16 Comments

  1. Rene Engelbrecht
    January 18, 2017 @ 5:54 am

    Jy is ’n baie dapper vrou. Sterkte

    Reply

    • Gerda Saunders
      January 19, 2017 @ 4:38 pm

      Rene, jy gee my baie meer krediet as wat ek verdien–ek doen maar net wat ons almal doen: evalueer die skades van ouer word, aanvaar die nuwe “normaal,” en geniet elke dag saam met die mense wie jy lief het. Baie dankie vir jou ondersteuning, altyd. Dit beteken so baie vir my.

      Reply

  2. Cliff Saunders
    January 18, 2017 @ 8:05 am

    Dear Gerda and Peter
    What an incredibly difficult time you all have gone through! It is wonderful that the whole family was involved in such a loving team spirit. The good news to us is that both you and Peter are over the worst of the trauma and have seen light at the end of the tunnel.
    Love
    Cliff and Ria

    Reply

    • Gerda Saunders
      January 19, 2017 @ 4:36 pm

      Dearest Cliff and Ria, You are both so wonderful to keep in touch every time I post something. IN retrospect our first part of January looks much better than it did while we were in the middle of it. Peter has recovered marvelously–of course a competition between himself and his physio’s other (imaginary) patients so he can be the best! He has a lot of rotation back when she lifts his arm, but he just can’t go higher than his shoulder by himself yet. The pain is much better,though, and we are so grateful for that. Miss you guys–we’ll have to skype soon so we can see you. xoxoxox

      Reply

  3. Peggy Osoro
    January 18, 2017 @ 4:10 pm

    Dear Gerda,
    You continue to amaze and impress me with your determination to live your life in a normal way. When things happen to change our “normal” we have to readjust and define a new “normal” It isn’t always easy to do that. May you never lose your ability to write and express yourself for those of us who can learn so much from you. Thinking of you and Peter and glad that you have each other to live with and love.

    Peggy

    Reply

    • Gerda Saunders
      January 19, 2017 @ 4:33 pm

      Dear Peggy, I so much appreciate your support and beautiful, kind comments. I really do just what all of us does, as you state so clearly: make yourself happy with a new “normal.” That is the price of being lucky enough to grow old!I am happy for you too that you have Larry and your family with whom to live in love.

      Reply

  4. Keir Graff
    January 18, 2017 @ 4:58 pm

    Lovely and moving as ever, Gerda. These aren’t tears in my eyes, I swear–it must be raining in here.

    I think we should all have some glimpses into our future so we appreciate the present more keenly.

    Reply

    • Gerda Saunders
      January 18, 2017 @ 5:19 pm

      Dear Keir, thanks so much for your kind words. It’s wise what you say about everyone needing to glimpse one’s future–time goes by so fast, especially if you measure it by how fast your kids are changing and growing up. Kirstin told me your kids were getting so big and were so much fun over Christmas. Thanks, too, for your note about Javier Ramirez. I will definitely attempt contact with him. All the best for you and your lovely family.

      Reply

  5. Ingrid Schmidt
    January 21, 2017 @ 6:18 pm

    Hi Gerda,

    thank you so much for helping me to understand what my mother went through and what is probably waiting for me too, in about twenty years or so when the visible signs will set in. My aunt and my grandmother were the trailblazers… and my mother is now in a much more advanced stage of Alzheimer’s than you are. We take comfort in small pleasures.

    Unmatched socks are no big deal: my stepdaughter will soon be 34 years old and she does it all the time- on purpose! For Christmas we bought her two pairs of upscale wool ski socks and chose them so that there could be some harmony between the colours when mismatched. As a thank you note, and unprompted, she sent us a picture wearing the mismatched socks.

    Reply

    • Gerda Saunders
      January 23, 2017 @ 8:30 am

      Hello Ingrid, So lovely to hear from you, albeit with the grim news that you (reluctantly) anticipate joining the club of Dementers, a group I certainly wish no-one to be a member of! I did not know that you’ve experienced Alzheimer’s at such close quarters. I love your story about the mismatched socks–I love them much more as a deliberate fashion statement than as a “mistake!” I do hope you’ll drop by Utah again in the future and pay us a visit–I’d love to catch up on your life. xoxox

      Reply

      • Ingrid Schmidt
        January 23, 2017 @ 2:41 pm

        Dear Gerda,

        My more or less regular trips to Utah have stopped since I no longer work for Rio Tinto (Kennecott as it is known locally). However, I would sure love to see you and Peter again. I may just take you up on your invitation.

        I find your blog very valuable. This is my mother’s story.

        Edith has always been a little “special” and I realize with some regret that I did not allow her to tell me what she was feeling because I was always trying to humour her instead of being receptive to her small disclosures of frustration and inadequacy. I provided solutions (she might have said: “just like a man”) instead of trying to understand her and just listen.

