My name is Jane and my husband of 36 years was diagnosed with Dementia/Alzheimer’s about three and half years ago. This blog is a tale of our lives after “Al” (the name I’ve given Joe’s disease) moved in. In the two years since I began this blog, it's been read in over 25 countries. It really is "AL" over the world. Thanks for coming along with us down a path of uncertainty. Joe passed on November 19, 2016.
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Joe pool walking in 2015
looked at the calendar and noted that Joe and Al and I moved to Arizona 365
days ago. As I sat outside this morning
in the sunshine and savored the sweet smell of the citrus blossoms, I thought
about our move and all that has happened in that amount of the time, just one
the first week after we arrived, we were still recovering from the stress of a
1,100 mile road trip from Bend, Oregon.
We had just packed up, cleared a house, and said goodbye to a place we called
home. We’d left family and friends for
the unknown and had become immigrants to the 48th state in the Union, famous
for its arid desert landscape and hardnosed Maricopa County Sheriff (also named
that Joe and I have moved over 10 times in our 35 year relationship, it wasn’t
an altogether unfamiliar scene. But
there was something unique about this time.
people talk about buying their “forever home”, which I had never
understood. It sounded so narrow, so final. Why would anyone want to stay in the same
place for the rest of their life?
For us, moving
had always been an adventure and involved creating something. It never was the end of anything, it was a
beginning. So why did this time feel different?
move, we were preparing. We didn’t know
exactly what would happen but we needed to be ready. With Al in the picture, we
were now a threesome in an increasingly complicated relationship and we were
definitely in for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
It was time to buckle up.
This was more
than “downsizing” (we’d already done that).
This was ”Alsizing”, meaning getting into a manageable, maintainable,
and practical state regardless of what type of mess Al might create for us.
younger years, Bend, Oregon had been our paradise. We rushed to Bend every weekend we could and
vacationed there in the summers. From the
time Joe was 42, that’s where we’d celebrated his birthday. (He turns 77 in July.) We even managed to make
Bend our home before we both retired.
As time passed,
we realized that we preferred golf balls over snowballs and began splitting our
time between the warm southland of California and Bend’s high country. (Well, not exactly an even split, the
southland was getting to be a larger slice of the pie.)
At one point
we decided splitting our residence was too complicated, so with some trepidation,
we loaded up a moving van and the mighty SUV, said adios to new friends and headed
back to the Oregon mountains determined to fare the winters.
along the way, with Al now a fully diagnosed family member, ice and snow and
cold became our enemy. There was no more
pretending that we were going to partake in winter sports and slide down a
mountain; and besides, we all three stunk at Nordic skiing and snowshoeing.
we loved summers in Bend, we had to stop our geographic schizophrenia, look
Jack Frost in the eye, and say goodbye. Like
in the movie “Frozen” it was time to “let it go”.
So, how has
it worked out?
good question with no simple answer.
It was hard getting
Joe and Al settled and comfortable in the new environment (change is not
welcomed by Al). We both miss family and
friends left in Bend. But, through it
all, we managed to find a rhythm that worked for us and it certainly has not been business as usual.
facilities in our community are first rate and we discovered that pool walking (although
it looks kind of ridiculous) is a great way to keep the body moving and well
We enjoyed refurbishing
our little mid-century modern home and managed to survive a very hot first summer
celebrated Joe’s birthday in Sedona with a spectacular thunder storm and for
the first time experienced a true monsoon (which was not highlighted in
the travel brochures).
difficult to integrate into the community with Al being the anti-social kind of
guys that he is. We’ll continue to work
on that, but it's been nice being closer to Joe's sister.
importantly, Joe is holding his own against Al. Oh, they get into it fairly regularly, but Joe
still wins a good portion of the time.
Snowwoman in 2012
going to be honest here. I do occasionally think about Bend’s winter weather
and miss the idea of making a snowman. I know that sounds childish, but I
do. I never felt more alive than just
after getting a snowball in the face or having my fingers tingle as they thaw
out from an afternoon of shoveling snow.
minute…I just remembered I hate cold.
Never mind all of that.
I’m putting on my flip flops and going
outside on the patio to read, and I may walk over to see my neighbor. I just checked our fancy thermometer and it’s
93 degrees right now. The only cold
thing I’ll enjoy today is a frosty glass of lemonade.