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    • CommentAuthorbhv*
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2018
    I've been surprised too. In the 50s when I grew up, the east end included about two thirds of the island and was rural. It was classified semirural when I was in college, and then suburban. When I left the area in the mid 70s the traffic was awful trying to get to work. But it seems like people stopped moving out there and went to NJ, Westchester county, and Conn. It is still quite rural on the east end. But now the east end would only include about one third to one half of the Island. Still farms, although the Long Island Duck farms are long gone. Now there are quite a few wineries on the north shore and north fork.
    A friend of mine helped engineer some of the traffic improvements, although the LIE is still the world's longest parking lot. When I go back it is easier getting around my old neighborhoods than when I left. I am tempted to move back there. But it is more expensive than California, which is stunning to contemplate.
    • CommentAuthorpaulc
    • CommentTimeSep 22nd 2018
    Yes, Long Island is very expensive. I have a few people I grew up with who still live there, my friends and family have moved away. Northern NJ is popular as is Westchester county in NY (my brother lives there and not cheap). I hear that the potatoe farms are also gone. I’ve been there twice in the past 5 years, and yes, lots of traffic.
    • CommentAuthorbhv*
    • CommentTimeSep 22nd 2018
    Interesting you mention the potatoes. My grandfather was Quaker. He drove a horse drawn cart of seed potatoes three days from Pennsylvania to Long Island. Would have been before the depression I think. Our potatoes rivaled Idaho spuds.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeOct 1st 2018
    If I was a religious person I would see my road as a miracle and if I was a goal orientated person I would see myself as an achiever and if I was full of myself I would see this as my due and since I am none of those things, I see myself as a person on whom fortune has smiled (in this one thing).

    I honor my mom and dad by remembering them not as a shrine but as human beings and so, sympathetically and empathetically and critically, but always connected by the same foibles of living our lives. I honor my wife in the same way where her ashes are not a shrine but are her ashes put somewhere nice with things she liked around them.

    I could pull books out from parts of this road. Dialogues With Dianne might be one of those or more accurately, as Mary recently said in our phone call, an essay of the times I spoke to and wrestled with her memory. These days it would seem as strange to talk to her pictures as it would to talk to my parents. Besides, I have a direct line and if something contextual comes up I might think "that's true mom" or "remember that Dianne?" without the imagery of anyone hearing - just the connections together in spirit. In that same way I keep an eye on my widow friend who doesn't have enough and will be working past 65 to keep body and soul together. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't let her suffer and once in a while when I think of Scott I nod that I will contribute to her welfare. She will need a new car soon and I won't wait with my will where she's just five years younger than me.

    "Keep up the good work" I said to Dianne just a few weeks ago where I hate going to the dentist but it's overdue that I start restoring my teeth and I remembered that that sweet kid brought me a dental plan where I can spend up to $2500 a year on dental care which is entirely her effort. I made money too but blew a tire in some ways like pensions and benefits. I learned a life lesson from all this though which was that money is useless when living through hard times. I don't say that to people like my widow friend because they would never believe that anyway. She clings to the idea that if she was rich she could be happy and she's welcome to believe that.

    What I learned is that if you're alright then you're rich and I would never have learned that the way I have without paying the price we both did. I told that story once which I made up but surely isn't original of the beggar being rich while the rich man was deprived by exactly the same simple meal. That stuck and like so many things in life, I never know what thoughts will be wind passing and what thoughts will change what I am.

    I thought that life had short changed me and that it was cruel to me and what I didn't know was that my service wasn't about me but was about her and about us and that eventually I would both see that and understand it - and when I did and only then would the burdens of self deceit fall.

    I hereby promise to never make fun of Bill Shakethespear again and instead just answer his rhetorical question that it is a far, far better thing to have loved and have lost than never to have loved at all.

    It's a rainy, cold day covered in dark clouds this fine autumn day. Just a few weeks from now all these green trees will turn bright colours and fall down. That's the way of all things just as this summer was. The world has not changed but I have because it wasn't enough to go through all that or even to finally heal from it or even to understand it, but to embrace the chance I have to believe in living again and embrace the hurts that always come with that having come all the way around the earth and arrived exactly where I started - being me and for the first time in my life appreciating that for what that is. The baggage car has been emptied for some time which suspicious searches have confirmed for some time and just like that beggar in my story - it has nothing to do with the meal and everything to do with the appreciation.
    • CommentAuthorbhv*
    • CommentTimeOct 1st 2018
    Wolf, I am especially glad to read this. Something you said a week or so ago had me worried that some stuff had filled up that baggage cart again. Embracing the chance to believe in living again sounds much better.

    DURING the journey I kept asking myself why, oh why, did I ever agree to get married??? I had never planned to get married. Marriage totally disrupted my life plan. For awhile it had been ok, but to end with Alzheimers.... I cry when I hear my nieces have become engaged -- and not happy tears. But I know, just like when I married a man 11 years older, they wouldnt listen to the risks. I am still battling tsunamis of grief, but, in between waves, there are glimpses that it is a far, far better thing to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Putting pictures of us smiling together is helping to find those memories.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeOct 4th 2018
    Bonnie, that's exactly why I check (suspicious searches). Behaviour isn't like plumbing and yet it's exactly like plumbing. Until it stops leaking it isn't fixed and unless you check you don't know. It's not like plumbing in the sense that plumbing is pipes and joints and solder and air traps and water levels and so on, while behaviour is feelings and reactions and fixations and fears and so on. Put in plumbing right and it should work. Put your behaviour ideas in right and you find out you're just talking.

    I hear the life plan thing but swiss watches are over rated because the watch is wonderfully precise beyond any real applications in life where the dancing elephants in the china shops and the toe curling moments and the long ways we carry the luggage without using anything inside, couldn't care less about the precision of the tick-tick-tick.

    There is no right way. There is only being you. I know people who are so emotional they feel your emotions more than you do. I know people who are so reserved or detached their speech is a study in safe avoidance. I know people who's idea of themselves is so outlandishly unrealistic, their gymnastics over and around unwanted evidence is breathtaking to watch. I know people so kind and giving you want to protect them from themselves. I know people so wildly funny that to listen to them take almost anything anywhere makes my stomach hurt from laughing. They're all just variations on a theme which is being human on the same surfboard through time everybody else, including the entire universe, is on.

    It's no good telling your nieces not to do what you do but to do what you say. Marriage disrupts everybody's life plan even when they never had one and the main reason there are any nieces around to warn against is because people do take the risks and do get married and even (shudder) have children which don't just disrupt but turn you into a parent (shudder). Some people live to be parents and can't wait to have children. The swiss watches of life plans don't work there either.

    There is only one thing that has always worked in my life and works now which is to genuinely try to be myself where every other fact bar none is wide open. I've seen and done things from the gross to the sublime including designing the posters for a Santana concert living in San Francisco, having a threesome with the Faulkner twins, being the CIO of a multi billion dollar company, saving people from certain death, and having a deep and full relationship with my wife (who had her own peccadillos to tell). That list of wonderous things is as long as my arm and I've most recently added flipping the finger to this trip. There and back again my behind - I was there, and now I'm here which isn't a there because it's exactly the same chair in exactly the same place; but, it's later except people don't think like that. Well. Some.

    You've just very recently come through very serious life events you couldn't possibly have absorbed yet which simply has to mean more bouncing off walls. I'm sorry about that but consider giving your own physiology a break and consider taking up origami or bonzai trees to pass the time while it catches up. Or deny any of that is real and charge ahead. Like I said (sort of), there are many types but there is only one you.
    • CommentAuthorbhv*
    • CommentTimeOct 5th 2018 edited
    Bouncing off walls and variations on a theme and pecadillos!

    I am off to the golf course. More fun than bonzai trees. Besides, if I touch a plant, it WILL die.
    • CommentAuthorbhv*
    • CommentTimeOct 5th 2018
    Went to play golf. It was not such a great idea to check in here before golf. Don't really need to have my head in alzheimers world when trying to concentrate. Still, played reasonably well. Was surprised when I caught up to two guys in front of me they just drive right by and didn't invite me to join up. I think because one guy didn't hit his driver very far past the women's tees. So I had to dilly dally and practice extra shots. Not a bad thing overall, but am tired.

