TAKING THINGS IN HAND

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So big confession: I have been in a great mood lately.

Is that allowed? I ask.

YES! I answer (except I can’t help that little gulp of uncertainty. Is someone whose spouse has a degenerative neurological condition allowed to be happy?)

Nothing dramatic has changed in our present to make me happier. Ralph seems pretty much the same although he now needs his written schedule of reminders in a way he didn’t a few months ago and I’m including more details. His energy also remains about the same, i.e. low. A glitch in the Emory study has held up his supply of experimental Ritalin but I haven’t noticed any drop—in retrospect I realize that the slight uptake I’d noticed before Christmas was more situational than medical and disappeared once he was home and back in his routine.

The change is in my focus. Facing that we were not going to end up in Apalachicola seems to have opened a door for me. The future may not be the one I planned, but it is lying out there for me to shape. There is a relief in acknowledging what I have to let go. So Ralph and I will not be travelling together (but really he never liked to travel to the same places I did) or going to movies together (see previous parenthesis). And yes, I will be making all decisions about our finances and health and homes and meals for that matter. And yes his location on the Alzheimer’s continuum will slide downward and there will be difficult choices to make. I see the clock ticking.

But taking things in hand has energized me.

I have made some decisions involving our rental properties, our main source of income, including renovations Ralph might not have done but are necessary for our millennial tenants who demand more than the hippies, slackers and gen-xers who used to rent from us.

More important, I have decided about our living situation. I have told Ralph we are moving to Nola in two years. Actually I have told him daily.

Conversation #1:

“In two years I’ll be too old to live isolated out here. The driving will be too difficult. I think we should move to Nola.”

“I don’t want to move to Nola. What about the dogs.”

“We’ll have a yard for the dogs. And think how much you’ll enjoy hanging out with BabyRalph.”

“Maybe.”

Conversation #2:

“So in two years, when we move to Nola…”

“Why would we want to do that?”

“In two years I’ll be too old to live isolated out and doing all the driving will be too difficult.”

“I don’t want to move to Nola. What about the dogs.”

“We’ll have a yard for the dogs. And think how much you’ll enjoy hanging out with BabyRalph.”

“Well, I guess.”

Conversation #3,4,5,6…

“So in two years, when we move to Nola…”

“Why would we want to do that?”

“In two years I’ll be too old to live here isolated and…

 

A real estate agent is coming by Monday to discuss a sales strategy for the farm (not an easy sell). Dreading having Ralph present and running off the agent in some of the ways he has run off various servicemen, I screwed up my courage this morning and told him about the meeting because I’m not ready to not tell.

“Do you want to be there?”

“Not really. You can take notes can’t you?”

So basically, Ralph has more or less acquiesced. I am left to handle the details (and keep reminding him the plan). The thought of moving and all it will take is daunting. But also exhilarating. So yes, I have been on Zillow quite a bit. But ironically, I’ve also found new enthusiasm for my life now. I have more going on in my professional life than in several years. And I’ve started drawing lessons and am sitting in front of pad and pencils instead of the television. I’m even dieting, sort of. Is this joy or an attack of mania, I’m not sure, but I don’t feel manic anxiety.

I know things will get more complicated. I know I am in for sorrow. But right now Ralph and I are traveling more or less together. I don’t mind being his navigator, car mechanic and chauffeur because I still have the luxury of being able to pursue my own interests.  As for Ralph, he’s willing, and less unhappy than I’d expected, to come along for the ride as long as he doesn’t have to drive.

10 thoughts on “TAKING THINGS IN HAND

  1. What a postive, upbeat, post. Go you! Yes, I’m sure there will be glitches and downslides (is that a word?) ahead but it’s great you are feeling in control and positive about the future. Love the conversations about moving in two years – made me smile. Sometimes I laugh at things other people would find inappropriate. Like, recently an acquaintance was visited by the police – because her husband, who has Alzheimer’s, had rung them up and told them a strange woman was in his house and would they please come and remove her. By the time they arrived he had remembered she was his wife. Those of us who have experience of dementia laughed, while feeling empathy for his wife (who can also now laugh about it). Those who haven’t went into ‘oh, how dreadful’ mode and were shocked at our laughter. Keep smiling.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am laughing at your story and remembering my own–one night during the last months my mother lived with us, I had dinner out with friends and came home after her bedtime so didn’t go down to her rooms to say goodnight to her. Around 1 in the morning there was a loud pounding on the door. The dogs began to howl. It was very dark outside and we live in the middle of nowhere so both Ralph and I were briefly petrified that lunatic criminals were trying to get in. Fortunately we do not keep guns in the house because when Ralph, in his boxers, turned on the porch light it was a deputy sheriff with his gun out. He said my mother had called to say I was dead, Ralph was keeping it a secret and she was being held against her will. When the deputy went to check that my mother was ok, my mother went into a tirade about what a bad daughter I was for not waking her up to say goodnight. I stood outside the door giggling like a naughty 12 year old…..

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Your story made me splutter coffee! I see from other comments you are not feeling quite so positive today. Please don’t feel guilty about feeling good. It wasn’t a Polyanna post – the stepmonster knew how to do Polyanna and you are nothing like her.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh Alice, you continue to give me inspiration. When the situation seems dark and gloomy for me, I read your stories . My husband is 82, MCI not a formal diagnosis. Neurologist did a report 5 years ago. He won’t go to counseling. Family afraid to say anything to him. So I am the one. I pray for you and “Ralph” every day. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your situation sounds very difficult. Being a caregiver spouse can be terribly lonely. I hope that your family gives you support even if afraid to face him directly. And take care of your own needs, as hard as that may sometimes be.

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  3. What a great post. The title says it all. So happy for you, for where you are in this journey; feeling more in control and going in the direction that will ultimately make life easier and happier for you. I’m not discounting the heartache of Ralph’s dementia, but instead acknowledging that this transition will make a difficult journey a bit easier for both of you.

    None of this is easy, and yes there is great sorrow in Ralph’s condition, but for now you are moving in a direction that will make life less complicated and hopefully bring you joy and support from family in closer proximity.

    Carole

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for writing Carole. You have nailed the situation exactly, at least I hope so. As soon as I posted I began to wonder if I was being Pollyanna about the situation…..

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    1. Thanks for writing (and reading). Remembering we can handle it is important though I’m not always as sure as I happen to be feeling today. My strength and outlook changes day by day…..

      Like

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