Friday, March 24, 2017

Tommy Hilfiger designer coveralls

Oh the things you find at thrift stores... 
Many years ago I found a brand new pair of coveralls at my favorite little thrift store for $7.00. Umm... we're talking Tommy Hilfiger designer coveralls to be specific. Don't bother googling these... they don't exist. Maybe they only made one pair. 
Anyways, I knew my husband would go wild. Ok, he doesn't ever go wild, but he would be thrilled. When we met in 1978, coveralls were a common attire most weekends, as he was always working on his beloved '69 Dodge Charger. But he wore his Dad's. So after we married he went many years without coveralls. 

Well, we sure got our monies worth. And come on, is he handsome or what. When I took these photos in April, 2011, he could only find my pink headband that morning to absorb the sweat. ha!
And ironically, it would be one of the last times he ever worked on our vehicles, if not the last time. His frontotemporal dementia was undiagnosed till April, 2014, but he started changing around this time.

So, in preparation for our house painting, I spent Christmas Day going through 23 years of junk in our side yard, for the next days power washing. 
These were hanging with the yard tools. 
Bitter sweet... lots of tears... remembering.

But so thankful I found them... you see, I've been collecting jeans for over 40 years... to make quilts. I have jeans that my kids wore, Randy wore, my Dad wore, I wore. Thrilled I could salvage the best parts of this well-worn treasure. 
And so fun showing Randy and reminding him of his love of working on cars. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

slowly but surely

  • my husband's frontotemporal dementia is progressing slowly but surely.
  • his short-term memory loss is much more evident.
  • thankful he is still peaceful, happy and content.
  • he has still never been sad, angry, irritated or argumentative.
  • we keep to a very simple, predictable routine.
  • Randy's heart is so full of truth and love, that no matter what is happening to his brain, Christ in Randy is still very much real and present.
  • my husband had to start attending a more secure day care in Phoenix.
  • he kept trying to leave when he saw others being picked up.
  • which means he now has to use dial-a-ride to and from each day.
  • otherwise my commute would mean leaving Gilbert after work, picking him up in Phoenix, then back to Tempe... a crazy 2 hours drive.
  • needless to say, I am sad for the loss of our treasured time each day in the van after work.
  • and frustrated that his target pick up time is rarely ever on time.
  • not happy with dial-a-ride.
  • but thankful the transition to the new day care was seamless.
  • very happy with the new day care and the dedicated staff.
  • thankful my neighbor gets Randy in the cab after I leave for work each morning.
  • really, really like my job, my co-workers and altering mens suits.
  • survived 9 hour days, 5 days a week, January and February.
  • a result of Dillard's huge clearance sale on men's suits.
  • nice to be back to 4 - 8 hour days.
  • a dear, precious friend painted our house the week after Christmas. Overwhelmed by such a generous gift. 
  • God continues to bless above and beyond. Continually in awe of His goodness.
  • five dear men came and cared for my husband while I was in WI for my Mom's funeral.
  • forever and ever grateful for their servants heart.
  • just when I thought the aching in my heart for a road trip would never go away, my friend Nancy arrives from Virginia and we hit the open road. My heart was renewed, restored, revived.
  • Randy & I were on a walk yesterday and his crown fell out. Trying not to worry about what that means. He will have to be put under for any work to be done. Ugh.
  • have I mentioned lately that I hate this disease?
  • I will leave you with a photo from Thanksgiving 2016 ~ Pop pop, Mimi & grandson Will.
  • and my new favorite verse ~ Psalm 28:7
The LORD is my strength and my shield; 
my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

My Mom ~ Leona Larson

  • She was born Leona Ida to Henry & Ida Steinke on April 14, 1930
  • She passed from this earth Feb. 26th, 2017
  • She had 3 sisters Helen, Dorothy and Marion
  • and two brothers Elmer and Ervin
  • She loved school and was valedictorian in her class of '49
  • A city girl meets farm boy at the roller skating rink in Hatfield, WI
  • and they marry on April 29th, 1950
  • She's the Mother of six kids ~ Kathy, Ginny, Gary, Linda, Ronnie and Kevin
  • She named me after her ~ Linda Leona
  • and blessed with 15 grandkids and 19 great-grandkids
  • She had strong Christian values
  • and always took us to church and Sunday school
  • She knew the value of life-long friends
  • She was a supportive, hardworking farmer's wife
  • And punctual. She was never late
  • She was recycling when recycling wasn't even cool yet
  • Picking up cans and bottles on her daily walks
  • She made desserts for every meal.
  • She had the best laugh
  • She modeled "Love Thy Neighbor" by weekly visits with Mrs. Leer, Mrs. Vesta and Mrs. Moe
  • She saw the importance of visiting relatives every Sunday
  • She loved picking berries of all kinds
  • She was a homemaker, in the truest sense of the word.
  • She kept a beautiful home and held to a rigid weekly schedule
  • She taught us girls that hours of ironing while watching soap operas is much more enjoyable
  • She was an amazing cook and loved baking
  • She was always home when we got off the bus, with fresh baked bread, homemade donuts, a pan of bars, cookies or pies cooling on the counter
  • She loved dancing with her kids to Ernie Reck on the television 
  • She never missed a Billy Graham Crusade on the television
  • She faithfully attended all our school activities and sporting events
  • She was dependable, thoughtful and full of energy
  • She loved card parties, snowmobile parties 
  • and spending time with their Alma Center friends
  • She loved to travel and visit her children
  • She had a beautiful voice and loved to sing
  • She took great pleasure in planting huge gardens
  • and saw the value of 4-H through her kids

Mom had a good life and she was ready to go to heaven and be with Jesus... and to be reunited with her husband John, her son Ronnie and grandson Noel.
Mom will be forever remembered, loved and celebrated as her legacy lives on through her kids, grandkids and great-grandkids.
We love and miss you Mom!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Giving thanks

Random thankful thoughts ~
  • sewing/ alterations ~ my miracle job
  • finally cooler weather 
  • my $200 ankle boots for $5.00!
  • gotta love Dillard's employee discount day
  • finally found a cassette player that works
  • vintage, retro awesomeness for only $5.00

