It is So Quiet

Sadie senses the unbearable sadness in the house with Lee no longer here. She stayed very close offering her support. Comforting.

It has been a very hard transition for Lee and myself as well. It is so quiet here. No one to watch and follow with distractions and endless chatter to keep him side tracked. No shuffling of feet and angry outbursts of frustration. No quiet sobs that need to be fixed.

Lee fought being there and felt abandoned. He did not blame me but his “captors”. The bad guys keeping him from coming home. By Wednesday morning we had decided that him seeing me and then my having to leave would be an impossible situation for both of us. I turned over the bag of sticks and feathers and left. I gave permission for them to use a calming sedative if necessary to keep him from banging on doors to get out.

By the time we had a FaceTime call in the Memory Care main office yesterday at two o’clock he was actually better and now showered and changed. He had refused to take any clothes off so was in them for two days. We agreed that I would pretend to be tied up getting a knee operation and could only call to see each other once a day. He was laughing when we rung off yesterday.

This morning early I took his wifi remote for his television down and another rock for his collection. The sedatives have arrived and he will likely go on them for awhile. He has been recruiting fellow residents to help him escape. They of course think if he wants to go then he should be allowed to go. Of course all of them believe that their room is their home now.

Our doctor here suspected Lee would have problems and she has known him over twenty-five years. So sedatives were quickly approved.

I just finished our second FaceTime call and noticed he has on another clean shirt. He had stuffed a spoon into his sock and was quite pleased with himself. I tell him when he asks about my coming to get him that I am stuck in this room in the hospital waiting for my knee to get better and remind him that we are older now and need to take our time doing anything. He laughs at that. I get him laughing and then say we had better get off the phones and tell him I will call again tomorrow at the same time. I tell him to go outside and do some walking, line up his rocks in his room so he will know if “the bad guys” are taking any of them. And he is content.

They tell me that contentment lasts for over an hour and then anxiousness starts to come with tears. He is getting more emotional as the day goes on. But now he has some medication and I okayed what they call “home care” that allows one nurse to keep an eye on him regularly and take necessary precautions to keep him from getting depressed.

It will get better. They are the best at dealing with memory loss patients and I am so glad that in 1993 we took this long term care policy out. The insurance man back then was right…the care some of us need when older can wipe away all assets and leave people in less desirable situations for care. He has a lovely room and bath with all his own things and an amazing staff to look after him. Even his showers are given by two people in case he falls and takes one down with him. They have thought of everything and Lee already has a crush on some of them. He apologizes if he swears in front of them and offers feathers to make up.

For myself it was harder than I thought being alone. But I am not ready for much company…only Barbara who knows not to say kind things that make me tear up. My cleaning lady said she will pray for Lee and me….and I said thank you. And I suppose what I really do not want is the sudden concern of those who might have thought to offer help these past few years when Lee and I were having a hard time.

BUT to all of you who have kept sending cards, checking in, making us laugh, and calling on the hardest day when I left him there….words of thanks are simply not enough. You have kept me upright. You have made me cry tears held in too long. You have been just what I needed. I hope others like me who might be going through this have friends like you…it is not always the ones you thought would be there.

So to deal with losing Lee I took out two old shirts of his and a handkerchief worn thin and added him to the pages of how I looked when we met 54 years ago. I drew in the last gift from the yard he gave me, a shattered pine cone and a stick we picked up together. I also drew a split bamboo leaf that came in on his shoes. Now he is here whenever I open my book.

Our daughter and her partner arrive Saturday. They will stay in the apartment and Ben will share his flavored concoctions of infused vodkas and gins. They will dust the high shelves, move a twin bed from my studio over to the guest room where things were taken by movers to go to Lee’s new place, replace lightbulbs, take a look at my dryer issues, help me get new plants and fish for the newly fixed pond, and do some cooking.

I also got one pair of new pants sewn today…the dusty lotus linen. More sewing tomorrow.

Til later….

Lee’s New Home

Lee this morning on our walk around the yard. We found red honeysuckle and many more pretty sticks to put into vases.

The movers came early today and took the furniture down to the care home. Then my friend Barbara arrived to help me unload my packed car with all the things to make Lee’s new room look like home.

I have a few more clothes to sneak out Monday morning when I take him down. His razor, hair brush, spare shoes, favorite throws, and more hangers. Easily slipped into the car when he takes his shower. I love how large the room is and he can easily find things in it. We met the two cleaning ladies who were glad that it wasn’t all cluttered up. Two caregivers give the baths so as to help if he takes a fall. The medicines he takes…very little….has been turned over to the person in charge of that. $200 in fives and tens were left in his name at the finance office for things that come up like haircuts, etc.

There is a bird feeder outside his window for seed that I can take down to keep it filled. I talked to the maintenance man about Lee loving to work with rocks and he said he will take Lee with him around the place when he can and will move some rocks into the secured gazebo area for Lee to stack. I just need to send him a reminder.  They are so very, very nice there.