    It is much cooler all of a sudden. We got a tiny bit of rain here. The groundskeepers are doing all kinds of work to get the course back in shape after a difficult couple of summers. They asked the boss what happened to my husband. He was afraid to ask, but I ran into him out on the course and complimented them on their work. Lots of people don't even notice the groundskeepers, but we always were friendly. When I was learning they helped me find my ball. They always wave and say hello. Made me feel good because I think it has been about a year since we were playing together and the groundskeepers still recognize me. :)
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeOct 13th 2018
    My sister and I talk regularly about everything which is a shock to both of us but I've been telling her she has to allow time to settle in now that the 'grands' are becoming teenagers at the same time her husband is home full time. It's like taking a city person camping where every mosquito is a threat until they get used to the idea that they're everywhere and you just kill the one's biting or you're a whirling dervish all weekend.

    It's so easy when it's not us looking at ourselves from the inside, living every moment individually like living every mosquito personally. I can understand that and write about it, but I can't change the difference between telling the guy to calm down and being the guy who's hopping around frustrated out of his skin that mosquitos are endless and no one is going to drive them home now so they're stuck in this nightmare called camping.

    Because we talk regularly about everything I can hear my sister's frustrations and struggles even when we're not talking about that. In this one way at least, we've traded places where this must have been her experience talking to me two years ago when I was the whirling dervish, fish out of water, struggling soul.

    Patience under fire under duress. Not an easy thing to give to someone who's flailing around in the water, wide-eyed and horrified. That's two things I've learned from the separation from my own flailing. I can see how things overcome us whatever the topic, and I can empathize with that struggle.

    I compared struggles before but always defensively and (I'm sure) wide-eyed and horrified. Like the person who's wife died of cancer in just a few months and who remarried within the year telling me I'm not getting on with my life two years ago - why are they even breathing and how dare they and set him back up so I can kick him again. And now? He's just him largely again because I'm just me enough again.

    The truth is I now have a deep and well earned insight into experiences that overcome us, what that's like to go into, to be in, and to come out of. The separation I referred to above is the growing fields of unperturbed time between now and when the last stragglers of that hoard extinguished.

    I've come to better understand the picture book cut-outs that form the realityscapes of most people as not just being as valid as mine (which I've always believed), but being as deeply expressive of themselves and as worthy of compassion and support as anything I might come up with.

    Which is why when my sister is quick to point out how my struggles are so much worse than anything she faces, I genuinely argue back that her hardships are just as genuine and real as mine. I wouldn't call it a joy to be able to be like this but I would say it's one of the numerous things I've come to appreciate seeing, having survived and come out of my own hell hole - that I didn't just survive; I came away with important things.

    I don't think you need a structured religion to have spiritualism; in fact, I think religions are different approaches to the spiritualism that's already pervasive in life. I believe that spiritualism is part of the connection between the way we see the world and our own feelings, where feelings are a fundamental part of being alive.

    In the end perhaps the state is after the mosquito nightmare or the non-swimmer panic nightmare or my sister's world upside down or any experience that overwhelms us, to check and be able to answer "I'm ok" which is vague but a pretty good thing to believe whoever we are and whatever we're going through.

    When you stop to think about it 'the journey somewhere else' was never about anywhere else - it was about a journey to where you feel ok. What that means is something only you know - or at least, could know.
    • CommentAuthorbhv*
    • CommentTimeOct 27th 2018
    I don't know what came over me. I booked a.trip to Long Island for Thanksgiving. Got too wrapped up in the flights and now think I will be there too many days. Really wanted to back out of the whole thing. But persisted and reserved a car. And yesterday, arranged a ride to the airport.
    It's been a long time since I traveled. Or went anywhere really. After we retired, I would go to East Coast on my own once a year. Got used to travelling alone. But still always got stressed out until the trip started. Usually it turned out to be fun and worthwhile.
    I am such an emotional mess right now I think it was stupid to set this up. Everyone else thinks it's a great idea. What.was I thinking? Cindy keeps saying I should go see my doctor and get something for anxiety. But I have had bad reactions to three of those meds. Too scared to try again.

    My youngest brother has a rare cancer with 6-10 year prognosis. They were just watching it and checking him every three months. He started chemo yesterday. It sounds very hopeful. He has a new Dr with Sloan Kettering. The treatment is very targeted to his specific blood cells. Dont understand it all, but sounds positive. He's been afraid to start treatment, but also, wanting to do something to fight this thing that is attacking his body. He came for the funeral so I did get to see him, but that's another reason to go back there and visit.
    I have had some really great phone conversations with the two brothers on Long Island. They sound excited that I am coming. For now I am planning on staying with one of them. They have chickens. It is very peaceful watching the chickens in the back yard. They are also within walking distance of the bay.

    Lindylou, I thought about zipping up to Mass to visit. I don't think that will work out though. It's weekend. Again, what the heck was I thinking?
    • CommentAuthorlindyloo*
    • CommentTimeOct 27th 2018
    Bhv, breathe in, breathe out. You will have a good time because you will decide to have a good time, have decided already really. You'd always be welcome to stop by here in Massachusetts, but this is the one weekend of the year that the roads and highways are at their absolute busiest. I have tried car traveling over Thanksgiving and have never enjoyed it. It would be like sitting in a parking lot for nearly the entire trip, no matter what day you chose. Its too bad really because I'd love to meet you. Maybe if I make it to the west coast this summer????? Or you travel east at another time of year.
    Bhv, I love to travel, but I am always a mess before its time to go. The first time I flew to Europe alone after DH died I couldn't imagine doing it all by myself. Even now, I am planning to fly to FL in Jan to visit friends. I haven't arranged flights or a rental car yet. Its like I am frozen in place. once I get there I have a wonderful time.
    • CommentAuthorbhv*
    • CommentTimeOct 27th 2018
    Lindylou, if you come west I have plenty of room for your camper. We'd have a lovely time. I even know some places to camp on the beach.
    I got a really nice email from my sister in law where I will.stay and I feel much better about things.
    Went out to lunch today with a.friend who is so much like me it always astounds us. It was a very nice afternoon. She even helped me shop for some things for my trip.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeNov 4th 2018 edited
    More fool I.

    That's not on the menu anymore. Neither is more fun I. Things like that usually come in pairs like two sides of the same coin. Perception is like that too. I can't tell you how many years I spent feeling hurt nobody was coming in anymore before I finally saw, never mind admitted, that I had the door locked shut.

    It's always been like that. I have to be fooled once to know that such a thing exists and not be fooled twice. When I make the same mistake twice I get mad because that's on me. If we're not like that around work, we're not employed very long.

    People are different where we learn to tolerate our younger sibling or our parents and aunts, uncles, and grandparents and where we learn that whatever our feelings about different kids in the neighborhood, we're going to be going through school with them. I do think that having been hurt in my first love relationship taught me to value Dianne and our relationship more.

    I learned a lot of things from Alzheimer's. I learned that you can be hurt enough in life to materially damage your ability to think and feel like your normal self. I became such a ball of pain and distress that I became a stranger in my own life. I also learned that one of the key aspects of relationships is letting things slide for the greater good. I overlooked a lot of things when I was willing and understood that those things were about them and not me. When I got hurt too much, too often, for too long that disappeared. That was compounded by my learning disability trying to appease people who I thought of as close tribe who were actually trying to get away from me.

    I live my life by maxims. That is, I pound the heck out of things with maxims like using a sledgehammer on them to see what they do. The right maxims in the right situations are good rudders navigating through life in my experience. I can think of three on this topic readily:

    "Do you know who cares about your problems less than you do? Everybody." -stand up comedian
    "If you look for the good in people you will surely find it, and if you look for the bad in people you will surely find it." -Pollyanna
    "You get bitter or you get better. No one can do both." - unknown where bitterness is a known psychological thing

    That's a decent set because everybody does have the right to be themselves and being me can only be my responsibility. We see what we want to see because everybody has evidence on both sides. In the end, whatever I believe is factual, I have to decide whether I care more about that or I care more about my own well being. Not an easy thing to manage with what we've been through.

    It's like untying the world's largest knot. I have to forgive myself for the hardest thing I ever did that cost me more than I ever imagined and destroyed pretty much everything I cared about in life - because I flinched at times putting my hand into the fire. I have to accept that it doesn't matter what all the exact stories were or that it was Alzheimer's instead of Parkinson's or something else. Even having been married is only of historic significance which meeting new people bears out and which going through my days now proves as well.