  • I am now listening to 100+ cassettes
  • loved the one of my daughter as a baby making the sweetest sounds
  • with her Daddy singing Jesus Loves Me to her
  • listened to that one yesterday, on her 32nd birthday
  • I was a mess
  • she is the best Mommy to my dear, precious grandson Will
  • he's so stinkin' adorable!
Will James Randy
  • my husband's miraculous return after taking the van to QT for a Coke
  • he had not driven in 3 years... he had found my hidden keys 
  • I hate frontotemporal dementia 
  • but he's just the sweetest and always happy
  • spent an entire day blowing, mowing, sweeping, trimming and racking our backyard
  • just the best feeling!
  • God's provision... always meeting our every need
  • weekend women that call or come over to hear my heart, to process and pray with me
  • my new church and my Sat. morning teaching/ equipping class
  • forever and ever grateful
  • my son just text me a photo of his kids! My grandkids... my heart.
Emolyn ~ Elsie ~ Jonah ~ Nathan
  • my neighbor who gets my husband in a cab each morning
  • so I can work 8 hour days
  • my dependency on God rather than others
  • but letting God love me through others
  • trusting God and others
  • so hard but so important on this faith journey
  • my husband asking if he can give me a foot rub
  • just the sweetest blessing ever... of course I cried.
  • I have not taken that toe ring off in 16 years 
  • pumpkin bagels & apple butter (w/ cream cheese) from Big Lots
  • love Big Lots and the 99 Cent Store
  • whenever I tell Randy I love him, he always says I will love you forever & ever
  • needless to say, I say I love you a lot
  • Randy's Christmas CD ~  Through Different Eyes 
  • omg, my very favorite Christmas CD... that I happen to play year round 
  • here's the link ~ Through Different Eyes
  • email me if you want to order one ~
Happy Thanksgiving! 
It really is so good to give thanks to the Lord. 
I am truly...

Thursday, November 03, 2016

dementia & losing balance

My husband's brain is dying. And while it can seem like a long, slow death, certain stages of the disease can rear it's ugly head out of nowhere. Yesterday was one of those days.

Randy suddenly lost balance, overcorrected while lunging forward down the driveway. He landed facedown on the concrete with his right side taking the hit. Cut above his eye, mangled glasses, bruised shoulder, elbow, knees, lip and cut hands.

We spent 4 hours in the ER and if you know anything about Frontotemporal dementia, you know it was quite challenging while waiting for him to be sedated for stitches. Imagine all the things we did to distract our little ones in these situations... well, they came in quite handy yesterday. At one point as he was trying to get out of the room I started dancing with him. While I sang one of his songs we danced, he twirled me, we laughed. And it worked. For a short while. Then I told him a story about a little boy growing up with a love for music, songwriting and playing guitar... doing concerts, opening for BJ Thomas, leading many to Christ... and he was mesmerized. For a short while. Then I was on to something else. I may not be the best caregiver, but this I do well.

Finally they gave him something to relax him while waiting for the DR to sedate him for the stitches. (Propofol works well for him) It was then that I remembered the nurses telling me (when he was put under to have all his toenails removed) to be sure and take advantage of the sedation and do the things he won't let you do awake. I quickly went into action and with the help of the nurses, I had a scissor and shaver (along with a nail clipper and comb I had in my bag). I was good to go.

I trimmed his finger nails that were super long... trimmed his mustache and beard... cut the front of his hair... shaved his neck... I even trimmed his eyebrows that had severals 1" strands that were driving me crazy. (ok, even a few nose hairs) Then I finally got a close up of his toe nails and saw that half were starting to grow back. I was heartsick. But all in all, a sweet silver lining to a rather traumatic event. Thank you Lord.

Seriously, he is the sweetest man you'll ever meet and quite a handsome one I might add. In fact, when I told him he looked so young and handsome, he said "I know! I look gorgeous!" Yes, while I have more of a Mama's heart towards him now... I couldn't love him any more than I did as his wife. Love this dear man with all my heart.



Sunday, October 30, 2016

death & dementia

My brother Ronnie passed away Sept. 20th. He was 57 years old and battling cancer for the past 2 1/2 years. He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma the same month my husband Randy was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. Neither had a cure.

No matter how prepared you think you are, you never are. My heart is so sad, especially for those left behind... his devoted wife, his amazing kids and adorable grandkids. And his siblings ~ Kathy, Ginny, Gary, me and Kevin. We were honored to be asked to stand in the receiving line at the visitation. Hundreds poured through the doors giving us hugs and heartfelt condolences for over 3 1/2 hours.

We awoke the next morning to a cloudy, cold, drizzly day. Ronnie's Harley friends paid homage by gathering at the farm and riding their cycles in a procession to the funeral. What a site that must have been. The service was so honoring and heartfelt. Broke my heart sitting next to my Mom while she wept for her son. Parents are not suppose to outlive their children.

My brother was a successful farmer and continued to farm and work the land and ride his Harley to the very end. He fought a hard fight and knew the love and support from his many friends and family that showed up on his last days. Oh how he will be missed at Valley Ridge Farm and by the many who loved him dearly. I took this photo June, 2015. I will always remember him in his element, loving his family, friends and best friend Boji.

A former neighboring farmer said it best ~ 

"Ron was a tiller of the soil. 
His stewardship of it was a demonstration of his love of it's Creator".

My brother's childhood best friend wrote a beautiful article. 
Click HERE to read the story.

My husband was unable to enter into my grief and sadness. No empathy. In fact, every time I would tell him my brother died, it was as though he was hearing it for the first time. He would say "Really?!", and then change the subject or walk away. He loved and respected my brother so much. Heartbreaking to see him so removed from the reality of Ronnie's passing. I did ask him the other day about what my brother must be doing in heaven right now. And he replied "I know I would be visiting with Jesus". That made me so happy.

