Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Up, Down, and All Around

 photo summerflowers2014-1.jpg
the extent of my summer gardening

What a whirlwind of a summer!

June actually started out fairly relaxed. I should have blogged then, but I was enjoying having little on the agenda. We even got math done, folks!!! I always have great ambitions of us doing regular math lessons over the summer, but it never happens. Well, this summer we actually made it about six weeks before dropping math like a hot potato.

In mid-June things started picking up when we hit ballet performance week, which was full of rehearsals, visiting with family, and two nights of performances. Busy, but, oh, so fun! Pictures are coming -- I know the aunties must be disappointed I haven't posted anything yet!

The day after the last performance, I left for Denver, by myself. My sister was traveling for work, and someone needed to be in town to be with my dad, who was having health struggles. I left the kids and dog with Marc so they could spend a couple more days with my mother-in-law, who came to town for the ballet. Jasper, our big black lab, also had some health struggles that week, and I was pretty sure I was saying goodbye to my big (old) puppy for the last time. I think I cried at least 3 hours of the 9 hour drive. (Thankfully, Jasper made quite the recovery and is back to his stinky self!)

My dad's house is half a block away from my sister's house, so each time I make one of these trips to Denver I stay at her house and take care of her two dogs.  Summer in Colorado is amazing! Every morning I would sit on her back porch, enjoying the silence, mountain air, two dogs at my feet, a hot cup of coffee in my hand, and my Bible in front of me. And each morning I'd decide that we have to move to Denver. Now, take that with a grain of salt. We've made this decision before -- even started looking for houses and Marc interviewed for some jobs -- but God made it perfectly clear 15 years ago that door was closed. And I can't imagine a move anytime in the near future -- we're too tied in with job, school, church, activities, etc. But when I'm sipping coffee, gazing at those foothills, I get that itch.

Dad was having a tough time that week. His caregiver was amazing (she's such an answer to prayer), but it was clear he wasn't going to be able to stay in the house much longer. My sister and I had been discussing this all month, but we knew it would be a hard transition. It would be so much easier if he recognized that it was time to move. And then he did. He came to me twice that week and said it was time. Again, this was a HUGE answer to specific prayer, but it was heartbreaking nonetheless. I ended up staying an extra week and we moved him out of his house to a memory care facility. He had a fall the day before the move, so he and I spent a few hours in the emergency room. That may have been the easiest part of the week. Sadly, I will have memories of that week that will rival my last visit with my mom before she died of brain cancer. It is so hard watching your parents suffer. And, yet, I feel silly and selfish even talking about how hard this was for me. Dad has been fully aware of his declining health, and I can't even imagine how hard this is for him. Or for my sister, who has had to do so much to keep him in his home as long as possible.

The good news is that Dad is in a great facility -- it was so much better than any other place we (as in mostly my sister) had looked at. The even better news is that he gets to keep his little Wheaten Terrier, Izzy, with him! Dad was so much more accepting of this transition knowing he could have his best pal with him. While the facility allows pets, Dad is the only resident who currently keeps a pet there, so Izzy has rock star status among the residents and staff.

A couple of days after he moved in, Dad was rediagnosed from Alzheimer's to frontotemporal dementia. This answered a lot of our confusion we've had the last few years, since in many ways Dad didn't really seem like he had Alzheimers and he's on the young side for Alzheimer's.

Marc was awesome during this time! He had to unexpectedly do the single dad thing for an extra week.  Anna cooked several times the first week, but they had to do a lot of scrounging the second week. Between him and the kids back home and me in Denver, we obliterated our eating-out budget for the month! Anna went away to engineering camp during that second week, so Marc had to make sure she was prepared and then drive her three hours to get there and three hours back. My brother-in-law was also awesome in that he took a day off work to go pick Anna up from camp because Marc was giving a presentation that day. And would you believe that Ryne and Grace did their math while I was gone?! What a blessing to know all was well back home!

I spent Fourth of July week catching up on everything and reconnecting with my crew. Of course, once the homeschool mom was finally back home, that's when we ditched the math lessons. Oh, well.

Then they all left me for four days -- Marc drove them to church camp in Wisconsin. We had planned months ago that Marc would take them, but I felt pretty guilty after all I had already put him through. He deserves a medal. Thankfully, they all had a wonderful time at camp.

Forty-eight hours later, Grace was off to her best friend's church camp! She came home very sleepy, but had a marvelous time.

And that brings us to this week. We have one week of normal and then things get crazy again, and then school starts! Don't even get me started on school -- I'm hoping if I just ignore school, summer will just last forever, even though I'm really more of a fall person. Can we just have fall with no school?

It's been a summer of ups and downs and a lot of driving all around, but God's hand has been so evident through it all. I hesitated sharing so much, but I feel I've honored my dad in what I've shared. He is so brave for facing what he does each day. And if I didn't share, God wouldn't get the glory He deserves. I will say it again, God has been amazing through my dad's illness. At times I have felt like Peter walking on water in the way I've had to trust in God's protection and provision, but He has gone above and beyond what I could have ever expected. I wish I could tell so much more.

Hugs to all my faithful readers!!! I've missed you as always when I'm absent from this place.

I hope your summer has been full of blessings as well!


  1. thank you so much for the update. I agree...fall without school would be very nice : )

  2. Hmm... I posted here a few days ago and it disappeared. Strange.

    I'm so glad you shared about your summer. I've missed you for one, but I also appreciated hearing your experiences. It is encouraging for me as I'm making similar decisions right now concerning aging parents.

    I LOVE the idea of fall with no school. If you can figure out a way to make it happen, please let me know. :) ((((HUGS)))))

    1. Sorry, Dawn, about the trouble commenting -- I can't imagine why it did that! Also sorry that you're having similar parent issues. ((hugs))