Friday, December 9, 2016

So it's been a while

It's been quite some time since I've written (here).  The main reason is because I typically write when I'm feeling something.  Lately, I'm not sure what I'm feeling or if I'm feeling at all. 
There is no description I can find to describe what is going on with me lately.  I'm just blah... I wouldn't say I'm necessarily more sad than normal since Chad left this earth.  I wouldn't say I'm angry.  I wouldn't say I'm frustrated either.  I'm definitely not as happy as I was when he was here (not sure that will ever be the case again, and that's ok).

There are days that I pray I wouldn't have to get out of bed let alone face the world.  Reporting to work everyday and facing people at work and faking being "okay" takes a toll on my body and mind.  There aren't right words to truly describe that so I will just have to hope that these little attempt at words does the trick.

Christmas is especially difficult for me.  It's not because I was always that mom that went all out decorating and making the house "smell" like Christmas, but it was something I always did for Chad.  He could have cared less about being a part of setting up or decorating the tree, but we did have these silly little traditions that we did and I truly cannot bring myself to attempt even putting up a tree let alone anything else now. 

The last Christmas we "celebrated" was Christmas 2009.  It is a Christmas I will treasure for the rest of my days.  It just turned out that we had all the kids with us that year.  It wasn't because we knew that would be the last Christmas we would spend with Chad, because let's face it, no one expected that.  However, Chad was deploying during 2010 and we knew he would be deployed that year and he was married, Candi & Nathan were married and kids were getting older so I had hoped we could all be together because all the kids started getting pulled in a hundred different directions.  By chance I asked the kids to see if that was something we could pull off.  At first Chad was told he wouldn't get a Christmas leave so with the chance he wouldn't come home, I asked to go see him that December for my birthday.  Of course Tebo being, well, Tebo, he made that happen so off to CA I went over my birthday.  Turned out that last minute the Marine Corps did grant him Christmas leave so he came home and then we were blessed that the kids' moms were absolutely great about letting the kids be with us for Christmas so with Tia driving through snow and Chad and Katie flying in we had all 6 kids with us for Christmas 2009.  I cannot describe how that Christmas was and actually do it justice.  One of my best friends came over and took family pictures for us in the living room and those turned out to mean more to us than we ever thought they would.

We did have some crazy stuff happen outside worried to death with Tia driving in winter weather and not sure she would even make it for Christmas to the oven going out just as we were trying to cook, but the laughter and love that was felt in that house that Christmas is something I will never forget and I do cherish with all that I am.  I loved it then and that was with not knowing what our future held.

Tebo and I had already planned that any time Chad was deployed we would not put up a tree at Christmas.  We felt like if he couldn't celebrate Christmas like that then we wouldn't either.  He was a trooper about that and went right along with my crazy notion.  After Christmas of 2009 we have gotten rid of our trees (except for my "fun" tree that Chad and I had) and decorations.  We have not even truly considered putting up a tree.  That is, until this year.  This year I was so torn for three big reasons.  1, Tia and Trevor will be here (yes they live here, but they aren't going to their mom's until later) and I didn't want them to feel it wasn't like Christmas.  2, we have a granddaughter now and Christmas has always been about the kids for me and I felt guilty even though she is in Amarillo.  3, I feel like I am cheating Tebo out of something.  Although he says he is perfectly fine with it, I still wonder at times if he feels a bit cheated.

There will come a day, I am sure, that I will end up putting up a tree and trying to make the house feel like Christmas again.  It might be when the grandbaby comes for Christmas, I'm just not sure when that time will be.

In the meantime, Tebo and I will continue to do our "new" tradition of trying to travel and take a Christmas trip each year until the time we (ok, I) decide I can "do" Christmas again in the "traditional" way.  Until then I just keep hoping and praying that Tebo, the kids, and our families can understand and not be upset that this is just one of those things I haven't been able to bring myself to do yet.  I'm slowly working on it, but I'm just not there yet.

We don't know if we can pull off our Christmas trip this year or every year for that matter, but we will continue to try until which time being home doesn't feel so sad.  There will always be a sense of sadness associated with Christmas and  the month of December for me, but maybe, just maybe, one day it won't impossible to make the house look and smell like Christmas again.

