This picture was taken at sunset with the camera facing east, so you see all the pinkness of the clouds without the fiery ball of sun. I love the soft warm cloud colors against the gray green of the foreground. You will notice that I have gotten taller and can now see over the tops of the pecan trees. Actually I took this from the upstairs bunk room, where your friends will stay if you are ever able to travel together to the Bossy Spa.
I went to a friend’s memorial gathering yesterday. Jacques was 90 and had fought in the Belgian Resistance as a teenager during World War II. About three months before his death I had danced with him. Someone sent me a picture of us dancing together. I wore that dress to the memorial.
There were pictures at the memorial of him as a young man: wedding photos, cooking with friends, kissing his wife. He was very handsome, even at the end. As we were leaving, we stopped by to talk with his widow. “Love one another,” she said. “If you want to fight, kiss him.”
As a caregiver you are no stranger to the idea of mortality. You think about what your loved one’s decline will be like, and hope it will not be too painful and that the last bits will be swift. You focus on the time remaining, having the best days possible.
The person you are caring for is not the only one who is mortal. You are too. If you do not have a terminal condition you know less about how your life will unfold and end. Since you do not know how it will go, it is easy to forget that your time too is precious and finite.
Treat yourself today as if you were precious and temporary. You are both.
If you would like to share thoughts about this, leave me a comment.
I decided you need more flowers. These are katie ruellia, which thrive on neglect in my part of the world. You can break off a piece of stem. plop it in the ground, and within months you will have a lovely clump. What I do is even less work. I ignore it and it spreads throughout the garden on its own. It even spawned a second color, so I have purple ones too.
You can see the theme in my approach. I do very little work in the yard and encourage volunteers, though sometimes my path gets overrun with flowers tumbling out of the beds, and I have to either give up on having a path or prune.
Yesterday I painted a watercolor of the stone cottage where you stay at the Bossy Spa. It is not a great painting, but it was fun to do. Somehow the cottage got too big for the page, and then there was no room for the path. Plus I wanted to add the rain chain, which looks so pretty, but I could not get up the nerve to do it. I was afraid it would look like a string of chocolate bars hanging from the roof, which would be appealing in a way, but might attract ants. Also the tree needed work. The green was too vivid. Other than the shapes and colors, it was a masterpiece.
Doing creative work can be a good break from caregiving if you can find the time. Try a pen and ink drawing on a napkin of your teacup. You can do a series showing the level of tea going down. Ok, maybe that would not be riveting to most people.
Tell me about something you would like to create.
This morning I am not the Boss of the Bossy Spa. I have a supervisor. This fluffy little gray and white kitten materialized out of the mist and sauntered into the yard just after breakfast. The dogs went wild, chasing her a few laps around the yard before she scrambled up the pecan tree and perched on a branch.
She is wary of me, but stayed still for me to take her picture. Now she is sitting calmly, supervising while I write.
We haven’t seen cats around in several years, but I know why she is here. You requested pictures of kittens. How was I to find kittens? I have two dogs and don’t know anyone with kittens, but whichever minor goddess is in charge of small miracles for caregivers sent her, so now you have a kitten picture.
Since your kitten is supervising, I am channelling her wisdom to share with you. She wants you to remember that even though you have a great big thing that is all wrong in your life, small good things still happen and help make the big bad thing easier to bear.
I went inside to move the laundry to the dryer, and your kitten moved to a lower branch. She let me photograph her again, so there is another kitten picture in your future.
Your beautiful kitten surprise is a fluffy beacon of hope that today might contain some sweet moments.
Amid all the burdensome responsibilities of being a caregiver, have you noticed any small good things? Share one as an encouragement to yourself and others.
Things are fruiting here at the Bossy Spa. We have cactus pears and pigeon berries and pomegranates ripening. The warm burgundy and gold tones of fall have arrived, but the leaves are still green.
I went for a walk this morning, clad only in my robe and slippers. Guests don’t check in to the B&Bs until this afternoon, so my chances of running into anyone civilized was pretty small. The dogs wore their fur coats, raising the fashion standard for our group.
Mark has mowed paths in the small orchard by the cottages. The peaches and pears and plums didn’t produce much this year. Someone explained to me that this was related to how many frost days we got. Not enough, I think.
I have been pondering what you said about caregiving, that it is all about having more good days. It focuses you in the present or the very short time perspective. How will you and he have the best week? The best day? The best now?
This idea of resting in the now is good for all of us. Of course we must do some thinking about the future and planning and saving, but when we want a rest from all that, our restfulness comes from the present moment.
If you can find five minutes to just sit outside and look at the natural world, will you do it? I would appreciate it if you would, so the plants and creatures and sky can minister to you.
