It has been at least 12 days since I last wrote to you.
There have been many moments when I am just thrilled to be where I am and doing what I am doing. This is new for me. Outside of taking care of George, I have always wondered if I should be doing something else.
It may be a side-effect of COVID distancing that I don't feel rushed to be or do something more than I am at the moment. That is a wonderful feeling.
While I wasn't writing to you I was doing other fun stuff!
I went for a walk with my sister Mary through Rhinelander, WI and took a picture of this beautiful rock.
My friends, John and Sandy from Sussex, WI came to visit! They stayed at a different campground because this campground office/tavern proudly doesn't follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.
I had thought about going to that campground next year, but they are strict about having an RV-Certified sticker on your trailer. Since my Weeroll is registered as a utility trailer, it probably would not qualify. They aren't even allowing tents during COVID, even their Port-a-potty is locked.
The library was also closed and not accepting donations. On my way back out of town I passed a Little Free Library! Perfect, since I had already signed the book "To the Residents of Houston".
It was so good to see these friends and hang out again. We all were able to speak freely about our opinions of the responses to the COVID pandemic and all that is going on in our country. We also spent a good amount of time sharing information about the books we are reading. I took notes:
The Speckled Monster
The Jew Store
The Dutch House
I had many moments when I felt I was right where I should be, doing what I should be doing. That is a wonderful feeling. I hope you have some of those too.
On the way home I decided to pull into Prentice, Wisconsin. This is the town that I moved to on my own after high school. I worked in the only motel/restaurant in town and rented an upstairs studio apartment.
My mother had spent part of her childhood in Prentice and had fond memories of the friends and fun she had there.
As I walked the streets I tried to recognize places. I tried to locate the drug store where my mom and dad had their first "date" when he walked her down to get an ice cream cone. The drug store building may be gone, or this may be it.
Prentice is too small a town for a library. But I found a Little Free Library full of good books.
Dementia Education Inc. in Citrus County announced they were doing a Wellness Challenge, it just felt right that I should gather a team of folks to check our wellness practices and at the same time raise some funds for educating caregivers and friends and family members of those with dementia symptoms.
Join Susan Straley's Wellness Trippers!
Here are the rules.
"Upon becoming registered Participants, individuals may download from the official Citrus County Virtual Wellness Challenge web site a form for scoring their participation. At the end of each week, Participants may report their scores to a Challenge Database via e-mail. Top performance scores in both Individual and Team Categories will be reported on the Coping with Demetia and Citrus County Aware for Alzheimer’s FaceBook pages, then totaled for a period of four weeks for the purpose of recognizing Participants and bestowing final Award. Awards will be given in both Individual and Team Categories with the largest team receiving the prestigious Mary Blair Darling Award."
There are three steps to join the team. 1) Download the form and fill it out. Be sure to put "Susan Straley's Wellness Trippers" as the name of the team you are joining. 2) Send $10 to Dementia Education (follow the instruction at the bottom of the sign up form). 3) Let me know by emailing me, posting what you have done on Facebook and tag me, or text me at two six two 844 84 six nine.
Then on September 13, 2020 start scoring. There is a form you can download. Look in your download folder after you click on it. It is a PDF. This will help us see what areas of our life we need to reach into and do more -- Enlightening, Fun, and well Team Building, I hope.
Do I Stay or Do I Go Now
When you are faced with being a caregiver for a parent or a spouse, you either do it or you don't.
If it is your parent, you are their child no matter how good or bad your relationship has been up to the point of their needing your oversight or direct care. But you do have a choice... don't you? You may feel trapped, but once you make the final decision to stay or go, either way, it can be freeing.
As a spouse you are bound not by blood but by a contract.
I just saw a book introduced by AlzAuthors of a woman who married a man and then within the first year or two he was diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Bam, just like that, newly wed to caregiver.
Even I, after 39 years of marriage wondered if I would stick around for the duration. I wondered if I could just walk out, end our contract. I look back at that time of indecision as the most agonizing and difficult part of the whole process outside George's death.
Divorce is pretty common in marriage, and by the time a spouse gets the dementia diagnosis there have been some major arguments, some personality changes, that can make a wife or a husband wonder if they should seek a lawyer and end the contract.
Maybe you are one that never even considered leaving, it never entered your mind. But don't hate yourself or doubt your original love if you do have those thoughts. It's ok. Let's not judge ourselves or others. We are all made of different stuff.
I have a hard time not trying to solve other people's problems. All we can do as outsiders is listen, offer help, be there, and try very hard not to offer solutions that can seem like criticism. My parents were good at biting their tongue as we children grew into our own lives. I try to emulate them. Sometimes I even succeed!
There... that is my sermon for today.