Saturday, November 26, 2011

Very anticipated transition

4:01 p.m. Today's project was to move from fall/Thanksgiving mode to Christmas season in my mind and in my home decorating. It might take my heart another day or so to catch up, since Thanksgiving seemed to come early this year. An outing to the Hillhaven Pines tree farm tomorrow after church ought to do the trick!

As I put away my pumpkins, wooden leaves, turkeys and fall door hangings, and found my Advent calendar on the top shelf of the "holiday linen closet," I thought about our kids fighting over whose turn it was to open a door and reveal the tiny ornament behind it. Looking at our oldest Nativity set, I thought about my preschoolers snatching the Baby Jesus out of the manger to put in bed with them at night. Sweet, sweet memories!  I took out a few seasonal pillows, my hand-carved wooden Merry Christmas letters for the coffee table, and put a red rug and decorated wastebasket in the guest bathroom, stopping just shy of putting up the unbelievably bright shower curtain. It is a little early!

Steve spent the afternoon sweeping and raking leaves, after a few false starts, such as bringing the wrong dumpster for the job, then taking it back to get the green waste receptacle, and then returning with the one he started out with. It's getting harder and harder to get him to listen and follow even the simplest directions. But after a few moments he got on track, raked, and put the leaves in the green waste dumpster. That enabled me to have some time to pull tote bins out of the hall closet and get started. A job he thoroughly enjoyed last year and took pride in now causes him to hang his head and look depressed. The strain on his mind is just so great, it seems, for him to do anything but sit down and eat his meals.

Am I ready to give up all expectations that Steve can perform any helpful activities?   As it is, the morning caregiver is the one who actually walks our dog, and just allows Steve to hold the leash for a minute or two. I or his caregiver help him dress each day. (Not easy for a smaller person to dress a much larger one; could use prayer for my back). Steve now is utterly confused when scooping food out of the barrel for Jada, and then goes to the back patio door where she sits waiting at 5 p.m., in full view because the blinds aren't closed all the way, and sets it down on the floor in front of her without opening the slider. Good thing Jada is a patient soul! She just looks to me to tell Steve to open the slider and feed her.  Come to think of it, she's been a lot more affectionate with me lately, seeking a pat on the head every time I go by her, whereas when Steve was actively engaging with her and Bailey, they barely acknowledged me--they only looked to him. And now Jada looks to me,  "As the eyes of a maid [look] to the hand of her mistress," Psalm 123:2a puts it. Guess I am the pack leader at home now!

Tonight, I asked Steve to go to the garage and get the dog's food, but when I looked around the corner, he was sitting on the stairs with his head in his hands. So, I asked him again, explaining that my reason was that it is good for us both to help out at home. I led him out to the garage, and pointed to the barrel on the opposite end. He walked over there, and I knew I had time to take a quick break, pardon  me. Upon my return, I saw that he had taken the lid off the barrel, so far so good, but the upturned lid is where he'd put the first scoop of dog food.  I helped him get three scoops into the dish, walked him to the patio door, and directed him to open it and put the food down on the patio.

Things are definitely different this year. Last year was difficult enough for me when I aroused Steve's anger by asking for assistance with boxes in the downstairs hall closet. He apologized and we went on to decorate our home nicely. We had some uproar when Heidi and I tried to help Steve put the lights on the tree. But we got the project completed, not as meticulously as Steve normally placed the lights for 29 years previously, but our 13 footer was gorgeous. (Then it started to lean, but that was covered in Today's Project's post "Pine-scented koinonia" on December 3, 2010! )

Post-Christmas there was a shocking incident, when Steve started sawing branches off the tree while it was still standing in our living room. We don't have saws on the premises any longer, needless to say. And the 2011 tree won't be over 7 feet high, so I can maneuver it with minimal help from Steve. Our son-in-law Pavel said he'd be happy to help when we go to pick it up, like our Kriss did in 2009, and our friend Bob did with the "leaning tree" last year. So I may not have to do much.

Steve is quieter now, generally, but does get into fits occasionally, like today, tossing over the green dumpster when he couldn't remember where it went. Praise the Lord that it just landed on the lawn instead of sailing over the front hedge and into the path of one of the hundreds of cars that stop at our corner! Looks like I'll need more assistance here at home, because no one person can handle erratic and unpredictable actions of their loved one. Steve could have run into the street, worst case scenario, even though I was standing right there. I pray the day won't come when I'll have to press my alert button, but I will certainly do it if necessary, and accede to whichever authorities arrive. I checked Steve's remaining insurance benefits in a letter that came today, and it shows that I've been very sparing in using our long term care policy, thinking I'm being what the Bible calls a "wise steward" (Luke 12:42).I've been trying to be careful with our funds, but that may actually be unwise in this case.

While being careful is prudent, excessive caution is lack of trust in what God has so generously provided! Philippians 4:6 (KJV) tells me and you not to be anxious:

Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

I think I'll do that!

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