Thursday, May 31, 2012

Saga Twenty-Five

Jake and Sally's Camper at the left
Friday May 25 we headed south for camping and a wonderful four nights and five days of camping with our good friends Sally and Jake. With the exception of rain on Monday, the weather was perfect. No mosquitoes.

Friday night provided drama. Hubby, although he doesn't drive anymore, usually backs up our popup camper and so it was that he was at the wheel. He was agitated and it was sundown time. In a mood that he doesn't remember he told me we are going home. He didn't want to stay.

"Get in the car," he orders me.

"No," I reply. "It is too far home and we are staying here."

He made me feel like a rebellious wife, not obeying her husband. I recognized that this was a sundowning episode that he has had on occasions. I took our dog out of the car, fearing that he would actually decide to go home. Somehow I mustered enough courage to tell him that if he left the campgrounds in our Expedition I would call the sheriff, have him stopped and "Baker Acted". I have never ever had to talk like this to my husband whom I love dearly, but "for better and for worse" includes "for worse". I coaxed him out of the car and he sat down. Later that first evening DH forgets about the incident and asks me if I am mad at him. “No,” I say, and “I love you.” The extended Memorial Day weekend would proceed without further meltdowns.

Mirror and Place for Sunscreen, Etc.
Meanwhile I drove the car and popup camper around the sparsely occupied campground so I could drive forward to our spot. Jake helped me set up the popup. Setup of this popup is in Jake's long-term memory because he used to own it. In contrast to DH, Jake is a bundle of energy and you have to watch what he does because it is not always rational. He wanted to take everything out of our popup so he could clean it.

"No, Jake," and he listened and we proceeded to do just enough to get set up while hubby looked on. The picture at the left shows just one drawer that Jake thought he had to empty. Remarkably free of bugs (I found only one dead spider), it didn't need to be cleaned out of pots and pans and items that this spacious 6 bed popup was able to store. Over a year ago I had placed labels on drawers so my husband could find things. This also shows his cell phone charger plugged in at the bottom left. Routines and clues are so important for Alzheimer's patients. Hubby would use that cell phone during our camping when he had forgotten where I was. I got calls in the bathroom and at the club house.

With camp set up, and Ziggy in a travel cage in Jake and Sally’s more secure with better air-conditioning camper, we set off for dinner at Sony’s. We have a lovely dinner and scope out the town of Clewiston to plan our weekend. We will have Sunday brunch at the Clewiston Inn and then go to the 11 am church nearby. Memorial Day we will schedule an airboat ride. We return to bail out Ziggy and bring him to our popup. This first night of four I do not sleep well. The senior citizen lady that I am I had to get up in the middle of the night four times to use the bathroom. This involves walking about a block to the clean bathhouse. It disturbed both hubby and dog Ziggy. The next three nights would proceed more smoothly as hubby and Ziggy were more used to this routine of mine.

Saturday, May 26 we again put Ziggy in his cage in our friends camper and we head off the Clewiston., such a small town, but we manage to find a Goodwill. DH finds his usual seat in the store and the three of us look around. Sally finds a book by Max Lucado to read; I had brought my advanced copy book by Mark Shriver  to read, A Good Man, which I will review on this blog in June to write about Sargent Shriver's Alzheimer's. Back at the campsite Sally and I make BLT sandwiches that we serve picnic style at the club house porch. In the club house where Ziggy also hangs out we have devotions from Dana’s Galatians book. Jake and Sally go swimming. DH watches TV in the club house and I read, get on line on my small notebook computer and go on a walk finding a family of ducks (pictured).  For dinner I assemble the salad from the fixings I cut up at 4 am Friday morning before we left and Sally adds chicken she has grilled. We eat in their camper and after dinner, three of us play several games of UNO with Jake not joining us. I was very pleased that DH joined the UNO game. As Shriver's doctor told his daughter, when you have seen one case of Alzheimer's, you have seen one case of Alzheimer's. Lots of contrasts between DH and Jake.

Sunday as planned we have brunch at Clewiston Inn. Sally did something wonderful I thought since I am spending more time in prayer this year; she told waitress Elena that we pray at our meals and "How we could pray for her?" We prayed that she would make it through the day. Another time she asked waitress for a prayer request and we prayed that she could get her own place to live. Today at the grocery store I looked at the Choice Books display and purchased The Power of Praying by Stormie Omartian. The young man who bagged my groceries said that he bet that was a good book. I had him carry out the groceries so I would be able to pray for him that the LORD would give him another job or promotion because he is getting married in September. Thanks Sally, for this really good idea.  

