Sunday, July 30, 2017

Scott's Prayer

Today I experienced a special blessing.  Sometimes the smallest blessings are truly the greatest.  I shared with Perry what had happened when I wrote him and I will share a part of what I wrote.

...tell you about a wonderful experience that happened to your grandpa and to me this morning.  Last Sunday the executive secretary asked me if I thought grandpa could give a prayer in sacrament meeting the following week.  I joked that he would probably love it but he may bless the food.  He then turned to Grandpa and asked if he would be willing to give a prayer in next weeks meeting.  He was so excited and said sure.  I have been worried all week about it because he hasn't been able to pray for some time.  I prayed this morning that Heavenly Father would help him to do this and that it would be okay.  I then texted your parents, Uncle Bill and Aunt Cathy, and Uncle Christian and Aunt Amy telling them to please pray for dad so that he would be able to do this.  When we got to church I reminded him that he was going to say the prayer in Sacrament meeting and he started having a panic attack saying he couldn't do it and what should he do.  I kept saying that I thought he should try and that Heavenly Father would help him.  We sat right in the front of the chapel and I went through the whole process with him.  I showed him where he would go to pray, and then talked about remembering to fold his arms and bow his head and close his eyes.  I then said he should say what was in his heart.  During the opening song he was so upset and I finally said that it was all right and I would just give the prayer instead.  He said, no, he would do his best.  When the song ended he got up and walked up on the stand but stopped at the music stand.  The Bishop motioned him to come up to the podium and he then walked over to it.  He folded his arms, bowed his head, and then gave a beautiful heart felt prayer that I have not heard from him in so long.  Needless to say I cried and said a silent prayer to thanks to Heavenly Father for taking care of a gentle man who has lost most of his abilities but for a short moment was restored to express his thoughts clearly.  When he sat down by me he smiled and said "I did it!"  

I am so glad that I didn't tell Brother Stewart no when he asked last week even though this morning I was mad that I had when dad was so upset and scared.  I have been continually reminded through this Alzheimer experience that Heavenly Father knows his children and he loves each of us.  Today was one of those times!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

My Night Out

Caleb waiting patiently for our return!
Yesterday Angela asked me if I would like to go to a movie with her.  She said Andy and the kids would come and stay with dad.  Dad had had a particularly anxiety filled day and I had given him an anxiety medication earlier in the day to help him calm down a little and so I thought he would be okay.  Going to the movies is something we use to enjoy together but now the noise and darkness is to hard on him and the last movie we went to we had to leave after only a few minutes.  Andy and Angela and the kids all came over to the house and before I left I showed Andy dad's routine and what meds he takes before bed.  When I got into the car to leave I teared up and thought, this must be how a new mother feels the first time she leaves her baby for the first time.  The movie was great fun (Spiderman) and when we got back to the house dad was sound asleep.  I did wake him up to let him know I was home!  Even better was that he slept all night and didn't wake up until 8 a.m. this morning--a new record.  I don't know what I would do without Andy and Angela nearby.  Angela seems to know when I am feeling overwhelmed and when she does she steps in and she and Andy help in many ways.  Just to show how much I did need a little break--on one of our trips during the day we stopped at the grocery store so I could buy some orange juice, eggs, and ice cream. When we got back I got busy and unfortunately totally forgot the groceries.  Needless to say there was no ice cream!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Special Guest

Last Sunday I had a wonderful afternoon when Carlene Ames Bridenthal, one of my wonderful Laurels when I served as Young Women's president, stopped by to visit us.  Over the years we have had opportunities to see each other and each time I was so touched to see the woman she has become.  She and Randy are now living in Montana (thanks friend for reminding me!) where they are enjoying their four children and new granddaughter.  I have learned so much from Carlene about generosity, respect, kindness, and forgiveness. She is the best and I love that she is my friend!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Difference

Betty Jane
 I remember when I was dealing with mom's memory loss someone asked me, "Is it Alzheimer's or Dementia?"  I said it was memory loss and I didn't know which one.  At the time I was a little annoyed and thought the question was insensitive.  Now that I am dealing with Scott's memory loss I would be able to explain the difference.  Mom's memory loss began in her mid to late 60's.  Scott's memory loss began in his early 60's although I think there were numerous times before that that he struggled with memory issues. When I talked to a doctor when mom went into the original assisted care facility she said to me,  "Your mother is in excellent health, do you understand what that means?"  I said I did and she repeated again, "Do you know what that means?"  A little annoyed I responded, "YES, it means she will live a long long time in a stupor of thought!"  Dementia wasn't the cause of her death she actually had a stroke and died as a result of that.  The dementia definitely played a part in her death but she could have lived much longer if that hadn't happened.  

