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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
    • CommentTime7 days ago
    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*
    • CommentTime6 days ago
    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
    • CommentTime6 days ago
    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*
    • CommentTime6 days ago
    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.