Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Like My New Digs?

Well, a friend showed me how to easily change around my blog. This is the layout that will be around for at least 24 hours! You, too, can easily make your blog fancy at The Cutest Blog on the Block!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Where Did It Go?


You might be wondering where the Mare and El morph went? Maybe not, but I was forced to take it down when Reid saw it and said, "That is sick." This is technically his blog, too. El, I guess it is best that we are our own individuals. For all of those people who say we look just alike the morph proved them wrong. Our features combined were much too uniquely ours to morph together! Ellie B, you are much too beautiful just the way you are!

Strong Feelings


While I did have strong feelings that Hilary should not be President, I must admit I have not done a great job at researching Obama and McCain. My gut feeling is that Obama shouldn't be President either, but that is not really a "research based" conclusion. There is still time...Right? My cousin had this pic on her Facebook profile and I thought it was interesting the measure that was taken to express such a strong feeling!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Much Needed "Together Time"




So, as many of you know, Reid has been on an international case for the past three and a half months. This has greatly limited the amount of "together time" we have spent together. The last time he was in Dallas was one night at the end of May and I have seen him an average of two weekends a month. Most of these weekends have been for out of town weddings as many of our friends have tied the knot this summer. Unfortunately, even on these weekends he has spent the time we weren't at the actual wedding festivities working on his case.  Our time in Austria over the 4th of July was the only time in the last three months that he did not open his laptop for work. Bummer!

With that said, I have exciting news! We have planned a much needed vacation to The Westin in Los Cabos, Mexico. We are so excited to lay on the beach together for hours at a time. We will have no obligations with the exception of a possible in-room massage, of course! We are so excited to finally reconnect!


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Please Don't Take My Sunshine (by Auntie Joye)

I must tell you of my first memories since they are connected to Mary Allan. When I was three my mother had a Bible study in our home. It was what became Bible Study Fellowship. The children would play on our screened-in porch and mimic our mothers by praying. This became a big part of my life as I wanted a baby sister more than anything. There were several little girls who lived close to me and their mothers were good friends of my mother and visited our home often. I would hold prayer meetings and we all began to pray for baby sisters. When I was four,  I was not at all surprised when my parents told me we were going to have a baby. I had known we would and that it would be a baby sister. Her name would be Sunshine. My Sunshine.  From the time I was told she was coming, I told everyone I saw that I was going to have a baby sister named Sunshine.

 On June 1, 1951 my mother’s water broke and she went to the doctor. He told her to go home and wait for contractions because she had RH negative blood. He was afraid to bring the baby unnaturally. Now we know this was probably a mistake by the doctor. I was shipped off to my Aunt’s house in Kensett and 10 days later a phone call came from my Daddy. I heard my aunt say, “ A baby girl, and her name is Mary Allan.” I instantly felt betrayed , her name was supposed to be Sunshine. How could they have done this to me? At not quite five years old, I made the decision that she would be Sunshine to me, and My Sunshine she has been for 57 years.  My paternal grandmother didn’t like the name Mary Allan and always called her Jan, she thought that sounded better with my name, Joye. When Mary Allan started first grade she began signing her name, Mary Allan Jan Sunshine Dickey. She knew she was my Sunshine.

Mary Virginia has asked me to write about when I first noticed that there were changes in Mary Allan. I think I first noticed that she became a little “scatterbrained.” I just attributed it to the stress and normal tasks of mothering three children so close in age. She had home schooled all three, was active in her church, George was into sports, and the family's world revolved around all his games. We all noticed that she had lost the ability to clean her house. It gradually became worse and she began hoarding. I would offer to come and help her clean, but she would almost get frantic about it. She would cry and say she knew she needed to do better. It only got worse. Then, she started forgetting things. Things like signing Eleanor up for softball, re-enrolling the kids in school at LRCA and PA, and paying tuition checks. She would think she had bought something and couldn’t find it, or was supposed to be somewhere and would forget to go. She would talk to me about it and would say, "Please don’t tell anyone." I would tell her it was stress. I thought that was what it was. She was so young, this was only about 10 years ago or a little more. Eleanor, eventually, would begin calling me and say, “Gigi, there’s something bad wrong with my mom.” I would tell her it was just stress, that things would get better, she would cry and say with persistence, “ No, you don’t understand, it’s really something bad.” Eleanor was like me, really dramatic, and I just thought she was overplaying it. We would have better times. Mary Allan would seem happier, less scattered. I seemed to notice more problems when there was a lot of confusion or at times like holidays when there was a lot going on and a lot to do. One year, I believe 2002, we were having Christmas Eve dinner at Mary Neal’s house and everyone was bringing a dish for the buffet. The Baindidn’t come and didn’t come. I finally called and Jim said they were on their way. When they arrived at the house Mary Allan wasn’t with them. Jim said she was home, upset and crying, because she couldn’t remember what she was supposed to bring. I called her and said we didn’t need the food, we just needed her to come right then. She did come and asked me to go to one of the bedrooms with her. She cried and said she thought she had Alzheimer’s. I said I was sure she didn’t  that she was just stressed and needed a physical, that she could see the doctor as soon as the holidays were over. The same night when we were giving out gifts, she couldn’t find hers, she said she had misplaced them at home. She never did find them and I suspect she never bought them, but really thought she had.