And I missed my kids and grandkids more than ever in the weeks following his death. Unbearable at times. We had unresolved issues and hurts before Randy's diagnose, and we all know, a crisis of any sort will either draw a fragile family together or tear it apart. Sadly our family has suffered the later. Which in many ways has been far worse than my husband's diagnose. I'm finding it so hard to trust God in this area of my life... to believe for healing and reconciliation. So I recently memorized this verse when I find myself circling the toilet.

The Lord is my Strength and my Shield. My heart trusts in Him and He helps me.
Psalm 28:7

My husband's best friend John Lynch wrote a book ~ "On My Worst Day". Today I will choose to believe by faith that this is Jesus... who He is... and how He sees me.

"I watch how hard you try to continue to draw near to me, even as I allow things into your life which utterly exasperate you. You're clinging to the belief that I am fully for you, and care more about you than you do. Then something happens which seems to undermine it all...I know. I watch. It deeply hurts me to watch you experience such disappointment and a broken heart. You might try to let me off the hook by reasoning I'm not fully in control of your world. Such thinking might maintain a measure of your affection for me--like giving a pass for a grandfather who loves you but can't always remember your name. But this lie will ultimately ruin our relationship. I am fully in control of your world. There is nothing that happens, doesn't happen, refused, or delayed without me seeing it, or allowing it. I am in control of your life. And I love you more than you love you. My character cannot and will not do wrong. I take whatever your race has brought on, and I redeem, refashion, and rework it all into beauty beyond anything you could have possibly imagined. All things. Horrible things. Evil things. Chronic things. I decide what is allowed through and what it will accomplish. I decide what needs to be refashioned. But mostly I stand in the arena, when you cannot stand, defending you and protecting you. I do not lecture; I do not mock. What I do is love you. No matter how angry you are at me, no matter what you imagine in your heart about me. I enter into your pain more deeply than even you. This I can do. This I will always do. Until we are home together in the land where tears cease."

Friday, July 22, 2016

trusting is hard

Good grief, I sure know how to make life harder than it needs to be. Why is that? How do we forget so fast? God continues to bless and provide. He continues to give me strength when I am weary and tired. He comforts me when I am sad and lonely. But I am still overcome with fear at the slightest uncertainty.

I think. Deep down. I don't fully trust.
He is allowing frontotemporal dementia to destroy my husband's brain. And if you knew Randy you would know, it couldn't be happening to a nicer person, to a more faithful servant.

Oh God, did I really just type those words? My heart is hurting, the tears are flowing, and I feel horrible. I am so tired of being brave in the midst of such sadness. I am tired of believing when it's so hard. I know. That's a lot of I's. And that's the problem. I can't do it any more. I need God to do it. I no longer lives, but Christ lives in me. Really? Yes. Then I need to let Him. You see, I am my worse enemy. I can question and sabotage His ways with the best of them. So... I will get out of the way and let Him live through me. I know. Not always easy. But He continues to prove over and over that He is trustworthy, good and faithful.

This past week was a good example. Randy is now taking a dial-a-ride cab to his adult daycare every morning. A miracle. You see, in order for me to work 8 hours, I needed to start at 6:30 am. Which is no big deal, because I start my day between 3-4 am anyway. I'm a morning person. Well, because his day care does not open till 7, I would need to make arrangements to have my neighbor here to get Randy in the cab. And you guys, it has gone so smoothly. Like amazingly smooth. So thankful for my neighbor, the nice cab drivers and the many who were praying for Randy & I. Yes, I had a couple melt-downs, fearing all that could go wrong... but in the end, all went very right. And while Randy could take the cab home, I wouldn't miss our rides home for all the world. One day I hope to capture the look on his face when he sees me walking through the front door of his daycare. He is beaming, smiling so big... and always says "YOU'RE HERE! YOU CAME!" Omg, just the best feeling in the world. And then we talk all the way home. With him repeating these lines every single day, and me acting as though he has never said them before, every single day.
  • Are you going to take a right at Victory and then a left on the access road and then a right at Guadalupe to go home"
  • "So you flew on Delta when you went to Wisconsin and your sister Jenny (Ginny) picked you up at the airport?" (every single time he sees a plane)
  • "When Tim & Betty come over they take me to Quick Trip for a coke and a donut and then they take me home!"
  • "I can't believe I got to see Don & Carol at Miranda's house!"
  • "Shawn always takes me to Quick Trip for a Coke and a donut."
  • "That's the church where I gave my brother Barry's eulogy." (as we drive past Tempe 1st Baptist)
  • I can't believe Miranda's baby is named William James Randy!"
  • "Are we going through the front door or through the garage?"
  • "Do you have a key to the front door?" (even though I have never not had a key)
Yes, even though it has been over 12 years since he gave his brother Barry's eulogy, he remembers much of what he shared. Deep down, I know he misses his brother, but knows one day they will be reunited in eternity.

I will leave you with a photo, cuz I can't not post without a photo.

Love this photo of Randy's Mom & Dad and his brothers.
Bob ~ Randy ~ Mom ~ Dad ~ Don ~ Barry

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Holidays and dementia

I usually wait to write a blog post when I am doing well. But I also want to write when I am not doing so well. Which is hard, because I don't want to come off as poor me or a victim... but rather a caregiver struggling with emotions that run the full gamut on any given day. So here goes...

Monday was Independence Day. It was also my 4th day off in a row. As usual, Friday was my errand day. All those things I need to do while my husband is at his Day Care. I met with my counselor and friend Kathy, visited with Miranda and grandson Will, grocery shopped, to the bank, filled up the van, tires checked, and then picked up Randy. While some of those things used be done with Randy, not any more, as he will get out of the van and just walk away.

So we get home... and reality sets in. We are house-bound for the next three days. (Randy's day care is closed for the 4th) I do Sat, and Sundays pretty well, but Monday has the potential to push me over the edge. So I began the positive self-talk, the planning, the pleading with God for strength and motivation to stay busy and hopeful. But I made the mistake of checking Facebook and I became stricken with new layers of loss. I want my life back. I want the social life we once had. And I am griped with the fear of spiraling with three long, lonely days ahead of me.

