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. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

What I believe marriage shouldn't be...

In this crazy world we live in today there are just some things that should be easier than others.  In my humbled opinion, while I understand marriage takes work, I don't think marriage should be hard.
I've given this a lot of thought over the years and probably more in the last 6 years as I have watched how my own marriage has been a saving grace for me.  So here goes my simple minded opinion of marriage.

Marriage takes work, but the work should not be all it's about.  Marriage should be more happy than sad and after you get home from work or whatever it is that keeps you from your spouse that day you should feel protected, encouraged, loved, and above all else, not lonely.

One of the saddest things I have heard is when someone is married and yet they feel so alone.  That breaks my heart.  That should be the last thing your partner should feel in a marriage and if they do feel alone, something is bad wrong.

Don't get me wrong, we all need our "space" or "alone time".  There is nothing wrong with that and in fact I believe that is necessary at times in any relationship.  However, that is far different than someone feeling alone in a relationship. 

When you go through health issues or devastating events (the loss of a child or loved one, etc.), you should know that your spouse is right there for you.  Your rock and your safe place.  I've been so blessed to have that and boy have I needed that especially over the last 6 years for sure.  Not one time through losing Chad and the medical issues I have had did I feel alone.  Not one time did I feel like Tebo didn't care or wouldn't be right there tomorrow even though today is horrible.  That is one of the most refreshing and assuring things I've ever felt.

I would be lying if I said I knew that's how marriage would be.  Honestly, I had not had anything close to that prior to marrying Tebo.  There is no way I could have survived losing Chad or even made it through all I have been through with my health had it not been for Tebo.  It didn't come in any certain way, he was just there.  He was steadfast and lifted me up on days I needed it.  He was firm on days he needed to be firm and he was always loving and caring and above all else, I knew he was there.  I have never felt alone or lonely in our marriage and for that I am grateful. 

Not everyone has this type of marriage, but it is possible.  I know if you are in a marriage where you don't feel you are getting all you need or if you think marriage will never happen for you, I believe it is possible.  I didn't think I would ever have what I have today either and I also wondered if it even existed or if I deserved it, but not only did I deserve it (and so do you), but it does exist. 

If I had any advice (again I'm no professional) I would say if you have a marriage less than what you want try treating your spouse how you want to be treated. If you are longing for something specific out of your spouse try doing that for them. I don't know if it will work, but it couldn't hurt. 

When marriage is good/great, then all the crappy things in life are manageable.  If you have a crappy marriage, it makes all that you face each day that much harder and sometimes you feel completely hopeless.  No one should ever feel hopeless in marriage.

Now, I'm certainly no trained therapist or educated in this area.  You might just say I have learned what not to do in marriage through my journeys.  We don't keep score and we are respectful of each other.  That is mutual for us.  We have certain things that we just decided (unspoken) we would take on in the home and we just do it.  If for some reason one of us is unable to do what it is we do, the other just steps in.  That's just what you do. 
I always want to do all I can to make Tebo feel like he is the only man in this world and show him how much I appreciate all he does for me.  I know I fall short of this on a daily basis, but I do try very hard to do just that.  He makes it easy for me to do that for him with all he does for me and just the kind of husband he is day in and day out.  I'm one of the lucky ones.   He and I make a great team.
We are living with a parent in the throws of Alzheimer's right now (although one of my sisters is the one dealing the most with it) and talk about a journey all on it's own.  I can't imagine living through that challenge without a strong spouse and the love (unconditional love) you would have to possess to get through your days.  We joke that Tebo is putting me in a home, but I also know without a doubt that he would be right there for me for as long as he physically could be if that were to be my fate.  There is a certain amount of comfort in knowing that.

My heart hurts for anyone who is in a loveless marriage or even more so if you feel alone in a marriage.  That's not what marriage was intended for.  Life is hard enough without not having your spouse be your safe place and your comfort.

It would be my hope that everyone who is married or considering marriage have a marriage full of love, respect, and a partnership that fulfills all their needs.  The rest will seem easy if you have a relationship that provides all those things you need and desire. 
To my love (whom I'm sure will not read this), thank you for all you do and for loving me even on those days that make it hard to love.  You've definitely given me far more than I ever thought possible or that I deserved.  I hope I give you just a small amount of all you give me. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Missing the little things...

You know how it is as busy parents, you overlook some of the little things until they are all grown up or in some cases no longer here that you really start to think how big those little things were.

I did relish in nearly everything "CHAD".  I was probably over protective and overly involved in his life, but that's all I knew how to be with him and I'm sure him being an only child played a huge role in that behavior, but now, I wouldn't change a second of that.

I was a single mom from the time he was 3 years old so it was on me to do it all.  The fun stuff and the not so fun stuff.  I didn't mind, but I did struggle with the discipline part of parenting, but I did it, just did it reluctantly.  However, it was being the baseball, basketball, roller blade/skate board, and soccer mom/cheerleader that I enjoyed so much.  Oh what a joy he was to watch do sports.  Were there times I felt like we met ourselves coming and going and changed uniforms for the next team in the car on the way to the next event?  Yes!  However, I would not trade it for anything in the world.  It was a true joy and delight to do that with him and just watch him grow with every season.