Monday, September 19, 2016


Family/Families can be a complex creature can't they?  It shouldn't have to be, but if you have a family, then you know it can be and at times I guess they all are.

So, I've had family on my mind a lot more than usual lately for many different reasons, but I've become a bit troubled lately when thinking about my own family.

Like most people know, families will have ups and downs and they will disagree and get along.  That's just part of a family and being human.  However, what really bothers me most is when family members hold grudges or have animosity towards other family members or heaven forbid, intentionally hurt a family member.  That to me is probably the most heartbreaking of all the hurts.

If I were in a room with just my siblings I think I would say something like this:

I love each of you.  I am sure at times I have hurt you in some way, but know it was never an intentional hurt, but for any hurt, I want to apologize.  Also, there are times you have hurt me and I would hope it was not intentional, but regardless, I want you to know, I forgive you.  It is my feeling that we need to learn to have an adult relationship with each other showing respect and consideration for each other and understanding.  We need to do this for our parents who are not getting any younger and I know personally with daddy, it hurts his heart in a huge way to know there is strife between his kids.  Now, to show a little respect and consideration for each other should come naturally, but with life and just being human that isn't always the case.  It's almost like knowing it is a sibling gives the right to treat them however you want, because they are family they have to love you.  That is a very wrong approach in my opinion.  We need to do a better job all the way around to be better to each other so our parents don't have to worry what will happen to us all when they are no longer here.  If you owe one of us an apology (and you know if you do) then I would strongly suggest you do that sooner than later.  If you don't, but you just don't make the effort to reach out (I can be guilty of this as well), then start making an effort.  It doesn't have to be all the time, it just needs to be regular enough that we know the big stuff going on with each other.  I will make a promise to begin doing this myself.  If you have forbid me from reaching out to you, then you make it right and I will begin reaching back. 

Life is short.  Unfortunately, our family has learned this more than once how short it truly can be.  Why would we waste our precious time on earth being at odds with each other (especially family).

Oh, and one more thing.  If you don't know my family, we are a blended family.  In my opinion, we are family regardless how we got to be family.  I don't have step siblings any longer.  I have 2 brothers and 4 sisters and then myself (& one sister passed away).  That's how it is.  That's how I think it should be.  We should all want to have relationships with each other and we should all be good to each other.  Again, it's a respect thing.  Blood is not the only definition of family.  Besides, my siblings and I have been part of each others lives for so long now that the lines get blurred between "bonus" and "blood" to me. 

Like I said earlier, I love all my siblings and it would be my hope that we will build on our adult relationships and learn to truly love each other and have a real relationship with each other with no animosity or jealousy or anger.  We should be proud for each others accomplishments and happiness and if we should disagree about something, and we will, I would hope there would be enough respect to hear each other out and try to understand or at the very least, accept the path the other is on and support each other even if we don't agree.  That's what it is all about to me.  It seems so simple and yet an almost impossible task for some.  That makes me sad, but I'm still hopeful that relationships will be repaired and become closer as we learn to just love and respect each other. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

In Case You Didn't Know

Dear son, 

In case you didn't know during your time on this earth I want you to know you were the best thing I've ever done!  You filled my heart so full of love. I don't just mean I loved you with all my heart, I mean you truly filled my heart with a love I never dreamed possible. 
You loved me unconditionally as I did you. I know you can't truly read this, but it does my heart good to sometimes write to you as though you could. When you were small (I'm talking like 2/3 years old) there was a song that played on the radio called "Groovy Kind of Love". We used to sing that song in the car to the top of our lungs singing to each other like we were the only people in the world. Then you would sing Allen Jackson's song "Wanted" with so much conviction like you were old enough to know what the song was all about. I love that about you. 
In case you didn't know, I was one proud Momma Bear!  I was proud of you from day one (yes, even when you didn't sleep at nights). 
You were such a blessing and I pray I showed you how much I love you and proud I have always been of you while you were on this earth. If I didn't I am so very sorry, son. I would have walked in your shoes in Afghanistan on Decenber 1, 2010 in a heartbeat. There is a part of me that feels like I did just that, but if I could have spared your life and let you live your future I would have done that without hesitation. That's a small glimpse of how much I love you. 
Since I can't tell you verbally now and you can't show me how amazing you were going to be past the age of 22 I will tell you now as I imagine it would be. 
I'm so proud of the husband you are and how dedicated and loyal you are. I'm so proud of the police officer you have become and that you continue to sacrifice for others. I'm so proud of the father you are. Of course I'm teasing you saying had I know grandchildren were this wonderful I would have had them first. We would laugh about that and I will continue to tease you that way because I'm the mom and I can do that. I am so proud of the home you have created for your family and I'm so proud that you still make time not only for us but for your grandparents. 
See son, even now I am bursting with pride for the person you are and especially that I get the honor of calling you my son. 
I pray you always knew how much you were loved and how painfully missed you are now. 
Love, momma bear. 

