Tuesday, January 10, 2017

I miss you so much.

Patti, I miss you so much. I long to sit face-to-face with you and look into your eyes and try again to express how much I loved you. I never did succeed in getting you to understand the depth of my love. Perhaps now with your body free of disease and your heart open to love and understanding, maybe you could see the love in my eyes.

I knew grieving your loss would be difficult, but I thought I would adjust, but I have not yet found a way to get through a full day and night wothout tears flowing, which I accept as healing. Now a year later? I find that my physical heart is ailing. It is potentially life threatening. Wouldn't it be like me to die of a broken heart? I have gone to my doctor and told her something is wrong. She put me on a dangerous med, and ordered s Sleep Study next week, then a Colonoscopy, and an Electrocardiogram.    I am concerned enough to have bought my first bab of Decaf Coffee. You know how I always resisted Decaf.

I am with heavy heart but realize now it is more than grief. I will do what I must to guard my health. I promised you to take care of Shelby and you know the grief I feel about my Ohio Kids and grandchildren, and Debra is due about my birthday in February.

I always said,  "There's a place for us, somewhere." I pray you are there and waiting for me. I told you I would be along shortly. It may be sooner than I thought.

I pray that we will be together again, but if not, I have kept my promise to always love you. For now, I need to look after Shelby and be here for her as she confronts her own health issues.

With love,
"Your Ronnie"

Monday, January 9, 2017

Robbed of seeing her children succeed

Patti worked hard throughout her life. She gave birth to Matthew, Shelby, Kathryn, and Anthony. Matthew lives over in Lubbock, Shelby is here at home with me, Kathryn lives with her husband and mother-in-law in Atlanta, Georgia, and Anthony, who goes by his stage name, Carter Frost lives in Arlington.

Matthew with two college degrees chooses to work as a food prepare at River Smith's in Lubbock.  Shelby works one the Graduate Office at Texas Tech University where she specializes in International Students. She earns over three times the pay that Pat was earning at South Pains College for over thirty years.  Shelby is right at the end of her Master's Degree. The papers are written and she just needs the committees to meet to agree on her completion. I will watch her walk the stage in May. She is planning a trip to Rome later in the year. I am supposed to go with her; we'll see. Kathryn completed her Master's Degree a few years back in Alabama. She married and lives in  beautiful home with her husband, his mother and a couple of spoiled dogs. Anthony, our actor works as a waiter in Arlington, and is currently filming a movie, "Run the Border." He had become a brilliant actor and he is happy in his life.

Patti would have been so happy to continue seeing her children mature and find their ways in life.
During the four months of her living here at home on hospice. I set pictures of all over the place, so that she could see then as she looked around. I would set her on the bed side potty and to distract her, I would point at various pictures and and with excitement in my voice, I would ask her who they were. Where do they live? What do they do. I would try to draw out little stories from her to keep those loved one in the front of her mind. I knew to try to keep her talking about her earlier life, not the one with me. By this time, her life with me was pretty much forgotten. Twenty-six years just blinked out. On a few occasions, a very few, she would remember me and tell me she loved me, but towards the end, I was "The Other One." She knew Shelby, for which I am happy for Shelby. My not being recognized as her "Ronnie, who had loved her since 1965, well, that really hurt. I cared for her as I had promised I would. I saw to her every single need. Like a baby she was. We cuddled with her in bed the last month. Either Shelby or I was with her every minute of the day and night. I avoided having Shelby help me with personal care such as baths and changing the diapers. I was a fanatic about keeping Pat clean and comfortable.

Towards the end, Patti forgot her mother, but remembered her daddy. I made a point to talk to Pat about each member of her family, promising to take care of the kids as needed. Promising to take care of my self as possible, so I could be here to look after Shelby. Then the last week, I guide her to look for her daddy and mother who were standing on the other side of the bright light. I told her it was okay to go to her daddy. He wanted to play dominos with her.  I played all of her favorite spiritual music day and night. I rubbed her favorite lotions and creams on her back and legs, arms and feet, neck and face. The lady who prepped Patti's body at the mortuary told me she was amazed that Pat's body was totally free of bed sores or pressure points. Having worked in Terminal Cancer Units for years, I know how fortunate Pat was. I am pleased that I could take care of Pat. I loved her so much and regret  that we did not have time to grow old together.  On the other hand, as I read the Alzheimer's Boards, I realize how much worse our lives could have become. Wherever she is, she is happy and disease free.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Patti spent the majority of her life teaching in college. She had a Phd. so I like to call her Dr. Pat. I was so proud of her accomplishing such a difficult task while do all her research work  all over the South as she studied the linguistics of people in their specific geographical regions.

She taught here at South Plains College for over thirty years. She taught English Literature, World Literature, Spanish, Japanese, and Technical Writing during her long career. Patti was a strict professor who expected serious work from her students. She ran the Computer Lab in the Communications Building for several year. I remember many nights when I would take food up to her and sit in the lab with her until 8 pm. Monday -Thursday. Kathryn and Shelby spent lot of their night at the lab with us.

I was here with her for twenty-six years of her career. I even taught Developmental English Writing for nine years. I managed to teach for a couple of semesters after she became so ill, but finally quit to be her full-time care giver.  She played piano for Nurses' Pinning Ceremonies every semester.  She drove thirty miles from Levelland over to the Reese Campus at Lubbock for most of her years. She was one of two professors who attended every Registration at the Levelland, Reese, and Lubbock campuses each semester, including both semesters. Patti never took a sick day in all those years. She did not take days off. She worked both semesters every summer.

