October 10, 2005

Loose Ends

Depite the fact that it's a holiday here in the good old U.S. of A., I'm working. But despite the fact that I'm supposed to be working (and I have been rather productive for the last several hours) I've been checking my mail and I've come to realize that I've left a couple loose ends, things without proper explanations.

Loose End #1: The Anniversary.
As I mentioned last night, yesterday was our anniversary. And my what a difference a year makes. Last year, we spent the week in NYC and celebrated our anniversary by dining at one of our all time favorite restaurants. Little did we know what we were in for! This year? Indian take-out and three hours trying to get Mia to bed. There were anniversary gifts too! Beth got me an incredibly cool flat-screen monitor and I dragged her into the iPod generation. We're such dorky gadget people! The best gift of all is, of course, Mia. Mia who now smiles at me whenever she sees me. Which knocks me flat on my ass (metaphorically) every time.

Loose End #2: The Sunday Sleep Challenge.
For two weeks running, and for the third Sunday in the last four, Mia has refused to sleep. No naps and bedtime is a near-impossible struggle. It took three hours last night. My theory? I'm home during the weekends and any disruptions I make to her schedule finally catch up with her. Beth's interpretation? Mia knows I'm headed back to work on Monday so she wants to spend as much time awake with me as she can. I think I'm correct but I sure do like Beth's theory better.

Loose End #3: The Letter.
On Saturday, I posted a letter from my grandmother. You know that I'm really devoted to transparency and full-disclosure here but posting that was a little tough. It was something that was so intensely personal I felt a little guilty about it. But I couldn't have written anything that more adequately described the impact of Alzheimer's. Many of you wrote and posted comments and for that I'm truly appreciative. But, again in the interest of full-disclosure, there's something else you should know. My grandfather wasn't the nicest man. He was incredibly demanding, slightly mean and had little regard for the women in his life. While I don't wish Alzheimer's on anyone (please don't misunderstand me here), this is the first time anyone can remember him laughing or smiling. Sure, he has his moments. He gets confrontational. He can't seem to speak English anymore. He doesn't recognize anyone except for my grandmother and aunt and even that's sketchy at times. But he cruises the nursing home halls looking for children to play with. He steals the patient files from the nurses station and hides them in an elaborate game of hide and seek. He seems genuinely happy.

While we were at the beach late last month, my grandmother and I talked about him for a while. It is hard on her. It is incredibly painful. But, after sixty years of being married to this demanding man, she's finally able to steer, to pick a direction in life for herself and I think, although she'd probably never say it out loud, she's appreciated that chance. Of course, she'd rather he be healthy and at home with her. But he's happy. And she has a life.

That's all I've got, folks. Happy Monday. If you've got the holiday off, enjoy it.

Posted by Chris at October 10, 2005 9:01 AM

First comment!? I feel like I've reached a milestone. I should celebrate, perhaps with more coffee, since I have to work today too.

Anyway, I wanted to say I understand a little bit about your grandfather. My grandpa is kind of the opposite. He's 85 and can do so many things most 85-year-olds can't. Still, as he gets older, he gets grumpier and meaner. We think he is probably frustrated about the things he CAN'T do, but he won't talk to any of us about it.

I hope both your grandparents are able to be at peace with where they are. Peace would be such a blessing to my grandfather.

Oh, and happy anniversary!

Posted by: Julie at October 10, 2005 9:52 AM

Holiday? What holiday?

It took a while for Elizabeth to really settle into a regular sleep pattern... of course, she did, we did, and then teething started and messed it all up. It is amazing how one smile can completely change the day, isn't it?

Posted by: amber at October 10, 2005 10:08 AM

That is sort of a flip-flop with your grandfather. A lot of the time people with Alzheimers will become mean or bitter and confrontatiional b/c they are not sure of what is going on around them anymore. From what you have said, it seems like the complete opposite. I am glad that your grandfather can enjoy himself and play hide and seek with the nurses, regardless if things seem sketchy sometimes with memory. Hey, ya only live once, why not make the best of the situation?!

Posted by: Michelle at October 10, 2005 10:30 AM

Holiday?? I'm a work too, lol.

When all 3 of my kids were little like Mia.. It'd make me almost cry when they reached that stage of reconizing and smiling each time they saw me. It was so sweet and loveable.

Big Hugs {{{}}} to you and yours. Alzheimer's is a horrible life-stealing (for everyone) disease. I feel for your grandmother, I'm sure some days are harder then others. Please send her my prayers and positive wishes.

Posted by: Tammy at October 10, 2005 10:54 AM

Ohh Geeze I'm such a flake..

I forgot to add

Happy Anniversary!!

Posted by: Tammy at October 10, 2005 10:55 AM

Happy Anniversary:) Maybe tonight you'll get some sleep.

Posted by: Adi at October 10, 2005 10:57 AM

Go with Beth's theory. Love the gifts btw!

Posted by: Theresa at October 10, 2005 11:41 AM

Don't know if I mentioned it on either your or Beth's blog yesterday, but happy anniversary! I'm glad I found both blogs. You guys are teh cool. And Mia is a cutie pie, which is the real reason I read. :p

I remember, while my great grandmother was dying, my dad telling us about how great grandmother yelled at her son (dad's dad, my grandfather) because she didn't know who he was. She thought he was a total stranger. But my father...she thought HE was her son. It was really hard on both my grandpa and my dad.