If someone is reading this and you have children, make sure they know how you feel about them and tell them often that you love them.  It's ok to drive them crazy telling them how much you love them and how proud you are, it's your job as a parent to drive them crazy anyway so why not do it with those words. You are never guaranteed tomorrow (none of us are), but while we never plan or expect to bury our children, sadly it happens. I never dreamed I would out live mine. Love them with no regrets. I truly feel like I did that I just pray I did a good enough job of showing and telling him while he was still with us on this earth. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

If you think...

If you think I want to continue in this life on earth without my son you would be thinking wrong, but I don't have a choice. The Lord has not decided that now is my time so I will continue on best I can until he is ready for me. However, I don't have to continue to allow negative and hurtful people to be in my life and if they must be in my life I don't have to continue to allow them to make me feel worse. 

To those that would like to continue to step on me after all I've endured and truthfully the memory of my son who died so you can have the freedom to treat people like shit (excuse the language), go ahead and continue your ugly and hateful ways but you will no longer impact how I feel. You will be kept at arm's length and if you don't like that, then make things right.   You know who you are and what you need to do. If you can't do that. Well, then that is on you. 

I've been a people pleaser my whole life and to a point I still am. Where that point changes is when you have used up your chances with me.  Oh, and it takes an awful lot to use up those chances with me but when you have it is hard to come back from that. 

I'm the type of person that gives more than enough chances for you to know you are screwing up with me and if you still refuse to get it or try, well, there again it's on you. 

I love big and I love loyal but you can only shit on me so much and for so long and then you better find another person or a litter box. 

I don't like strife and tension with people but I've come to a point in my life that if all you want to do is lie and hurt people you supposedly love then there will be strife and tension.  

The picture below is just to gently remind those that choose to treat me or anyone else in a bad way that you certainly have the freedom to do so because my son & others like him had the courage to fight for that said freedom. I recommend you use that freedom wisely!  

He died so you could be free to live. 

Monday, July 25, 2016


I'm sure most everyone has that one "friend" that seems to always want to control everything and everyone around them.  It's like it's their way or no way.  I've had them in the past, but that's where they are today, in the past.  I just do not have the energy or desire to continue attempting to have a friendship with people like that.

However, someone very close to me has this friendship and it's a long relationship and while I get why she doesn't or won't just walk away from it forever, I struggle to keep my mouth shut when I see or hear about her constant manipulation and controlling tendencies. 

Why is it there are people in this world that cannot accept that life or events don't revolve around them?  I'm starting to believe it is more about their insecurities than anything else.

So, today I heard about yet another situation where this "friend" not only manipulated this person I'm close to that will remain anonymous, but she also basically pushed herself right into another event and uses bribery to control the situation again. 

I know this person I'm close to loves this "friend" and has just always had her in her life and doesn't want to close that chapter forever, but for Pete's sake, really?  Again.  I just do not get it and maybe I never will.

Maybe I can be a bit cold hearted, but I'm really not.  I just see things from the outside in that don't feel or look right and it bothers me. 

I'm so grateful that my friends are really my friends and I don't have to deal with that stuff any longer.  It's a choice, so I guess if I had chosen to keep that in my life then I wouldn't be blogging right now, but I did make a choice to not allow that in my life any longer and it feels good, but it sure makes it stand out big time when I see it with others and especially for someone I'm close to.  Ok, I'm done (for now).