With Alzheimer's the prognosis is 7 to 10 years from the start of the disease.  Although Scott wasn't diagnosed until last year I definitely saw the signs of early onset Alzheimer long before we went on our mission.  I think we were all surprised by how quickly he went from early onset to moderate stage Alzheimer's.  That was because I was hoping his issues were something other than what is actually turned out to be.  With mom's dementia she slowly shut down (much like depression) and then she slowly let her mind go back in time to when she was younger.  Everything was from when she was much younger.  Scott cannot go back in time.  We can drive by our old house, a school he worked at, city hall and they would mean nothing to him.  My mom lived in her past and for Scott there has become no past.  He thrives on order where my mom was very comfortable going with the flow.  She had a healthy appetite much of the time but one day said she didn't want to eat and didn't from February until she passed away in June.  Scott doesn't refuse to eat but he is continually eating less and less.  My mom loved food (especially Mexican food!) but Scott eats to survive.  If I didn't make sure he ate I don't think he would eat much at all.   Anything hot or spicy gets him really upset and once the food is sat in front of him he eats like a squirrel stuffing his cheeks.  He finished many times before I even sit down to eat with him.  

Mom slowly went to a safe place where she felt contentment.  Scott has no contentment.  He has no connection to anyone or anything.  I think I would describe what happens to him is like looking in the old kaleidoscope.  Remember how you would twist the end and the beautiful design would change.  For him as you twist, the picture slowly disappears as the circle gets smaller and smaller until there is just a dot. Alzheimer's disease will eventually take him away from me and the painful reality is that it is moving very quickly to that end.  

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Love This Perk

We have four pools in our community and in the summer we are allowed to bring our grandkids in to swim between 10 and 3 each day.  It is such a treat to be able to watch Caleb and Ava happily swimming while we enjoy the shade by the pool.

Enjoying the pool!

Time to finish up!

Monday, July 10, 2017


I haven't written much about dad's condition but lately I have seen a significant decline and wanted to give you an update on what has been happening.  The good news is that he can still tie a tie. That is good because when he can't any more I will have to buy a clip on!  Last week when Christian and Amy were here for a visit Christian spoke to him in German and he responded and knew what he said.  Those are the highs that I can focus on.  Sadly, I have experienced a significant decline in other areas.  Twice last week he didn't know who I was until I realized why he was struggling.  Once I asked him he admitted that he didn't know my name.  I told him I was Elaine his wife and he was so relieved.  I know he doesn't know other people but to forget me was a little disheartening!  At church he knows four people whenever he sees them.  Eddie Freeman who he home taught for many years, Dennis Christoffersen, Kent Christiansen, and Joe Andreasen. He still is good at covering when he doesn't know others and when I tell him who they are he always says, "I know that!"  He is sleeping better at night and I found that if I hide his dirty clothes that he wore the previous day he doesn't get dressed when he gets up in the middle of the night.  Lately I hear him in the bathroom getting ready to take a shower.  He turns on the shower, undresses, then turns off the shower and get redressed back into his pajamas.  It is good that he doesn't get in because I am afraid that he may either freeze himself or burn himself depending on how far he turns the knob.  He can shower with my help although he hates the water getting on his head but fortunately Andy put in a removable faucet head so I can pretty much get him clean even when he is trying to get away.  He does still shave but only once a week.  I know he would shave more if I reminded him each morning but I have decided that he looks pretty cool with a little 5 o'clock shadow!  I also found that if I brush my teeth when he is brushing his that he does a good job.  If I don't he is done in about 2 seconds.  He needs my help to get dressed in the morning and undressed in the evening.  His appetite was significantly decreased and his list of things that he doesn't like is growing.  Pickles!  Onions! Potatoes (in any form)!  Those are the biggies right now. He often takes one bite of something and says that he is done.  Most of the time he eats about half of whatever I give him.  I would cut the serving down but when I did that he still ate half so I quit doing that because I would like him to eat at much as is possible.  I think if I took him to Jack in the Box each day and got his green burger he would be very happy.  He doesn't like change and he doesn't want me out of his site.  If I go to the bathroom he stands by the door until I come out.  If I go into the kitchen he comes and stands beside me.  Several times when I have been at the computer behind where he sits he will think I am gone and walk down the hall looking for me as he mumbles, 'where is she."  Again he is relieved when he sees me.  There are other things but you probably get the gist of what is happening.  His anxiety his very high now and he tells me all the time that things are scaring him.  I came back from my walk this morning and the door from the garage was locked.  I knocked and he came and opened the door.  I joked, "are you trying to lock me out?"  He responded no but he had to keep the people out who keep coming in while I am gone.  Bless his heart he is struggling and sadly for me I just spend a good part of the day reassuring him that he is okay.  Routine means everything and although my friend couldn't walk last Thursday and Friday I left the house for about a half an hour so that he wouldn't be upset that things weren't right.  That is all for now.  Keep the prayers coming!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Fourth!