I loved seeing him asleep in "his chair" in the crazy positions and I even miss him gagging at the smell of boiled eggs.  I still can't make boiled eggs without thinking of him doing that and now I sit next to a guy that is Chad's age that almost does the same thing.  I decided to accept that little coincidence as a little visit from Chad.  It makes me smile every time it happens (so thank you Ty). 

This will sound odd, but I even miss worrying about him.  As a parent we worry about our kids regardless of their ages unless they are under our roof and tucked safely in bed asleep (at least I did).  I miss fretting over not hearing from him for a while and wondering where he is and what he is doing.  There have been times that I actually even miss sleeping with my cell phone in my hand just in case he called in the night (yes, I was the mom that did that).

I know that "he is in a better place", but I would sure feel better about that if I could see his face.  I miss his voice and his face so much that I feel actual pain.  I even miss what could have been with him.  I miss what his career after the Marine Corps would have been.  I miss the children he never had.  I think those are common things a parent would feel if they lost a child.  There are times those misses will consume my thoughts and while mostly at night when I should be sleeping, it can happen at any time and usually without warning.

It is said that we will see each other again one day and I do believe that, but some days, that just isn't good enough for me.  Today happens to be one of those days.  The little things I am missing today feel huge!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Some days it is hard to believe it has been 6 years, 3 months, and 14 days and other days it feels like forever.  You've been gone now longer than you went to high school or even served in the USMC.  That doesn't seem right.  It's real and true, but not right.
There isn't a moment that I am breathing that I'm not thinking of you and missing you terribly.  I miss your face and that crooked smile.  I miss that sense of humor and those crazy positions you would sleep in (in "your chair").  I miss kissing your forehead, because you thought I was a dork for wanting to hug and kiss you all the time.  I miss you giving me grief for being so sentimental.  There really isn't anything I don't miss about you.

One day I will see you again and you will know how much I love you.

Friday, March 11, 2016

All to get to you

Funny how I thought I knew what I wanted and needed in high school. I was in love with my high school sweetheart and just knew we would get married and be together forever. Well, that turned out not to be the case. 
To escape the heartache I rushed into a marriage that while horrible things took place and heartache happened the most amazing blessing came out of that, Chad.  After being told I would most likely not have children and to be blessed with the most amazing little man made me feel like I was far blessed than I deserved. 
Again to escape from yet another disaster I rushed again into another marriage and this was like jumping into a real life nightmare. I will spare you all the details but I now know I went through all those relationships to find my way to you, Tebo. 
The Lord really does know what he is doing (although there were many times in my life I wondered). 
HE knew there would be a day that he would call my baby boy home to heaven far sooner than I thought was fair and I definitely was not and still not ready. HE knew I would go through some really scary health issues and I would need you for all this. 
I'm so grateful you and I went through the relationships we went through. They gave us our children and made us who we were when we met. 
All we both went through have made us better spouses to each other. 
I would have never wished or wanted the heartaches we both experienced, but I now wouldn't trade them for anything as they molded us to be perfect for each other. 
I can't imagine living this journey we call life with anyone else. You truly are my rock, my best friend, and the love of my life. 
I hope I can show you how much you mean to me and how appreciated you are. If I ever fail to do that I hope you or someone reminds me quickly. 
Thank you Babe for everything. You have had to help me far more than most husbands are challenged with and you have done it not only with amazing grace but with an unwavering love.  I only hope all woman know what this kind of love is like in their lifetime. You were and are worth the wait and any heartache I had to go through to get to you. ❤️

The end of an era

If you know me at all it is no secret that I love and respect Peyton Manning.  However, some people may not really know or understand how deep that love and respect goes.

See, I first came to love Peyton through the TN Vols.  Actually, that isn't true.  I grew up with my daddy loving Archie Manning and therefore all the Manning boys.  I kept my allegiance to Peyton, because, well, Eli played for Old Miss and I was too young to really watch and understand the game when Archie was playing.  Don't get me wrong, I think the entire family is a stand up family and I have the utmost respect for them all and how they have carried themselves in the public eye, but I am devoted to Peyton.

See, when I was old enough and interested enough to watch football we were and still are die heart TN Vol fans.  That being said, I pulled for any team Peyton was playing for and in turn, so did Chad. 

Chad was as crazy about Peyton as I am.  Chad had already decided long ago when/if he had a son his name would be Peyton and there was no negotiating that fact. 

When Chad deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 he was scheduled to return home almost on his 23rd birthday.  I wanted to do something special for him since he had spent 2 birthdays overseas in a war zone so I did some checking and was able to obtain a signed picture of Peyton Manning.  Yes, I know that they send millions of these out to so many fans, but I choose to believe this was specifically sent to me for Chad.  I received the picture pretty quickly and I received a phone call from Chad from Afghanistan within days of receiving it.  I was so excited that I literally could not wait for his return to tell him about it so I spilled the beans (again, if you know me, this comes as no surprise).  He could not have been more excited!  In fact, all he could say is, "that's crazy, mom", "that's just crazy", "how did you do that?".  This went on for several seconds and suddenly the call dropped!  I was crushed at first because I didn't get to tell him I loved him before I lost him, but then remembering the excitement and literally being able to see the smile on his face through the phone was enough for me.  I held on to that call and said the next call I will just tell him I love him first. 

