Alzheimer’s Lives Here, with Greta Frigault

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Thank You

It’s the end of the year already; how does this happen? I blinked and Christmas is past, presents presented, wrappings ripped, gift bag contents strewn about.  As I expected it would be, the day was just a little sad without Mom here. In the morning, the first person I greeted, hugged and wished a “Merry Christmas, Honey” also got a wee bit of moisture on their shoulder from my tears. That’s okay, it’s good to let it out and shirts will dry, right? Everyone missed Dee-ogee as well, and I’m pretty sure that mine were not the only tears shed in remembering these two precious family members.

I wanted to say ‘thank you’ to all of you for your support, and love, over the two years since I started the column. Listening to your stories of your personal journeys with loved ones living with ALZ, knowing that I’m not alone in this struggle, and in particular, knowing that something I’ve shared in the column has helped somebody-it’s really all I’ve ever wanted my writing to do; just help someone in some small way.

As always, I am so thankful for my family. I got a huge surprise this Christmas.  In answer to a request from my niece, Chelsea, the grandchildren of the family got together and collected the money to pay for me to have a weekend away at the Algonquin in St. Andrews! I had no idea they were conspiring, as everyone kept it a secret until Christmas day. A few tears were shed as I opened that gift, and they got it on video, to share with family members who couldn’t be here. I have the best family in the whole, wide world.

I am eternally grateful for the organization Home Support, Inc. I know that the last several years would have been unthinkably difficult without the angels that have been assigned to our home, and help me care for Mom and Dad. And it’s not just the angels who come to the house.  It’s all the times I’ve gone to the office because I’ve needed equipment that would make taking care of my parents easier, John has been my rescuer. Many times I’ve gone out to just talk about what’s going on here, and setting up ways that they could help, the office staff have come through for us in spades! I sincerely thank Candace for all her hard work in coordinating everything, from schedules, to knowing which home support angel would be a wonderful fit for us. Thank you so much.

The nurses of the extra-mural program have been God-sends on numerous occasions, and I am incredibly grateful for their help and advice over the years. Dr. Lalik has provided our care for many years.  Thank you to her, her husband, Wes, and to her receptionists, Jeanetta and Rebecca.

I am grateful to the Emergency Medical Techs, who have arrived several times when I needed assistance.  How wonderful to pick up the phone and know that help is just a few minutes away!

I want to also thank the gentleman who had taken care of Mom’s hearing needs, Dwight Ough. After Mom passed, I wondered if her hearing aids could be adjusted so they could continue to be used by another family member and Dwight made that happen. He and Suzanne have been wonderfully helpful and welcoming each and every time we’ve needed it, including the time I put mom’s hearing aids in the wrong ears with no clue that was the case. We spent all day struggling to talk to her and I felt just a little foolish when Dwight pointed out which was mom’s right ear and which was her left!

We as a family are so thankful for the work of the members of Dave Humphrey’s funeral home. When we had to bury Miss Emily Rose, a lot of the burden of sadness was lifted by these wonderful, caring people. So much kindness and attention to our needs! A little story or two about that experience…the evening before the funeral services, as our family got ready to leave, I glanced into the main room where Mom was resting in the casket and she just looked so alone. Silly, I know, but I asked Dave if he would make sure Mom was tucked in with a warm blanket and he didn’t even blink an eye as he assured me it would be done.  The next morning, when we arrived, she was indeed all tucked in with a warm fuzzy blanket, which I’m sure must have belonged to the Humphrey family. We were all deeply touched by this.  Mom was always cold, poor little peanut.

The thing that makes me chuckle happened as we were leaving the funeral parlor after Mom’s body was taken away for cremation. Mary Blackburn came to me and asked me if I would be the one doing the ‘aftercare’. Having been Mom’s primary caregiver for so many years gave me a different idea to Mary’s of what ‘aftercare’ means. I said, “Of course,” and headed back into the building with the full intention of helping them wash and dress Mom’s body. Even though I knew that was already done and Mom wasn’t even there, it was automatic, and almost a privilege to be asked to help take care of her once more.

Once we got that sorted out, it was funny to think that such a simple request on their part could be misconstrued by little old me. Mary, of course, wanted to know if I’d be taking care of the paperwork portion of the whole process! A few days later, I went into the office and Mary helped me take care of the necessary notifications to the proper authorities that Mom had passed; what a tremendous relief to have someone help with all that!

I am particularly grateful to Shelley McKeeman at The Courier, for suggesting that I do this column; she’s an amazing lady and wonderful friend to our family. I thank the former editor of the paper, Vern, for his faith that this would be a viable option for the newspaper and to the current editor, Krisi, for allowing me to continue in the spirit I started of “Hey, it’s your column, write whatever you want.”

Although we’ve lost our most prized and precious family members this past year, our family is so grateful for so many things.  We are indeed, blessed. I hope that I’ve not missed anyone in this little ‘thank you’ missive. Those I love know that I love them.

Thank you for listening. Welcome to 2017.

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