    It's my dreams that show me that even though I've come to a tenable place and have years of evidence that I work for better over bitter, I do not have a life with either enough meaning or enough interaction in it. There is still the me inside who got hurt so very badly by it all that in the windmills of my mind I'm still sticking pins in voodoo dolls and am overly ready to lunge on indiscretions. I'm still absorbed in defense and even though I have some reason to be - because my sensibilities are still fragile - the greater truth is that I need to learn how to want things and how to believe in those things and that means opening up to vulnerabilities and disappointments and unknowns.

    Somewhere very deep inside I think I might have a form of survivor guilt. It's possible that inside the dammed up parts, I feel so bad for her it affects me. I already know I'm incredibly sorry not to have her here anymore. I'll probably be dying like that which I can live with because that's the truth.

    But this is my life now and I have this sledgehammer of maxims that's useless against some things but pretty good breaking through others. I need more real life or I'm stuck and I've got to get this 68 year old lump of reluctance to go out there and truthfully try to have some fun. I am this entire problem. Got it. Anything else? If you stick a broom up my butt I could also sweep the floor. Nevermind. I get it. Merde.

    "No, don't do that. Don't shoot him. You'll just make him mad."

    - Gene Wilder to Cleavon Little, the black sherriff nobody wants in the town of Rockridge when he puts on his holster to go tend to Mongo.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeNov 16th 2018 edited
    In England where English originates, the term 'hospital' had a wider range of usage than it does in stodgy North America. I did not know that. It's one of the many gems of information the English like giving out where a recent Economist magazine has an article entitled Shitting On Top Of The World which described the toilet facilities on Mount Everest (none actually) which followed an article entitled Wish You Weren't Here that talked about the dilemna destinations like Hawaii face where the only thing worse to the locals than having too many tourists mucking about is having too few tourists which became apparent to me last year watching lava spewing hundreds of feet into the air and flowing in molten rivers while the local news station couldn't help also talking about what a great destination it was.

    It all makes me reconnect to the fact that I've thought the world was crazy when I was still pre-puberty - and good education, an extensive career in different disciplines and companies, and a lifetime around thousands of people hasn't changed that one bit. I was engrossed by my own distress and our suffering to such an extent that it became a singular dominator of all thoughts and unlike R L Stevenson, when I came back to the place I didn't know it for the first time because I already knew the place was looney tunes.

    Not in a bad way, but in the reality that I am also looney tunes which is why I blend in like a glove that exactly fits my hand. In my world Bilbo Baggins when he meets the dragon guarding the endless piles of gold doesn't get flamed on but gets asked "Have you ever wondered what it's all really about?" Why yes I have dragon breath and I don't get a sense of evil or devils, or of gods and kowtowing, but more like a sign in the window of the store you might reasonably expect to be open willing to sell you things or even explain what they are, but there's just the sign in the window that says "gone fishing". Apparently the place gets made but not run in the micro managed sense.

    Not exactly Tolkienesque but delightfully free of that preponderance of self importance and Über-meaning that clogs the conceptions of the self aware. We are what everything is about has been the leitmotif of humanity for as long as we've cared to write things down which reads like a cheap novel full of thugs and kings desperate to live forever or ordinary folk hoping nobody kills them and they can get through the day.

    It's a bum rap for most of them that I've sat all day in my cozy little house watching the snow keep falling and my service come to plow and shovel, throwing some peanuts out for the jays and cardinals, and playing or watching what happened in France or Sri Lanka or California, or making my famous goulash on egg noodles and watching my Raptors down in beantown trying to beat up on the Celtics. Once I've looked to see that my little numbers showed up for the month and I've stayed within my budget, I plan on reading my Economist and falling asleep with the light on where somewhere in the wee hours the terminator will start lighting things up again, and my cats will be lazing around in the hall waiting for me to get up. "Morning guys" I say, and they come waltzing in ready to start the new day with a bite of something and a good cup of coffee and it makes me think of all those kings in their drafty towers and their uncomfortable beds and their terrible medical plans and short life expectancies and it makes me laugh.

    "You should do something." I say to myself sometimes now just to remind myself that I'm not going to. The reason is because I can. That's funny too because I traveled such a long way and yet never went anywhere. Except way out there and after years of plodding through that misery found I'd come right back to the kid who got tired of being afraid of the bogeyman and got out of bed and slid under it in the dark and you know what? No bogeyman. Not one blessed thing has changed except now I'm that same boy in a stonking old body, and while I get wanting to live forever, I can't imagine getting my knickers in a knot about it.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeNov 16th 2018

    I don't believe anybody knows why they're the way they are. Thinking of ourselves in certain ways just comes with the package. I think of life as physics and comedy, that is, when I'm not face down in the gutter moaning. That's the price I paid for love and it's a fair price which, now that it's all paid up, I can say with the same equanimity as the person who accidentally survives a close call and thinks how clever they are. Whatever. It doesn't really matter what narrative we weave. We all have our time and that's one of the few things you can say anywhere and any time in history and always be right. That's going to be just as true in the future too which they're all very welcome to and I wish them all the luck because life is as intense as it is quite nuts.

    "I'm late. I'm late. For a very important date.", said the rabbit bustling through the scene not unlike Tin Man looking for his heart. Sufficiency is something we're just not very good at in a life where perception matters far more than reality. I never listened to the siren's call in the pain or the sadness or the abyss. Up yours. Those chimeras know nothing about love or life and I do.

    Which takes me to the scene in Groundhog Day where Phil is trying to teach Rita how to flip the card into the hat which she's terrible at. "Come on Rita. You gotta want it. Come on, be the hat." I can't imagine adding anything to that. He gets the girl of course but it's a movie which may or may not matter as much as we think. It's all perception anyway. Which takes me finally to my mother who used to cheat at Solitaire and then be happy she won. "Why don't you just lay the cards down randomly and declare yourself the winner?" I asked her before I understood that it didn't matter either way because it made her happy and, in reality, that's what mattered about that.

    My Dianne didn't die early. She had all of her time. I didn't die early either and guess what I have? No cancer. I'm thinking of sending out Christmas cards this year to people not in my life anymore. "I'm not dead yet" is what I would write, "Merry Christmas." And that would all be true because I'm not feeling The Grinch this year. Live and let live I always say. Actually, I've never said that but now is a fine time to start.
    Well, as usual, I don't have a clue what you're talking about, Wolf. But hey, it's all good. I wouldn't bother sending Christmas cards to people who aren't in your life anymore. I mean, what for? Why bother? I like to send out a few Christmas cards, and I pick them out very carefully--pick my Christmas stamps carefully at the post office--I like to coordinate the whole thing. Cardinals work cardinals on my address labels, cardinals on the stamps, and a card that is some kind of woodland scene with cardinals on it. Some years I write a nice, not-too-long-or-boring update letter, with the greeting, "Dear family and friends." I work hard at it to make it look very off-the-cuff, like I just kind of sat down at the computer and typed up this marvelous, spur-of-the-moment thing. In truth, it takes me around four drafts, and No Bragging is Allowed. Some years I go for more of a religious theme-the Wise Men on the card, the Madonna and Child Christmas just depends on my mood.

    I went up to Albany yesterday to take another look at an Independent Living senior place--we got a talk, a tour, and a free lunch. I like Albany and I like this place (pets are welcome up to 40 lbs. in weight--and Bandit only weighs 11 lbs.) --but I don't think I'm quite ready yet. I will probably move up there eventually, but for now I'm happy with the apartment I've got, my choir, and the friends and activities that I am doing now. I really want to get a canoe in the spring, and one thing I'll need to find out is whether there would be a place to keep it up there. (Don't have anyplace to keep it here, either...stay tuned, as I try to figure this out.)

    We had our first big snowstorm the night before last going into yesterday morning. I think we got around 8 inches. I had to pick Bandit up and carry him to the plowed parking lot. It was too deep for him--he tried "swimming" on the surface, but sunk in. He tried his "kangaroo-hopping" but it was just too deep. He loves snow. When I brought him home as a puppy it was January. So from 14 weeks old he started going outside every hour on the hour in snowy weather to be house-trained. I guess it is just imprinted on him that he is some kind of snow-creature. He would be pulling dog sleds in Alaska if he were bigger--just loves to be out in it.