        Edith was widowed at age 65 and soon after, she gave me a Power of Attorney to be validated if she were to become unable to make decisions for herself. I do not think that she was contemplating any incapacity due to a dementia related illness. To cut a long story short, I had to involve a social worker and a notary in order to have her “declared” so that I could take control of her assets, including selling her house to raise the funds to provide for her care. This did not happen until she was 81 years old but I was grateful to know that she had entrusted me to look after her affairs so many years before.

        We realized that she needed some help when we came to visit her at Easter one year and I asked her where the car was. She sheepishly told me that she had taken a short-cut home and it was “in a field”. The Canadian Automobile Association refused to tow her out and the farmer had given her a few days grace to find a way to remove it… we towed her out with our Jeep and that was the beginning of follow-up tests that led to a diagnosis of Alzheimer. She was 79 years old and very resentful to lose her driver’s license. I made arrangements with a local taxi company to open an account which was billed to me and she could get a ride home that way from wherever she was and she didn’t need to have any money on her. It took a while for her and the taxi company to get used to it but eventually she seized the opportunity to go to her appointments without having to lean on friends for a ride. She never accepted that the cost was minor compared to the cost of maintaining a car, paying for gas and the insurance but she was grateful nonetheless.

        I appreciate now that she was struggling alone for a very long time and that while she may have been in denial herself, I could have been more sensitive to her needs instead of teasing her about many things, like labeling the bathroom door. She made some excuse about having had guests and trying to be helpful but the sign didn’t come down… I never realized how confused and frightened she already was.

        We had a big bash for her 80th birthday so that all the friends who knew her could celebrate with her before Edith forgot altogether who they were. That was nearly six years ago.

        She was very fortunate to have met a new man, George, when she was 75 years old and he has been very kind, and generous. Eventually, I heard stories from George that my Mom would get lost and strangers would take her home. I checked with the local police and indeed there were reports of having been found walking on the shoulder of the highway carrying grocery bags. Edith and George moved into an apartment in a seniors’ residence so that he could keep an eye on her. Imagine living together with your “boyfriend” for the first time, after all those years. It was quite an adjustment for both of them. Eventually, it was agreed that it was too difficult for George to look after Edith and she moved into an Alzheimer’s residence in 2015. George lights up her life and he continues to visit Edith on a regular basis even though it’s a one hour trip one way.

        Reply

        • Gerda Saunders
          January 31, 2017 @ 7:47 pm

          Dear Ingrid,
          What a fabulous story about your mom, Edith. Everything you tell me speaks of your love and concern for her. Please don’t second-guess how you responded to her. I am always astonished at how relatively well people with dementia still seem to function outwardly even when they have already declined a lot. I just think there is no way of knowing whether you have to coddle someone or just listen to them or solve their problems until they tell you–and when someone resists the idea of her own dementia, she will of course not tell you that she really needs help. I think the way you have taken responsibility and the difficulty you went through to get her “declared” and then arrange her transportation and eventual move to an Alzheimer’s residence are testament to your caring as, all the while, you “learned on the job.” I think there is no other way for a family member to figure out the person’s need. But I am glad my story gives you some insights–but I NEVER want you to feel any guilt. Remember, you are living through it as a caretaker, the hardest job there is! I;m so glad for Edith that she has you–and George. What a beautiful story. I would love to write a blog post about Edith’s story. Would that be okay for you? and could you maybe send me some photos of her and you and George and everyone else involved in her care? I wish you all the best. And do come to visit when you can. For the next few months I have to keep my calendar relatively cleared for possible trips for book promotion, but if we know about your trip a while before, I am sure we can schedule to fit it all in. Warmest greetings, Gerda

          Reply

          • Ingrid
            February 1, 2017 @ 8:01 am

            Dear Gerda, thank you for your interest in Edith’s story. Please give me an e-mail address to which I can send you some photographs.

          • Gerda Saunders
            February 12, 2017 @ 11:42 am

            gerdasaunders@gmail.com

            Thanks, Ingrid, that would be lovely.

  6. Shen
    January 22, 2017 @ 7:44 pm

    Oh Gerda. I’ve been so internally focused since losing Atticus I didn’t realize the extent of what was going on with you and Peter until I read this. How rotten And yet, you (and Peter under your good guidance I’m sure) spoke so eloquently and memorably and perfectly at the time of our deep pain. Thank you forever and ever my dear heart. I love you so much

    Reply

    • Gerda Saunders
      January 23, 2017 @ 8:37 am

      Dearest Shen, Thanks so much for your lovely note–I can’t imagine you would even have time to look at my blog with so much stuff going on in your heart! Peter and I are doing just fine–remember that I can only write about miserable events once things are better and after I have somewhat processed them. (Or rather, writing is the last bit of processing that we “writers” do…) I think of you every day and my heart is stretched to a long point in your direction. Thanks for your ver sweet words about what Peter and I said during the lovely remembrance of darling, beloved Atticus. I hope things are getting better for Marissa and family–of course it’s ridiculous to think their pain could have lifted somewhat when the loss of Atticus is so very, very recent–I just hope that the need for daily things like taking care of the kids and figuring out how to restart their house is providing some path toward getting up and moving every day. Love you and yours so much.

      Reply

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