Sunday, 16 October 2016

Goodbye Thing. Hallo Margie!

Letting Go is a part of this stage of life. 
Stuff, people, abilities, and finally physical life itself.

But let's start with stuff. We have lived in the same place for 35 years without interruption, longer if you count the tipi/log house years. So much stuff! Much of it was in disrepair but still clung to because you never know, it might come in handy some day. We all have different categories we do that with. Mine is books and garden supplies like plant pots and chicken wire. The husband's was vehicles and parts for them. Sadly, his driving days are over. 

I miss our trips with the motor home, which gave us so much pleasure. We used to call it "The Thing". I had almost forgotten that. Below, Chris enjoying dinner on the aborted spring trip in 2008.
Dear Thing had been parked in place since the brief trip to the Sweet Grass Hills in September 2010, when we had limped home with brakes that wanted to seize up. 

The joy of having a unit the size of a Toyota truck is that you can easily tuck yourself into free places for the night. Above, on a small pullout along the Okanogan river near Tonasket, WA.

Thing was no spring chicken when we got her in the spring of 2004. The unit dated from 1982. Her inside was in beautiful shape and all systems worked. But still, we were no strangers to mishaps and tow trucks. Below, being towed into Ritzville 
in 2008. Earlier we had been towed into High Level, Alberta (2006) and spent 5 days waiting for a part in Dease Lake in 2007. 


After the brief trip to the Sweet Grass Hills she was parked on a level spot and served as guest cabin. Sister Margreet considered it her private summer home.
Here she is in the summer of 2008 during some soccer championship. When she received her diagnosis of inoperable lung cancer in 2011 a final stay here was high on her bucket list. She came in October of that year, and we made the most of the bittersweet time. Her favourite activity was retreating together to her quarters to play the board game "Globe Trotters" in the evening after dinner. 
Bouts of vigorous competition were alternated with visits to memory lane, hysterical laughter, and unflinching talks about her impending death. I still miss my sister a lot. I often imagine the phone calls, laced with black humor, that we could have shared about life with dementia. 


Brother Jaap and sister in heart Marielle camped in it with pleasure during their stay in the fall of 2014. But otherwise Thing just sat there, looking ever more sad and neglected. It was time to let it go. 

I did not think it was possible to drive it anymore, so I put it on the Nakusp Communicator Facebook page as potential guest quarters for $900. I figured whoever took it would have to spend some money getting it towed away. Response was instant. The couple who came for a look fell in love with the compact size and functional interior just like we had done. What's more, Bud is a fixer, and he wanted to get her going.
It took a few days of going back and forth, but miracle of miracles, he did it! Below, the coming and going man. Bud was kind enough to include Chris in the test drive.

While all this is going on Darlene told me they are in the habit of naming their vehicles, and how about naming the new toy after us? Ien is no name for a car, nor is Chris. But what about Margreet? Margie! We both liked it. I get a bit teary by the thought of commemorating my sister in this way. Margie left us under her own steam. This final picture is blurry, because she is moving!
Finally, courtesy of Facebook and Darlene Mcintyre-Adair, Margie in the glory of her new lease on life on a beach near Nakusp. It gives me such pleasure to see this.
Goodbye dear Thing, and thanks for all the pics.


Saturday, 8 October 2016

Giving thanks in challenging times.

It has been ages since I posted anything on this blog, the one for my private life minus garden. The garden has its own blog,  I am that fanatic.  I am just learning to work with an app that allows me to blog on the iPad, so I hope to get around to it more often. Winter is around the corner and I still want to finish some memory pieces, just for the fun of it. 

Today is Thanksgiving weekend in my part of the woods. It is my favourite holiday. In the past I would often have a dinner gathering featuring food from the land. If the garden yielded only one pail of potatoes, Thanksgiving is when they would be served. In the years we had chickens the whole meal might be homegrown. 

