July 07, 2012

Family

We have been in Alabama visiting family. The weather has been a bit wonky everywhere I think.

Sometimes visiting family is sad. It is tough watching couples grow old, cleaving to one another in the end years.

My cousins are in their mid 80s. In the last year, both have deteriorated exponentially. She is hobbled with every joint having failed, unable to walk due to neuropathy, and a deep sadness. He has the onset of Alzheimers. Her sadness is two fold... they are farm people, no kidding, plow the fields, herd the cows, canning, jelly making, quilting, fix everything, farm people... salt of the damn Earth. They are the last of the kind who truly made this country what it is... hardworking Americans who will do anything to survive.

The backbone of America.

She sees her own body, so badily broken after 80+ years of a tough hard farm life and she sees his mind, what was his sharp determined mind, losing what he was. What he was is disappearing.

There is a dimness setting in, although a childlike enjoyment of life remains. He still recognizes us, but forgets processes, things he did for years and years, midway through he'll forget what to do next.

I've written of her before, he magnificent quilts, the needlework she does, the tatting. I'm going to learn to Swedish Weave now, since she sent me home with an afghan yesterday. A picture will follow.

I had to laugh at the horrific thought of a story she related. A few weeks ago, the alarm on their home went off. She told her husband to grab a gun and a flashlight and off he went while the cops were called by the alarm company.

I was picturing this elderly 'just surviving' couple, he with his shotgun and flashlight, vision not so good and mind not so either, and she following behind on her walker, inching their way down the hall.

I think I let out a horrified gasp/laugh, complete with hand over the mouth as she told me the story. It turns out the basement door blew open. I was grateful that their entire home is protected by an alarm, that someone had seen to that. I was grateful that they live in a small community where the local law enforcement will look after them.

I was still horrified of the entire gun in the dark in the hands of a half blind 87 year old man fighting dementia being followed by his hobbled wife...

Still... It is country life.

This is a picture of a little girl who loves me, but loves Bones more. Her Ya Ya. That's what she calls him.

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This is a picture of a little girl who is not so enthralled with me. Until today, I thought she might actually hate me. Hate would be a strong word. Tolerate might be better. I did get a couple hugs today. Bones is able to carry her throughout the house, give her airplane rides, and smooch all over her cheeks and she squeals for more...

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BTW, remember the pig fan from Christmas?

Mo plugged it in today for the first time. My bro is in town as well and said he'd like a fan while he slept. Voila, instant pig fan to the rescue.

Or not.

It turns out the pig fan is all for show. It puts out air like someone is blowing.

I said to Mo, "So it's for show?"

Mo said, 'Really? For show?" TN started to laugh.

Mo started to sing, 'I feel pretty... oh so pretty..." Smart ass.


Posted by Boudicca at July 7, 2012 09:32 PM
Comments

This is a sad post. Salt of the damn earth, going slowly to their end, as we all are. I am feeling for you and yours. keep them in your heart and they will never die.

Posted by: Papa Guy at July 8, 2012 11:05 PM

Wow. I guess we are reaching that age. It is so difficult to see. *hugs* ... and I love to see that Bones is really enjoying the kids. He is so good with them! Just wish he was at camp with my youngest this week!

Posted by: vwbug at July 9, 2012 05:52 AM

My parents are in a similar fix, except my mother, at 84, is still doing well. My father has had dementia now for more than 5 years, and cannot walk at all due to neuropathy. These are 2 people who exercised and ate healthy every day all their lives. I guess DNA trumps good habits, at least in my father's case. You want to talk about sad? I'm in perpetual sad. I have dreams where Dad comes out of his dementia and he is as he used to be physically. Stupid dreams.

Posted by: suze at July 9, 2012 10:13 AM

I miss calling my Mom during football and basketball games and talking about the last catch, touchdown, blocked shot, etc....My oldest brother and I knew something was really wrong with her 5 years ago when she showed no interest in the OU-Texas game. She loved the Red River Shootout. I hate Alzheimers.

Posted by: tina at July 9, 2012 10:39 PM

If you have not checked it out, the Alzheimer's Reading Room is worth a look.

Please tell me that Lynden was the little town. If any town has a pig fan, it has to be Lyden! Do you have a picture of the penguin fan?

Posted by: PeggyU at July 10, 2012 12:24 AM

There IS, a flamingo!

Posted by: PeggyU at July 10, 2012 12:32 AM