Back in June while visiting my parents in Arkansas I took photos of my Grandparents home. I thought I would share a few of those today and give you an update on my Mom and Dad and dealing with Alzheimer’s.
My Grandparents Home
My grandparents have been gone for a while now and I sure miss them. My parents home where I grew up is only about a mile from my grandparents house. When I was young it wasn’t anything for me to walk to my grandparents house.
At that time the road we lived on was dirt. Things are much different now. The road is paved and heavily traveled and it’s not safe for kids to walk or ride bicycles unsupervised. Oh, for the old days.
It’s tradition in the Owen family for the youngest child to inherit the home place….not the oldest son. I’m not sure why or how that tradition started. My aunt inherited the home and one of her grandson’s lives in the house now. When I was growing up there were no bars on the windows and there was a swing on the front porch.
One of the out buildings was a smokehouse and the other was a washhouse.
Once upon a time a farmhand lived in this house.
My grandfather did a little bit of everything but I think he loved farming best. He was the preacher at our little country church. He wasn’t an ordained minister and most of our congregation were family members.
Grandpa, that’s what I usually called him, had a great sense of humor and a dry wit. He was a gentle man, very laid back, and never spoke ill of anyone. I got a kick out of the fact that he watched soap operas. Everyday when he took a break for lunch, he and grandma watched As The World Turns before they went back to work.
My grandmother milked the cows and fed the chickens along with cooking 3 meals a day. She cooked extra food because there were always people dropping by to visit. She loved feeding people. If you were there at meal time you were going to eat. She was an excellent cook. I guess she had a lot of practice in her 90+ years.
My grandparents had 5 children, 19 grandchildren, and I’ve lost count of how many great and great-great grandchildren. We all gathered on holidays and birthdays usually having a pot luck lunch. At Thanksgiving and Christmas my grandmother made chicken and dressing and homemade yeast rolls. No one makes chicken and dressing like my grandmother.
Grandma also made beautiful quilts. I have several she gave me over the years. The first one she gave me when I graduated from high school and the last, a state flower quilt, I inherited when she passed away.
I guess it’s normal to regret not spending more time with our loved ones. I wish I had talked to my grandparents about their younger years. I heard various stories over the years but I never had any lengthy conversations with either of them about how things were when they were young.
The JTS and I have been to visit my parents several times since my last update in July. We pass by my grandparents home several times while we’re visiting. The memories are all good.
My cousins and I used to play in the corn cribs of the old barn and jump from the hayloft. We got into a lot of trouble in that old barn. I don’t think my grandfather ever said anything to us about our goings on but our parents sure did.
The area to the left of the house is where the picnic tables were always set up for our get-togethers. The yard was filled with lawn chairs and children ran around everywhere.
My Mom’s Alzheimer’s is slowly getting worse. She is forgetting more things, routine things. She doesn't have the aggressiveness that some Alzheimer’s patients have. She spends her days in the recliner, watching TV, and napping. Each time I walk in the door she looks at me like she’s trying to place me. I can see her mind working. It’s not just me, she doesn’t know who anyone is.
I think I mentioned that Dad was lucky enough to find a woman to come in and help 4 half days a week. She is great with Mom and also does some cooking and house cleaning. Hospice comes in 2 half days a week.
When I was visiting in September I cleaned out my Mom’s closet and bathroom vanity. My sister and I had gone through her closet a couple of times before just sorting and giving away some things. My Mom loved to shop and always bought home bargains from the 75% off sales at Dillard's.
I hear people talking about how hard it is to go through loved ones personal things when they are gone. I’ve never had to do that. I’m sure it is hard. I can tell you thought that’s it’s difficult going through their things when they’re still here. But some things have to be done. The empty spots in the closet and vanity made way for things needed for Alzheimer’s care.