So God gets an ear-full. I plead, I beg, I cry. Peace cannot come soon enough.

Saturday's goal was pretty simple. Gather the last of the documents needed to take to my tax preparer. It's been a very long and arduous task, but I was finally seeing some light. I have literally gone through every single piece of paper and file in our home and garage in the past couple months. But as always, it's one step forward and two steps back. Will I ever get ahead of the all-consuming paper chase?

I need an escape. A diversion. I am losing my grip. So I will myself to reorganize my sewing room. That will surely energize me. And it works. Gosh I love this room. But it's been sorely neglected these past 5 years, since the onset of Randy's frontotemporal dementia diagnose. 

Ok, I am on a roll! So I started on the playroom/ guest room... that's filled with my son Tyler's stuff that he's yet to take back to Wisconsin. All the while Randy is in and out of his room ~ either reading, or watching Christian television, or back in his room to read again. He's continually telling me "when Tim & Betty come over they take me to Quick Trip." Or he will ask me dozens of times if he can have more cookies. He's so sweet about it, never gets upset or sad when I remind him he just had some. Meanwhile, I am being all silly and sing-songy in however I respond or in whatever I'm doing. Everything becomes a song lyric or a rhyme when he's around. And often times I even tickle myself. He is completely entertained by me. He thinks I'm the funniest. We laugh and joke and reminisce. I am so thankful my sense of humor is still in tact... and his mere presence eggs me on. He's just the best audience.

Then I discovered Person of Interest on Netflix. Omg. So good. I proceed to binge-watch. But after a few episodes, I decided I best multitask while watching, to feel more productive and less guilty. So I brought in boxes and bins and trash bags (oh my) from the garage and went through every single item piece by piece. At one point I'm thinking "this is like going to the best estate sale and digging through treasures galore, but I'm not having to pay for a thing!" ha! Yes, I found things I forgot I even had. I did a lot of purging and repurposing. Went through 6 huge bins of costume/ vintage clothing. You know, from the past 4 decades in case someone hosts a costume party and you need the perfect retro outfit. Yup, I got your number.

All to say, I survived another holiday. Heck, I not only survived, I thrived. You see, I don't want to get by, cope or manage... I want to be present, enter in and trust! And every day that I surrender my plans for His is a good day. Every day I let go and let Him take control is a peaceful day. My circumstance haven't change a bit, but He's changing me, my outlook, my perspective. It's choosing every day to believe by faith that He is enough. That He is all I need. I seriously could not, I repeat, could not walk this unexpected journey without the Lord. Not one single day. 
Yup, forever and ever grateful.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Wisconsin Trip 2016

My Wisconsin trip was wonderful! Above and beyond what I could have ever hoped for. Thrifting and endless hours processing life with my sister, fish fry with my son, visiting with my Mom, sitting with my brother during his infusion, visiting the farm where I grew up, and attending my niece's beautiful wedding. My heart could hardly take it all in. So restful and so peaceful. And so GREEN! Love Wisconsin in June.

The House That Built Me
And my husband Randy did so well. I was so worried and anxious in the days leading up to my trip... wondering how he'd do with 3 different caregivers coming and going, but he did great. Thankful to my son and son-in-law and friend for loving and caring for him so well. I kid you not, the moment my son dropped me off at the airport, I was overcome with the most overwhelming peace and trust. Randy was in God's hands and I could enjoy every single moment with friends and family. And I did!

My brother Gary means the world to me. He has been my rock-solid, faithful friend throughout these past two years since my husband's frontotemporal dementia diagnose. So of course I was a mess watching him walk his daughter Anna down the isle. I wouldn't have missed this moment for the world.

Me ~ Ginny ~ Sharon ~ Anna
Did you know my sister Ginny and I are the original Dancing Queens? Ok, so more like dancing fools, but we love dancing to classic rock! And the playlist and sound system at this reception was simply the best! 

Love this image I captured ~ extreme cultures clashing along Wisconsin country roads.

I sure miss seeing my son Tyler every day since my return to hell, I mean to Phoenix. Yes, it was 118 when I landed. So fun riding in Tyler's '93 Ford F-150 Northland Edition. He's so happy living in Wisconsin and that makes this here Mama so happy.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Full of Grace and Truth

  • camping at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon was a dream come true, and ended up being our last significant road trip together. (2011) My favorite post from that trip is HERE.
  • the other day I asked Randy what his favorite Bible verse was and he immediately quoted John 1:14 ~ 
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

  • every day after picking up Randy at his day care, we have to turn right on a street called Victory. And every day Randy gets so excited when he sees Victory and says with all the excitement of a little boy "It's Victory!" And I immediately break into song ~ 
... in Jesus, My Savior, forever. He sought me and bought me

With His redeeming blood;

He loved me ere I knew Him, And all my love is due Him,

He plunged me to victory,

Beneath the cleansing flood.

  • and every day Randy finishes the song for me because I pretend I don't know all the words. It's just the best! 
  • the other day I decided to transfer the fluffy down from one pillow to another, to make it more full. Of course I did it in my backyard, and needless to say, when I got done it looked like it had snowed. Snow flurries were circling in the air till it all settled on the ground. Randy thought it was pretty funny. 
  • I imagine the birds will be using it to fluff their nests. (pardon the pun)
  • it was 117 degrees on Sat. and 115 on Sunday. God help us.
  • we don't have tornados, mudslides, hurricanes, earthquakes, snow or excessive rain. 
  • but we do have dust storms and extreme heat advisories warning of possible burns while stupidly walking barefoot to your mailbox. (which I have stupidly done)
  • I belong to a Frontotemporal Facebook Page. Yesterday I commented on a post about how this disease affects the caregiver. This is what I wrote.
"While I hate this disease and what it is doing to my husband, I thank God every day for the transformation of my life. Randy did everything and now I am learning to do things that while scary at first, have made me stronger, independent (and more dependent on God), compassionate, loving and aware that life is so much more than what I thought was the end all. I'm learning to be alone, and content with the simple things. The Lord does have a plan that can only be accepted through faith. I have no clue as to how each day is going to unfold, but He does, and He will give me the strength I need to love and care for my husband." 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Frontotemporal degeneration

The two year anniversary of Randy's Frontotemporal dementia diagnose came and went with very little fanfare. In fact I thought about it the day before and then two days after the date. So I guess that's good.