The eleven AM church service was wonderful and we were warmly greeted. My husband stood when they asked all service men to stand. For the offertory the pianist played a medley of "Spirit of the Living God" and "My Country 'Tis of Thee. The wonderful pastor, short in stature, but mighty in faith delivered an inspiring message, “You Won’t Even Know When I am Gone”, for Pentecost Sunday. Christ told his followers that he needed to go away so that the Holy Spirit who would guide them into all truth will come. Text was: Acts 2:1-21 and John 15:26, 27; 16:4b-15. As is my practice, I took sermon notes on my notebook computer.

Trust the Spirit, look to the Scriptures,
and do what the Spirit says to do.

I needed that message--direction for this journey we are on. When you care for an Alzheimer's loved one, you need a simple life--not a popup camper that has holes to fix. That afternoon we discuss the popup. So much work to set up and DH and I decide to get rid of it. He will not remember that decision on Monday, but at least Sally is my witness that this decision was made--we had even prayed together about where it would go. Jake with his Alzheimer's will not always be able to help us, and hubby wasn't comfortable with camping with his Friday night meltdown.

Lock Going Out to the Lake
Monday, Memorial Day, we go on an airboat ride on Lake Okeechobee in the morning. We have lunch at the Clewiston Inn and it starts to pour rain. Back at the campsite we assess the damage to the popup. Not bad and husband seems to have forgotten that we have decided to get rid of it. Sally and I both have naps.

By Monday Jake checks the inside and turns on the refrigerator which we didn't think worked because the Jayco dealer said it couldn't be fixed. I was using that small refrigerator to store cans. At night we eat out at the Tiki Bar—hubby ordering his coconut shrimp and I ordering a taco salad minus the shell, olives and sour cream--idea from my Weight Watcher leader. Both Sally and I are doing Weight Watchers, although not perfectly with camping.

When we return to the campsite, we have devotions from Dana’s Galatians book.  Everyone turns in except I get on my notebook computer in the popup and check the Internet, learning some new prayer requests. We will leave in the morning. 

Tuesday morning. Decision time. No electricity when we are ready to leave. I discover cold cans in the refrigerator—the camper refrigerator works after all! However, there had been too much plugged in with my notebook computer, our cell phones and that refrigerator. The air conditioner doesn’t work. We needed fuses, perhaps, or the source for electricity at the campground wasn't working. But time to go and not solve the fuses.

With taking the popup down, I wondered if we could just drive it somewhere and not take it home. I feel like this would be a step of faith, and hadn't I learned that with the pastor's Pentecost sermon? I call my neighbor's cell; he used to work at a RV dealer that would be on the way home. I leave a message, but don't hear back from him. I empty all the drawers except the miscellaneous drawer where I have lights and fuses. I leave notes in that drawer and safety pins that I used to pin up curtains. I put what I can into our Expedition and Sally and Jake pick up other items to transport back to Plant City.

New Adventures for This Popup Camper
Then I remember that a wonderful family of five in my church might want our popup--the wife had once said to me that if we ever wanted to get rid of it, they might be interested. I talk to the couple and I tell them all about it. This family is very resourceful and I know they can deal with the popup camper's quirks. The family said yes and  two delightful daughters helped settle it on their property which was on our way home to Plant City. 
We arrive home safely driving through rain without the popup. Exhausted, nonetheless I substitute teach on Wednesday and hubby actually mows the front yard without my pressuring him.
Wednesday night we go over to Sally and Jake's to get our stuff and we go to dinner at Weight Watcher friendly Applebee's and reminisce about the weekend, with Jake and DH remembering some of the weekend. Both did remember the airboat ride. Hubby pretends sometimes to remember recent events while Jake often looks mystified. Alzheimer's is different for everyone, but as Jake's T-shirt says, old guys rule. 
Without Jake, we couldn't have camped.

Sally and I love our husbands who do need us to explain things to them now. We appreciate what they can do--Jake's willingness to always help, and DH's humor and easy-going attitude--most times.


  1. I am so glad that they remembered the airboat ride!!!

    And thank you again for your gift to us!!!

  2. What a weekend!! It sounds like it was good overall. I am glad you have good friends to share good times with. You and Sally are good support for one another and the guys are blessed to have such loving wives as caregivers.

  3. Busy weekend with lots of ups and a few downs. Sounds like you were a blessing to many.

  4. Wow! I'm worn out from just reading about your adventure. I'm sorry that you are not able to camp any longer. I hope the Lord gives you new, good memories for this new season of life.

  5. I'm glad you had a good weekend.

    One of our pastors asks restaurant servers for prayer requests. We live in a small enough town that he's achieved a reputation as a guy who prays for people. He gets stopped in places like the convenience store and people ask him to pray for them.

  6. Wow, what a busy roller coaster weekend. It's good to hear there were some good times, learning times and helping times.
    The prayer requests from the servers was such a loving request.
    Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.
    Love and hugs...

  7. Carol - Your posts are so inspiring. I'm sorry that you won't be able to camp anymore, but it sounds like you made a thoughtful decision. What a blessing to be able to unload the camper right away and to have such good friends in Sally and Jake.