Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Pink Flamingos and Lewy Body Dementia

Creator of pink plastic lawn flamingo dies at 79
BOSTON (AP) — The creator of the pink plastic lawn flamingo, the ultimate symbol of American lawn kitsch, has died. Donald Featherstone was 79.
Featherstone’s wife, Nancy, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that her husband died Monday at an elder care facility in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, after a long battle with Lewy body dementia.

June 23, 2015. That was story that showed up in my Facebook newsfeed. I clicked to read it because pink flamingos are very symbolic to me. They mean "I made it safely."

So why would pink flamingo's mean that? I promised a while ago I would tell you and after seeing the creator of the pink flamingo passed away from the same disease that took Mikey I figured it would be a good time.

Before I do I think that the pink flamingo should officially become the symbol to raise awareness for Lewy Body Dementia. 

When Mikey was deployed in 2011 he went on missions between COB Adder and Camp Garry Owen. It took me a while to catch on to the quiet days when I wouldn't hear from him. He couldn't actually tell me when he was going or to where or his arrival information.

Early in the deployment he had sent a couple pictures. One was a poster of Wonder Woman that was on the wall of his chu (where he lived) at COB Adder. The other was a picture of a plastic pink flamingo outside of a building at Garry Owen.

I don't know much about what went on in Iraq. I do know that "being outside the wire" was more dangerous. Going from point A to point B was outside the wire. There was no communication and I could do some very serious worrying during those times. Our hours were also opposite so it would be even longer before I might hear from him.

When he arrived at Garry Owen he would send me a picture of the pink flamingo. That way when I woke up I would know without any information being given away.

When he would return to COB Adder he would send me a picture of Wonder Woman letting me know he had safely returned and was being watched over.

Wonder Woman and pink flamingo's have since kept special meaning to us. When we moved from Texas to Minnesota in January they also played a role. His mother had sent my mother two pink flamingos to put in the yard. This was quite a challenge to do in Minnesota in January! My brother made a pile of snow and there the flamingos sat waiting for his safe arrival. I wish I could have seen and heard him when mom pulled into the driveway and he saw him. She said he was so excited. I can only imagine.

I had taken the Wonder Woman magnet off our fridge in Texas and stuck it in my purse. When I arrived two days later she was placed on the fridge. We had both made it safely.

Before Mikey passed he told me that when he did to post the flamingo picture as his cover photo to let people know he had made it safely. I did. It is still his cover photo. This was posted on his wall. "Mikey's mission has been completed with valor. He has safely reached his final destination."

I still have the flamingos in the yard. I always will. Never thought I would be one of those people with pink plastic flamingos but I am and I'm proud of it!

Taken in early spring. They are now drowning in hostas and need to be slightly relocated. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Go Rest High

This is not the best recording but I'm so thankful to have it. It's not actually a video of anything, I just needed a way to get the song to here so put his picture up and then the music.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Don't be this guy.

I would give anything to have my husband back. He was THE one. A once in a lifetime love. It took me a few tries and then giving up completely before we found each other. I had to find myself and learn I didn't need someone in my life. To find my own personal strength. In the years before I met him I found that not having a man in my life did not make me less of a person. When God felt the time was right for both of us we met.

It will be 3 weeks this Sunday since he passed. Not even a full month. He still fills every moment of my thoughts. I still feel that I will wake up and he will be here. That none of this is real.

I still consider myself happily married. I wear my ring and his on my left hand. To clue anyone unknowing into what a ring on the the left ring finger means: MARRIED-NOT SINGLE. Also known as BACK OFF! I also plan on staying married until MY death and I meet my husband again.

What I do not want to hear is that someday I will change my mind. Or I shouldn't feel that way because I have so much to offer. Or I should be single and enjoy it.

Do not assume that I am weak and NEED a man in my life. Do not think I am easy prey because I just lost my husband. This disgusts me. It makes my grief deeper. It makes me angry. I did not need a man in my life when I got married. I simply loved him and WANTED him in my life.

Surely you big, tough, strong men know the difference between need and want? Need is a necessity. Want is something we can live without.

A man in my life is not necessary and I do not want one.

Am I making myself clear yet?

Why am I ranting? Because since my husband's passing on February 8 (today is February 26) FIVE men have felt it was okay to ask me about my status of being single (which I am not) or ask me out to lunch, dinner, coffee, etc. This is not okay.