I went to the Frontotemporal Support Group at the Banner Alzheimer Institute two weeks ago and it occurred to me that we should not only share the date our loved one was diagnosed, but also how far back the actual onset of the disease began rearing its ugly head. I can now say my husband was showing signs as far back as 2010. So technically he's going on 6 years.

A year ago I met with a wonderful woman from the Area Agency on Aging. We recently had a follow-up assessment, and I was sadly aware that Randy would not have been able to sit with us as he had done just a year ago. Which makes me all the more mindful of the importance of documenting Randy's journey.
  • he is still happy and peaceful and content.
  • he still asks every day over and over to be taken to QT for a fountain Coke. 
  • yes, even while holding a QT cup full of Coke, and a 2 liter bottle in the frig.
  • he still reads the Michael Reagan book about his Dad President Reagan on his iPad
  • and the Book of John on his iPhone.
  • he loves telling everyone his new grandson is named William James Randy.
  • his only inappropriate behavior is introducing himself, along with a hand-shake, to total strangers, whether on a hiking trail, a walk around the block or in a parking lot.
  • so far everyone has been very kind. And he always asks their name too.
  • he will not let me cut his hair, trim his mustache, beard and finger nails. 
  • the painful removal of his toenails took two months to heal. But he never once complained.
  • his short-term memory loss is becoming more and more pronounced.
  • prior to his toenail surgery, I was lucky to get him to shower once a week. Since then, I've had to limit him to one a day. He's obsessed with taking showers.
  • God really does work all things for good. 
  • last week we took a road trip to Goldwater Lake near Prescott, Arizona.
  • sadly it will be our last road trip together. 
  • he does not do well when removed from routine and familiarity.
  • thankful to have captured these sweet memorable moments.
  • love this dear, sweet man with all my heart.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

My new grandson


"I was wide awake at 3am this morning when I got a text from my daughter Miranda ~

"My water broke, we're on our way to the hospital!"

"Omg, praying! Love you & Aaron!" 

Omg! My baby girl is having a baby today!

Her actual due date is tomorrow, Feb. 11th, but baby Will is coming a day early.

His name is William James Randy. James is Aaron's Dad and Randy is Miranda's Dad. And yes, Randy would remind me every day that Will is going to be named after him. He is so excited! Not sure if that will be evident when he actually meets Will, but I know deep down, he's thrilled."

I typed those words on my blog (Feb. 10th, 2016), then I got ready for work. I dropped Randy off at his adult day care and then to my Fry's on via Linda. I can actually see the rooftops of Scottsdale Shea hospital from my Fry's, so I would step outside throughout the day and with an anxious heart, pray for my daughter and Will. Sure enough, just as my shift ended at 4pm, I got a text from Aaron that Miranda was at 9 centimeters and that I could come to the hospital to await the arrive of Will. I was ecstatic. He was almost here!

Well, long story short... Will arrived 3 hours later after an emergency C-section. Trust me, you're going to want to read Miranda's riveting account of Will's terrifying delivery. He is truly a miracle!

Will's Birth Story

Omg, I am so in love with this little miracle. And my daughter is the best Mommy. And my son-in-law Aaron is an amazing Daddy. And God is always, always good!

Monday, May 09, 2016

My new job!

Huge news! This Saturday, May 14th will be my last day working at Fry's Foods.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) I will take my last personal day to attend a Frontotemporal Degeneration support group at the Alzheimers Institute... get a free adjustment at my Chyropractic office (Customer Appreciation Day)... and hopefully use my gift card at Message Envy. Yes, a much needed day of caregiving for the caregiver.

Leaving Fry's is bitter sweet. I loved my job. I met dear friends that I will miss terribly, especially my department head Patti. She inspired me every day to work hard. I am forever grateful for her influence and friendship. And these past three years were a welcome diversion from my reality as a caregiver to my husband. I could throw myself into my work and feel good about myself. But the past several months have been hard... especially on my body. My job requires heavy lifting, stocking shelves, squatting on bad knees, along with stressful, unrealistic demands from management. My job was sucking the life out of me. And I had little energy to be there for my husband when I got home. My poor back and neck along with my left wrist and knee were shot. The pain was unbearable at times, affecting my sleep and ability to get stuff done around the house.

So three weeks ago yesterday I sent an email to the volunteer group that signs up to spend Saturdays with Randy while I work, that included this paragraph ~

"Long story short, I will not be getting Saturdays off. In true Fry's-fashion, the managers miscommunicated and I am not going to 32 hours. Not yet anyway. And when I finally do, Saturdays will not be that 3rd day off, because it's load day. I am so sad and frustrated and confused. I can't keep up this pace. My body hurts and I am pretty miserable when I get home and have to care for Randy and our home. We leave at 7am and get home at 5pm. My job is no longer a respite from my reality at home. Lots of stress and crazy dynamics going on. I need a different job or a transfer. Closer to home and less physical. Please pray with me, that God would open a door. I have little to no energy to make it happen, so it sorta has to land on my lap."

And that's exactly what happened. The very next day a job literally landed on my lap!

It was a Monday morning. I was out front sweeping the patio, waiting for my friend Kathy to arrive. She has met with me every Monday morning since my husband's Frontotemporal dementia diagnose 2 years ago this month. I would not be where I am today without her counsel, insight, wisdom and acceptance.
So, my neighbor Jayne happened to drive by, pulls over to give me a hug and to ask how Randy & I were doing. I told her we were doing real well, but my job sucked. She then proceeded to offer me a job. Just. like. that. I had forgotten she was the alterations manager for Dillards. She knew I sewed and she wanted me to come work for her at the Dillard's Distribution Center in Gilbert. I was stunned. This couldn't be happening. Less than 24 hours after I sent that email!

