I have been negligent as an author for some time. I have many excuses. One is being a caregiver for my wife of 58 years. I have learned to appreciate that keeping a house fit to live in, washing clothes, preparing meals, shopping, etc. and so on is time consuming and a lot of work. Added to this is the increasing level of care that an Alzheimer’s patient requires as the symptoms progress.
Alzheimer’s symptoms are categorized as occurring in three stages. These are early, middle and final stages. My wife is now in the middle stage according to her doctors.
It is important that caregivers take care of themselves as well as those who they are caring for. I was reminded of this when I suffered a mild stroke about a year and a half ago. At the time it occurred I didn’t know if it was mild or what affect it would have on my abilities but one of my first thoughts had been; I’m a caregiver, this can’t happen. Fortunately it had been mild and hasn’t affected my ability to provide care to my wife, but it did make me realize that I needed to spend time to take care of myself, exercise regularly and to maintain healthy eating habits.
Wife Joan, myself and Two Lovely Granddaughters
In addition to having less time for writing, other activities have also been curtailed. This includes cross country and downhill skiing in winter and long hours and many miles of biking in the summer. I did not put on skies last winter, and only bike to the store occasionally this summer. Of course, being now in my late 80’s might also have something to do with it, but in addition to time required for care giving, leaving my wife alone for extended periods is not possible.
One thing that I still do while being a caretaker is gardening. This may seem unlikely since we have lived in a thirty five unit condominium for the last eleven years. When we first moved here there were no gardens, just lawn and trees. Soon after moving into the condominium I suggested the association do something to make condominium property more attractive. There was a lot of skepticism about spending money on frivolous things like flower gardens. Adding some planters wouldn’t cost much and money was made available to procure, plant and maintain some planters. A landscape committee was formed to take care of the planters. The association members liked the way the planters brightened up the front of the building and the association board decided to have the landscape committee plan some other landscape improvements. A plan was generated and implemented and the association members liked what had been done. Some of the people in back of the building wanted a garden. Other people wanted the periphery of the building landscaped.
Each improvement led to a desire for other improvements. Eventually the landscape committee was given a budget and a free hand to do what they wanted to do within that budget. It was a classic example of letting the camel put his nose in the tent and eventually the whole camel is in the tent.
The committee members continued to plan and maintain the planters and participate in planning the gardens while I became the default gardener that developed the gardens, sometimes with the help of contractors, sometimes not. This year for the first time since starting the gardens, we have not added any new gardens and don’t have plans to add more. I now maintain the gardens we have and keep modifying them as the mood moves me. I have included pictures of some of the gardens that have been developed.
The rock pile, a dry creek
A part of a large back of the building garden
A front of the building Garden
Part of rock edging that extends along two sides of the building