I plan on having the best next two days here with trips to the dump and buying some more ferns, baking more Anzac Biscuits, picking up interesting sticks for the table and finding things to laugh about.

I have done a bit more drawing in the book. I am now a young woman waiting for more scraps of cloth.

The hard freeze a couple of weeks ago did lots of damage to our Japanese maples. Now the pond is filling with dead leaves. Lee sweeps them off the stone walkways and I fish them out of the pond. Our last bits of yard work here.

Yesterday and today lovely notes from Australia came to thank me for sending them Trusting the Tether Line poetry book. I can not say how much I appreciate the support from there during these past several years with watching over Lee. They never met him but feel as though they know him through my writings. Friends from this country have been also very supportive. I wish they lived closer. Barbara has been the constant for Lee and I and we are grateful to have her continually checking in to lend a hand.

Thank you, Barbara!

Monday after I take Lee to his new home I will stop by the liquor store and look for the scotch Linda and Jack sent me a check for because they could not be here to help with this transition time. I will toast Lee, them and Barbara for their kindnesses. Then I will pour another for the friends down under who keep my spirits up…and maybe a third for Kent who continues to send Lee homemade postcards with his name clearly written.

By the time I pour another I will be on my way to the first full night’s sleep I have had in a very long time.

Til later…..

Time Passing

I drew this portrait from a photo I took of myself not too long ago. Time passes.

It was added to my drawings fabrics book after more drawings into and about cloth and Nature and then Sadie.

The pond man came last week and while cleaning the pond found all but two fish missing. Remember when it looked like this before winter?


There was close to two hundred fish in there, including old Jay, a 12-15 year old fan tail who I loved seeing resurface each spring. The pond man said it was likely a raccoon on a holiday. I don’t even see the last two so he certainly knew where to find food. We never had that happen before. I might think twice before getting more fish. Probably will when the raccoon moves on for lack of food here. Times change.

Lee on one of his last walks up the hill past his rock wall.

The moving day is Monday next week. Movers could not be found until Friday and the new place likes to have a full staff to greet him which is not possible on the weekend. A friend will help me set his room up Friday afternoon.

Lately he has been thinking he is not going to be here…going back home or someplace. He reminded me today that I needed to fix something when he goes away. I said I would take care of whatever needs doing.

A Very Busy Week

It helps to have Anzac Biscuits on hand when the days are flying by with company arriving to help with the transitions.  I have found the perfect place for Lee to go next. On the day I had my appointment to look over the place, a room became available…..a perfect room. A deposit was put down the following day. All requirements have been met on our end thanks to having our doctor close and a long time friend arrive in time to keep me focused and help get things sorted out and hidden here in the apartment where I can pack them in my car without him seeing and asking questions.

Another friend is moving the furniture from here that Lee will need into his apartment room early next week and Lee will follow. A furniture store is delivering a new recliner/rocker to the memory care facility next week. The only hold up is how soon I can get possession of the room because the woman moving from it to another available room is held up because where she is going has not been cleared out after the occupant went to a “higher calling” as they say for passing away.

My job is to get the room/apartment completely set up before Lee arrives so it looks a bit familiar with the things he sees each day. Several paintings of mine will be on the walls. His favorite blankets on the bed and in his chair, a TV sitting on his mothers old chest of drawers, and a chair pulled up to a table he made years ago using sewing machine legs for a base. On that table will be a large wooden bowl that he turned a long time ago with rocks that thoughtful friends have sent him and another turned piece holding turkey feathers. The two lamps in the room will be ones he made out of old split logs.

Of course his white bag that he keeps his cards in will also be on the table. Again, thank you everyone who has sent him notes and cards this past couple of years. He likes holding that bag. I can also take several pairs of his work gloves to tuck into a drawer.

The facility told me that the maintenance staff will take men like Lee with a need to be outside working on things around to the shed and find small manageable jobs they can do. He would love to be back in a vehicle for maintenance riding around ready with his gloves on. This seems the most perfect place for him and I can’t tell you how happy I am that we kept up our long term care insurance.

Here he is the evening before our savior friend left for home.

Each resident of the memory ward has something on their door so they can find their own room easier. I am going to put this bamboo head on a hanger to take down when I set the room up. He faces it when he takes his chair at the table on the porch.

There is so much he does not remember but having a sense of familiar around him will help both of us.

Today I found the necessary things in one stop…a shower curtain and rings, laundry basket, waste bin, shampoo, soap, aspirin and boxes of tissues. Already set aside are necessary linens, battery operated toothbrush to take the place of his electric one, toothpaste, blankets, etc. Our friend even re-covered a chair for him to pull up to his table while she was here. She accomplished a lot in just eight days while keeping me focused.

I did try to work on my Drawing fabric scraps book…..

Smudged pencil sketches of fragments that are fitting my mood of worn out….and another stitched scrap is put into place.

I will write more updates as time permits…..

Til later….