    Let me see...what else? We sang in a local village for their Veterans" Day services on Nov. 12. I am a Vietnam-era Air Force vet, so wore my American Legion cap and stood at attention and saluted the flag at the proper places and whatnot. I was the only veteran in the choir there that day, and got a lot of "Thank you for your service." from people. Not everybody realizes that I'm a vet or that I'm in the Legion...I don't really "advertise" because (showing my age here) I think of it as kind of a "guy thing." It isn't of course. It was actually Larry who made me sign up for the Legion--he was proud of me and said I was entitled and I should be in it. (He was a combat veteran of WWII of course--served in the Pacific theatre and was in both the American Legion and the VFW.)

    We have to sing at a special Mass tonight, for the 150th anniversary of our parish. Cardinal Dolan is coming up from Manhattan to do the Mass, and there is a reception in the school hall afterwards, supposedly with light snacks. So I hope the "light snacks" are decent--because that's going to be my supper! I never have gained the weight back that I lost during the four months of pneumonia. Nausea from antibiotics really helps you to not eat. But also, I find that sticking to around 1400 calories a day keeps me where I need to be, and seems to allow for those all-so-important cheesecake binges or whatever. It's much, much easier to eat right when you're not cooking for an Italian husband (pasta, wine, etc.) or for three grandkids with hollow legs. I love being able to buy and eat exactly what I please. Yum.

    Well, is everybody getting sick of listening to me? Blab, blab, blab, right? Just feel like I'm chatting with friends. Wish you all were here--I'd put the coffeepot on and we could have tea as well. Guess I'll go over to the eagle website and see if I can see Harriet's egg. Then must pick out an outfit for tonight. Hmmmm...should it be black, black, black or the ever-so-tasteful black? Hahahahahahahahahahaaha. (See, Wolf? You're not the only one who can do long posts!)
    • CommentAuthorlongyears
    • CommentTimeNov 17th 2018 edited
    Just want you "Long Bloggers" to know how much I enjoy reading your stories.
    It seems as though I'm reading exactly what's going on in the top of your heads.
    Which gives me something to think about. And that's exactly what this 97 year old guy needs.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeDec 3rd 2018
    The human spirit is like a double edged sword. It will struggle and fight in the face of real adversity, but when all real adversity goes away, it will realize new adversity so that it can struggle and fight against it.

    That's outside the realm of psychological oppression where sufficient perceived oppression pushes the human spirit outside normal operating parameters. It's perceived because it varies among people at what point events are oppressive and at what point events do damage. Unlike physical injury or demonstrated disease, psychological damage is an invisible condition.

    It's too difficult to talk about depression because it seemed impossible to measure in any way. Depression seems to work directly on outlook and when you're the one looking out, it's very hard to tell what's actually going on. Anxiety is much easier to discuss where I'm sure anxiety was part of giving my wife up to LTC which was a crisis point for me and that is surely connected to the full blown anxiety attack I had when both my computers broke on the same day. I spent two hours on the phone with a poor friend who listened to my teeth chattering like a little kid who was in the water way too long. I kept hyperventilating and uncontrollably reacting with deep shudders and constant shivering. That condition eased from that state but anxiety remained for several years where I needed several tries to sign my passport application two years later (one year after her death), and I got anxious about a lot of previously ordinary things like getting my eyes examined or getting my toilet fixed or spending time with other people, or even whether to go somewhere or not.

    About a year ago (3+ years after attack) I could see that it was hardly happening anymore and a lot of things have happened this year but anxiety about things is not one of them. I'm back to being concerned about solving problems in my normal way without having undue reactions to them.

    I'm sure I had depression where I'm sure there are various kinds and I believe leaving the invisible christmas tree up for four years before ever noticing it and realizing I should do something about it is part of that. There are still ornaments on the piano from when I finally packed it up and put it away about four years ago now. I don't want to deal with them or the dead fossilized plants I neglected. They are some of the many remnants of that time where I believe psychological damage has a long, tapering tail much the way grief does for many.

    I suspect a decent word for a state that comes after grief and loss, or the arrival past previously threatening states - is the word poignant. It seems to capture what may be a unique state. I can't imagine crying about Dianne and I believe that's because I'm cried out, I'm sorried out, and intensity drained. What should have been put on her death certificate was "she shut down" because she didn't die of any other causes. That doesn't matter because all her worldly concerns were ended by that.

    That also began the worst time for me in all this. That first year was a constant nightmare and the second year wasn't much better where the third year did get better and the fourth year has become normal life again. In those three years where I suffered the most from a disease nobody had, I learned the price of being true. It's shatteringly high just as it should be.

    I had to up my game. A ton frankly. I can literally shudder thinking how I might have been if I had tried to hold on to the old ways, and the old ideas, and the old me. Instead having mostly hatred of my reality to keep me warm, I went into the horror determined to kill rather than be killed. I'd already reached my low point in 2011 when I was so split that I slobbered on the basement floor begging to be released and stood before that broken wretch answering "Get up. We're not doing this." I was the schmuck on the floor and those are exactly the words said flat and final that another part of me answered. That episode ended what I call my suicide period. That's fairly near rock bottom and I've been there and bought the t-shirt.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeDec 3rd 2018

    Two things have happened this year. I've become normal within long familiar ways. I'm just here and that about covers it. And the second thing is that somewhere this thing must have detached because it's drifted off on the horizon behind me. It feels like that has joined my parents and my work experiences and so many other things that once were and still connect to me in ways, but exist like postcards from places I've been.

    I tell stories with them. At one time I told myself the story of my life over and over in some detail trying to cling onto something that felt like me. I've told the story of Dianne too. Even the story of my parents. I now have the memory of those stories where I learned that memories come when you seek them and in some ways, they're like the movies of your life.

    Many normal people might say that I should be happy now given what I've all said. That's partly true but that's not how the human spirit works. Those adversities have gone away it's true, but they are replaced by new adversities which is where I began, that I need and now want more life in my life and that I am getting older and that I have things I should attend to like finally getting rid of the fossilized plants that died during those years that litter the house like the monuments left from bygone civilizations.

    My sister had the rugrats over a few days ago and we commented on how resilient young children are. It occurs to me that while dementia spouses tend to be stinking old, and it's nowhere near the fun or cuteness of little children, we can match them pound for pound on resilience. Change that word to fortitude and you have your movie. That should at least be a comfort but that's where I started. Life isn't like that. It's just on to the next problem. Life isn't like that either; but being a human being is.
    • CommentAuthoroakridge
    • CommentTimeDec 4th 2018
    Once again Wolf, you have given me a respite from my everyday worries and woes. I keep up with the world with the magazine The Week, but you have a way of making it much more fun reading! We're always told to be concise, never use two words when one will do - but heck, that would take all the fun out of your posts.
    • CommentAuthorbhv*
    • CommentTimeDec 4th 2018
    I went to NY for Thanksgiving. I was so proud of myself for deciding to book the trip. Then, almost immediately went into an out of control depression not wanting to go. But I did it. I haven’t spent a holiday with my family since I got married 36 years ago. Had no idea about all the little dramas. Stayed with one brother for a few days and was able to help his wife prepare dinner. That was fun. Then stayed with youngest brother. We’ve been wanted to do that for a very long time. To have the time to just hang out together. Get to know each other better. It is so much fun being friends as adults.
    Best day: drove out to Hamptons and along Dune Rd and walked out to Old Inlet which was reopened in the recent hurricanes. Long walk along the beach too. In October I went to the Pacific where we got married barefoot in the sand. It was good to be back at the Atlantic where I grew up. There are similarities of course. But, to me, the oceans feel very different.
    I live out in the country in CA. Haven’t been driving much the last few years as our Alzheimer’s world shrunk. I rented a car at JFK. Good thing I got a small one and was not in rush hour. I remember driving those parkways at high speeds when I was young. Took awhile to feel comfortable. Then had to drive to Riverhead in the RAIN. Really not used to that. Good practice though cause it rained all day when I got back.
    I thought I couldnt wait to get home, but spiraled out of control into depression. It was so very weird being met at the airport by strangers. Weirder walking into my house and no one there. I keep going to the cemetery and feeling like I made a mistake leaving him there. I can’t understand how this could have happened. Feel like I need some kind of help but have no idea what might help. I imagine it will just take time.
    Today was much better though. I got up early and played golf. Got to practice a lot by myself before some guys caught up. They were fun to join up with for the last three holes. Not a great score but I missed all of November. This time I was just happy and grateful that my husband taught me the game.
    Just give yourself a break, bhv. You're right that it will just take time. I was just contrasting Christmas of 2014, when he had been gone three months, and this Christmas of 2018, when he's been gone four years, three months, and (as of today) three days. Then, I was sobbing as I decorated the tree alone. Felt like such a mess--didn't know which end was up. Hard to describe--everything seemed black and gray, with the happy past gone and seemingly no road forward. Daughter turned on me like a rattlesnake when I did not do exactly what she wanted, and I dared to say that I wanted to go back to NY. Spent Christmas Day alone after DD booted me out of her house. (That I had purchased for her cash on the barrelhead.) Very hard holiday and holiday season. Now, this Christmas season, I look back at my marriage with such love and nostalgia. I feel like he is with me, still behind my shoulder as always, but in a happy way, not a sad way. Hard to describe. I think of him so often--but it's OK. The apartment is decorated festively to my taste, and is so pretty (I think) and Christmassy. I have a lot of singing to do with my choir. I play Christmas songs every day on my electric piano. Bandit and I take long walks out in the frosty weather, sit together on the sofa at night, and watch all kinds of things on TV--still feels "new" for me to control the remote and watch everything I want. Yay! We sleep snug as two bugs in a rug and wake up in the morning cheerfully to do it all again. I have lunches with two different groups of friends coming up, am going to see a live performance of "Nutcracker" on Sunday, am going to a Christmas concert next week, and have to perform in an Epiphany concert on Jan. 6. And I've picked up some more festive outfits than usual to wear--and have kept all the weight off that I lost during the big pneumonia episode. Who would have believed four years ago--or even two or three--that I would wake up every morning jumping out of bed as quickly as possible because I'm really looking forward to what the day might bring? So yes, it takes time, and a certain amount of self-searching to figure out who you are now and what you want to try to do with your life--all done while trying to integrate, assimilate, and cope with the loss of your loved one--and there's no rushing it--but there is definitely the chance for Light, Life, and Happiness after the dementia-caregiving years.