And get this ~
The commute is better.
The hours are better and Monday through Thursday!
The pay is better.
AND sewing is my favorite form of therapy.

Seriously folks, my dream job!

So, after my last day this Saturday, I will then be taking the following week off with vacation pay and then start my new job Monday, May 23rd. I have a mile-long to-do list for that week off. I want to start my new job with a clean slate, clean house, clean garage and everything checked off that list. It's daunting, but doable.

Randy is so excited for me. But I have shed many tears throughout this whole process, grieving new layers of loss... missing my husband's wisdom and support. Change is so hard for me. And while I've had my full-share in the past few years, it has not gotten any easier. But I am quicker to give it over to God... more desperate than ever for His peace... and as always, He is quick to deliver. So thankful for His faithfulness. He is truly enough. My dependency on Him has freed me to dream again... trusting He has a plan for my life, to use me for His glory, to tell my husband's story and bring awareness to this horrendous disease. Pray for me as I let Him lead me.

So there you have it. Overwhelmed and humbled by this latest chapter in my life story.

To God be the Glory ~ Great things He has done! And continues to do!

Monday, February 01, 2016

dementia journey

I know I'm going to regret not blogging more often than I do. So here's hoping I post once a week from here on out. We'll see how that goes. The reality is I work 40 hours a week, I'm gone 10 hours a day and take care of my husband and hold down the fort the rest of the time. Needless to say, I'm tired. But thankful for everything. And I mean everything.  Too many things could have gone terribly wrong before my husband's Frontotemporal dementia diagnose.

So here's a list of bullets we dodged these past two years ~
  • it took less than 2 years to get an accurate Frontotemporal dementia diagnose, unlike many that are misdiagnosed for many years.
  • we found the perfect Adult Day Care right away.
  • no crazy drugs were administered before the diagnose causing adverse side affects.
  • he willingly gave up driving well before his dementia diagnose.
  • I was able to take over the finances before too much damage was done.
  • thankful he never cooked or baked, because now he's less likely to touch the stove.
All to say, God was watching over us and I am humbled and deeply grateful. Makes me all the more passionate about FTD awareness... to make sure more doctors and therapists and counselors and psychiatrists KNOW about this type of dementia. Frontotemporal dementia. Pick's disease.  Let's get the word out.

There is a definite ebb and flow to the deterioration of his brain. He is very much like a little boy, but then out of the blue will ask if he can rub my feet... which he did often, but hadn't the past 2 years. And might I add, it was a pretty amazing foot rub!

We will sit down with friends and he will pray the most beautiful, eloquent prayer before a meal... then take two bites, get up and go read in his room. He would go turn on the tv, but I've learned to hide the remote when we have company.

He will ask me several times within an hour if I can take him to Quik Trip for a fountain drink, and each time I will remind him we've already gone today, in which he cheerfully replies "oh, ok!" and happily go back to his room to read. He never argues, gets upset or is sad or angry. Makes me wonder if his short-term memory is being affected more and more with his repetitive questions.

He will be getting all his toe nails removed in the next week. He has not let anyone touch or clip his toe nails in well over a year. And we've tried everything. Needless to say, they are in real bad shape. He has to be in terrible pain, but his dementia does not let him identify the intensity of his pain. He says he's fine, even while limping.

He is fully aware that our daughter Miranda is pregnant and due any day with a baby boy. He mentions often that he can't believe Miranda has a baby bump. I'm hoping today he will let his barber give him a shave and haircut, so he's looking good for photo ops with our new grandson. It's been 2 months since his last visit. One never knows how it will go.

So I just got back from taking him... and it went... well, ok. The haircut didn't happen and he got up a couple times to leave when his beard was only half trimmed. Thankfully the shop owner Raya is a pro and she knows Randy has dementia and handles him very well.

So I dropped him off at his day care after the shave and I am now looking at a long list of things that I need to do on my day off... but unmotivated to do a single thing. I am so easily overwhelmed at the smallest tasks. But I will take baby steps today and begin the purging process. I have plans to fill the oodles of empty boxes in the garage with all my crap stuff and donate to my favorite charity thrift store. Yes, my goal is to get the van in the garage this winter.

Ok, I'm going in... cover me!

Me & my daughter Miranda at her Baby Shower

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Giving thanks

Giving thanks has gotten me through some of my darkest days. It softens my heart to the things around me that I couldn't see before... the miracles, the blessings, the goodness of God.

Thank you ~

  • for my health so I can work and care for my husband.
  • that Randy loves going to his adult daycare every day.
  • that he has no sense of time, so he thinks I am only gone a few hours, when it's really 9 hours.
  • that a friend we haven't seen in over 35 years, shows up at our door and prays for us... and fills our home with God's peace and presence. Forever grateful.
  • and the next day he fills our home with 50 lbs. of red potatoes he and his wife just dug up from their home in CO. Um, potatoes anyone?
  • for my long commute to work... praying, laughing and singing to Randy's CDs.
  • and praying, crying and praising Jesus after I drop him off. 
  • for my daughter's healthy pregnancy, for their little boy who arrives in February.
  • for God's continued provision. My heart can hardly take such love.
  • for Randy's songs that minister to me right where I'm at each day.
  • for the Alpine Bakery Bread store. (50 cent loaves). Ok, so I love bread.
  • for my friend Kathy that comes sit with me each week while I process and grow in her counsel.
  • for dear friends that volunteer to care for Randy every Saturday while I work.
  • that truth-tellers call at just the right time, when I am losing it.
  • that I got to host Thanksgiving for my sister-in-law and her two boys and their families.
  • for leftovers and the turkey carcass and my turkey noodle soup.
  • that Tyler will be delivering the package I send him for Christmas.
  • he works for FedEx and his route includes where he lives. How cool is that!
  • that a women in the UK just ordered Randy's CDs. Yup, Randy goes international! 
  • for the Frontotemporal dementia Facebook page. A wealth of info and heartbreaking stories.
  • my brother Ronnie and his valiant battle with multiple myeloma. So proud of him.
  • for his wife Debbie's strength and courage as advocate and caregiver.
  • for my new friends Pat and Mary Ann at my dementia support care group at Randy's daycare.
  • that Randy is so sweet and easy to love and care for.
  • for Glen Campbells documentary "I'll Be Me". So heartbreaking. So important.
  • for Randy's Mom and my Mom. Love talking to them on the phone every few days.
  • for my on-call mechanic Tim and my mechanic Terry. 
  • my van is being fixed as I type. So grateful.
  • for snow days. Ok, more like two days without a vehicle, where I am house-bound and hoping to get lots done. :)
  • that when I asked Randy "what is one Christmas decoration you want me to be sure and put out this year?". He immediately said My Mitten Garland. Click the link to read the story.
  • Love that it's his favorite too.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