Thursday, July 21, 2016


Today I just needed to just step away from my desk so at lunch I drove down the street and filled up with gas and grabbed a sandwich and just went back to work and sat in the car while I ate and listened to music.  I couldn't possibly miss you more, but today I just felt a little more emotional than "normal" days.  I decided to look through my pictures on my phone (which I tend to do quite often, so nothing new about that).  However, today I was just taken right back to when you were little and it was just the two of us against the world.  Oh my gosh you were so sweet.

That sweet little smile of yours and those eyes.  Oh how those sweet little eyes would just sparkle when you smiled.  I miss all of that.  There is nothing I don't miss to be quite honest.

One of the things I love about reminiscing about you is that even through the tears, seeing your sweet little face brings a smile to my face.  I guess that's what bitter-sweet memories do.

Oh if I could visit heaven...  First, you would get pretty tired of me, because I would be there all the time.  However, if given just a moment I would give you the biggest momma bear hug ever and just not let go! 

I love you and miss you son more than words could truly ever express. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Still getting surprised

You know, it's been 6 years and 7 months and 15 days since Chad passed away and still yet, I find myself surprised and amazed at how much the Marine Corps and their guys present and past still think of us and do things for us to let us know they haven't forgotten. 

Yesterday morning I woke up to an email from Sgt Major Boldenow inviting us to be honored guests at the USMC Birthday Ball in San Diego, CA.  They want to honor Chad through us for his ultimate sacrifice.  I truly find myself at a loss for words (that is some feat) with appreciation for this gesture.

We are planning to attend on Nov. 10, 2016 and I honestly can't wait.  Not for the recognition, but for the chance to see how much these guys still care and to hopefully see some of Chad's buddies and the friends we made through this journey. 

My heart is full and the appreciation can never be measured in words.

Thank you USMC and all that have or are serving.  It means more than you know.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Funk Much?

One of those days where I'm just in a funk.  You can ask what is wrong, but I'm pretty sure I won't answer, because quite frankly, one of two things will happen.  I will not be able to articulate what is actually wrong or you would not want to hear it.  Sorry, that's just the truth of it.

Right now I feel hurt, sad, frustrated, alone, angry, and a little irritation.  Is there just one thing causing these feelings?  No!  In general it's just life right now and while I am sure I will get past this (as I always do), right now that isn't the case. 

I don't like feeling like this, but there is nothing I can really do about it except keep to myself and hope no one pushes me too much for answers, because guess what, there are no answers and there is obviously no fix.

Well, there you have it ladies and gentlemen, it's just a funk.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Guilt, puzzling thing

I've had many people tell me not to feel guilty for some of these things, but that is far easier to say than to do.
I feel guilty if I laugh too much or have too much fun.  It comes in Ebs and Flows.  There are days I feel no guilt at all and other days I'm full of guilt.
Don't get me wrong, I don't feel guilty for anything I have done or not done where Chad is concerned.  I'm at complete peace with that (Thank you Lord), but I do feel guilty that my life continues and I experience things that I know he isn't here to share in or experience himself. 
If I have a moment when I am at complete peace, suddenly I feel guilty.  If I enjoy singing a song in my car while driving, I will suddenly feel guilty.
I can't explain it and there is really nothing anyone can do to make that go away.  It just is what it is.  I seriously doubt that will ever go away and if that's the case, I will just deal with it, but it is a very puzzling thing. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

6th Birthday...

Well, it's really hard to believe this will be the 6th birthday without you.  You would be 28 years old.  That doesn't even seem possible.  You still have those ringlet curls and that sweet little smile to me.  You are still sleeping in those crazy positions that only you could sleep in and then get up and walk.

To say you are missed would be a ridiculous statement.  You are more than missed.  You are longed for.  My heart will never be the same.  Birthdays, holidays, special moments, etc. will never be the same again.

The rest of your family will never be the same and neither will your friends.  You are missed by so many people that it just seems crazy at times.