This year there is not much sense in having company over. My husband has been declining for some time and is now very frail and increasingly incapacitated. He was never quite the same after the car accident of July 2012, even though he suffered no physical damage.  I have often wondered if the accident was cause or consequence of his decline. It turns out to be the latter, most likely. Chris has been diagnosed with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, an evil cousin of Parkinson's. Parkinson's is bad enough, but there are medications. Nothing can be done for PSP. It comes with Alzheimer's type brain damage and some eye problems for good measure. On top of that he is quite deaf, so having company is more stress than pleasure. Ergo, no dinner party. 

Nevertheless there is much to be thankful for. 

I am grateful that we live in paradise. 
The natural beauty that surrounds us is a daily source of joy. I can garden. The activity keeps me sane. Right now freezer and pantry are bulging with home grown produce. It is questionable whether the garden really saves money. But as I never cease to point out, I could have chosen bingo or golf as a hobby, and gardening is cheaper than therapy.

I am grateful we own our home, ramshackle as it may be, free and clear. We may be low income but we have no debts. We do not have to worry about being forced to move because our rented home is being sold out from under us.

I am grateful that we live in peace, in a safe society with a social safety net. Who knows how much longer that will be the case? For now it is here for us. Wonderful home support workers come in on week days to do exercises with Chris, to help him maintain strength as long as possible. I can still leave for a few hours, but respite care is available at a week's notice if I need to go out for a whole day, at a month's notice if I need a few days. We are benefiting from a new program that aims to keep seniors safely at home. We have had a bar installed in the bath and will soon have a rail by the stairs, all at minimum cost.

I am grateful my husband is not given to wandering away. This can be a real worry with dementia patients. The increasing stiffness and balance problems make a small walk down the driveway a major undertaking. No fun for him but easier on me.
I am grateful his delusions are not driving him to violence.
I am grateful he is still able to shower and dress by himself. This may change soon. We will cross that bridge when we come to it. I am grateful he is not in major pain. Perversely, because nothing can be done for Chris we do not have the stress of running around on the medical mill, going out of town to doctors. I am grateful for that. 

I am grateful I have been feeling fine and feel up to the task most of the time. If and when I will have to deal with interrupted sleep all bets are off. I cannot function on too little sleep. That is another  bridge to be crossed in time, as is the possibility of scary results from the colonoscopy booked for early November.*

I am grateful my children are thriving in Metro Vancouver and are great friends. I am grateful for social media that allow me to share a sense of their daily life without being an intrusive needy pain in the neck.

I am grateful for Dear Little Sir Echo, the Toyota. I even enjoy shifting gears again, though the fifth gear is still a challenge. I am grateful for a good honest mechanic shop where I will be not be ripped off in spite of my ignorance.

I am grateful for barter partners.
The shed around the well has been surrounded by Tyvek, the electric stuff has been checked and fixed. The sign at the base of the driveway looks great again. There is a gate in the North fence of the garden. There is delicious organically grown cherry juice in the pantry. All this in return for body work, which I love doing. 

I am grateful for electricity. Heating the place to keep emaciated spouse comfortable costs a bundle but so far we have the money. Light and heat at the flick of a switch or turn of a knob is wonderful. 

I am grateful for the internet. Life is circumscribed right now but the world comes into the house, and I get to socialise without leaving home. 

I am grateful for audio books and podcasts, which provide entertainment and education while I do kitchen work.

There is probably more, but that is it for now. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canadians. No matter what is happening in our lives, we are fortunate to live in this country.

*Update December 1. The colonoscopy was done, and I am fine. Phew! Chris stopped daring to shower alone, but has no problem letting our wonderful Angelita help him. He still insists on doing his own laundry. We continue to take things a day at a time.

*Update spring 2017
Chris took a sharp turn for the worse after January. He started falling occasionally and frequently needed help going to the bathroom. In consultation with the visiting nurse we put him on the waiting list for extended care. I hardly ever get sick, but this winter I got a mean bronchitis, probably as a result of interrupted sleep. Chris ended up being hospitalised with pneumonia, and while he was there a bed opened up in the lovely small facility right here in our own village. It is attached to the hospital, which is more like a first aid post, really. We were so lucky. Some people wait months for a bed and may have to settle for one in a distant location. It is hard on Chris but has been a godsend for me.