So excited that cousins got together for Independence Day in Utah.  Ellis spent the week at BYU in Provo participating in the SOAR program and so Andy and Angela and Caleb and Ava drove up to pick him up. They stayed with Bill and Cathy and I know Ava and Caleb and Will and Abby had a wonderful time playing together.  We didn't make sure our kids got to know their cousins and it is so wonderful for me to know that our children are correcting our error with their children.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Gingerboard Man!

While here for a visit Duncan brought a piece of cardboard that had hit the front of their car and stuck.  He told me he had always wanted to make a big person and would I help him.  I asked if he would be willing to make a big gingerbread boy and he was happy with that so we began.  I did the drawing, he did the adjusting he wanted, I cut it out and we both had to tape a part of the head back on.  Once he liked the look he got out markers and decorated it.  I got busy with something else and he went off with his new creation.  A few minutes later I noticed that the gingerbread man was in the fireplace.  I asked him why and he replied, "I'm cooking him in the oven!"  How could I argue with that.

I know every grandparent thinks this but the truth is--I have the smartest grandkids, the most clever grandkids, the sweetest grandkids, and the kindest grandkids, in the WORLD!!!


 Ava and I ventured into making Grahams' birthday cake this year because they were coming to California to visit.  The cake was a hit and Ava and I had a great time making our own fondant out of marshmallows and powdered sugar.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Selective Service Draft Records

I have been indexing the Selective Service information from World War II that was done in California.  It is some of the best information I have seen on any individual in all the indexing information I have put into the Family Search records.  In the Draft Registration information they list the name of the man enrolling, where he is living at the time he gave the information, where he was born, his age and his birth date.  He had to put the name of the person who would always know where to reach him and their relationship to him.  He also had to list the name of the company or business he was working at.  Included on the form was his height, weight, complexion, eye color, hair color, and then any scars or marks on his body (such as a tattoo).  If you have a relative who signed up for the draft in the 1940s you will soon be able see all the information that I have talked about.

It has been interesting to think about this collected information meant to so many families.  Did they actually get drafted, did they survive?  What horrendous things did they see during the various battles they may have been involved in. The ages of those I have indexed have been from 18 to 42.  Can you imagine being drafted when you were in your 40s with a family that you will leave behind?  Can you imagine the false bravado of these young 18 year olds sure that they would save the world but entered a frightening experience that they had not been prepared for.  I was touched by the number of young men who listed their grandmothers as the person who would always know where they were.  The sad ones were the those who didn't list anyone who would know where they were or who could be notified if something happened to them.. A number of men were born in other countries but were now American citizens and willing to fight for their new country.  I hope they all came home and continued living the lives they had envisioned before this terrible war changed everything.  Only their families will know the answer to that!