On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Posts tagged ‘Family’

Alzheimer’s was… | by Linda Brendle

Alzheimer’s was the evil plaque in Dad’s brain that changed him from a hard-working, easy-going man into a cranky, ill-tempered couch potato.

Alzheimer’s was a thief. It stole Mom away a piece at a time and left me to grieve a loss that went on for years.

Alzheimer’s was a twisted comedian that made me laugh at the ridiculous things Mom did while I cried inside because of the reason behind her antics.

Alzheimer’s was the demon in my head that made me impatient with situations that were no one’s fault and angry at an opponent I couldn’t defeat.

Alzheimer’s was the monster in the closet or under the bed that changed our lives forever once the doctor spoke its name.

But Alzheimer’s was also the loser.

In spite of his difficult final years, Dad left a legacy of peace and love that lives on in the family he left behind.

While Mom’s past disappeared along with her memories, she also forgot the social anxieties and fears that had plagued her all her life and became a real party girl.

The wardrobe mishaps and other silly incidents often led to shared laughter and hugs that made life feel almost normal if only for a moment.

As the good days became fewer, I learned to cherish them when they came.

When Mom’s vocabulary was down to only a few words, one of those words was Jesus; and even to the end, she always responded to music.

Both Mom and Dad passed from this life without a struggle and with peaceful smiles on their faces as they looked into the face of the One who cares for the least of these.

I have found solace in knowing that my task of caregiving was completed not perfectly but well, and I have found comfort in sharing our story with others who are going through the same thing.

Read more about my family’s fight with Alzheimer’s in Mom’s Long Goodbye: A Caregiver’s Tale of Alzheimer’s, Grief, and Comfort released by Anaiah Press on March 12, 2019. Ebook now available at Amazon; print format available soon.

Blessings,

Linda

MLG_Final

Buy it at Amazon

Special Days | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on March 5, 2019:

Jim and DavidLast Monday was David’s birthday, and Tuesday was my brother Jim’s birthday, so we’ve been celebrating a lot this week. We met Jim, his wife, and his middle son at Tiffany’s for dinner on Monday in honor of the occasions. They had booked a few days at Holly Lake Ranch so the guys could “fish the Fork” and Jo Lynn could catch up on some reading, so we looked for a restaurant around the lake that would be convenient for all of us.

Tiffany’s wasn’t our first choice. David and I don’t eat out a lot except for an occasional Coconut Cream Pienight at A.J.’, but since they’re closed on Monday and Jo Lynn doesn’t eat fish anyway, we weren’t much help when it came to suggestions. Our ladies Bible study had lunch at Verona’s Italian Restaurant once, but they’re closed on Monday, too. Jo Lynn did an Internet search, and we decided to try Oakridge Marina. Unfortunately, they close at 3:00 pm on week nights. It was my turn to get on the computer, and I came across Tiffany’s. We had eaten there once after a book signing at the Alba library, and the salmon was delicious. Besides, they are reputed to have the best pie in town, so that sealed the deal. (more…)

Smiles, hugs, and promises | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on October 30, 2018:

ate-too-much-regrets-nothing-7999720I think I gained about five pounds this weekend. Besides our regular Friday night Home Group that always includes a delicious dinner, we had a family fish fry on Saturday, and a chili cook-off at church on Sunday. I may never eat again!

Home Group met at a different home, and we had to negotiate washboard ruts and water-filled pot holes in the caliche road, but everyone arrived with a smile and was greeted with many hugs. We welcomed a new couple and re-welcomed a couple whose work schedule only allows them to come occasionally. The menu was heavy on desserts, and lively conversation and laughter accompanied dinner. A sweet time of shared prayer followed, and when we finally settled down to Bible study, the discussion was lively and educational. The evening ended as it began, with smiles and hugs and promises to “see you on Sunday.” (more…)

Daddy’s Girl | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on June 18, 2018:

My Daddy and me - 1947

My Daddy and me – 1947

Dad has been in Heaven for seven years, but I still miss him and think about him a lot. He’s especially on my mind in June when there is so much emphasis on fathers, so in honor of the special day we just celebrated, I want to share some of my favorite memories of the man I called Daddy.