None miss you more than me, though.  I swear some days it seems like forever and other days it feels like yesterday.  I don't understand that and probably never will.  I just know I have a huge empty spot in my heart and life without you on this earth.

I try to do you proud each and every day.  I'm certain I fall short a lot, but it isn't for a lack of trying.  I promise.

Some days I don't tear up or cry as much as other days, but I don't think there has been a day since December 1, 2010 that I haven't at least had puddles in my eyes.  That will never change.

I would love to see what you would be doing at 28 years old.  Where would you be working, would you have any children, how would we celebrate.  All those things and more run through my head all the time (not just on your birthday or special occasions). 

I will never know those things, but I can find some peace in knowing where you are and the fact that I am guaranteed to see you again one day.  That is not necessarily comforting, but it does offer some peace when I need it most. 

Happy 28th birthday buddy and happy 6th heavenly birthday.  I wish I could visit heaven and give you a huge hug and tell you one more time how much I love you!   Simply put..... YOU SHOULD BE HERE!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

This was the 6th Mother's Day without him. I would be lying if I said I wasn't sad. There was a void there that just cannot be filled. 
However, I'm one blessed "Bonus Mom". I have kids (yes you will all always be kids in my book) who go out of their way to make sure I feel loved and thought of each Mother's Day (and throughout the year) and for that I'm so grateful. 
This year we went to OKC to see Tebo's mom and sister and I know it did his mom's heart good to see her baby boy on her special day. What mom doesn't want to be with their kids on Mother's Day.  That's really what makes that day so special. It also gave Tebo and I some uninterrupted alone time in the truck coming back to talk and just sit in quiet while we reflect. He took me to lunch on the way back and we just enjoyed time together. That never replaced being with your kids, but I'm so lucky to have him and he just allows me to feel however I need to feel at that moment. Thank you Babe for that. 
Here are some of the sweet things I received for Mother's Day this year. 

I didn't get a picture of my new purse Tebo got me, but it was a great DB purse that makes traveling a little easier. Thank you Babe. 

   (From Tia (although she did way too much). They are adorable and the wrapping job was even better)

(From Trevor. Now, to most they would be like, what?  For me it's fabulous!  You put vinegar and water in it, place in microwave for 7 min. Wait 2 min. And wipe clean. It works!  He also got me a liner for the bottoms of the oven so when his dad cooks I don't have a huge mess to clean up). Good job Trev. 

     (From my USMC Boys!). Yes, these guys never forget and the card was even sweeter. (See below)

Then, all the text messages and phone calls and emails I received just warmed my heart. I don't need all these things, but it sure made my heart full. 
So thank you to each every one that gave me something or reached out yesterday.  It turned out to be a very nice Mother's Day. ❤️

Then I ended my day with our favorite wine.  
        (Courtesy of a very good friend)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Please Don't

If you know someone who has lost a child please don't tell them it will be okay. It's never going to be okay for that child to not be here. Don't remind them that God has a plan. They probably know that, but right now there is no way to understand what plan might include the loss of their child. 
Don't tell them it will get easier. I don't want it to ever get easy to miss my son. 
We know you care and you don't know what to say but a hug and no word is better than some of the phrases people feel they need to say. 

Please and thank you.... 

Friday, April 29, 2016

When it's your parent

Alzheimer's is one of, if not the, saddest diseases out there.  It steals your loved one before they are physically gone.  Sadly, my family has seen far too much of this disease and quite frankly, I'm desperate for a cure or at least a solution to keep our loved ones themselves for far longer.

I was able to go to NC and see mom this past weekend and while the trip was mostly to discuss getting some in home care for her, I really needed to be able to see her in person.  It's one thing to talk to her on the phone, but sometimes you just need to put your arms around her and show her how much you love her.

It truly was so sad to see how much she has declined in a year.  She is just not mom, really.  She has moments when she is, but for the most part she is a shell of who she was. 

She has started hoarding things in her room and things just don't make sense where she puts them.  Mom was always an immaculate house keeper and now she isn't.  She was always one to present herself very well with her clothes and now she struggles to dress appropriate for the weather.  There are so many times when you just see her eyes glass over and you know she isn't really with us at that moment and that is hard to watch.

