Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Saga Twenty

"Don't think about the future.
Just be here now.

Don’t think about the past.
Just be here now.”

― Ram Dass

Life is so fleeting. My dear friend who prayed for my husband's Alzheimer's has now gone on to be with our LORD. She prayed every day from her wheel chair for us while going downhill from Muscular Dystrophy. I am challenged to increase my prayer because of her. My friend was not her disease, neither is my husband his Vascular Dementia and Alzhiemer’s.

I want my husband to feel in control as long as possible. Richard Taylor in Alzheimer’s from the Inside Out writes:

" I vaguely recall a time when lots of people were coming to me
and asking for information and my opinion concerning things
other than myself or my disease." (p. 203) 

So it was that I asked DH if we could attend a memorial service Tuesday night , November 29th, for this dear friend of over thirty years. He said yes. His opinion counts and I didn’t know that he would have said yes—but he did. I canceled four days of substituting which along with trip expenses would put our budget back, but well worth it. We dropped our dog off at the kennel.

Monday we drove over 500 miles to Daphne, Alabama, just west of Mobile. I had not slept well during the night and got up to write a six page eulogy for my friend and so hubby did a lot of the driving that first day.

My friend had also been my bridesmaid. Although we only lived near each other for two years, we wrote and called after that and visited when we could. We would have fun cleaning each other's homes. The years rolled on by. When MD came into her life we e-mailed maybe once a month. She would write “I pray for you every day” at the end of her e-mails. Her only complaint about the MD was that she didn't have the muscles to smile any more.

She was to get one of my unusual gifts for her 66th birthday—a binder of my favorite Scripture. I enlarged the font size to 18 for her binder so she could read easily and she e-mailed Oct. 12th, our last communication, “I don't think I need 18 point font. Maybe something halfway between. Looking forward to my b. d. gift.”  She had her husband contact me to thank me for the gift. She was admitted to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital because her cough was not responding to antibiotics.

I called her hospital room and her husband put the phone up to her ear. “It’s gonna work out,” I said to her. “Either you will be with Jesus or He will help you go through this.” She did give me a faint reply so I knew we were communicating and agreeing. She died the day before turning 66, with MD taking over the muscles in her lungs.

During the trip my husband asked many times where we were going. Then Tuesday morning we arrived in Louisiana, having driven over 200 miles to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, our destination on the second day. We checked into our second Microtel and I checked my e-mail for word on my eulogy from my friend’s pastor. It turns out that my departed friend had scripted her own memorial service and my eulogy was too long. The pastor’s editor was cutting it down!

The memorial service was wonderful. My friend lived well and died well. She and her husband even traveled abroad with the wheel chair. She was always e-mailing about her four young granddaughters whom I met at the memorial service. With fourteen pages of hand written notes on her own memorial service, the program proceeded. First there were slides of her life before and after MD while the Prelude included “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder”, “When We All Get to Heaven” and “How Great Thou Art”. The pastor read words from my friend, including jokes about heaven and Scripture. She had selected favorite hymns for us all to sing and a sermon he had preached in the past that she had him cut down to eight minutes by his staff editor who had edited me as well. I gave my eulogy as did others. The pastor read her “closing words” and then her “final closing words”. Unscripted: the pastor had us clap for her service which we did at the end.

Wednesday morning, the day after the memorial, in the spirit of my friend (live your life), my husband drove us from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. There was lots of traffic and it was stressful driving for DH. On the bucket list of my husband was the casino. The valet took our car and we decided we could have two hours in the place. He put $20 into a slot machine which he quickly lost. But an item on his “bucket list” had been checked off. We walked around and settled into a buffet for a brunch. Security guards with cages of money went by. We retrieved our car and I drove through the French Quarter letting my husband see the sights.

He had lots of questions on what state we were in and lots of comments that I didn’t make sense to him. What did make sense was to stay in our third Microtel in Marianna, FL. All the rooms are basically the same for an Alzheimer’s patient, and each hotel has a continental breakfast. Thursday morning frost was on the window of our car. We put the header on and waited until the windows cleared. Whenever it is cold in Florida, DH often quips “I think we should move to Florida!” It was best that I didn’t talk too much but just listen to him while I drove or he drove. Here is what he did say:

I will be so glad when I don’t drive anymore. I desire to be a passenger.

We picked up our dog and headed home. The next day I called State Farm Insurance and said we would just be one driver now.

I will miss my friend and will try to keep up
with the family and pray daily for them.


  1. So sorry for the loss of your friend, Carol. You've written a beautiful post here. What a nice way to honor her.

  2. I enjoyed reading this interesting and sweet post you've written honoring your dear friend. Friends are such a blessing!!!

    Wow, that was a surprising statement coming from your husband, about not driving. I would imagine driving is getting to be harder and more stressful for him.

    Keeping the stress and confusion down sure helps with Alzheimer patients.

    You've been a busy girl....