Loving One Another

Posts tagged ‘Alzheimer’s’

My Sis, Sally, Died Today


Me with Mom and Sally

Today my sis, Sally, died.
She was only a year and a half older than I.
As children, Mom often dressed us alike.
People thought we were twins.

As adults we looked so much alike, too, that our long-time friends sometimes called me Sally.

When you lose your only sibling,
A part of you dies with her.
Sally came every Thanksgiving from CA
To spend the holiday with us in Montana.

Sally with oregano

Sally always came with an extra suitcase.
She filled it with oregano that grew in her back yard.
She spent most of the week here at the kitchen table or counter
Picking the leaves off the oregano stems.

I have a couple of quart jars left of her herbs.
When they are gone, another part of her
Will disappear – You can’t find oregano that fresh –
Not in a store, that’s for sure! Can you smell it?

Sally with our son, Ty’s kids

Sally was a nut about holidays!
She had a closet full of clothes
Sorted by the holiday they represented
And she loved every one of them.

She joined her nieces and nephews
For Halloween and Christmas,
For Easter and birthdays, and
For special lunches and dinners.

Sam, Faith, Hope and Jordan with Aunt Sally at Burger King
Sally loved giving gifts and playing games
Sally & Jordan shared a Dec. 20th birthday
They continued to share even as Jordan entered his teens and young adult years.
Bonnie was Sally’s best friend. They enjoyed many River Cats games together.
Sally & Ty

Naturally Sally was there to celebrate her daughter, Jodie’s wedding.
Here she is at the wedding reception, dancing with her nephew,
our son, Ty, the daddy of those nieces and nephews.
And she was there of course, for her grandson, Liam’s baptism.

Bill & Jodie Welge (Sally’s dughter) and their infant son, Liam

Sally loved spending time with her grandson, Liam.
During the last few years of her life, she moved
from California to PA to be near her daughter, son-in-law,
and her dear grandson, Liam.

Besides her family and holidays, Sally had a love of dogs.
She inherited her poodle, Gigi, from our mom after Mom died.
Gigi was stolen from Sally when Gigi was about 4 years old.
Gigi was gone nine years, but Sally never gave up the idea of
finding her!

Sally & Gigi

Sure enough, nine years after the theft, Sally received a call from a veterinarian.
Gigi had a chip, and when she was found wandering, dirty, toothless, and infected,
the person who found her brought her to a vet. The chip had Sally’s number.
Can you imagine her joy at that reunion after nine long years? Gigi lived to be 15.
Dear friends of ours here adopted her and gave her a loving last 9 months of life
when Sally moved to PA and could not take Gigi with her to the Masonic Home.

Sally & Jodie at Christmas in Pennsylvania
Sally with me at Christmas in California
Can’t deny we’re sisters, can we?
Last Thanksgiving in Sewickley, PA

Although Alzheimer’s robbed my sis of her memory and ultimately of her ability to converse, she was tuned in and enjoyed the concert Liam and I presented in her nursing home last Thanksgiving. I am so glad Bob & I were able to go – and we had that time with her. My life is filled with wonderful memories of times we shared together.

I’m pregnant with Ty – Bob’s next to Sally & Dave with Denise
and that’s our Mom & Dad in front
Bob & me with Sally & Dave – one Easter waaaay back when!

Sally had a life filled with service to others through her church, the Hospital Auxiliary, the Girl Scouts (she led a troop for at least 50 years) and her favorite organizations, Rebekahs and Eastern Star.

Her life also was one of tragedy (her oldest daughter died at age 19 and her husband, Dave, was only 60 when he died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack). But Sally was a trooper. She continued to volunteer and give of her time and talents to others.

I was blessed to grow up with a sister who had such a big, giving heart,
She will be missed by all of us who loved her. But her spirit will live on.

Sally and Jan
at my daughter, DeAna’s wedding in 1987

I know her spirit will recognize mine when I join her in Heaven someday.
Meantime, rest in peace, dear Sis. I will carry your love with me always.

Thanks for visiting today my friends.
Treasure every sunrise.
Enjoy every sunset.
Tell your siblings how much you love them.

See ya tomorrow, God willing!
JanBeek

Scared of Getting Older?


Do we have an obsession with image? More concerned about the outside than the inside? As a nation… as a world?

Photo by Eternal Happiness on Pexels.com

Are you fed up with it? Do you feel it is robbing us of our sense of purpose and our wisdom?

These are some questions I gleaned from Scilla Elworthy, the elderly South African woman in the Ted Talk above:

Are you fully alive in your body? Do you have energy and attractiveness in your soul? Are you content with what is? Can you remove the mask, let the wrinkles show, and still like yourself?