She doesn't remember to eat or take her medications unless someone is actually there to put it in front of her and make her eat or take her medicine.  It's just so sad to watch.  They truly do revert back to child like behavior at this point and that puts loved ones in a hard position.  It's hard to balance making sure they are safe and ok when they are still your parent.  You (or at least I do) walk a fine line with still respecting the fact that she is the parent and knowing there are decisions that have to be made for her well being and not wanting to upset her or take too much of her independence away.

I am truly grateful that my sister, Paige, is so close and willing to take time away from her life to make sure mom is ok, that she has eaten, that she is dressed appropriately, etc.  If you have never had to be the care giver for someone in that position, it would be hard to even comprehend what it takes out of you.

I was only there for 4 days and not 24 hours consistently with mom and I was exhausted.  It becomes more emotionally and mentally exhausting than physically.  It is difficult to explain unless you experience it yourself. 

Paige and I decided to clean mom's room, drawers, and closet while I was there.  We wanted to organize it and put her winter clothes away so she would have only options for weather appropriate clothing.  We spent more than 4 hours working in her room and finding some of the oddest combinations in drawers.  At some point you might as well laugh or you would just cry.  We chose to laugh and have a good time with it.  We had mom sit on the bed and try on clothes to make sure things fit and we would start a pile for Good Will and then put winter clothes in her hope chest hoping out of sight out of mind.  We would find her pulling things from the Good Will pile and folding them.  LOL!  It was fun made out of a sad situation. 

We completed her room and Paige made labels for her drawers.  We went back over after our meeting on Monday to take her to lunch before I flew out only to find her in a turtle neck!  How in the world did she find that?  It was almost 80 degrees outside and here she is dressed for winter again.  We just looked at each other and laughed and let her wear it.  When we returned her back home we went in to help her with a few things only to find random things in wrong drawers again.  How did this happen so quickly again?  It had been less than 24 hours. 

Here is the thing about this disease.  There is no rhyme or reason to what they do or why.  It's not like you can scold them for it, because they can't help it and they don't know why they did what they did and may not even remember they did it at all.  You just have to suggest that it be placed somewhere else or just move it without speaking a word.  You also can't say, "don't you remember"?  No, they don't remember.  If they remembered they wouldn't be asking you again or they wouldn't be looking all over the place for things they misplaced.  It's hard not to say that or even be frustrated, but reminding them that they don't remember only kills their confidence and spirit, but it does no one any good.

So now we find ourselves with getting mom some in home care and while it is only 2 days a week and 4 hours each day to start, at least it is a start.  It's my hope that this will give my sister some peace of mind when she can't be there, as well as Don, but also that mom is safe and not alone so much.  Luckily our aunt Frances will have mom on Wednesday for bible study so that will only leave Monday and Friday with mom alone most of the day.  That is comforting for now.  I know at some point she will need someone with her 24/7, but for now this will help.

If you are living with and caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's, I am so sorry.  You know all too well how challenging and heartbreaking it can be.  However, if you are the main care giver or play a huge role in the care giving, I urge you to make sure you take time for yourself and accept help when you can.  The worse thing for the care giver and the patient is for the care giver to get burned out or frustrated.  It could be easy for that to happen as it takes such a toll on your life and in every aspect of your life.  No one person can do this alone.  You must have help.  Don't try to be a "hero" and think you can take it on all on your own, because you can't and it won't be helpful to anyone. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Remembering Prince...

I'm not insensitive to the death of Prince or any other celebrity that passes away.  All deaths are sad and there is a tremendous loss and for some that loss is felt much more profoundly than others.

What I am actually frustrated about is the fact that there is so much media and other celebrities making such a big deal and drawing so much attention to these people, yet I don't believe, outside Chris Kyle, Pat Tillman, and a few other well-known military men/women, that these same celebrities and media outlets don't know one name of those that have died in the line of duty or after returning home.

Don't get me wrong, I don't expect the media or celebrities to make a huge deal over every military service member that passes away.  Frankly, that would sadly be a 24/7 tribute as there are men and women in our Armed Forces dying every day.  We don't hear about that.  In fact, most people on average, I believe, tend to forget we are still at war and we are still losing these young men and women daily.  If we aren't losing them on the front lines, we are losing them here at home.

