Today I set some concrete blocks as part of my latest remodel project. They are heavier now than those I used for this house, but not by that much.A good mason picks up the block with his left hand and sets in place. Not sure I could ever do that effortlessly, but not now for sure.
When my step dad was working on his and mom's house. He called me to ask if I would come down and help him for a bit. The job involved a bucket of concrete and a ladder. I was 40 maybe and it was no problem. Dad was in his late 60's and not in good health at all.
I think of that often.
It hurt his pride to ask me to help and then to watch me do it quite effortlessly.
The pastor was a young man, hair challenged, thin and not particularly good looking, but his message was good.
He was assigned the task of talking about religious liberty, that tenuous thing that allows us each to see God a bit different, if we choose.
For sure he did not choose the topic, but he handled it very well.
Love, he said, cannot be forced.
There was a man caught in the carnage in Tucson last week, who fell on his wife to save her life. He saved hers and sacrificed his in the process. That kind of love, the pastor said, cannot be forced.
It is a good point and one that has some difficulties for Christians.
What our theology really says, as interpreted in our lives and actions (not what we say it says) is that God asks us to love him. But if we don’t love him, at some point he will torture us forever and ever.
Those do not square.
Gandhi is quoted as saying: “ I like your Christ. I don’t like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.”
When I look through our cupboards I see serving dishes.
Dozens of them. All sizes and colors, lots of clear glass, some ceramic that are really nice, and a lot of really ugly ones.
The irony is that, even when we have company, I don't use them!
When I go to a restaurant they don't (usually) fill the table with dishes of all the food, they bring on a plate of food. When I cook for just Miriam and I that system works best. I give her what I want her to eat, and if she chooses she does not have to eat it all, that is OK too, but it saves on dishes she has to wash (I threw in that thought so it would seem I was less despotic.)
(Side note here: Yesterday I made an overly optimistic pan of oatmeal mush/porridge/stuff. I ate most of it, but recently oatmeal has once again become less than wonderful on my palette. Since there are almost unlimited options, it is not a big deal. Today I made some banana nut muffins to go with cold cereal)
So as I look into the cupboards for stuff we don't use (most of it), I scheme. Daughter one and I have a deal. I box up stuff I don't want (so Miriam does not see or know) and she recycles it.
I was walking yesterday and a thought occurred to me.
Now it was not a new thought and for sure I did not invent the thought or even the train of thought.
But it went something like this: We will spend more time in our life as an empty nester than we might think. When your kids are about 10 or 12 it seems like this parenthood thing will never end. But it does. Well OK, it doesn’t really end, but it does change. We raise our kids to be independent thinkers and they do it.
There was a 2nd thought that came to me. It was one I had heard before, but it rang into the same area: Even if you are happily married the chances are statistically good that you will spend a lot of time living alone.
Unless, of course, you are the first to go, and then it does not matter I guess.
Sometimes that aloneness is an all at once thing and sometimes it comes on slowly. Neither one is what we would choose.
It is winter I know, and I cannot work in the garden, but still.
Miriam walked with Leo as long as we had him. It gave both of them something to do. She walked the same route each day. She would tell me when she left, and since it was the same route, I knew how long it would take her to return.
But now she walks with a shuffle. It is hard enough to get her from the car to the grocery store or church. While I walk fast with long strides, she shuffles along slowly. (I learn patience whether I want to or not).
So any serious walking is out of the question for her, and I don't want to hurt her feelings, or to make her feel bad in any way, so this winter I have not walked at all.
But last week I told her I was going to go for a 20 minute walk, she agreed and wished me well. Then I extended that 20 minutes to 40 minutes of good hard walking (got my heart beat up nicely).
It was in the evening, it was cool and i was a bit underdressed, but it was very good.
This is a disease of incrementalism. Gradually things change. Sometimes it is not good (usually), but sometimes it works out OK.
So, I will take my walks again.
I prefer evening, jsut before it gets dark. The air is brisk and my lungs like the deeper breathing.
This blog began as a spot to vent about my life with Miriam and her time with Alzheimer's disease.
She was diagnosed in '99 and her decline has been quite slow. In fact some of our best years of our long marriage have been these recent years.
Alzherimer's, at least her version is a disease of waiting. One shoe drops and it can be a very long time before the other one drops.
So life goes on.
At the beginning of this blog I told the story of our courtship and marriage, about out family and our personal journey with this disease. The part that scares the most is the anticipation as the disease slowly progresses.
So, I will touch on that subject from time to time, but the entries will tend toward comments on life. I'll leave politics and religion for others to worry about, not that I don't have strong opinions!
I have my hands full just looking after my wonderful Miriam.
We met when we were 6, began dating at 15 and have been together since. We will have our 56th anniversary this June.
We have four wonderful daughters. Smart, independent, awesome. They have given us 7 grandsons and 4 granddaughters. None of them are little any more. The oldest is 28 and married, the youngest is 14.
Until this last fall we lived in a hosue I designed and built in the '70's and it is pretty weird and wild, but very comfortable. Last summer the girls came to the conclusion that I really did need help dealing with Miriam. Now we live on a couple acres with daughter 1.
Life has been good. There is not much I would do different even if I could. We are rich beyond belief but chronically short of cash!
And, unless stated otherwise all the photographs are mine.