frontotemporal dementia paradigm shift

Something is happening to me over these past couple years. I'm changing. As a result of the many changes in my life... I'm changing. Pain and suffering and grieving and loss have a way of making or breaking you. Trust me, it has broken me in more ways than just my heart. But it's also making me into the person God intended me to be... dependent on Him, desperate for Him. Did God allow the unimaginable, the unexpected so He could be all I needed, that He could be enough? Yes, I believe for me, it had to be to that extreme. Because He loved me that much.

You see my husband Randy was my everything. My rock. My comforter. My provider. He was a man of faith that heard from God and obeyed. And I followed. I trusted his walk with God. Everything I knew to be true about God was evident in Randy. God is good... Randy is good. God was good to Randy... so any goodness in my life was a result of riding on the coat-tails of Randy's God-given goodness.

And then my husband started changing. Little things. As far back as 2010. I have a vivid memory on a road trip of him saying "I'm not as sharp as I use to be". Of course it was in reference to getting older, but I subsequently filed it in my memory bank.

And then he really started changing. Unusual behavior. Detached. Isolating. Poor judgement. Lack of empathy. Poor decision making. Hiding the truth. Unable to do anything. He did not acknowledge our anniversary, Valentine's Day, nor my birthday. And today I was reminded... not even Halloween. This was a man that loved Halloween. He would transform our front yard into an old cemetery... with headstones, skulls, skeletons, iron gates covered in spiderwebs... and we'd sit out front for hours handing out candy. Three years ago he did nothing. And has not mentioned it every year since.

So many changes. My security, my motivator was gone. Yes, my motivator. He was invariably working on something... vehicles, yard work, home improvement projects... and that always motivated me to work on my projects. Needless to say, I have done nothing these past three years but go to work. Gosh I sound like a victim. What I'm trying to say is, the things I loved to do, that energized me, that fueled my creative juices stopped. And now I'm trying to figure out how to do life without someone by my side to motivate me in the day-to-day.

Grieving never stops, especially when the one you are grieving is still here. It is truly the long good-bye. Every day his brain is diminishing more and more. Every day that the disease is progressing, he is regressing. I am so thankful that upon getting his Frontotemporal Dementia diagnose (May 2014) all my expectations disappeared. I couldn't control this disease. I think we can all agree that expectations can be the death of us and anyone associated with our expectations. When we expect, we are trying to control. Randy's disease is degenerative. Short of a miracle, I can't change it. So I immediately loved and accepted him. Period. No more unmet expectations. Ever again. And I love him more than I ever thought possible. He is the best part of my day.

So the layers of loss come in waves. Some I can ride, and some literally push me over the edge. (assuming I even got in a boat) Just so you know, I can't swim, so imagine my fear issues surfacing in using this particular analogy. ha! Anyway, every day can trigger a loss. Quite frankly, Facebook pulls the trigger the most. Yes, Facebook happens to be my social life and it often backfires, especially when I am weak and tired, making me an easy target. Seeing friends visiting a National Park... total breakdown. That was our dream, to visit as many National Parks as possible. Church activities, weddings, gatherings... things we can no longer attend... so hard. So much of what brought me value, worth and significance are gone. Our influence, our ministry expressions were my identity. Even my roles as Mom, grandma and friend have changed dramatically. And Randy no longer sees me as his wife, but rather his caregiver. None of those roles should ever have defined me. It matters only how God sees and defines me. I have barely cracked the surface in grasping these Truths.

I recently had a major self-loathing day. I didn't like myself much. I was so done. I felt like such a failure as wife, Mom, grandma, sister, friend and caregiver.
So I posted this on Facebook ~

Yesterday was hard. I didn't like me much. I was so done with me, with life, with everything. My fears and failures had gotten the best of me. My pleasing and striving left me weary and tired. Then I woke up to this on Facebook ~ thank you Ann Voskamp.

"Lord, when I don't like me, You still love me, You still like me, You still lavish me with acceptance. When I am fed up with me, You invite me to Your feast. When I am done -- with me, with life, with everything, You whisper, "Hang on, I am making *all things* -- *you* -- new." (Rev 21:5)
And when I want to quit, You cup my face: "This great work I started in you? I won't stop that beautiful work until you are fully, completely, gloriously beautiful" (Phil 1:6, 1Cor 2:7)
So this becomes our brave & broken-hearted hallelujah, the one we sing into the dark, even when it's hard to believe:
I am His Beloved, His Beloved, His Beloved... and even now I will be held.
In the name of the only One who loved us to death & back to the real & forever life."

This is what I am choosing to believe. That He is not done with me. That He won't stop until I am fully and completely, gloriously Christ in Linda. This is becoming my brave and broken-hearted hallelujah, the one I sing into the dark, even when it's hard to believe. 

And it's changing me. 

Photo taken Oct. 2011 ~ Door County ~ Washington Island

Monday, September 07, 2015

Randy's 62 today

62 things about my husband Randy ~ he turns 62 today.