  1. I was Daddy’s girl, especially when I was little. When he went anywhere, I wanted to go with him. In the time before seat belts and child seats, he was my child restraint system. I remember standing beside him, tucked “safely” behind his right shoulder. As shocking as that may be to our safety conscious society, I felt completely safe and lovingly protected.
  2. Another of my favorite memories is something that today’s children, strapped and restrained as they are, will never experience. From time to time, he would let me sit in his lap and drive the car. Of course, all I was doing was holding onto the steering wheel while he continued to be in complete control. Still, it was fun, it was a great confidence builder, and it was great practice for my later life as a Christian when I finally realized who is really in control.
  3. I loved going to work with Daddy. The first job I remember was at a lumber yard, and when Mom would take his lunch to him, my brother Jim and I would go climb on the stacks of lumber. Later, he took a job at the Post Office, and he sometimes picked me up from school. While he cased his mail for the next day, I’d sit on a stool at a work table and practice my letters or put my fingers through the air holes in the crates of baby chicks and pet their fuzzy yellow feathers. I’m sure we broke lots of OSHA and Federal regulations, but being a real part of his life was worth being a bit of an outlaw.
  4. A friend once told me that, when God made me, He forgot to put in the higher gears. I’m not sure exactly what she meant, but perhaps she was referring to my tendency to nod off in either a car or a church. In the early years, as soon as the sermon began, I put my head in Daddy’s lap and went to sleep. Sometimes, though, I stayed awake and sat in his lap. I amused myself, and totally ruined his ability to concentrate, by playing with his tie. I would begin at the bottom, roll it up to the knot, and release it. After it rolled out to its full length, I repeated the process. Maybe that’s why, for every gift-giving occasion, I gave him a tie.
  5. When I was five, we moved into a house where I had my own bedroom. Until then, I had slept in a crib in my parents’ room or shared a bed with Jim in the living room. For a few months, I had occasional sleep-walking episodes during which I assume I was looking for companionship. Several times I woke up sitting on the side of Mom and Dad’s bed with Daddy sitting beside me, his eyes full of sleep and his hair standing on end, trying to stop the flow of my tears and reassuring me that everything was okay.

I also jotted down five memories of how Daddy provided support and practical aid later in my life when I was single again. Before I completely exceed my allotted word count, I’ll summarize:

  • He often hung curtains and pictures, installed ceiling fans, and finished many other things on my “I don’t have a honey to do” list.
  • In addition to caring for his own yard, he mowed, trimmed, and edged mine. He also removed and disposed of tomato worms that tried to take over my patio tomatoes.
  • Although he wasn’t in a position to offer financial assistance, he didn’t hesitate to co-sign a note when my old car bit the dust.
  • Daddy always had a key to my house, and more than once he got up out of bed and came over to unlock my door when I locked myself out.
  • Daddy showed me how a godly man should love his wife. His love for Mom was one of the defining realities of his life. He loved her as Paul told the Ephesians to love their wives and would have given up his life for her. He told her every day how beautiful she was and how much he loved her, and he never tired of kissing her or holding her hand.
Mom and Dad 50th

50 Years Together – 1990

Mom and Dad Christmas 2009

Mom and Dad – Christmas, 2009

There’s much more, but these are a few of the things that added up to a lifetime of love and care. Daddy led by example and loved by acts of service. Happy Father’s Day to the first man I ever loved.

Blessings,

Linda

Packing – it’s a family tradition | by Linda Brendle

Published in The Rains County Leader on February 20, 2018:

RVNewer readers may not be aware that several years ago I wrote a memoir about Alzheimer’s caregiving. It was structured around a seven-week, sixteen state motor home trip we took with my parents, both of who suffered from some kind of dementia. In one of the early chapters, I shared the difficulties of getting ready for the trip. Following is a paragraph about getting Mom and Dad’s clothes ready to go: (more…)

No Fear | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on January 23, 2018:

No FearNo Fear t-shirts, hoodies, and energy drinks were very popular from the mid 1990s to the early 2000s. The shirts usually featured the No Fear logo along with a slogan. Some quotes were more edgy than others, but most were related in some way to extreme sports or danger of some sort. I thought of the No Fear products Sunday morning as I listened to Pastor Jason preach about The Lord’s Prayer. (more…)

Going Home | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on January 16, 2018:

Rains County LeaderThe first couple of time I submitted an article to the Leader, my musings were published as Letters to the Editor. When I persisted in sharing my thoughts, Earl Hill gave me a column; and when I continued to complain about bugs, poison ivy, and other country-related hazards, he christened me “City Girl.” It was a fitting name since, until seven years ago, I had spent the majority of my life in metropolitan areas. My roots, however, were definitely not in the city.

Mom and Dad were both raised on farms in West Texas. Before you begin picturing

Granny Hagan and family she has ruffled dress in front

My maternal grandmother is the little girl in the front with ruffles on her shoulders.

gentlemen farmers, let me explain that both my grandfathers were tenant farmers, following rumors of the best crops and working the fields on the halves. By the time I came along, Mom and Dad had moved to Merkel, Texas, about sixteen miles west of Abilene. The town was approximately two square miles and had a population of around 2,000. It was so small that Dad used to tell me he got me at the hardware store. I was really born in the Sadler Clinic which was upstairs above the local hardware store, so his tale wasn’t far from the truth. (more…)

%d bloggers like this: