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My family moved to northeast Texas from California when I was ten.  That move was at least as far culturally as it was in miles.  We had a pickup truck but it didn't have a gun rack. We had a .22 rifle and I had fired it a few times at targets.  No way could I comprehend shooting at the deer I'd see on the ranch in the early mornings.  They were beautiful. Nor could I shoot at the coyotes who were clearly smart and had families. There wasn't much quite as foreign to me as the way school seemed to be open or closed depending on the dates of various hunting seasons.  Didn't go to church either, didn't hunt and that tended to set me just a little apart from my friends.  "He don't hunt?"

There was one other gun and I won't ever forget it.

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                             The milk truck hauls the sun up
                              And the paper hits the door
                              The subway shakes my floor
                              And I think about you
                              Time to face the dawning gray
                              Of another lonely day
                              Baby, it's so hard
                              Living without you
                                        Living Without You--Randy Newman

I'm not going to let Alzheimer's kill two people.  I won't, but even when you've already grieved for all the pieces of the person you love that are stolen by Alzheimer's over the years, it's still very very hard.  Winter nights in the Pacific Northwest are long so I usually get up even before that dawning gray. About a week after Pam's death I overslept and got up and was outside as the sun came up, pink and red all around.  I heard a familiar call and looked up and saw four bald eagles fly overhead and realized that there was still a part of me that could feel something other than pain.

A special welcome to anyone who is new to The Grieving Room.  We meet every Monday evening.  Whether your loss is recent or many years ago, whether you have lost a person or a pet, or even if the person you are "mourning" is still alive ("pre-grief" can be a very lonely and confusing time) you can come to this diary and process your grieving in whatever way works for you.  Share whatever you need to share.  We can't solve each other's problems, but we can be a sounding board and a place of connection.

A Link to All Previous Grieving Room Diaries

I cannot put my feelings into words right now.  It has been just over a month.  I know that grief is a feeling like no other, a powerful force that I have no control over.  I miss her so and maybe some of what made her who she was and how much I cared about her .  .  .well, I will try to write about that.

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I still remember sparks flying off my fingertips when I shook her hand, meeting her for the first time for a job interview.  She could take my mind to places it had never been and never will again.  She was my lover, my partner, my best friend, and I wanted more than anything just to be able to grow old with her.  For the last twelve years or so, though, she has been following that slow slide towards death from Alzheimer's.  She is still here, but I miss her so much.  After almost half of our marriage spent dealing with early onset Alzheimer's, I carry a deep sadness inside that probably will always be there.

A special welcome to anyone who is new to The Grieving Room.  We meet every Monday evening.  Whether your loss is recent or many years ago, whether you have lost a person or a pet, or even if the person you are "mourning" is still alive ("pre-grief" can be a very lonely and confusing time) you can come to this diary and process your grieving in whatever way works for you.  Share whatever you need to share.  We can't solve each other's problems, but we can be a sounding board and a place of connection.
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Fri Apr 01, 2011 at 01:00 PM PDT

When It's Over, Who Will Be Left?

by pbearsailor

The end of the long Alzheimer's journey is in sight for us, months probably.  I can't believe that hospice has already been coming for six months.  She still laughs and smiles (I am so lucky) but swallowing is now a big issue.  I know what's coming and I'm OK with it, not an easy place for me to get to.  At this point, I just want her to be comfortable and to feel safe and secure.  I hope she can die where she was happiest, on our little sailboat.

My hospice buddies all worry about the "what about after" for me.  Money is running low after all this time and I'm not yet old enough for Social Security other than survivor's benefits.  I tell them that the plate is just too full now and besides, I don't know when.  I'm used to not being able to plan anything and this is just one more.

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My wife is nearing the end of a long journey through the hell of Alzheimers disease.  I've been her full time caregiver throughout, all of the time, particularly for the last 8 or 9 years.  She's slowly losing weight and will continue to do so, but is also happy, comfortable, and unafraid.  At this point I just want her to be able to pass away in her own space, on our little sailboat that has been our home for the last 23 years.

She was a registered nurse and worked with me in long term care for a time, so both of us knew Alzheimers and what it would do, where it would go.  There haven't been many surprises since it I became aware of it's presence 12 years ago.  I'm busy all day long with her, but a lot of that is just watching and making sure she doesn't try to get up and then fall.  Direct care of course as well, but there is quite a bit of time for thought for me.  I do think about my own feelings and deal with my emotions.  There are good times and bad times, but mostly I'm ok with where I am at this time in my life.  I hate what has happened, but I'm also thankful that I can be here for this time in her life and for the end of her life.

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