Today is a good place to be.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Thursday Girls

Here are my Thursday girls:

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Letter from Dad

Dear Friends and Family, I found this letter my Dad had written to us, his children, a number of years ago. 

I love reading it and hearing his voice.  This week is a tough one with moving him into an assisted care home and I hope those of you who LOVE my Father will enjoy reading his words.  This is a very personal post and I sincerely hope it will be respected and loved with the same amount of respect and love he delivered it us. 

We love you Dad.

Feb. 14, 1999

To all of my children:
For over a year now I have been feeling that I should put down on paper some of my feelings and thoughts as a way of sharing with you something of a lasting nature. Since my mom passed I have thought many times how much I would love to have some of her advice and counsel or just have her near. I miss her so very much. I have also been impressed that I should let you know some of the things that I know that I am sure I have told you before, but that I want recorded for future reference by you. I hope that you will keep this letter and refer to it from time to time and that maybe it will give you some guidance and direction and comfort over the years of your life. This is not something I am doing because I think I am not going to be around much longer. Who knows what life will bring each of us? That is one of the joys and excitement of life. But I do believe that when are together, we rarely take the opportunity to talk about the serious side of life and so this is my way of giving you some of my feelings and experiences.

I love each of you so very, very much. It is amazing to me how much love I have for each of you and how tender my feelings are. Now that you are all out on your own, mom and I are every bit as concerned for you as we were when we were raising you, maybe even more so because we are not part of your everyday lives. I am constantly amazed at how fast the time of life goes by. We have just celebrated our 30th anniversary of married life, well over half a lifetime so far for us and I honestly do not know where the time has gone. As you live life, there are so many day to day things that seem so vital and so important and seem to have such a major impact on what we do or how we act, but when you get the perspective of looking back over more than 50 years of life, you get a much clearer realization of what is and what is not important.

I have recently begun writing my life's history and in my mind reliving the 53 years plus that I have lived on this earth. What a fun trip it has been thus far remembering the early days of my life at home with my parents.  So many things come to mind that stand out in my life, but I really remember a lot of love.  I hope each of you have good memories of your years in our family as well.  I k now everything was not always perfect, but I remember so many great times and those are the ones I hold so dear.

As I write the things that I think will be most beneficial to you, please take them for what they are, advice from your father.  Think about what I have written, and every so often, please take a few moments to pull this letter out and reflect anew on what I have left with you.  This is a letter that I hope will not be read once and discarded, but will be kept and referred to often.  You all have such long lives ahead of you and this will serve to give you the voice of your father at any time during your life.  Try out some of the things that I have discovered that have made me happy in my life and some of the principles that I use to give my life meaning.

I guess the first thing I would like you to know is that life has so much to offer.  There are wonderful highs and anguishing lows, but the majority of our lives are spent evenly and there is so much joy in just  living day to day.  No matter how high the highs get or how low the lows are, they pass into every day happiness at just being alive.  I have been through some heights of happiness and the depths of despair.  I have shed tears of joy and tears of sadness.  I have been so totally, emotionally spent that I have had nothing left in me for a time.  Interestingly enough, the joy and happiness become treasured memories to be relived and reflected upon, whereas the sadness and despair and the impact of the sorrow they bring fade away and are filed into an area of forgetfulness only to be remembered as part of our experience and, while we are so distraught as we go through hard times, I have found that this too shall pass.

I love life.  I have come to find out that life is only what we make of it.  Attitude and the way we approach things has everything to do with how happy we are.  We actually choose to be happy and positive or down and negative in what ever situation we find ourselves.  I have seen individuals in such desperate, almost hopeless, situations who keep such a positive outlook and are so happy with life.  In the long run, and if you can, try to step back and look at all things from a detached point of view.  Do not get too wrapped up in feeling sorry for yourself or feeling like the world is against you.  If you put that energy into solving your problems and looking for solutions you will almost always find it's not so bad and that you can overcome anything.