Since you live in a town and not the country, don’t follow my example and go out in your robe! Otherwise you may be taken into custody and questioned and committed to a facility for people who are going a little wonky. There is enough wonkiness in your life already, so be sure to wear actual pants.
Tell me what you did, ok? I went outside and …
Fortunately for this lovely morning glory my neighbor did not apply broad leaf weedkiller to the lawn. This charming vine came up and made the lawn much better. I like how its beauty just arrived with no extra work for anyone.
There is a theme here. We can work hard if necessary, but it is really nice to simply enjoy what goodness springs from the ground. I hope for goodness to spring up beside you this morning.
What sprang up beside me this morning were two large dogs, both in need of a bath. When I pat them my hands get coated with what I refer to as “dog wax.” I am sure there is a way to add a fresh pine scent, bottle it in cute 6 oz. jars, and make millions charging $12.95 a bottle, but I have not yet come up with the proper formula. When I get it all figured out I will donate the proceeds to you. You deserve all that and more.
I went to the store to buy a product to dye the top I got on sale because it had faded. When I called you and whined that they did not have any in stock, I noticed how patient you were with me. You never tell me to get a real problem. You never compare your woes to mine. You just listen and say something kind.
When we talk I always feel heard and understood. Your kindness means the world to me. I don’t know how you do it when you have so many other demands on you, but I want you to tell:
I have a well of kindness within me from …
Today you get roses. This is a cinco de mayo rose, which defies its name and blooms from the first warm day of spring all the way until the first frost. You can see there are clusters of blossoms on a single stem. It has a heavenly scent, and despite its delicate looks it can withstand the scorching summer heat.
I think my rose would prefer more acidic soil, since it gets a bit chlorotic at times, so I toss citrus peel under it whenever I have any left over from the kitchen.
Anyway when you are a caregiver, especially for your spouse, there comes a point when roses are few and far between, so these are for you. Roses say that I love you and that you are beautiful and that I am so glad I have you in my life.
When you are a caregiver of someone with dementia, as your loved one deteriorates you are more taxed and your loved one tends to be less appreciative, sometimes even testy. I hope that somewhere in a parallel universe your loved one is whole and that person really appreciates your outpouring of love and effort over here in this universe.
If that is not how things are wired up then I want you to know that I see you caring, and tiring yourself, and working hard, and sometimes being wonderfully sweet, and sometimes being snappish. All those ways that you are, the ways you think are good and the ways you feel ashamed of, all your ways of being are right and good and just how you are supposed to be.
Since this is a day of appreciation, you have no writing homework. Today, you get an A, just for being you.
Don’t worry. I haven’t been body snatched by aliens who are forcing me to add prayer to your to-do list. Far from it. Instead I have solved that whole divine conundrum by hiring Priscilla the praying mantis to intercede for you.
I have always admired the efficiency of Tibetan Buddhists prayer flags. They tie the flags to a rope, and every time the wind blows the flag waves another prayer. Well, Priscilla is like that only better. As a praying mantis, her very essence is prayer, so she is working even when the wind is not blowing.
If you are concerned that you may not share her belief system, never fear. Priscilla believes she would enjoy another tasty morsel. I rest my case.
By the way Priscilla does not think you need forgiveness. She thinks you are lovely, just how you are, and she is networked with every version of the divine. She even keeps in touch with that guy in Ottawa who believes he is the reincarnation of the sixth Dalai Lama, just in case. So when she says she has got all the bases covered, she pretty much does.
Remember as a kid thinking about what you would ask for if a magic genie popped out of a lamp and gave you three wishes? Oh, come on. Of course you thought about this! Well having Priscilla on your side gives you the opportunity to put those thoughts into action. Trust me, Priscilla is not secretly working against you, like the genie always was.
Tell Priscilla what three wishes you would like to come true. She has promised to read the comments section.
We are going to talk about things that are annoying. You know you can’t say these things to just anybody or they will tell you that you ought to be grateful that at least you don’t have a malignant pizza slice hanging off the end of your nose or some other such nonsense.
And it’s true. You always have reason to be grateful that things aren’t worse. That does not mean that you are required to be a complete idiot and not notice when people or circumstances are annoying.
When you are a caregiver, annoying things happen all the time. It’s no wonder you sometimes find yourself short tempered. Under the circumstances being annoyed is normal.
If you are the one caregiver in the world who never finds the situation irritating, you are unsuitable for this blog. Please apply for sainthood and proceed immediately to the hereafter, where you will undoubtedly be received with trumpets, cookies, and other fanfare.
If you are still here, allow yourself to kvetch a bit, since it is just us and nobody judging. Complete the sentence below, or even write a whole paragraph, but under no circumstances are you to criticize yourself for complaining. Today, right here, you can just say how it is.
It annoys me when …