Not that it compares but...yeah. It's hard.

Posted by: Rhonda at October 10, 2005 12:11 PM

thanks for not leaving me hanging.

I empathize with the anniversary "celebration". My husband and I planned to go out for our 20th. We had been through 16 previous years of not getting to go out because someone was sick, or someone couldn't find a baby sitter, or we got called by said babysitter.... anyway we had given up.
We spent the whole day on our 20th together. It's overrated. I think we had built it up too much.
We now settle for a good dinner, a bj, a bunch of slap and tickle and a good night's sleep in our own bed.
Guess I'm an old married fogie! ha

Posted by: dazeymae at October 10, 2005 12:34 PM

I had something similar happen to me. My paternal grandmother got Alzheimer's when I was about 16. I lived with her for about 2 months when my parents moved to a different city, and I needed to finish out my junior year in high school. Since she wasn't ever, really nice or loving to me this was the nicest she'd ever been in her life to me—and I was ecstatic to have her show affection to me. But it only last about 3 weeks of the 2 months I needed to stay. She freaked out, forgot who I was and then got verbally aggressive with me. I think the real her came out. She suffered like this for about 8 years till she ended up getting pneumonia and passing away. I know this sounds harsh, but I don't miss her. I'm mostly sad that I didn't have any loving grandparents on either side. She was a controlling mother and woman, and I think that my dad too felt that for once in his life she was being the mother he'd always wanted.

Happy belated anniversary to you both. You two are some of the lucky ones—and I mean that too.

Posted by: Michele at October 10, 2005 1:38 PM

I think I get what you meant to say. I think for some people having Alzheimer's is reaching peace of mind. I think that's what it's like for my grandma.

Have a nice week!

Posted by: nina at October 10, 2005 2:50 PM

I don't know if she's too young for it, but have you tried that soothing baby bath stuff? It has lavender in it and is supposed to make babies sleepy.

Happy Anniversary!

Posted by: Kitty at October 10, 2005 2:50 PM

RE: Loose End #2

Ahh, I remember that period of time when thNut would refuse to sleep if her schedule was interrupted at all. It was not fun...not fun at all! My best advice is just to keep trying new/different schedules until you find one that works for Mia. Once you find it, STICK with it!

Oh, and also realize that after you've found it and stuck to it for awhile it's guaranteed to change. Such is the life of a parent. ;-)

Good luck! And my best wishes to your grandmother and family regarding your grandfather's condition.

Posted by: tod at October 10, 2005 3:06 PM

About "Loose End #3"...wow. I know you don't wish ill on your grandfather, but the thought of your grandmother feeling free -- after 60 years -- to strike out and do things on her own...just blows my mind. I know there are many (probably too many) people who put up with unhealthy relationships, but it still doesn't keep me from feeling sad about it.

Posted by: Zandria at October 10, 2005 5:13 PM

1st. it's a holiday today. well darn no one told me. i was stuck in the office. crap.

2nd. cool gifts. i'm the computer dork in the family. i got my dh an ipod to join me just so i can ask him what he's listening to. odds are i'll put my songs on it and make him listen to my music.

3rd. i like beth's interpretaton of mia's schedule. Daddy's little girl needs to bond as much as possible before "the Man" steals her man away.

4th. sorry to hear about yoru grandfather. we are dealing with a simular situation with an aunt. excpet her daughter is just and mean and nasty as her mom so much of the family are strained because of them.

Posted by: Shawntay at October 10, 2005 6:19 PM

Having the day off totally throws me off in blogworld. As in, I don't read, i just sleep and watch movies and cruise around tenleytown (yeah I'm cool). Happy Anniversary and you can also put the lovely (oh my god she's so freaking adorable) in the early anniversary gift column.

Posted by: Heather B. at October 10, 2005 11:12 PM

Just a thought; The house can be very quiet durning the week when it's just Beth and Mia - I was always told by my midwife and health visitor to make it noisy when the baby is sleeping. Run the vaccum, put music on or switch on the TV. They get use to sleeping with the noise.. then when there is a change, like when you're home or (dare I say it) if another sibling comes along they are able to sleep with the extra noise and activity in the house.

You've most likely already heard all this, but...

Posted by: Amber at October 11, 2005 5:42 AM

As for #3:

It's entries like this one that keep me from working on my own blog...

I would like to hear about how much you rely on your blog and how it keeps you sane - or drives you insane. Is it just a written time line for the purposes of documentation? A Cactus Time Capsule? Or do you treat it like another family member, with passion, frustration, joy, humor and the sense that you need to give it a hug every day? That, coupled with the incredible high of having complete strangers weigh in on what you serve up, could be the e-drug you shoot up with. Do you need a daily fix?

I wonder if blogging would assist any of us down the road should the specter of Alzheimers set in. Pictures, detailed stories, rants, inner thoughts and an archived outline of who we used to be. That might be enough to bring me around. I don't know.

Blog on!

Posted by: Sam at October 11, 2005 9:15 PM