One of the great principles I live by and one that I gain a lot of satisfaction out of is being responsible.  Whether it is in the home, in the church, in the neighborhood or in the community.  I have found that anything I can do to make it better gives me a great deal of personal gratification.  I hope you all have felt the satisfaction that comes from going the extra step to see something all the way through; from doing more than is required just because it is the right thing to do; from putting for the extra effort because of the inner pride that you have to do more than just the basic requirements.  I guess that is one reason that we have always been so frustrated when rooms were not kept clean or tings were not put back after being used.  I suspect that I was not perfect in that area as I grew up, but it is something that is so important and gives me such a good feeling about myself, that it is a lesson worth living.  Do not be afraid of working and helping.  Some of the fondest memories I have are projects that we worked on together as a family.  It gives you such an opportunity to accomplish a common goal, build relationships and to have fun.

One things I can say as I examine my life is that I truly love giving service to others.  I believe I got that trait from my mom and dad.  My mother always served the members of our family and would do anything for us.  My father was great at giving service to others and always got us involved whenever he could.  Putting others first lifts the soul and gives you such a wonderful feeling.  I remember taking you girls with me whenever I could so you could be exposed to the concept of service, and of course, I always enjoyed your company.  I have enjoyed watching each of you make an extra effort to serve your sisters at one time or another.  Service should start in the home and eventually it will find its way into all parts of life and bring with it much happiness.

One thing that has always been very important to me is righteousness and morality.  As I look around the world today, it is quite obvious that one of the most important values I have held so very dear is under very heavy attack.  Through the use of media the moral fibers that hold life and relationships together have become very weak.  Things we see in commercials now would not have been allowed on TV even late nights when I was growing up.  The important thing of each of you is to spend some quiet time alone coming to a determination as to what your personal values really are.  Do not be influenced by what is going on around you or by your current circumstances.  Do not try to fit your values to anything but what is important to you.  Be true to yourself as you lay out a patter that will bring you happiness and fulfillment.  Write your values down and refer to them often.  Life your lives to correspond with your values.

One thing I know I have been truly blessed with in my life is knowledge that my  Heavenly Father lives and is aware of me and that my brother, our Savior, did in fact live and did in fact pay the price for my sins.  There is a greater plan than just this life.  We do live an eternal life predicated upon what we do in this life.  The knowledge and testimony of this has been developing over my entire life and is still developing.  I have not always lived as I should have lived with the knowledge that I have been given, but each day my life comes into focus a little clear and I am more determined to follow that path that lead to eternal joy.  When I was your age, I knew what was right, but I was not totally committed to it.  Through my life's experiences, I have become more committed.  Mary and I have always tried to set a good example for each of and to teach you correct principles and I believe we have done a pretty good job of it.  I have been with each of you at times when you have had spiritual experiences and you have felt the influence of the spirit in your life.  There may have been things that have happened in your that have pulled you away from the ability to enjoy the comfort and peace that the spiritual side of life can give you, but one of the most important things I have learned in my life is that each day, each hour, each minute give a chance to change directions of we want to.  We are never locked into anything in our lives that can not be changed.  I know, because I have made many changes in my life and I am sure I will make many more.  Life is an evolving process that allows us to grow and we are the ones responsible for ourselves.

May I just give you a little advice about finances.  One of the most difficult pressures that can put on you in life is the lack of adequate funds to meet your needs.  The anxiety of financial needs can cause a lot of damage to you personally and to your relationships.  I have been blessed because I have had a good education and have always had good employment, but even so, I have had times when it has been difficult to make ends meet.  I know each of you have struggled at times as well.   My best advice is:  Do not live beyond your means.  It is so easy to get credit and get in over your head.  Be very careful how you  manage your funds.  Get in the habit of spending less than you make.  Not only that, but get in the habit of saving something from everything you make.  Success and financial security will come to those who plan and make the effort to control their spending.  Putting a little away at your age will grow into a large amount for your retirement.  That is something I did not do and wish that I had.  Only lately have we been really putting money away.

Each of you are so different, yet each of you have such great personalities and are so enjoyable to be around.  Take some time to develop your talents.  If you can, always see to it that you have a little time to yourselves each day and then use that time doing something that you want to do.  I realize this will not always be possible and there will be times when others will need to come first, but even if it is just reading for a few minutes before you close your eyes at night, take the time.  Learn to be happy with yourself.  You are all very good children.  Make sure you realize what really special spirits you are.  You have been given much and have much to give.  Remember your legacy and the heritage of your family.  Take the time to think about where you are headed and where you would like to be going.  In other words, lay out a plan for your  life.  It is amazing where this life will lead if we have our own road map and plan.  The beauty of this life is that you can begin down any road you want at any time you want.  There is always a way.