 The first part of January I called her and encouraged her to call the doctor and make an appointment for a physical. She said she would. This is the part I feel so guilty about because I just kept asking every couple of months if she had made an appointment. Each time she would say, "I’m going to." After about a year, or longer, of this answer she finally told me that she had tried to make the appointment. The problem was that she had to push a button to be connected to her doctor’s receptionist and that button on her phone was broken. I told her to use a different phone. She said she would. Another length of time passed and I noticed more and more alarming behavior. When I asked again if  she had called the doctor she told me the truth. When she called the number you had to push "2" if you wanted to make an appointment and she had lost the ability to sequence any thing by then. She couldn’t follow directions and she didn’t want anyone to know. This was the first time I really got scared. She told me then that she couldn’t tell time and she couldn’t write a check, that Eleanor had been covering for her for quite a long time. It was the first time I allowed myself to even think the A word. How could this happen? My baby, My sunshine. I cried myself to sleep that night.    

 

“You are my Sunshine my only Sunshine.

You make me happy when skies are grey.

You’ll never know dear, how much I love you,

Please don’t take my Sunshine away.”

Friday, July 11, 2008

Something New-A first glimpse

The first of my "Something New" is posted below. It is an excerpt from our book and attempt to answer the question "When did we know?" I still need to add my Auntie Joy's POV. Sorry if I got your hopes up with the "Something New" post from a few weeks ago. I also thought a good way for me to know what to include would be to answer questions that you all may have. You can leave it as an anonymous comment if you don't want me to know who you are...But knowing me, I am pretty hard to offend! So, anything you want to know or think would be helpful for other Alzheimer patient families to read, please post as a comment or email me at mvgrandle@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading,

Mare

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Long Goodbye- When did We know?

People always ask me what signs led to us finding out my mom had Alzheimer's. As time goes on, my thinking about this becomes clearer. It was my freshman year of college. My mom had made the trip to Fayetteville several times over that year. On this particular spring day my mom made the trip by herself. My brother had a baseball game in Fort Smith and we would meet there before driving another hour to my college town. 

I got a frantic call from my mom. She was "lost" on Interstate 30. What you must realize is that 30 takes you directly from Little Rock to Fort Smith. There is no "getting lost." I laughed and told her she was headed in the right direction. She was still twenty minutes away from the exit. I told her I would see her soon, and we hung up. Five minutes later she called again. She couldn't remember if I had told her she was going to right way. It was one of the first times I heard fear in my mom's voice. She was alone, and her mind was beginning to fail her. She pulled over at the next exit, I drove to meet her there, and she followed me the rest of the way. Embarrassed, she hugged me and said the familiar, "Don't tell anyone, I just got a little confused." I assured her it was easy to do, though I worriedly knew it wasn't. I guess I never realized how easy it was to put on blinders. To mask the unthinkable. To realize that the most able person you know is failing simple tasks. 

I would later learn that my sister was also playing along with the charade. My sister, from the beginning, has been the odd ball. I mean no harm in this..she would agree. We often laugh at the energy and type A personality she possessed at an early age. Eleanor ran everywhere she went, and for obvious reasons, it drove my mom crazy. This energy later turned into strong passion and I would say, without a doubt, that my sister is the child my mom most admires. She, being the child most affected by my mom's disease, has persevered. Because of her loyal spirit my sister took on the pain of what was to come. I would later learn that at the age of thirteen my sister was writing checks at the grocery store because my mom couldn't. Once again, my mom asked that my sister not tell and faithfully my sister kept to herself. My mom never told anyone that she had lost recognition of numbers and letters. They were one of the first things the disease stole from her.

My brother, quiet and compassionate, at sixteen would sit with his arms around my mom. Most teenage boys would be ashamed, but I know he would tell you he is glad he never shunned her affection. He has always been her calm companion; He is still her sweet George. Even now, in her confusion and upset, he can speak words that quiet her spirit, stop her tears. On the night my parents told us of my mom's diagnosis my mom found my brother on the front steps of our house. He was upset and after talking for a while my brother asked my mom an honest favor. He asked if she would ride with him to the gas station and buy him a pack of cigarettes. She agreed, and when they returned home, she sat by her son on the front steps as he handled his grief. My mom knew the best way to love him was to meet him where he was. George said they talked for a long time, and I know it is a memory that will stay with him the rest of his life.