Wouldn't it be nice instead of spending full days and sometimes weeks paying tribute to a fallen star, we recognize and pay tribute to them during their show and then at least acknowledge our men and women serving to protect us during their show as well.  It can be the same amount of time spent, but at least give them something.

Let's face it, if it weren't for these brave men and women, these Artists and Celebrities couldn't do what they do and have the privilege of making the kind of living they do, by doing what they love. 

That is really all I wanted to say.  I do hate that Prince died and at such a young age.  I'm an 80's girl and grew up listening to his music and I do love his music.  I loved Merle Haggard, Michael Jackson's music, and so many more.  I loved many of the celebrities that we have lost over the years as well, but I also love our military and what they sacrifice for all of us. 

It just seems that unless you are a highly paid celebrity or musician, etc. you barely (if at all) get recognized for the world losing you.  That seems really sad to me.

Please watch this video and listen to the song.  It speaks volumes
Photo by Bing Military Fallen

High School friends for life... Should not have to experience this
Honoring Chad - Camp Pendleton, CA
Chad's memorial - Camp Pendleton, CA
They should not have had to lose a brother so soon and so young
Photo by Bing Military Fallen

Photo by Bing Military Fallen -Arlington

Photo by Bing - Because I'm not heartless... In memorandum of "Prince"

Monday, March 28, 2016

So sad

I'm just so sad today for some reason. Well the reason is easy, I'm missing you!  However, I'm always missing you its just today it's a little harder to hide or fake my feelings. 
There are days I just don't know how to take that first step but I have no choice. 
I being in this place. It's hard to explain to people who haven't been in that position.  Even then everyone's loss is different. I don't know if it's because you were my only one or because it was just you and me for so long, but most days it feels like my heart can't continue without you. 
I'm just sad today more than usual and needed you to know that and this is the only way I know to get that out. Love, mom

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Having an eye opening experience - Alzheimer's

Well, thanks to my sister, Paige, I purchased a book called "Before I Forget" by B. Smith & Dan Gasby (her husband).  It is written by both B. Smith and her husband, Dan.  While most of the words are coming from her husband, I do love that B. has some of her own words in the book as well.  Hearing from the horse’s mouth so to speak.

Our mom (ironically referred to as B. a lot) is currently in the throes of Alzheimer's.  It is a heartbreaking disease that impacts the whole family, not just the patient.  I'm not completely finished with the book, but I'm close.  I suggest if you have this dreadful disease in your family that you get this book and read it.  I'm shocked (not sure why) how text book our mother is.  

I don't know near enough about Alzheimer's, but since mom was diagnosed I have tried to educate myself as much as possible about this disease so I could at the very least understand.  I also want to make sure I treat mom the way she should be treated and often times I think it's hard to know how to respond or talk to a person dealing with this disease.

For instance, making the patient feel stupid or embarrassed for forgetting or losing something does nothing for the patient or yourself.  First, he/she cannot help or control the fact that they misplace things or have little to no short term memory (which is the first to go).  Second, they feel bad enough and making them feel worse pushes them more and more into isolation.  That's right, patients (even the most social ones) will begin to socially isolate themselves and the lack of socializing can only speed up this deteriorating process.  No good comes from that.  Besides, if you are a caregiver and/or the spouse, you will eventually feel guilty for responding that way and what good comes from that?

Behaviors change as well and the person you once knew is no longer there, but their physical being is.  That's a hard one.  You see them looking as they always have, yet they are not themselves. 

Today I had a heartbreaking conversation with my mom.  It wasn't that she felt sad, but she couldn't find her words and her conversations made no sense.  If my mom could see this or read this and understand any of it I promise you I would not be putting this out for the world to see, but the world that is dealing with this disease needs to read these words, because it isn't going to just simply go away or be cured because you ignore it or choose to believe it isn't that bad.  For our family, I believe it's that bad. 