I hope to make it to Arkansas to spend a few days every month. If you don’t want to read the Alzheimer’s and Arkansas stories I understand. Reading the comments in past posts tells me that several of you are in a similar situation. I keep you and your families in my thoughts.
update: See The Grandparents House Makeover
If you would like to read the Alzheimer’s and Arkansas series there are 6 articles over the last couple of years. You can start here….Stepping Out Of My Comfort Zone | Getting Personal (Nov. 2014)
If you have been keeping up with the series the latest update on my Mom is here.....The Busy Blanket I Made For My Mom.
That’s it for me today. See you next week.
Author: Kathy Owen (Petticoat Junktion)
Kathy is the founder of PetticoatJunktion.com, a home décor blog focused on repurposing and upcycling furniture, old hardware, rusty stuff, and thrifty finds into unique home décor. Kathy’s projects have been featured on the Home Depot Blog, Plaid Crafts, Behr Designer Series, and in numerous magazines. Read more about Kathy here.
My mother just turned 80. She was diagnosed last year with dementia. Recently, she decided to go into a retirement community. This place has everything from independent living to dependent living and everything in between. My mom lives in a one-bedroom apartment, and she decided that she didn't want a kitchen because she was going to let someone else do the cooking! Besides, her ability to cook and keep the steps and measurements in her mind is what she can't do. It is a lovely facility, and is like a small community on its own. They provide meals in a dining room setting, entertainment like movie night, plays, and concerts in an auditorium, and have lovely grounds for walks. My two brothers are making sure she is loved and cared for, because they are the ones who live where she does. My daughter and her brood live close to her also. My sister and I live very far away but wished we lived closer so we could see her more often. Mom is very happy and is extremely social. She's always loved being with people. Her bridge game isn't what it used to be, and she realizes that, but she still plays. I miss being with her and we talk often on the phone, and she brings me up to date on the family. We'll probably visit during my wife's spring break from teaching. It's a long drive, so we break it up into two days. Used to be I'd drive right through, but we're being a little more realistic now, and we have more money for a motel! My mom has lived a wonderful and full life (once she married my step-father). She's a great-great grandma. That made me a great grandma at 59, which was a year ago. For now, we're all hanging in there. We can imagine what the future will bring, but we aren't to the point where we have to be especially patient! lol Take care.
It's great that your mom is in such a wonderful facility. Sounds like she is very happy there. I know it's hard being so far away. Hope you get to visit her soon. Thanks for the lovely story.
I know the heartache of watching a loved one go through changes. My husband had frontal lobe dementia and was diagnosed at 50 yrs of age. It was very difficult to hear this and changed our lives. He lived to 56 yrs old and the changes over the last 6 years of his life were so difficult. I hated seeing my once wonderfully loving, kind, generous, funny, witty and intelligent man deteriorate.
Oh, Rose, that was so young. Heartbreaking. So sorry.
I'm only 66 and have lost both my parents - my dad died at 52 yrs of age from cancer and my mom died 9 yrs ago (next week) from pneumonoa - she was almost 88 yrs old. I have just been gathering information for my families' genealogies. Like you, I sure wish I'd asked my grandparents more questions about their youth, their schools, there first jobs, and how they met one another. I know my Mom's and Dad's stories, but not my grandparents. We have traced my dad's family back to the 1600s! I'm heading to NC (I live in VA) in a couple weeks to meet a distant cousin whose grandfather was a brother to my great-great grandfather. Never stop learning!
Wow Barb, I think it's great that you are searching and finding that type of information. I hope to never stop learning. Thanks for the comment.
We just lost my aunt to Alzheimer's. It was a 7 year journey. I was able to learn some things about her early young adult years. If I told her who I was she knew. We taught her to tell everyone she was 24. My cousins were able to bring her home & have help with her care. I'm lucky both if my parents are still active & know what is what. I still have memories with her from 40 years ago. Those memories are written down. I pray this will never visit any other members of our family. We do have memories if the "kids" & spouses sitting at the big table at Christmas & reunion time. The "grands" me & the cousins aka The Clan sit where ever just like when we were 6. These are memories for us to share & keep in our hearts.