She was obsessed with preparing for all of her classes. She spent untold numbers of hours collecting research material for her classes. It took me an entire summer to empty her college office of all her books and files. Those materials are currently sitting in my business location down town on the square. I was so diligent about saving all her files thinking that she planned to use those materials for books that she wanted to write after she retired. I can not even guess how many hours I will need to go through her files. Every now and then, I come across a few scraps of her personal notes. Sometimes, those notes cause me to smile. Sometimes, those notes break my heart.

Her brain was filled with so much knowledge, but Alzheimer's Disease sneaked in and slowly took that knowledge from her. I watched her lose all that knowledge. Such a waste. She could have done so much more, if she had been spared. I watched her lose every ability that she had. At the end, she was reduced to the body of a little baby, but without any chance to grow, to learn, to be happy. She finally lost the knowledge of who I was and simply referred to me as "The Other One," Shelby being the one she did know. When she forgot how to swallow, I was forced to make the decision not to force feed her, not to let her be hospitalized with tubes and lines running in and out of her body, I respected her wishes and took care of her in every way possible.

The statistics are that more and more people are falling prey to Alzheimer's Disease.  The increase will be unbelievable within ten to twenty years.  Nothing substantial is being done about the disease. False information is constantly posted, new meds come out, new cures come out. The fact is nothing works to delay the thief which takes our loved one. The government has no motivation to truly seek cures. The pharmaceutical companies  only care about new meds that "promise to delay or cure." The companies only desire huge profits from meds that generally make the patient worse and therefore requiring other meds. Doctor know nothing more than to prescribe meds which they know fun well will not help. I tire of ads and false reports of new cures.

Dr. Patricia Elder Cearley could have offered so much more to this world.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Patti had many happy years.

This is "My Patti."
It's kind of funny that all the way back to about 1965 I told her we would wind up getting married. We both accepted that with a glad heart. We really did love each other. That was not faked. Of course, my decision to join the Marine Corps to go fight for my country was not something she readily accepted.
She was like any other girl at that age. She wanted to do the fun things that kids her age did. From what I know, she did. She was very active in school activities. I have lots of pictures to show she had a good time getting through high school, college, and universities. She led her life doing pretty much what she wanted. It's true that at some point after she married, her life became complicated and she may not have enjoyed life as she would have liked, but she was an independent lady from early on, and she succeeded in many ways. I like to think she found joys in her own ways.

When we eventually met up again and married, we were ecstatic to be together. We both worked really hard through the years, she at her college, me at my store and then at the college. She cross-stitched a piece that said, "The best is yet to be, grow old with me." We looked forward to retirement. But as the thief entered her life, she started saying she would work until she was 70, then get a part-time job. Shelby and I did everything we could to try to talk her out of it. Two years before she passed she was still saying she would get a job at Barnes and Nobles. She would point out all the old timers that worked at the bookstore and assured us she would do it. Eventually, we had to tell her she could not walk, she could not talk well enough to help a customer, she could not handle money, and she simply could not do any job. By this time, she was less lucid, and she realized she could no longer do cross-word puzzles or even read a magazine. Her thoughts of working were stolen from her mind.

As for our retirement, she could not see herself being able to go on trips to see our children and grand-children. She knew her piano playing days at church were gone. She knew she could no longer crochet more than rolling the yarn into balls and placing them in zip-lock bags. She could not count her cross stitch. She had thoroughly enjoyed her tv shows and dvds. The thief stole her ability to even follow a show. She would start a show, fall asleep, wake up to find she didn't know what had happened and would start it over. Then came the time during her four months flat on her back in a hospital bed when she could not even see the large tv screen. The thief took and took and took some more. Patti would have fought with all her might, but by this time, there was not fight. Alzheimer's Disease took her from us. Alzheimer's Disease stole her Golden Years of Retirement, but I have to believe she had a good life, doing the fun things that Baby Boomers dreamed of back in the day.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Pat will miss Shelby's Graduation

Patti sat through until numbers of Graduations for her children, high school, college, and universities.

Shelby would have graduated a few weeks back, but her committee of professors failed to meet at the designated times, usually without notice.

As it is, Shelby is done with her Master's Degree Program and only needs to wait for the committee to meet so she can defend her papers, one about how the aborigines of Australia were treated, and the other an Autoethnography about her communication with Pat during the last couple of years and through the end of Pat's fight with Alzheimer's Disease.

I am sad that Pat could not have been here to see Shelby walk the stage, but I will hopefully still be here to stand in Pat's place.  So, once again, the thief has robbed Patti and her daughter who has worked so hard to obtain her degree while working in the Graduate Office at Texas Tech University where she oversees the addmitance of International Students.

Pat Taught Piano

Pat taught piano for most of her life in addition to teaching college and raising four children.
I remember many summer days when I would be out working in the front yard and her students would come and go. I know when she could no longer play at two churches on Sundays that she became very depressed. I had bought her a nice keyboard to use at home in addition to her piano. I could not understand why she would not play the keyboard. It did just about everything. Eventually, I realized she could no longer read the music or play without countless mistakes.
Alzheimer's Disease robbed Patti of her ability to play piano at church, at the college nurses' pinning ceremonies, and at home. She never saw it coming, not at such an early age. She was only sixty-six when she passed away. You cannot even imagine the amount of music she collected over the years. I know she intended to continue playing at church, but she finally realized she simply could not do it any longer. I contribute that her reason for shutting down at the end. If she could not do the things she enjoyed, what was the purpose of going on. I do not think she intentionally gave up, but Shelby and I will quickly tell you that at the very end,   she faced death on her own terms, Or as we say it, "She did it her way." It does to mean that she did to love us. The thief that came into her life robbed her of her ability to think.

It sneaked in.

Alzheimer's Disease sneaked into my wife's body and robbed her of her Golden Years.