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Self-acceptance is a great, great gift!

Obsession with image is tiring… Yes, I believe that!

What makes you feel electric? Does the world see your energy? Do you have real aliveness?

Health, exercise, purpose, usefulness… those are the keys!

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Many people struggle to find purpose in life. Scilla Elworthy said, “Most people fear pain and loneliness.”

We worry about what will happen when we are no longer able to care for ourselves and must rely on other people.

Photo by sergio omassi on Pexels.com

Dementia is a real fear for me. My mother was diagnosed with it before she died. My sister is in a home today – a nursing home – being cared for because she has Alzheimer’s. It is in my family. Is it in my future? I cannot dwell on that! I must live in the NOW and love myself so I can love others. The keys are:

  • gratitude,
  • prayer and meditation,
  • time in nature… being outside with things that are alive
Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

What about death? It is inevitable. Approach it with curiosity. Think through it. Know that death is not finality.

What are the gains of growing older? We can speak out! Dare to speak up about those things that we think are wrong! Stand up for those things! Make a contribution by making a difference – by being true to ourselves.

Know that with age comes wisdom. Wise, experienced leaders are a gift to the world. As we age, we can be that older, wiser person who sees beyond the horizon. The world need us!

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

But age and wisdom are not synonymous. Wisdom does not come automatically. We can’t live in a foxhole and gain wisdom. We need to go out and risk adventure. Risk rebuke. Risk the world hating you. We need to be true to ourselves as we lift our heads to what is happening around us and seek the solutions to the challenges we all face. We can’t be ostriches with our head in the sand.

Photo by Frans Van Heerden on Pexels.com

A friend of mine said she has decided that the best way to avoid dissension is just to avoid having an opinion. “I try to remain totally objective – with no opinion expressed. Opinions just garner arguments,” she said.

We can’t let ourselves live in that kind of fear! Avoidance invites stagnation.

“Whoever is free from all fear will always be safe,” Scilla Elworthy said in the Ted Talk above. So, we must let go of any fear we have of speaking out.

What do you care about? What’s your opinion about aging? Let’s hear it!!

Derrick told me I earned every wrinkle.
I told him, “… and every silver hair, too!”

I’m not afraid of growing older.
Just don’t call me old!!
See ya tomorrow.
Love,
JanBeek

Speaking to Dementia


Communicating with Loved Ones

How do you speak – especially during social distancing – with a loved one who has dementia?

My sister, Sally, has dementia. She lives in a Masonic Home less than five minutes from her daughter, Jodie. It’s in Pennsylvania – a loooong ways from me in Montana! But, even though they are close, in today’s pandemic world, Jodie can’t go to visit her. Sally is on the second floor of the care facility and when Jodie drives to see her, she is not even allowed out of her car. They just have to wave to one another out their windows.

I am sure that is a very smart safety precaution on the part of the Masonic Home. Jodie just tested positive for the virus last week! Now she is in quarantine for two weeks.

Finding Assistance

On Sunday I had my first ZOOM meeting with my sis. Rochelle, the Activities Director facilitated the meeting. Sally was basically non-responsive, so it was hard to know what to say. Rochelle repeated my comments to be sure Sally heard, but even then I barely got a nod most of the time. Still, it was good to see her.

Do You Relate?

Do you have a parent or sibling, a neighbor or friend with dementia? If so, you know what I mean. You’ve been in my shoes, and you long to be up close and personal with your loved one so you can look into each other’s eyes and make real connections.

Here are Bob and me with my sis, Sally, and her husband, Dave, waaaay back in the days of flat-tops, skinny ties and thighs, and 3″ heels! It must have been Easter … we’re all decked out. I will send her this photo. Dave died of a massive heart-attack more than 20 years ago. Pictures are an important way to tap into memories.

Using Technology to Tap Memories

I took my laptop out on the porch and showed Sally our scene of the mountains. I reminded her of the Thanksgivings we have spent together here sitting on the porch (or looking out this window), enjoying that view. Still, no change of facial expression and no words. Maybe it’s because the ground and mountains are often snow-covered in November!

Our view from the deck
View from back porch

Don’t Give Up – Keep Trying!

I talked about our times together at various Thanksgivings around the dining room table and showed her that scene. She has visited us in November at least ten years in a row before she needed to go to assisted living and wisely chose to be near her daughter and grandson.

I reminded her of Gloria, our friend who joined us one Thanksgiving.
She nodded as if she remembered Gloria.
I reminded her of other meal times the two of us have had together.
No response… but a picture is worth a thousand words.
I will send this one to her.