    I hope that didn't sound sickening and syrupy to those still in the trenches. But I've been there--our Alzheimers journey lasted 14 years--and I'm here to tell you that There is Hope! It Doesn't Last Forever!
    • CommentAuthorNicky
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2018
    Elizabeth, so well written. I'm so glad that you're waking up every morning & jumping out of bed looking forward to the day. It took a while, but you got there. My Christmas wish is for everyone here to feel such happiness - I know I'm looking forward to feeling that way one day. It give us all hope.
    • CommentAuthorbhv*
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2018
    Thanks Elizabeth. Even last year I didnt dare dream of an after... no less, a happy one. Your words made me smile. I can’t wait to share some snuggles with you and Bandit at the Christmas Lodge. And thanks for reminding me of the cats’ names.
    The funeral home has a memorial service tonight. I’m going to check it out.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeFeb 9th 2019
    Journeys somewhere else. What does the Alzheimerspouse start out with on this 'journey'?

    - one of life's most profoundly powerful states, the grief and overwhelming feelings that come with the passing of our life partner

    - a mountain of backed up, deep reactions to the many nightmare moments that build up over the years rarely with opportunity or cycles to absorb or resolve them before now

    - the reality of the years of suppression and neglect of ourselves thrown into our faces by the immediacy of being the only ones left

    - almost certainly being in the most worn out and used up, harrased and neglected state of our entire life

    - having the facts of our future all visibly move in because that flipped from some day to being in it right now and finances, location, activities, and our life all become things that need answers now

    - a high probability that we have some mix of depression, anxiety, withdrawal, isolation, stress, and abuse in some combination that likely has gone on for years

    - a high probability that we have all these things together at the same time in various, but probably serious degrees

    If you ever wondered why this is so hard, find yourself in that list and for goodness sake at the very least, give yourself a break about how you're doing finding a way through.

    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeFeb 9th 2019

    My wife passed just short of four years ago. I'm largely through this mess. I just came back from taking another step involving a drive at dawn to another town. I stopped hoping long ago that the things I was doing would make me feel better. They do momentarily but they do not change the state. I mean the state I started in with my own mix of those things above.

    That state does not change because we are occupied at the moment or are having a good time at the moment or are having a nightmare day at the moment. That state nudges and bumps along unmeasurably because it is the totality of all things together.

    It's more like tending a fire through a hole in a large brick wall. You can't see the fire on the other side but you can tell you're tending it immediately in front of you and if you focus on that thinking, with some time you may notice that the state is changing. Probably not exactly like you ideally mean, but improvements like less fear or less alien or more compartments of comfort or less worrisome questions or less intense questions or some evidence visible that you're getting some things done.

    When I try to measure the change I would say there was very little change in the first year plus and perhaps 20% change after two years (half of these four years). What is this change? Feeling better - which to me means stronger, more natural, feeling like myself, less encumbered or occupied by the past, more willing, more fun and funny bits, and more comfortable now and thinking about my future.

    I can't just want it. I have to take it. And in my reality I needed serious wound licking time and recovery time and get some footing time. I think it's horrible how hard it seems to be for people to take their own condition seriously when it's not visible like broken bones are. If we could see what this did to us in visible ways some of us would break down in pity I have no doubt. If we could actually see what we are fighting through - which is deeply serious trauma to our rib cage - I mean our state.

    Around the end of three years I was still mostly trying but could feel that I was getting somewhere because lots of things became easier and the bad days were more about being sick and tired of it always being effort or days I was preoccupied in the windmills charging at chimeras long gone or flat out loneliness and missing what once was. None of that was like the storms and terrors that once were. That's feeling better; but not rewarding.

    I'm likely to feel somewhat better for some years to come. Read that my overall state is likely to improve for some years to come. I still have remnants of all kinds of things like her retirement pension I avoid like the plague or my feelings about some people specifically and people generally. I likely still have pain points I've never touched yet. I come across one sometimes. I'm just as likely to come across a happy memory these days. That happens too these days.

    I never wanted to just do this. I been writing that for ten years. I want to be me and have some fun. Accept Dianne fully and keep authorizing myself to believe in this and become it. Absorb the pain and grow beyond it.

    I doubt if I hadn't been desperate I would ever have learned what every athlete learns. Moving into the pain and staying there demanding yourself to grow. It turned out that's what every caregiver learns. If I hadn't been scared to death that I was permanent FUBAR, I would never have been dedicated like that.

    The secret is in an American saying. "You gotta want it enough" The moment you want it enough you're doing it and if you're not you don't want it enough yet. This is unerringly proven by the factual evidence that all of your memories can be divided into two parts. The things you didn't want enough and now wonder about. And the things you wanted enough to do them and now have memories about.
    • CommentAuthorbhv*
    • CommentTimeFeb 10th 2019
    I went to a “Successful Aging Expo “ yesterday. One thing I was looking for was how to find some help for grief. I’m not really doing ok, although some progress. It’s only six months, so give myself a break. I wonder if there is anything or one who could help a little. All I found was counseling for depression. This doesn’t bear any resemblance to depression. Although I don’t know what “this” is really. Wolf, you described it pretty well though. Even the normal stuff they spout about grief doesn’t seem to cut “this”.

    I keep running into the social worker my husband attacked at the day care. He keeps telling me I should go to their support group even though Jim’s gone. Maybe this month I will actually give that a try.
    • CommentAuthoroakridge
    • CommentTimeFeb 10th 2019
    bhv*, here in our area you can often find grief support groups from the churches, you don't have to belong or even be a believer. When my best friend died her husband went to one near where we lived and said it really helped. He was about 73 at the time.

    I tried to work in a support group for families who have lost a child after my son died, I just couldn't do it, it kept everything fresh for me and their grief just brought mine back.