It's my belief, although I have no medical expert telling me this as she rarely goes to the doctor for Alzheimer's anymore, that mom is fast approaching the last stage.  Based on the book scientists have two "stage" references if you will.  One side states there are 3 stages to Alzheimer's and the other side states there are 7.  Whichever stage you choose to agree with, I believe mom is in the last stage of 2 or 6 heading into 3 or 7.  I base that assumption on the facts in this book and having read the descriptions of these stages.  That's scary for a couple of reasons.  One, it feels like the end, and two, she could live as long as 10 years in the last stage.  The reason the second is so scary is that she doesn't deserve to live her last days on this earth in this state and if she could control it she would not choose to do so.   Besides, think of the family caring for her for so long.  This disease consumes every minute of every day.  We are lucky that our sister, Paige, is close enough and willing to go by mom's daily (sometimes multiple times a day) to check on her and she gets calls from mom some days all day long for the same things.  She does most of the care giving.  She schedules and goes to most if not all her doctor appointments and makes sure she is dressed appropriately, etc.  I don't know what all Don (my step-father) has to deal with, but he works a full time job and crazy long hours and then goes home to Alzheimer's.  No one is usually there with them so that's why I don't know what he deals with.  I just know this isn't something that can be turned on and off.  It is there and only gets worse.

Caregivers, in my opinion, have it the worse.  They know and understand that things are wrong and can tend to get frustrated and angry and their lives have literally stopped in some respects, but definitely changed in all respects and yet the patient may get frustrated and angry, but luckily for them, they soon forget.  The caregiver doesn't forget. 

One thing I have definitely picked up from this book is there comes a time when outside care is required.  Not only for the patient, but for the caregiver(s).  They have to have down time and a break away from all this or they will burn out and start resenting the patient and that is no good for anyone.  I believe it is time for mom to have outside care.  Now, convincing her to allow it may be a different conversation (or blog) all together, but at this point in time I don't think she really should get a vote.  In the long run she will benefit just as much if not more than my sister and step-father. 

In addition, if you have a loved one battling this disease, first, I'm so sorry, but second, make sure you see them or at least speak to them on a regular basis.  You will have to be the one to initiate the call or visit.  Remember earlier I mentioned they tend to isolate themselves from being social, that goes for family and close friends too.  They don't mean to do that, it just becomes easier to do that than to work so hard to keep up with conversations and their surroundings.  Your talks don't have to be nor should they be long or even in detail.  All I have read it is actually best to keep conversations short and very general.  Ask he/she the questions like how are they and how is their day and ask about the weather or things they love.  Let the patient do more talking and you do more listening.  In mom's case she loves her dog, Sophie.  If you talk to her at all, Sophie's name will come up.  That's what she knows, understands, and loves.  She gets unconditional love and non-judgment from Sophie and she doesn't always feel she gets that from other people.  As much as we might try to convince her otherwise, she will feel like she is being judged or will feel shame and she doesn't get that from her dog.  So call regular or visit if you can and try to not take what might seem like she isn't interested or engaged personal.  She is as interested and engaged as she can be and she wishes she could be/do more, but she can't. 

Alzheimer's has no cure and there is nothing that will stop it and very little will slow the process, but there are things and medication that can help manage through this disease.  Diet, exercise, and medication are the top 3 things that are mentioned in almost everything I have ever read about Alzheimer's.  Antidepressants are supposedly a huge help as depression is very common with this disease and if you can help the patient feel less depressed it will make the moments when they feel frustrated and trapped much easier to navigate through.

If you have ever had the opportunity to know my mom, you know she was always very social and was big about family and loved holidays and was a good cook.  She is very little of those things now and it's not personal.  It's just this disease.  That's exactly what this disease does, it robs us of the person we knew and leaves their physical body making it even harder not to see the same woman she was before this dreaded disease.

It takes a lot of love, patience, and kindness to deal with an Alzheimer's patient and I want to thank especially my sister, Paige, for all she does for mom.  I know Don must appreciate the help and it's my hope that we will be able to get some in home care so that Don and Paige have someone else to help with the caregiving. 

Thank you to B. Smith and her husband Dan Gasby for putting your story out there. This is not easy to talk about and your words have been helpful for me. I hope anyone with a loved one with this disease reads this book.