The answer is a resounding NO NO NO!!!!

Beyond that, it was completely and totally inappropriate. How dare you?  Each and every one of them has now alienated a long standing friendship with me. And how dare you disrespect Mikey that way? Anyone that knows me knows that is the WRONG way to get on my good side. Have you not noticed how I will stand alone against an Army and fight. Literally.

You have no chance with me. I am not a conquest. Go away and hang your head in shame. Why would you even want to try to live up to what I had with Mikey? No one stands a chance to do that.

I have so many thoughts about these widow predators racing through my mind I can't even get them all out without sounding even more scattered.

Here is some advice though. If a woman that just lost the love of her life is in mourning (and no one knows how long that will last) do not hit on her in any way shape or form. Blatantly or by innuendo. Either way is wrong.
10 years later. 
This might be different for some women. But not me. Don't even begin to think it's okay. Notice the pictures over the years? Our love never lessened. In fact it grew with each day that passed.

Even in planning Mikey's passing and my future a man never entered the picture. I do have plans. I have a mission. No where in my plan includes another man to take care of. That plan also includes having his ashes turned into a diamond that will be worn on my left ring finger. He will always be near me. Always.

To the real gentlemen out there. Thank you for your kindness. For lending a hand when needed. For respecting both Mikey and myself. For not thinking I am weak because I need my dishwasher fixed. Thank you for getting doors, and carrying bags. Thank you for knowing a ring on my left ring finger means I am married.
Update: I am positive I did not misunderstand the intentions of any of those men. I have a great deal of male friends that have not crossed the line and I truly appreciate our friendships. I do know the difference from years of experience.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Who Am I?

Once upon a time I used to be a wife, a mother, a cook, a baker, a gardener and so much more.

Then dementia hit. 

Then I became a caregiver. 

Everything else stopped. Dementia took over every part of our lives. His life. My life. 

Anything that was done now had to be weighed against how it would affect dementia. 

I didn't mind though. The hours were long. The stress was high. I fought hard for his rights as a person that dementia had a grip on. When I thought I couldn't go on I somehow found the strength and determination to go just one more day. Then another, and another. 

Meals became simplified or non-existent depending on what dementia wanted that day or that moment. 

There was no more escaping to my woman cave to work on projects. Dementia made sure that as soon as I did get involved in something that it threw a wrench in. I finally just gave up. 

Being in the kitchen became a chore. Meals prepared that went uneaten because it's not what dementia wanted that day. 

Tasks like cleaning the house revolved around what dementia wanted that day. Dementia didn't like noises, lights or smells. 

Dementia doesn't reason so it refuses to argue. What dementia says goes. That meant smelly, messy ferrets or midnight runs to find seafood. Dementia doesn't make smart decisions. It was up to me to ensure safety when the decisions dementia made were bad. 

Dementia is afraid of showers. Dementia thinks it just had a bath. Dementia got mean. Very mean. Dementia just ate. Dementia hasn't eaten in days!

Dementia took over my sweet and gentle husband. I would get mad at dementia. Frustrated. I would yell at dementia. Then I would cry because dementia was living in my husband's body and he never deserved me yelling at him.

Dementia liked repetition. The same movie over and over and over and over.

Dementia doesn't have a sleep schedule.

Dementia wants what it wants NOW.

Dementia stole my husband and with it stole who I was.

Now dementia has left. It took my husband with it. There is an enormous empty deafening silence where it was. Dementia took my husband long before it left. Sometimes dementia would let him visit. Precious stolen moments. The emptiness now...it's too much.

I don't have a reason to jump. I can't find my desire because my desire was him. Dementia stole my identity too.

I won't allow dementia to keep my identity. I will find it again. Someday. One little piece at a time. Dementia has a strong grip. I try each day to find a piece. It hasn't happened yet. I have faith that someday, maybe even months from now that it will loosen it's grip on me.

Until then, be patient and kind. Don't tell me to suck it up. Telling me things like that might cause me to rip something off your face that you find valuable. Yeah, dementia has left some anger in it's wake.

For now just understand that I have forgotten how to live because dementia stole my life too. Know that each day I ask myself "Who am I?" Know that my grief is deep. Know that I am inside here fighting my way out.

Know I have a mission to complete. Promises made that won't go unresolved.

Know that just because I need space it doesn't mean I want you to stay away forever. I still need help because I'm not doing the best job with me right now.

Swidget 1.0