitting, and I kept praying for calmness of spirit and for my name to be called. I actually wanted to jump up on a chair and yell, IT'S MY TURN! But God showed himself true to His word:
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee." (Isaiah 26:3, KJV)
Wanting to be a good witness, I couldn't behave rudely, even doing my best not to hobble on the way to the receptionist to ask how long. I was feeling sad, sorry and stressed about the rest of this wasted afternoon. I couldn't have gotten there any earlier, because I needed to eat my lunch salad after Bible study, and help Steve to get tidied up to go. While he got ready, I at least had a moment to run out to the garden and pick a good handful of green beans and water a section of the backyard. I firmly believe in "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:16). That's why delays drive me around the bend, as I think of all manner of constructive things to do instead.
The back pain got so bad that I almost told Steve, "let's go," but then I was called back, almost staggering with stiffness. The x-rays were taken, the crazy wrap-around gown was discarded, I was dressed and carrying the film out of the building. Mission accomplished!
I wish there could have been a witnessing opportunity, to redeem the time in a meaningful way, but the tv was blaring nearby and the two of us were sitting in our own little row, behind some talkers. We both made good progress with our books, anyway!
Out into the sunshine once again, my seized-up back finally got released. Thank you, Lord!