Sadly that was my very last phone call with Chad.  He died days after that while on patrol.  I had planned to have the picture framed for him so I could give it to him in California when he returned home from deployment.

After some time past after Chad was taken from us I decided to write Peyton and tell him thank you for the greatest last phone call a mother could have ever asked for.  I wasn't sure he would ever get the letter so I decided to send the local paper in Indianapolis (since he was still a Colt at that time) a note to let them know the kind of man they had as their star quarterback.  To my amazement I received a personal hand written note from Peyton on his personal stationary along with the clipping of the article I sent to his local paper.  Here is what his note to me said...

"Dear Tami,
I am very sorry for your loss.  I was happy to hear that your son was excited to hear of his autograph before his passing.
I am very grateful as an American for your son fighting for our country.  Please know that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
Peyton Manning"
At the bottom he wrote this scripture...  Mathew 5:4 "Blessed are these who mourn for they will be comforted"

I was so touched that he would take the time to not only write this note to us, but to include a scripture and the clipping from the paper that I had Chad's autographed picture and the letting and news paper article framed and it hangs in our office today across from a picture of Chad. 

It's not that we as a nation just lost a quarterback, the game of football (in my opinion) lost a great example of a stand up man who is genuine and sincere.  I will miss seeing him on the field each football season, but I know we will see him doing great things going forward. 


Fathers be Fathers

I know there are a lot of great fathers/dads out there.  I have an amazing one and my husband is an amazing father, but there are many out there that either don't understand how to be a great father or just don't care enough.

I know this can go for mothers too so don't think I'm just pointing the finger at fathers, because I know many mothers that need to figure out how to be a good mom, but since the father piece of this is what impacted my son's life, that's what I am most focused on at this time.

Sadly, my son did not have a great father.  He had every opportunity to be a great father and while he would like to blame me for his lack of involvement with his son, it all falls on him.  Fortunately Chad had my daddy and eventually had my husband to be that father figure he was missing and honestly, I believe he ended up on the better end of that situation.  However, I know (especially when you read what he posted in May 2010) it impacted him greatly. 

I'm not going to say much else, instead, I will let his son say it for me.  If you have a child that feels this strongly that he would post something on Face Book (and ironically the same year he would lose his life in war), then you know that being absent impacts your child more than you can even imagine.

I believe that what Chad wrote, he meant.  I know he went out of his way to be a great husband and he would have been an amazing father.  I can say that with confidence, because I saw how amazing he was with other children and especially his nieces and nephews and his cousins.  He definitely learned what NOT to do and for that I am proud of him.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

When night falls

It's one thing to constantly be thinking of you during the day with some distractions here and there to help me get through the day, but oh when night falls.  If I'm unable to clear my mind enough to fall asleep and if I'm lucky enough that nothing wakes me before say 2:00 AM, then I might have a decent shot of getting some restful sleep.  However, on those nights when I'm not so lucky to clear my head or if something occurs and I awake in the early morning hours, there is no settling my mind down at that point. 

Those kind of sleepless nights tend to be harder than if I would just stay up all night and busy myself.  I feel sluggish and just not with it all day and this can go on for up to 3 nights in a row and then I will crash hard.

I've had 2 of these nights now and I would like to hope and pray that tonight would be the night that I would crash, but that is left to be seen.  My mind wonders to so many different places when I'm left alone at night with my thoughts of you.

This last couple of nights have been especially hard because the "What If's" and "What Would You Be Doing Now" questions have run through my mind constantly.

I often wonder if you were upset in the end that I didn't do more to protect you.  I will probably always wonder that whether you would have ever thought it or not.  I think that's just what moms or parents do when they lose a child.  I spent your whole life trying to protect you from harm and when you needed it the most I could do nothing.  That eats at me and especially in those sleepless nights.

Would you be a police officer now?  I happen to think you probably would be so I like to go that direction.  Would my fears for your safety be less?  Probably not, but hopefully you would be close and at the very least I know you would be state side.  That seems to give me comfort for some reason.  Maybe because I know I could at least get to you should I need or want to. 

Every time I hear a particular song or see something that I know you would totally be all about, I am taken back for a moment and those questions flood my mind.  It is a bit easier during the day when I can busy myself not to just continue allowing those thoughts to just run through my mind, but oh those nights.  There is literally no stopping those thoughts once night falls.

There is so much we still had to say to each other and so many firsts we still needed to experience together as mother and son so just letting go isn't an option.  Keeping those thoughts far from my mind isn't an option and I would also venture to say these sleepless nights will always be around.  Maybe one night I can be productive with these thoughts that run wildly when night falls, but until then I will just continue missing you and asking myself all these crazy questions that I will never have answers for.

I love you and missing you is an understatement.  I will continue to forge through this life until we see each other again and oh what a reunion that will be so just get ready for endless hugs and kisses on the forehead.  I will have lots of catching up to do and you will just have to be ok with that and knowing you like I do, I know you will be.