Thank you for sharing your story Sharon.
Marie from The Interior Frugalista
Kathy, as the eldest daughter watching my Mother, who raised seven children, slowly slip away and now in the final stages of Alzheimers - I understand - I am sending hugs - and you are in my thoughts. Just last week my sister and I, the day before moving Mom into a long-term care facility, went through Mom's closet for the third move since her diagnosis. This time knowing it would probably be our last, while she was alive and it was very emotionally exhausting. My Mom sat on the bed beside us seemingly unaware of what was happening as she played with the buttons and zippers in the giveaway pile. For Christmas, I am making her a Busy Blanket and sewing some of the pockets, buttons, zippers and such from some of her old clothing onto the blanket to keep her busy as she sits in her wheelchair.
I've never heard of a busy blanket Marie. Sounds like something you would do for your Mom. Very sweet. Since you mentioned it I'm wondering about something similar for my Mom. I noticed the last time I visited that she was fidgeting with her throw blanket. She is always cold and has her blanket when she is sitting in the recliner. Sending hugs back to you.
What a fantastic idea! I'm going to do that for our Foster Care client with Alzheimers. It would distract her from pulling at her clothes!
My mom has been bedridden for four years and her Dementia is worse. She is 95. She doesn't recognize me now.
I had to put both my parents in a nursing home and sell their house. Thankfully they had sized down over the years so it wasn't as hard as it could have been. My Dad was a minister. It was hard getting rid of his sermons and notes. My brother kept some and I have a few. My Dad passed away last May. I felt that was a blessing. I pray for the Lord to take my mom too.
Thanks for sharing your story.
Oh Nancy. I'm so sorry. Thank you for sharing your story.
My mom battled Alzheimer's for about five years. Unfortunately, she was sometimes combative and didn't recognize me. I took care of her alone, and it was really hard and took a toll on my health, too. Take advantage of any help offered. One thing that might help your mom is to take pictures of her with family members. Something about seeing herself in the pictures with the person she has trouble remembering seems to jog the memory. My parents were married for 64 years, and my dad predeceased my mom by five years. I'm glad I was able to take care of my mom (I took an early retirement from teaching), but doing it alone made me sometimes impatient with her. Take care of yourself, you will get through this. God bless.
You really had a job Sherrie but I know in the end you're glad you were there for your Mom.I can understand losing patience. Don't beat yourself up for that. That's a great idea about the photos. I'll give that a try.
I love reading your posts and the insight into Alzheimer's. We lost my Father to this memory robber two years ago, and it was so sad to witness his fear in his eyes. He knew something was wrong, but he didn't know what. My heart goes out to you and your family.
The fear, exactly Ann.
My mom had dementia but always knew me. She was the best mom and I still miss her after 9 years. My brother, who is 7 years older than me has Alzheimer's. Early on when we met he would say "You're fat", lol. He remembered me being really thin. However , after taking a supplement my sister-in-law found, he knew me and could talk but not remember what he said. I was never fat again. lol When I forget something, I think, on my, am I getting Alzheimer's ? Life is a gift, "Find the Wonderful in Every Day".
Keep writing, love your stories about your family; makes us feel like we are not alone.
I totally understand the leaving the house to the youngest child. I had a surprise baby at 47. He's 12 now. My oldest died at 28, would be 40. My other 2 birth kids are 35 and 37.
We also adopted 17 children now ages 9-40 yrs. Two of the adopted are our bio Granddaughters ages 13 and 14. (not from the daughter who died)
We are leaving everything to the Granddaughters and our youngest son. The older grown children have all picked and taken the good stuff already. So it just makes sense. :o)
For 30 years we have done Adult Foster Care for adults with disabilities. Two of our long term clients have developed Alzheimers. One died from early onset at 44, the other still alive turns 60. It has to be just as frustrating for them as it is for us. I see it in their eyes.