My dad, looking back, has seen signs years before we did. My dad is a dedicated man. He has been married to my mom for nearly 25 years and is loosing his life-long companion. I remember, shortly after my mom was diagnosed, my dad weeping and telling me the things he planned to do with my mom as they grew old together. To get to enjoy each other. One of the most special gifts my dad has given his three children is an earthly picture of unconditional love. To thins stage, her disease hasn't kept them from growing old together. Every morning, he bathes, dresses, and applies makeup to his bride. He does this so he can spend everyday with her while she know him. Even more special than that is my mom's desire to be with my dad. She is lost without him. It is for this reason that my dad sacrifices everyday so her needs can be met. Their companionship is a testament of God's love and grace. 

Hold my head inside your hands
I need someone who understands 
I need someone, someone who hears
For you I’ve waited all these years

For you I’d wait 'til kingdom come
Until my day, my day is done
And say you'll come and set me free
Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me

Coldplay 
'Til Kingdom Come

Known by many as "the long goodbye," Alzheimer's disease is increasing at an alarming rate in the United States. An estimated 5 million people in the United States are now living with Alzheimer's, and someone is diagnosed with the disease every 72 seconds (Info from the Alzheimer's Association).

Sixth-Leading Cause of Death in US

Just got a cheerful (sarcastic tone) note from the Alzheimer's Association:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics today reported that Alzheimer's disease has surpassed diabetes as a leading cause of death. Alzheimer's is now the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.

I don't even know what to say. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Austria 3-Vienna

Photobucket Album

Austria 2-Vienna

Photobucket Album

Austria 1-Salzburg

Photobucket Album

Emme's Photo Shoot

Emme was more than a mess at the pool today. I should begin by explaining that she is really proud of her bikini body and knows she looks good! After strutting her stuff around our little area at the pool, she decided to climb up onto the lounge chair all by herself. She worked really hard to get up there and didn't mind, at first, when her little legs fell through the chair slats. After my relentless picture taking and laughing she got mad and I had to help her out. Then, I wrapped a scarf around her head and she posed like a little J Lo. Just take a look!





Sunday, July 6, 2008

My Sister's Emergency

Before I left the country I sent an email to my sister and Auntie Joye explaining that in an emergency they could reach me on Reid's cell phone. I made clear that emergencies for my sister did not include fashion advice, but still I received this message below:

Mare,I decided to go to the mall today and "look" around and tried my best not to buy anything. It is almost impossible for me to ever find a purse worth buying either because its not cute enough or its way more money than I would ever spend on a purse. Well today it just so happens that I found not one purse but four that were absolutely perfect. Luckily for me the one person I ever call to get their opinion on stuff just so happened to be OUT of the freakin country. I remembered the email you sent out before you left said if there was an emergency, you could be reached on Reids cell phone but only for emergencies. This was an emergency and I was going to call but I didn't remember the number. I walked in out of the store so many times I swear they thought I was plotting something. I got a purse. Can't wait for you to see it!

Eleanor, Reid might have cussed you if really called to ask purse advice. However, I love that you appreciate my opinion that much! I love you and can't wait to see your purse.


On another note, I am in Zurich, Switzerland tonight and leave tomorrow morning at 10 am local/ 3 am US time. Will post pictures as soon as I am back in the States! They are amazing!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Austria Trip- Day 1 and 2: Vienna

Happy Independence Day! This is my first Independence Day that I haven't seen fireworks. Bummer. Reid and I are having a blast in Vienna. Upon our arrival Thursday morning, we were upgraded to the Honeymoon Suite at our hotel, Hotel Imperial in Center City Vienna. The Hotel Imperial is one of the nicest in the country and has an amazing history. Originally built in the late 1800s as a house for an emperor, it was taken over by the Nazis in WWII as their headquarters, and was later restored to its original grandeur after German invasion.

We spent most of yesterday touring the Inner City, St. Stephan's Cathedral, and shopping. We made it back to our room for a quick afternoon nap, and slept until almost 11pm. It was nice to have a leisurely evening, something we don't enjoy together very often these days. We relaxed and ordered room service...my kind of night!

Friday morning we visited the Schonbrunn Summer Palace of the Hapsburg Dynasty, the Monet and Picasso exhibit at the Albertina Museum of Art, and the largest collection of royal gems in the world. Pretty amazing history around here. We explored a little more on our way back to the hotel, took a nap, and woke for a late dinner of schnitzel at a cafe.

We catch a 9:00 am train for Salzburg tomorrow where I will enter my true homeland. I am really excited to acquaint myself with this city and memories of The Sound of Music. I will try to post about our days in Salzburg before I head back to the States. Until then, Ta Ta.