    I just don't know how successful they are -- people open up and share, usually everyone cried but - for me, it just took time - lots of time. Might be good if you need to talk about it, meet others in the same place. I was told with my Mother (AD 11 yrs) I had already done my grieving --- but your husband is so much closer. I'd give the support group a try - at least he'll be familiar with the situation - you'll never know otherwise, sounds like you are already finding there is a life out there for you after all.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeFeb 23rd 2019 edited
    bhv, you'd be better served looking up 'complicated grief'. Most people who lose their spouse don't have to survive episodes of threats or violence, they don't go through the loss of their partner in pieces and stages, they don't watch their partner become so disabled by the disease that many wish for their painless passing to come because there is no other road for them. Most partners don't take years to die. We don't go through normal grief which would be hard enough. Our experience is far more complicated.
    • CommentAuthorbhv*
    • CommentTimeFeb 25th 2019
    Thanks Wolf. I was searching online for books about grief and they were all so idiotic sounding. But I did a more specific search and came upon several articles about complicated grief. Better description. But no help. I’ve been forcing myself to do some work around the property. Accomplishing some things. But in the afternoon it’s really hard to continue. I don’t want to be here. How am I supposed to live without him? Yet, I couldn’t bear to live with him for the last year. I can’t bear to say out loud the things going through my mind. I’ve never experienced pain this intense. Sometimes can’t breathe. Will the inhaler help? Don’t know. Who to call? What could I say? What could they say? NOTHING. NOTHING.I don’t want to be here. But have nowhere else to journey to, because no matter where I go, there I am.
    Today I fixed the treadmill, dug up more weeds, moved more dirt, and painted primer on a wrought iron gate. Four hours manual labor. Very sore and tired. But the day is still interminable. All that dirt moving paid off big time though. Last week big rain storm had several streams running through my property and all of them avoided the pool! Now digging up old dead lawn area even though no idea what to put in there when it’s clear, and painting wrought iron fencing. Maybe then I can sell this place.
    • CommentAuthoroakridge
    • CommentTimeFeb 25th 2019
    bhv, I think you are doing exactly what you need for you. You're right, there is nothing anyone could say to make it easier and most people are uncomfortable talking about it, afraid to mention his name. The hurt never goes away but it does get easier as time goes on. Yes,easy to say, but it's true. You never forget and somethings can hit so hard unexpectedly that it takes your breath away. But in time you reach a point where you begin remembering the good times and the others fade into the background. Talk to him, tell him what you're feeling, there is no one to hear but you -- say it outloud and maybe it will make it easier.

    You are doing something, things that are positive for you. Each step takes you closer to your plan, sell or make other plans. And the things you are doing are things that you can see the progress - that's a big deal for me. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
    • CommentAuthorbhv*
    • CommentTimeFeb 28th 2019
    I’ve been feeling more numb the last two days. That’s actually an improvement. Keeping busy until it’s time to sleep again.
    I went to the support group at the Adult Day Care place. The Social Worker I kept running into kept urging me to go, but he doesn’t facilitate the group any more. It was actually comfortable being there. Just a few people. I think I’ll go next month. Probably didn’t really help, but didn’t hurt either.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeMar 3rd 2019
    Where this journey is to, is more personal than I ever gave credit for. With regard to Alzheimer's it's through AD with the idea that eventually it isn't about that anymore.

    The difficulty in forseeing what this leads to is probably more than it was to forsee that Alzheimer's was coming into our lives before it did.

    There's another fact that plays large which is that most human beings don't give a flying about what they've already gotten done. It's almost universal that the things ahead of us that concern us fall into the black hole of 'nobody cares' the minute they don't seem like a threat anymore. It's just as universal that the minute a worry falls into the black hole, it's replaced by a new worry up to bat - which then falls into the black hole, and so on. Our worries are far more real to us than reality is overall.

    That's why once I was far enough past having worries about my experiences here of losing my wife that way and what Alzheimer's did to me personally, I stopped valuing that and it dropped into the black hole. That didn't happen when I accepted that my wife passing was for the best, or when I sucked Alzheimer's dry of information, it happened when I knew I was alright and was no longer worried about me.

    Just to be clear that doesn't mean anything good about my life except that a threat I worried about became yesterday's news and so disappeared. Understanding that is like understanding that more money will NOT make you happier. I can prove that by pointing out we only mean that about people who have more than us. If we turn the other way we look at the lineup of people who have less than us - and who therefore are sure we're happier than they are because we have more. Nobody wants to know about this fallacy - even though an overhaul of how we see things is definitely in the cards.

    Eventually, Alzheimer's is a journey through it and to ourselves. I can predict that confidently because all roads lead to you - the only person present throughout most of this serious life experience and the only person the future is going to affect when you arrive there.

    Unfortunately all the roads lead to undiscovered country within ourselves where life is hard wired to not care about self development or self understanding or self authorization which society pretty much files under the word 'selfish'. Apparently knowingly developing yourself to get more out of being yourself is bad. It's true in society which just wants you to fulfill your roles, drive in your lane, pay taxes, raise the kids, and so on. It hasn't been useful to society to care about how you feel within your roles until you show deviant behaviour it has to deal with.

    The only reason I point this out is because there's no sense feeling stupid or incapable while searching for your own well being because the vast majority of people have almost no exposure to being taught such skills as self development except to get a better job or face something in front of them. Schools are now facing the fact of bullying which everyone knows has been around since Moses, but schools still aren't aware that when you teach self authorization, self understanding, or self development as important life skills, the students have much more to work with in getting through life.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeMar 3rd 2019

    I don't get any kudos for Alzheimer's. There isn't any Alzheimer's and because there hasn't been for a while, that doesn't mean anything anymore. Instead I'm smack in the face of where I was always going yet never understood - me. All me. All the questions and all the worries and all the answers are right in here - somewhere.

    "UBU; it'll be good." That's what my mind says. I've graduated from being around people seeming weird and stressful and full of ghosts. People are as FUBAR as I am. That kind of thinking doesn't help anyway because it's time to go to that school that doesn't exist. Which is too bad because I could really use it.

    "Tell me what I want." I coach my mind but it doesn't know either. It offers to bring up more worries but I decline. Being human, I'm already great at that. What I need is a book entitled The Art Of Being Me, written specifcally for me full of personal references that would bring on the epiphany I'm looking for. Make that hoping for. That's not the book I want anyway. I want to read The Art of Enjoying Being Me, which doesn't exist either.

    I stand in front of the window thinking in terms of motivation posters. We will all live in the prison of our own making. Patient get up and heal thyself. Climb that mountain. (what???) Figure it out. (I was told there'd be no math) Celebrate that you're already perfect. Reach for the stars. (wait! what was that last one?)

    Celebrate that you're already perfect. I can design that poster. An empty Adirondack chair at the cottage by the lake with the hammock in the background, maybe an overturned book on one arm and a glass of something with ice in it, people in boats on the lake, and a perpetually sunny, summer day with soft breezes and the bird songs in the air. Just go with it.

    Survive. Recover. Reinvent. Now if I could just hire someone to work out that last part, I'd be all set. Not just be an old man staring out the window wondering what to do with myself. It's not a bad place to be relatively speaking, and I'm not complaining. I'm just saying that in the manual that also doesn't exist, I would point out that ultimately it all has to do with an entire skill set not taught in life we define as the single word 'selfish'.

    Not that much to do with Alzheimer's really, just caused by it.
    • CommentAuthorbhv*
    • CommentTimeMar 24th 2019
    Wolf, I keep coming back to this and rereading it. Haven’t known what to say about it. But it’s been helping me.

    For a few weeks I was rattling around my dismal house stuck inside because it’s been raining all winter. 36 years in Southern CA never seen anything like it. Not used to so many gray skies. Remembering how Jim was afraid of the clouds in 2016 when we had a rainy season. I spent an awful lot of time screaming at the universe. I don’t understand how or why he is dead. I walk by the pictures of our wedding and I want that fairy tale back again. Had an evening experiencing that threat you talk about. Did some more research on complicated grief. Decided I was not yet at the point of needing to call that hotline. Then you wrote this.

    I started too many projects. I’m doing a bunch of things he forgot how to do over the last 10 years. Am building up my strength and stamina doing manual labor for 4-7 hours a day. There are enough projects to keep me busy for quite some time. Problem is I hate almost everything I’m doing. Although the fence sections I painted are AWESOME. You can even see it from the road. So maybe it will be worth the effort to do some more.

    I’ve been collecting ideas of things to do and places to go, but haven’t gone yet. Maybe soon. Can’t decide if I want to go alone or invite someone. But, for now, I’m working on the weeds since the rain has made the decomposed granite workable. I better take advantage of this brief interlude before it gets too hot. Back breaking work, but it does fill up the day. That’s pretty much the goal right now.

    Last fall I sold Jim’s pickup to a neighbor. A week or so ago I was out in the ravine working on weeds and the truck drove by my house. I nearly had a heart attack. I was like Oh no, he found the keys to the truck! How am I going to get him home safely? Then I remembered he’s not here any more.