God Bless your Mom and Dad and all of you/family going through this with them. (((HUG)))
Kathy, I agree with Mimi...you could write a book and I guarantee I would read it. Being from Southeast Missouri, I feel like our lives are very similar...country living. Keep the stories coming, I really enjoy them along with all your treasures, and I'm sure they are a catharsis for your soul! Plus, I so enjoy all the other comments that come in. Many times, I get encouragement from them. My husband of 38 years recently traded me in for a 20 year old and life is hard right now. I had to move across the US and start all over at 62! Who says you can't go home? Lol. I thank God I had a home and brothers and sisters to come home to! Not thru the first year yet, sometimes I wonder if I'll make it. I start each morning with your email and I usually get a much need laugh! Thank you!
I believe a man like that will get what he deserves. I have a similar story. Just think what a soul-less woman she must be. I'm sure she will make his life miserable and could you wish for any different? I know my ex made his second wife miserable and she couldn't change him. So what goes around comes around --- Karma etc. However you think of it, be glad you have family to lean on. I had no one ant two children. When my ex left (with a police escort) he never came back. He lived in the same town but never a phone call, birthday card, or Christmas present for these kids. They were broken-hearted and I had to watch it as they grew up. Be glad you are rid of him and you are the only one hurt. I'm 69 and never remarried. You go girl!! I quilt and make different sizes for charities. You find some way to volunteer and you'll soon find satisfaction that you ARE a worthwhile, wonderful person.
Thank you, Pam. I am so thankful that the kids are grown and have established relationships of their own. Even at their ages (30's) they are shocked and hurt. I know I need to get busy and back into my hobbies. Right now, I feel like I'm in a time warp! I just need some time, it's still very new. Thanks for the encouragement, tho. I've quilted in the past. It's a great way to keep the mind busy! And the outcome is a lasting treasure!
Kathy...keep writing, I'll keep reading!! I am 68 and my parents both died fairly young. I have already outlived my mother by 11 years! I marvel that I have been without parents for 39 and 37 years! My mother always said she had a little money "hidden away" and after the funeral, my brother and I were going through her things and every time we found something odd (like old plastic Easter eggs) we were just sure we had found her stash...to no avail. Either she was fibbing or it went with something no one thought to look in but can I tell you we laughed hysterically every time we thought we had found it! My father came to live with my husband and I for a while after my mom died. If I got up in the middle of the night, I would hear him talking to her...it was very sad how much he loved and missed her. Like others, I know just bits and pieces about their really young lives. I was fortunate enough to inherit both sides of pictures which has developed into a hearty genealogy hobby but there are so many things I don't know. Sadly I had just 5 first cousins and one of them died years and years ago. The rest of us are scattered and are not really in touch. Two are 12 and 19 years older than me...we are all females and one male who is a couple of years younger than me. Not sure who will get my genealogy files since I had no children of my own and my stepchildren are both adopted and while we have a loving relationship, they won't be interested in keeping the flame alive! Maybe I'll donate it to the library!!
Thank you for sharing your story Pam. It must have been very hard to loose your parents at such a young age. I've been lucky to have my parents and one set of grandparents for so long. My mom is 80 and my dad is 86. My dad's parents, the one this story is about both lived into their 90's. My mom's dad died at 52 and her mom had a stroke in her 60's and was in a nursing home. I think donating the genealogy files to the library is a great idea.
Morning Kathy...I think I'd read your shopping lists:) you're a great writer. Your stories about family are some of my favorite, but I'm sorry they're sad. I've lost both parents in the past three years. I also wished I'd have asked them more about when they were young. But I was lucky to live around the corner from them. We spent lots of time together.
Your grandparents house is awesome! Love it.
Sending love and comfort back to you. Mimi
Thank you for sharing. My mom has a dementia and is a hoarder; last October she and my dad went to live in their house in Wyoming (Dad is healthy), so in January my sisters, aunt, and I cleaned out their Los Angeles home...and then sold it in May. We still haven't told her.