When you have some time, get to know your grandparents a little better.  Read their histories and take the time to write down what you can remember about them.  All four of them are wonderful people that have had some truly great experiences.  They lived during a different time than you for the most part, but the values they treasured and held so dear are still very applicable today.  They have given you a wonderful heritage and left you with a great legacy.

I have learned how important it is to enjoy the little things in life.  Just today I watched a couple enjoy a little baby during church, just watching her smile and move around.  Nothing earth shattering and yet the  love there expressed was very striking.  I think of how quickly those treasured moments pass.  I remember very clearly each of you has a young child and how quickly you developed into young women.  Time can never be recaptured, so enjoy each and every moment that you can, especially with your children.

These are the things I believe:
I believe there is a Heavenly Father who is very aware of each of His children and loves them each very much and wants to help us if we will but let Him.
I believe that we have a brother, even Jesus Christ, who did atone for our sins and has made it possible for us to return to our Heavenly Parents.
I believe that we are literal spiritual sons and daughters of Heavenly Parents.
I believe that we have a living prophet on the earth today.
I believe that the family is so important and that we are a unit that has been bound together by the power of the Priesthood in the temple.
I believe we are here on this earth to be tested and that we are  tested and that we each have the power to overcome anything if we desire it.
I believe that each of us is responsible for our own actions and our own way of life.
I believe the truth is the truth and does not change even though it may fall out of popularity or may be ignored by  most of the world. 
I believe that the basic human spirit is good and there is goodness in everyone.
I believe we are here to  lighten the burden of one another and that service to others is repaid to us many times over in our lives and brings us joy.
I believe that standing for truth and right is a noble and wonderful opportunity for us to impact the lives of others in a positive way and to feel good about ourselves.
I believe that as we are entrusted with little spirits that come directly from our Heavenly Fathers presence we have an obligation to love them, nourish them and teach them and to let them teach us.
I believe that we can feel the spirit in our lives and that we can gain direction for it.
I believe that we have been blessed with a beautiful world to live in and that the birds and animals are here for our enjoyment.
I believe each of us has our own challenges and obstacles in life, but that we can overcome them; the power is within us.
I believe that life was meant to be a wonderful, happy experience for us and that it can be if we keep everything in its proper perspective.
I believe that we can find happiness where ever we are and in everything we do.
I believe in love and am thankful for the love of my life and the life we get to share together.
I believe in each one of your girls and in your divine nature.

I love you  more than I can ever express.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Teary Moments-- Another Alzheimers Post

"Guys, we have to be extra special nice to Grandma and Grandpa tonight when we go visit them."

"Why Mom?"

"Well, its been a tough day with Grandpa's Brain Problem.  We need to love Grandma all that we can, and let Grandpa know how much we love and appreciate him.  Some day he might not remember our names so right now we need to be happy he can."

"That's OK if he forgets my name Mom.  I will always remind him what it is."

My eyes filled with tears and I told my son how much I appreciated him telling me that.


I have been fighting Alzheimer's with talking about it.  I talk about it all the time.  I am sure everyone is sick about my constant chatter on what a horrible disease it is and how fascinating how the brain deteriorates and how heart sick I am watching my sweet father fall from this disease.  I talk to my kids a lot about it because talking with them makes them less afraid.  Plus it feels comforting to me to give them an excuse why my Dad isn't the Grandpa I know he would have been without this disease.  Why he isn't the Grandpa to my children the way he was a Grandpa to the older grand kids in our family.  I am sad they don't know him that way. 

I think I am past the stage where I see Alzheimer's in everyone I come in contact with.  At one point I was sure my husband was showing signs.  I am pretty sure he isn't anymore(he is only 36).  I am, however, not convinced I am NOT showing signs myself(even though I am only 36).  When I can absolutely NOT remember a word I knew minutes before(Usually in a few games I have played), I get really annoyed and wonder......

