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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Jersey Shore Summer August 11, 2015

The awnings billow, the flags protest, the drainpipes are busy as the wind blows the summer rain, diagonally it seems,  in drifts from southwest to northeast. The ocean rages, its white wavecrests crash against the jetties and each other as they hurry toward the shore. 
I sit safe and protected on the porch of the inn I have been visiting for a weekend every few years for the past forty-five summers.
In my wicker chair near a glass-topped white wicker table, I have a view of the ocean not even a city block away.
"Would you like to leave a day early?" asks my host since it will most likely rain all day. Quite the contrary. I love the summer rain.
As a child not one mile from where I now sit, I spent every summer at the Jersey shore. We children walked barefoot in the puddles after the rain, played "knuckles" on the porch, or "jacks." A community jig-saw puzzle was often on the table. Not only our family, but the several families who rented rooms in the large roomy houses added at least one piece to the puzzle each time they passed by.

As I sit and watch, nature is expressing my protesting, raging feelings, just as yesterday the hot sun blanketed me in peaceful, quiet restfulness. As I mourn the last past phase of my life and before entering the new, yet to be discovered next stage, I observe the world and the people around me. I choose to interact very little and quite shallowly with the other guests at the inn. My interests are inward as I reminisce about my childhood experiences at the shore and the many happy memories of spending the summers with my children and their father at the beach.

The families I see today are together on the beach with men caring for young children as well as women. They wheel large aluminum-pole framed mesh bags into which the umbrella, the pails and shovels and the blankets are packed and onto which the chairs are hung.In my day, we mothers carried all of the equipment or pulled little red wagons or pushed old strollers. We made a semi-circle of our beach chairs and watched our youngsters frolicking at the water's edge as many did handwork, knitting or crocheting. The men arrived for the weekends and fished, listened to the radio broadcasted baseball games and took the children "deep" into the ocean.
Inside myself, I am enveloped in the loving
memories of my life with my husband before his decline into Alzheimer's world. Its all good.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Aging and Alone August 8, 2015


 






Many retired couples live in Arizona in communities where the neighbors become friends and help each other.
Many families across the country live in neighborhoods where close bonds endure after the children have grown and left home.
Many folks belong to religious groups that meet regularly not only for prayer services but for socializing as well.
Some adults have lived alone all their lives and know how to care for themselves. Some never learn.

And often some of these bonds fail when a member of a couple develops Alzheimer's disease. Then, if the caregiving person is perseverant, (s)he joins a support group which replaces the other groups in whole or in part for conversation, and sometimes for socializing purposes as well. Or smaller groups within the support group form and the people become friends.

But what happens when the caregiving ends when the partner dies? The former neighbors and friends have also gotten older, their lives have moved on and the basis for friendship may no longer exist. Meetings or dinners out together become shallow images of the former close relationship.

The same may also be true of former support group members. The glue that held you together dries up when there is nothing further that binds you and the communication becomes more distant.

Sometimes it is difficult to return to group life after many years of isolation, moreso after the intense experience of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease. It takes a lot of effort to make new friends, to join new groups, to invest in new ideas, hobbies, interests, and to become active once more in defending your ideals and values.

But what happens when you are alone, if you have an emergency? If you don't feel well in the middle of the night? If you are lonely or need help? Even if it was necessary to call for help for your loved one, can you do the same, can you care the same strong way for yourself? A new challenge.