  • his Dad spent 28 years in the Air Force.
  • they lived all over the world.
  • Randy had three older brothers and a sister 2 years younger.
  • he started playing guitar and writing songs by age 10.
  • his Dad retired to Arizona in 1966.
  • Randy accepted Jesus as Lord & Savior as a teen.
  • he carried a Bible to school after his decision for Christ.
  • Randy's Maryville Class of '72 graduated over 1000 students.
  • He rebuilt his beloved '69 Dodge Charger in the late 70's.
  • his sister Patty was killed by a drunk driver in 1974 at age 18. (Randy was 20)
  • we met at a concert ministry in 1978.
  • we married in 1979.
  • he graduated from Grand Canyon College in 1980 ~
  • with a Bible and History degree.
  • immediately began 3 decades of full-time ministry.
  • Hand in Hand staff doing follow up, discipleship and concerts. 
  • High School youth pastor for 4 years.
  • three years as the church janitor.
  • Randy Thompson Ministries doing concerts around the country.
  • 90 different cities in 20 states.
  • worship pastor at Open Door Fellowship for several years.
  • senior pastor for 4 1/2 years.
  • Randy also wrote and co-produced 8 CD's.
  • he's a Dad to Shawn (1982), Miranda (1984) and Tyler (1989)
  • he took each of the kids on a WI Concert Tour when they were 10.
  • he was a great Dad.
  • he entered the computer age in the late 80's with the first of many Macs.
  • he was a computer geek from the get-go.
  • he recorded his last and final CD Thirsty at home on his Mac.
  • his brother Barry died of esophageal cancer at age 55.
  • Randy turned 50 a month later.
  • the day after hiking out of the Grand Canyon.
  • he reads the Bible most every day of his life.
  • he is a man of faith, trusting God with all his heart.
  • his Mom modeled the gifts of the Spirit every day of her life.
  • Randy was a wonderful, devoted husband and helpmate.
  • Randy wrote a book about his 30+ years in ministry in 2013.
  • Randy was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Dementia in May, 2014.
  • he stopped driving before the diagnose.
  • he still prays every day.
  • he still reads the Bible every day.
  • he still remembers most everything.
  • he still loves going to his adult day care every day.
  • he is still a prophet & evangelist, sharing Christ at the day care.
  • he still loves me and tells me so when I tell him I love him.
  • he has lost all empathy and compassion.
  • he no longer sings and plays guitar.
  • he rarely mentions his family and friends.
  • he has not gone in our back yard in over 2 years.
  • he is unable to do anything other than read, eat and watch TV.
  • he will not let me cut his hair or clip his nails.
  • he loves watching old Billy Graham crusades on television.
  • he has 4 grandchildren and another blessing on the way.
  • Emolyn & Elsie and Nathan & Jonah... and baby Mertz.
  • he is the best part of my day, driving to and from his day care.
  • we laugh and pray and play his CDs real loud.
  • we can spot the new Dodge Challengers like no bodies business.
  • he loves Disneyland and National Parks.
  • he loves Jesus and longs to stand before Him and hear ~
  • well done good and faithful servant ~ Matt. 25:23
  • he is aware he has dementia, but says he is doing great.
  • and he is, because he is trusting and believing the One who matters most.
* photo courtesy of Sandi Shipley Photography

Monday, August 03, 2015

the latest

  • reading Hinds Feet on High Places. Read it back in the late 70's.
  • so good. So what I needed. Love allegories.
  • watched Uncommon Valor yesterday. Cried and cried at the ending.
  • remembering those Vietnam POW bracelets in high school.
  • my husband finally got a haircut and shave after a year.
  • nothing short of a miracle.
  • dear friends took him to a Barber Shop and he let them.
  • now he needs his nails done. Like badly.
  • some of the many effects of frontotemporal dementia.
  • used an oil change coupon last week from Tempe Dodge.
  • we bought our 2006 van from them 162,000 miles ago.
  • my husband took such great care of our van over the years.
  • still runs like a champ.
  • I love sliced apples with crunchy peanut butter.
  • that's been my lunch every single day at work for the past two years.
  • and I still love it. Like a lot.
  • everyone at works thinks I'm nuts. (pun not intended) 
  • I only get two 10 minute breaks in an 8 hour day at Fry's.
  • I could take an unpaid 1/2 hr. lunch, but I would get so bored.
  • I'm either suffering with planter's worts or cancer sores.
  • for months. Not even kidding.
  • finished up season 5 of Blue Bloods.
  • love Commissioner Reagan.
  • Season 4 of Longmire is on Netflix in September. Can't wait.
  • our refrigerator died a few weeks ago.
  • found a similar one, like brand new on Craig's List for $395!
  • included delivery, installation and hauling off our old one.
  • I am humbled at God's overwhelming provision. Thank you Jesus.
  • and last but certainly not least ~ (drumroll please)

Our beautiful daughter Miranda and her amazing husband Aaron 

are going to have a baby in February!

So excited! So thankful. So very, very blessed!

Saturday, July 11, 2015


My husband Randy no longer carries guitar picks in his pocket.

He’s been carrying a handful for as long as I’ve known him.
We'll be married 36 years next month.

Just so you know, we’re not talking a few picks… more like a dozen. I know.

“Why do you carry so many picks?” I would ask.
“You never know when one might fall in my guitar” he would reply.
“Really? That many during one concert?” 
I would smile, cuz musicians are quirky like that.

Our granddaughter Emolyn became so enamored with her Pop Pop's guitar picks one Christmas (2009), she carried one in her little hand the entire evening while watching her Uncle Tyler, Pop Pop and Daddy play and sing Christmas carols.

Emolyn ~ Aunt Miranda ~ Mamaw
Tyler ~ Randy ~ Shawn
Well... a few months ago he was down to only one guitar pick in his pocket, even though he had not played his guitar in over a year. 

And then one day, he never put it back in his pocket.

I was heartbroken. I think I felt as long as he had one in his pocket, there was a chance he would play again.

So it has remained there ever since… along with some change, a wad of lint and his watch.

I couldn’t bring myself to remove it. So I let it collect a layer of dust, knowing one day I would snap a photo for keepsake.

My husband has Frontotemporal Dementia.

Picks Disease. 

You can read Randy's story HERE.