I am also way past the denial stage and am into the acceptance stage and helping others stage. 

OK, so helping others is not an actual stage of grief, but thanks to my Dear Dad, I have been trained in the heart ache of loosing a loved one without the actual loss of his person.  This "stage of grief" as I like to call it has been helpful.  If a friend has questions and needs to talk about their concerns they can come to me.  Or if a care giving friend is at the end of their rope and doesn't know where to vent, but remembers I know exactly what they are going through, they can show up on my doorstep.  I am so thankful I have to the tools and understanding to be here for others.  And of course, like many of you have heard me talk about, my Dad would be proud that I have taken the experience of his issues, and used them for the good of many others.  This is what he would want.  My experience of his challenges, any challenge really, to be used for good.

I've started working in Elder Care.  Its been a blessing to help this family I am working with.  They are sweet people and I have grown to care about them a lot.  Its a nice experience to help them, and then leave the situation and come back home to my family without the emotional stress following me home.  The wife of the couple used to run an adult foster home.  She is very sharp and she has given me a lot of advice on how to deal with my Dad as well as my Mom and different techniques I can help and support them. 

Kathryn gets the pleasure of spending Wednesday mornings with her Grandma and Grandpa Frederick while I work.  I have been fortunate to bring my Dad back home with me a few Wednesdays to have some lunch, watch some Perry Mason, and spend a little more time together(OK, maybe I sleep next to him while we watch Perry and he sleeps next to me while I watch Rachel Ray, but we are still together, right?). 

This past Wednesday my Dad was very down.  I didn't know how to comfort him.  Not that it matters anyway, right?  He won't remember from moment to moment what we talked about.  But I handled it different than usual.  Each time he brought up his concerns I reminded him that he had Alzheimer's and asked him if he knew that.  He said he did know that, but I am not sure he did.  I told him that was the root of his blues for the day.  He was going through a lot of challenges. 

He said he just feels like he has no control of his life.  He feels like he can't do anything right.  He can't do anything on his own.  No matter the length of his memory, these are his current feelings.  And they are spot-on.  This is exactly what Alzheimer's has done to him.  He said he felt like he used to do so much and now he just can't do anything.  I reminded him again that this was his brain problem.  Its not his measure as a man, but rather a measure of progression of an awful disease.  To which he replied:  I hate Alzheimer's.  The rest of his visit he didn't bring up his concerns or his blues.  Maybe he forgot, maybe he got over it, maybe he moved on to the next thing in his mind to repeat over and over.  I was left thinking about his fears.  I wish I could forget them. 

At the beginning of the year we attempted to move Dad into an assisted living home.  It didn't work out for various and heartbreaking issues.  More than anything we never wanted to go there.  More than anything my Mom wants to  keep him home and care for him.  Certain issues he was dealing with at that time were corrected with some medications.  He finally got some help from a state social worker and had some headway.  It was interesting to see the support we got at this time, as well as the non-support.  People who knew nothing of our situation, but were very familiar with life with a loved one with Alzheimer's understood exactly what we were dealing with.  People who know and love Dad and didn't want to see him in a facility were not supportive at all, however, these people are not aware our concerns, his behaviors, and honestly don't spend much time with or in our current situation.  I understood their side.  Its part of the denial, anger, blaming part of grieving that I personally have gone through what feels like a dozen of times.  No matter what I was feeling, I felt that I needed to support and be strong for my Mom.  She is the only person who lives with him 24/7.  She has more challenges than any of us can ever know about.  I can't imagine the sadness she deals with on a daily basis.  Just another reason for heart break I guess.

We might be there again-- exploring our options to move Dad into a different assisted living home.  I am overwhelmed, again, with sadness.  The loss of my Father has just been excruciating.  It comes again and again and we can never close this cycle of grief.  We simply keep climbing through it over and over depending on the day, depending on the situation.

So I have to remember the words of my sweet little boy: 

"That's OK if he forgets my name Mom. I will always remind him what it is."

I will too.

You might remember my post:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

1st Dental Appointment

She looks like a pro.  But.... well, she only had half of her mouth cleaned. 

But no cavities--- so she still got a toy!