    I’m learning to use power tools. Never had the safety lessons though. Fortunately just a few manageable cuts. Was feeling pretty stupid for doing that, but remembered he nearly cut off his finger with a chain saw. Gave some duplicate garden tools to a neighbor and he helped me figure out how to change the blade on a cutting tool. That was cool. He’s the neighbor who came over when he saw me climbing a ladder to go on the roof. I got mad cause why can he go on the roof and not me? But he fixed my antenna and we’ve become friends. His wife keeps checking on me. I think she’s the one who sent him to go on the roof. I like her a lot.

    For now I’m in an interlude of being like Simon and Garfunkel’s song, “I am an Island” And a rock feels no pain and an Island never cries. Thinking a lot about your term “self authorization”. Going to meet you and LindyLou at the cottage one of these days soon.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeMar 25th 2019
    "I started too many projects". No that's not true. Your type needs a back up of projects at all times. Try not to keep in the forefront that the projects don't mean anything in and of themselves, and yet keep it off to the side that they don't. If it's the other way around it's still the same thing. First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.

    I'll translate. First you can't do it, then you can, then you can't. That's the way it felt back then taking care of while protecting yourself from Jim. That's very similar to now except you seriously want to get to the shore and climb out right now and I'm afraid there's some more swimming first. The good news is that no storms are expected except the one you're bringing.

    If what I'm writing seems overdone, remember that you're the one who sees the truck and morphs into what to do with him driving safely. Perfectly normal and a great example of first there is, then there isn't, then there is. It's not the truck, or the projects, or your neighbour that's flashing - it's you. That's why everything seems like unobtainium everywhere even though everything except you is perfectly normal...well, near enough.

    You swim, you swim, you swim in an ocean of water but nary a drop to drink except your neighbour keeps checking on you and you like her and her husband comes and helps with the roof and you can go golfing and join others and have a pretty good outing and then Jim drives by and you worry how he's going to get home safely. Situation normal and not AFU. Except of course Jim passed away and you sold the truck which I wouldn't worry about because when you do reach the shore and you do start walking on dry land - you're going to complain about other things anyway because these will feel resolved so they won't matter. Today's life and death is tomorrow's old newspaper.

    Self authorization is a different topic although being an alive human being makes most people connect everything to themselves. The wheat is cut from the chaff according to how we see that, which is to say nothing's stopping us from changing, creating, modifying. or inventing except the immovable object in the way. Except it's not immovable at all and is in fact us, employed by us, to keep us from everything we don't want whether we have a microscopic clue whether we want it or not.

    That's why the asshole next door is fine now and why you are an island exchanging garden tools for knowledge of cutting blades and flagging down the Canadian who's stuff you're sorting through for the wheat in the chaff - because you're an island. And, whatever you do, for God's sakes don't learn from it. Just get through that nightmare - and when you do, make sure to throw it out with yesterday's newspaper because people are pretty good at getting through stuff but, suck large at recognizing either themselves or their own happiness.

    Lack of screaming is a sign of happiness, where you may benefit from playing the game 'Pantomime House'. Recreate the crime scenes where you didn't get yourself into a corner and stood at the ready and slept with protective considerations. Remind yourself of them in detail. If you can't remember them ask me because I know where they are right here on this board. Then remind yourself by comparing the tone of how you think of Jim now with how you felt then. Try not to understand things are already getting 'better'. Try not to understand why I kept saying "less bad is better even though it doesn't feel that way".

    Try instead to start understanding that you have some miles to go before you arrive at the town of wherever you think you're going before you realize nothing is about the town you're going to or coming from, because everything is about the moron driving nowhere relentlessly. If that's NOT true then answer this question. Where exactly are you going?

    Self authorization is knowing that's true AND not worrying about it. It doesn't mean doing the triple lutz on the highboard from the pike position. It means a lot of things but to me it's core is being OK with being ourselves. I would move that project forward if I were you even though your tone is encouraging. My advice is to stop trying to arrive and start spending some time figuring out what Bonnie having a better time might mean. Anyone? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
    • CommentAuthorbhv*
    • CommentTimeMar 25th 2019
    OMG, how could they have written that song? Thank you for that. Perfect.

    I’m sitting here crying and laughing at the same time. When we say about this site that we “get” it, boy we mean that in spades.

    You’re right. When I wish for the fairy tale I do remember n detail the protective considerations. I’m still hypervigilant when working in the ravine afraid he will sneak up behind me. But I thought it would take about 10 years to remember the fairy tale, if ever, so that’s the surprise. Sort of like the picture you drew of you and Diane waist deep in the lake....

    And it is sometimes less bad. Last night, I stood at the kitchen sink and felt like an alive human being ... and wondered why.
    Just wanted to share that Myrtle and Lindyloo came to see me on Wednesday--a three hour drive for Lindyloo and two hours for Myrtle--and we had a great visit and lunch out. It is amazing how two ladies I had never met felt like friends I had known my whole life. We probably set some of your ears burning with all the talking we did about the website--we kept saying that we wish we could come to where you all are and help out for real.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeApr 27th 2019
    I've had some powerful moments recently. Foundational shift kind of moments. I felt a deep conviction recently that I've wasted years of my life. My wife passed just over four years ago.

    It's part of the landscape of deep healing that your reality shifts fundamentally when you get most of the way to being through it and not just feeling less stressed or more comfortable or 'better' which are their own experiences.

    Part of that shift in the mind is that I'm not blocked from remembering anything or everything about what happened all through Alzheimer's or the years of recovery - but it used to be a gaping wound backed up like an Empire State building of horrible moments and horrible realizations all pouring down on my depressed, broken state back then. Now it's the thing that I look elsewhere. Not all that different from going to a new company and one day finding you don't think in terms of the old company anymore.

    My sister called this morning. I told her what I'm going through and she spent real time giving me examples of how much better she knows I've gotten. I'm lucky to have that because she won't sugar coat or dodge anything. But it didn't penetrate because I know I've survived and am safely on the other shore. But I still lost everything where in future lives I may not put everything in one basket again. I don't know. When everything you care about channels through one person and you lose that person, you don't have anything left you care about.

    That's the naked truth of what I face. I've found my way back to coping or dealing with ordinary life mostly. I'm pretty desperate in finding things to care about in my normal way that then stay feeling real in my normal way. Anxiety isn't ten percent of what it was. My reality is littered with things I can appreciate in the same way someone who got very sick and recovered might. But my natural, real feelings are hard to find.

    I have to be careful too. I have deeply repressed feelings about Dianne I'm sure. I have things I still avoid like the plague. I've come to believe that words like 'shock' and 'acceptance' have numerous levels or aspects to them. I told my sister that along with the sense of relief that I'm coming out of all this, is that all the things that happened have become more accessibly real too.

    And so today, just an hour ago, after trying to get my 15 yr old cat to eat, I bent over to pat her flopped at my feet ready and happy for her pat. And I bent over thinking I've wasted four years doing nothing, and suddenly it jumped into my head that I was patting the abused cat I saved from the shelter, who peed in terror the first few months, and whom I somehow kept nurturing through those horrific years of Alzheimer's. It took years to get her to gradually trust again, and in the instant I bent over patting her I knew she didn't 'waste those years' healing from the experiences that affected her the way they did. And neither did I.
    Good thoughts, Wolf-- I think you're absolutely right. Larry's been gone four years and not quite seven months, and I've wondered, too, whether expending so much of my time and energy into re-inventing myself and my life was really a worthwhile thing to do. I don't really know what else I could have done--my life really ended with his death--but the challenge was to pick myself up and move forward trying to create something that was Real and Good...not just kind of mope and go through the motions of daily existence. The double blow in my case was realizing that my family was really not there for me as I had expected that they would be--I still struggle with this--try not to feel hurt that my brothers and their wives, a certain beloved niece, one of my daughters...are pleasant enough in a detached way...but they barely see me as wedding and funeral family, much less anything closer. (Well, my daughter is closer than that, but I have to be very wary of being used.) There is just nobody in my world who loves and cares about me--who "has my back" the way Larry did. My dog and I are close--there is nothing like a good dog to make a home a homier place--and I think that is fine, up to a point. Pets can add such richness to our lives, in their own funny little ways. Still, there is a certain alone-ness that is scary sometimes.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeMay 14th 2019
    There is joy in Mudville tonight.

    There isn't really any award or finish line if you don't believe in one. And if you do, then may your road be littered with awards and races you won. I've never viewed life that way and I still don't. Mighty Casey was a poem I learned in school and that's part of what I am, and it's the access to that familiar truth that is the pot of gold for me.