Reach Way Back

Reaching back into the cobwebs of my brain, I remembered us as young girls sitting on our grandmother’s porch, reaching out into the “weeds” and finding stalks of sweet anise, breaking them off, and munching on them like you might snack on a stalk of celery.

Actually, I still love to munch on sweet anise. I remembered I have some in the refrigerator. So, I went with my laptop over to the kitchen. I opened the fridge and asked Sally if she remembered sitting on Grandma’s porch, nibbling on this while we waited for mom to come and get us after school.

When I showed her the sweet anise (commonly known today as fennel), I got my first real smile from her. She nodded. Ah, folks, smells and food are great memory triggers!!

Do you know this bulb?
Fennel or sweet anise tastes like
celery flavored with black licorice.

The greatest trigger for memory when you are visiting with a loved one who has dementia is music. Find an old tune. Dig out that old pair of shoes that might bring back memories and play the sweet old songs that mom used to sing to us.

Study and Seek advice

Today on Facebook, my niece Tammy, who is a registered nurse and works with many Alzheimer’s patients, posted this helpful reminder:

Apply What You Learn – Reach Out

I have a friend in our nursing home here in Ennis who has dementia. During this COVID-19 pandemic, the residents have been on lock-down. No visitors. No outings. But recently, the nursing home constructed a “Visiting Booth.” It’s a little 8′ x8′ structure with a roof, two side walls (north and south), an opening to the east. It has a plexiglass partition to the west.

On a sunny day this week I called the nursing home and scheduled a visit with my friend. The nursing home arranges half hour visitations. At the appointed time, the CNA, Bonney, wheeled the resident (my friend) out into the fresh air and into the booth. I sat on the outside of the plexiglass on a park bench. It was hard to hear, but Bonney did what Rochelle had done for my sister and me. She repeated to my friend whatever I said.

I brought my laptop and my cell phone. Used the cell phone “hot spot” to connect to the internet. Logged on to a five year old video of my friend’s daughter singing and playing the SAW in a church service. Bonney brought the laptop into the booth and held it close to my friend. Of course, she thoroughly enjoyed seeing her daughter, hearing that beautiful, inspiring song, and visiting with me about things we had done together in years past.

I left with a song in my heart at the end of our visiting time. I couldn’t figure out how to get the video of Peggy and her saw from my FB page to this post. But, I found Peggy with her violin singing and playing “How Great is Our God” with Jordy Christo, on You.Tube, so I’ll post that here.

If you go to http://www.facebook.com/janbeekman you can find the “Amazing Grace” video with Peggy and her saw. It’s worth the click and your time. This is what it’ll look like when you get there:

I pray that you are inspired
to reach out to someone today
who needs to hear from you.

We may be limited by this pandemic,
but we are not frozen.
Do what you can
to brighten someone’s day!

This was always true of Sally.
She’s 14 months older than I am…
Always responsible and well-behaved!
Cheers from the irresponsible little sister!!

See ya tomorrow.
Have a Wonderful Wednesday.
Love and Hugs…
Stay Well!!
JanBeek

Dancing in Heaven


I danced in the morning

While the moon lay low

I danced at the sunrise

While the winds began to blow

I danced in the noontide

When it started slow to snow

And I danced in the evening

In the sunset’s glow

sunset from Welnas

Dance, dance,

Wherever you may go;

Dance and spread love

To everyone you know.

Dance, dance with a joyful heart –

Go, dance now… it’s a good time to start.

 

Marcelle Zufferey is dancing in Heaven with her husband, Antoine, today!

Today is Antoine’s birthday!! He went to his eternal home a couple of decades ago. Marcelle suffered this last couple of years from that awful disease, Alzheimer’s, that robs us of our minds – our memories. But, right to the end, she was that beautiful, blue-eyed mother who gave her children everything they needed for a full life.  She is the mother of our 1980-81 AFS student, Christian Zufferey, and his sister, Sylviane, who lived with us for a year in 1983-84. Our daughter DeDe, married their first cousin, Andre’. That’s why DeAna is a Swiss citizen and our 3 grandsons were born and raised in that beautiful country. We owe Marcelle a deep debt of gratitude! Our hearts go out to the Zufferey and Solioz families today, as we mourn their loss. But we know they are faith believers … and they recognize God’s perfect timing in this earthly departure.

I can play a Swiss polka today … and celebrate the reunion of Marcelle and Antoine.

Dance, my friends. Heaven awaits, and God’s timing always is perfect!

See ya tomorrow.

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