    I've recovered from a long and horrible experience that was almost too much for me to bear, and I would like to have been a stronger person, but I'm not, and so continuing to feel like my natural self and continuing to move into my familiar outlook seems a lot like getting lost in the jungle and somehow coming home again.

    I've given Stephenson grief over the years here with 'coming home again and knowing the place for the first time'. I think that's a dishonest transposition because there's no externality about that. What he knows is coming home again and knowing himself in it for the first time. That makes him me, or me him whichever you like.

    Whatever happened then, there, isn't much on the radar or the radio or on the menu of what's on offer here now. It's diminished to remaining quirks in the landscape like needing to finally clean up my rec room that's in the exact state it was five years ago plus dust and spider webs.

    What was alien and oppressive has become detached and accessible. It's mostly detached because I haven't entered new areas yet. That contrasts with the people I do know and have contact with where I not only talk up a storm - I'm enjoying it.

    Other things around me have become what the anxiety that ruled me for years and the depressions I lived in for years have also become - shrugs of the shoulders. They've been gone so long they're not a concern. Poor Dianne and poor me, but she was lucky to have me and to face the inevitable a married woman with her husband looking out for her. That's an old story now. Not as old as Casey At The Bat but just as familiar in the lexicon of what is me.

    A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
    Clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
    They thought, “If only Casey could but get a whack at that—
    We’d put up even money now, with Casey at the bat.”

    But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
    And the former was a hoodoo, while the latter was a cake;
    So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
    For there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to the bat.

    But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
    And Blake, the much despisèd, tore the cover off the ball;
    And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
    There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

    Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
    It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
    It pounded on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
    For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.


    The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate,
    He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate;
    And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
    And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

    Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,
    The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
    And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children
    But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.


    That poor sod probably hated that moment. I know about moments I hate. But it's just a game or it's just a life - and for some of us it's not about the arrivals and departures so much as it is about the going.

    I do note in Ernest Thayer's poem that last stanza "somewhere in this favoured land'. He was American. Educated at Harvard. Wrote that somewhere around the turn of the century. And just that short time ago saw it proper to leave the 'u' in 'favored'. I notice these things because it's what I do.
    • CommentAuthoroakridge
    • CommentTimeMay 15th 2019
    If dh goes before me, I think I'll be so tired and old that I won't even be able to think about reinventing myself and/or my life, will probably take the rest of my years just to get rested up.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeMay 21st 2019
    I don't believe it matters how honking weird we are at all. I also believe that surviving this ordeal is a different thing from recovering a life for ourselves later. But most importantly, I believe all we need is an overall, willing spirit. We just have to change so that overall we want that life once we have some recovery time.

    It isn't noon yet and I've already had a great day. It isn't summer yet and I've already experienced more summer than the last years combined. I find myself full of hope that I can find my way. It's good going out and getting some things done and chatting with people. I can enjoy simple things again like just rolling the window down or feeling the sun on me or kibitzing with someone for a moment. What was once alien in an alien landscape has become the fact that we're all here together and I can feel the appreciation for that once again.

    Hang in there and don't be too concerned about being old then, we all have the time given to us so there's really no rush.
    Good words, Wolf. A lot of wisdom there.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeMay 22nd 2019 edited
    Thank you Elizabeth. That's kind of you. There was a phrase in there that haunted me afterwards. I finally understood today what it was. 'I find myself full of hope that I can find my way'. That's true but it stems from Shawshank Redemption right near the end where he's on the bus on his way to his friend in Mexico. I think that's where he's full of hope that the ocean is as blue as in his dreams.

    I know that last scene so well I can see it now. I spent an hour once wondering how I could get that hat to fly off at just the right time. I realized I would tie fishing line to it and anchor that down closer to the beach. As he walks through the scene, at first it's slack, but at the measured point, it becomes taught and whoops goes the hat.

    Shawshank Redemption ending

    Moments are like windows where I can always open that box and ride on that bus and listen to him. Watch for the hat to fly off at the end.
    I never read The Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King, but I've seen the movie numerous times. Usually movies aren't quite as good as the books, but in this case I can't imagine how the book could be any better.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeJun 1st 2019
    I've wondered whether I'm the loneliest person there is. I'm not, but in a contest with a magic machine that can tell how lonely everybody feels, I think I'd do pretty well - or pretty terribly looking the other way. I'm the type that will suddenly say something on my mind right out loud even though no one else is here. Admitting I feel the burden of being so alone is one of the things I suddenly comment on out loud. It's just true.

    My sister finally came around to understanding that I'm not going to open up to a stranger and let them into my life because I'm lonely. I have a certain tolerance span, and I have a certain level of willingness, and no matter how nice they might be, I will use those up. Until my desire to be in a relationship exceeds that truth, it's not good for either party and it's not the answer.

    I've spent time on this and I understand one of the axioms it revolves around. Hope that there might be someone out there for us transference. There are people scattered everywhere that would be a good match. There are people nicer and more willing than you have probably ever dared believe. You are unlikely to meet them but they're there. The only way I would meet someone is if they got lost on my front lawn.

    There are different types of people. Anyone who does meet someone has my best wishes. Marty comes to mind as someone that happened to. Some people are more suitable by nature or inclined to do that. Some people aren't. I'm one of those. The title of the thread refers to that. I was never going to come back. I was always going to go somewhere else because that's how I'm wired by nature.

    In 'choosing' to live alone, I have to learn how to live alone. When I was fungi I didn't have any of these thoughts, but I'm coming to understand that while I do have to get used to it, it's more useful to genuinely invest in it. That has meant a new level of honesty and a new level of allowance which spans actually listening to myself and watching how I really am to allowing myself to have my feelings and work more with what they really are - right across to spending time trying to figure out what 'fun' means to me and how to allow and nudge myself more towards that.

    It's right there that the different types we are comes into focus. Some people don't want to think about any of these things. They want to do or they want to feel. It's still useful to know how to give yourself more of those things but doers need to go out and feelers need to get around things that make them feel a certain way.

    Life is more complicated than that though. Most all people have the full range of all of these things as needs or desires in their lives even though most people also have certain aspects dominant and see others as less important. We probably all share one thing about this which is that life hasn't prepared us to deal with changes like what we face.

    I fully believe it's true that some recovery period is involved. I have piles of evidence that I wasn't myself after all that serious strain and those relentless events. It's hard to say anything definitive about that either then or now. I feel like I wasn't fully here then and that I am now. I also believe it took me four years to get to wherever I am now but surely at a largely neutral point.

    I know my future. Everything I allowed and went for happened and became part of my life and everything I didn't allow and never went for didn't happen. I also know I'm not out to prove anything or collect trophies. I'm out to make choices and allow myself to be me and to feel involved in doing that. I'm out to nudge me out of my old comfort zone and into this new one in ways where I can see I'm putting some effort into it but am mostly paying attention to being a more comfortable me in my life.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeJun 1st 2019

    It's been tough these years. I need to respect that to keep perspective of the truth which is that I did survive that and now I'm trying to get somewhere. On the other hand that's not going to help me step up into my life. This morning I was thinking about all this and felt that familiar tourist in my life feeling, and I realized I haven't been using my body for years and haven't gone on walks for years. I talked myself past all the what-ifs and was suddenly down the stairs and in the busy neighbourhood with kids playing and people mowing their lawn or planting flowers - and my legs worked and I was back in my chair - except I'm going to be going for a lot more walks. My summer changed in a single instant.

    It was the same thing with the bakery up in St Jacobs. It was 5:30 am and I'd woken up from a dream which I couldn't remember but obviously enjoyed because I could feel the impact that, nope that wasn't my life, this is. For some reason on that morning I didn't just accept my lot; but, got into the car and drove to St Jacobs and waited outside until the bakery opened at 6:30. I wasn't alone and I'd done that with Dianne a couple of times where we were playing As Good As It Gets. The honeybuns are still warm then.

    I wish that none of this had ever happened. My wife and five close friends have died and nothing seems the same as it was before when I was happier. I really don't think I've ever felt as lonely in my life. And despite all that, I know I'm one of the lucky ones in all this. Just ask my wife Dianne that, who doesn't get to have all this. Like I keep saying, you can take this planet as seriously as you want to; I don't see it that way at all.

    What I see is that living is this intense and that people easily pour narratives into their needs and hopes and fears. "Build me a pyramid and I will become a god and protect you" said the dusty mummy time and again. To which I reply, "You just keep thinking there, Butch. That's what you're good at." Check please!