A Season for Adventuring

rocketing through a cacti forest
past towering sentinels frozen in moonlight
night air and music blasting through the cockpit
singing with Cat Stevens
Riding on the peace train

I’m speeding into wildness at 3 a.m.
crossing into the unknown
road tripping
on the loose

Fall has called me forth
to a season for adventuring

ghosting through the morning mist
as day slides from gray to gold
I’m pulled by hunger into a small cafe
cradling a warm coffee cup
I spy the famished hiker beside me
demolishing a plate full of pancakes

he turns and smiles

Fall is freedom
the work is done, the harvest in
I’m on the road again

mornings are cool now
Fall brings a sharpened awareness
a time to wipe fog from my glasses

as growing sunlight melts shadows from the river
cold water swirls about my shivering thighs
I cast to a distant riffle
the line lays out softly
the fly disappears in a splash

lost in the sweet perfume of pine sap
following a dusty trail of memories
the buzz below me sounds familiar

Jeez!

Damn! Helluva rattlesnake!

all those blue highways
all those maps, long before GPS
all those little country stores
all those stops to buy a soda, asking directions

where the heck is Boggan’s Oasis?

and the magic of those unexpected moments

chasing wild horses through a sea of purple sage
eyeing eagles falling from heaven in their mating aerobatics
cresting a final ridge to discover Shangri-La
an azure lake sparkling in an alpine meadow

immersed
alone
in a hot springs pool
steam rising into nothingness
feeling forever in all directions
soul steeped in gratitude
as sky slips from gold
to pink
to gone

I will not travel these roads again
but they will haunt my heart when
once again
Fall calls the vagabond
to a season for adventuring

tio stib

You might also enjoy: Paddling a Submarine vs. Living an Authentic Life, Life Journey Poems & Prose

My Dementia Diary 80 – Teeter Tottering

Have you ever been on a teeter totter, that long board balanced in the middle where kids sit at opposite ends and bounce each other up and down? If the two kids’ weights are about equal they can take turns levering the other into the air. However, if one kid is much heavier, the lighter one can find himself stuck up in the sky.

That’s me right now, stuck up in the air, in teeter totter purgatory, because my wife’s needs are overwhelming my own and I can’t get my feet back on the ground.

When I started this solo caregiving gig with my dementia afflicted wife, she was still quite functional. She could take care of her personal hygiene, lose herself for hours in painting projects, and sleep through the night. Then, painting became too complicated and we switched to coloring books. Now even coloring simple designs is more than her mind can handle and she constantly turns to me for attention.

Her nighttime neediness has also increased. Once a sound sleeper, she now gets up repeatedly and prods me awake to help her find and use the bathroom, to change clothes, to calm and comfort her after nightmares. This new pattern deprives me of needed rest, leaving me tired and less able to meet the increasing demands for her daytime entertainment.

The balance of my wife’s needs and my own is way out of whack. I need to get some heavy help for my side of the teeter totter. Once more, it’s time to adapt.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: Yours to Count On, My Dementia Diary

My Dementia Diary 79 – Our Anniversary

Today is our wedding anniversary. Although my wife’s mind no longer recalls that special day, I remember the vows we made to each other-

to have and to hold
from this day forward
for better for worse
for richer for poorer
in sickness and in health
until death do us part

I don’t think anyone can really anticipate “for better for worse, in sickness and in health.” You just do your best and gut it out when the stuff hits the fan. That said, I don’t think you can really appreciate the intimate immensity of committed love until you have suffered through such trials with a partner.

What I most remember about our wedding day was thinking that my wife was the most beautiful woman in the world and that I’d never seen her so happy.

I’m now blind and she has dementia, but my wife is still the most beautiful, radiantly joyful woman I’ve known. She has pushed me to be a better man and given me more blessings than I’d ever imagined.

Happy anniversary to us!

tio stib

You might also enjoy: A Mirrored Smile, Life Journey Poems & Prose

My Dementia Diary

marriage, caregiving, dementia, Alzheimer’s, commitment, partnership

My Dementia Diary 78 – I Die Once More

lost in the bliss of slumber
I’m prodded awake
hear her pleading

help me

she stands beside the bed
naked
shivering

help me

it’s 4 a.m.

she has shed her pajamas
and there are no words
no rational arguments
nothing will quell her demented need
to get dressed and go for a walk

I will myself up
take her arm gently
lead her to the closet,, a chair
and begin, as we’ve done so many times
to dress her
underwear, socks, shirt
guide her legs into pants
her arms into a jacket
I place shoes by her feet
and leave to use the bathroom
relieving myself,
the same question haunts me
how did I offend the gods
what did I do
to create this nightmare
I hear a whimper
she’s standing in the doorway
clothes discarded
naked in the night

my soul erupts

SCREAMS!

she bursts into tears

in anguished remorse
I die once more

tio stib

You might also enjoy: This Child Who Once Was Woman, My Dementia Diary

Category” My Dementia Diary

dementia, Alzheimer’s, marriage, partnership, remorse, commitment

Hawaii You Here?

It was well past midnight in the architecture studio when a fellow student stuck a video camera in my face and said,

“Hawaii you here?”

We were in the middle of an all-nighter sweating a 10 a.m. deadline for final presentations. The bright Hawaiian shirt I was wearing in hopes of keeping my mind awake in the wee hours likely spawned his question, which translated was,

“Why you here?”

That was many, many years ago. years after a lengthy life journey in search of a meaningful pursuit that ultimately led me to architecture, which is why, in answer to his question, I smiled inches from his camera and said,

“Because I love architecture!”

At this point, my mouthful of “Pop Rocks” exploded. 

Okay, for those who’ve never heard of or treated themselves to this candy sensation, it’s a hard tart sweet candy you toss into your mouth and when it melts, tiny bubbles of pressurized carbon dioxide are released resulting in a sizzling sound and a taste explosion.

When this surprising spectacle is presented open mouthed to a close up video camera lens, it’s absolutely gross.

But, in our defense, it was well past midnight, and anything that jolted us back to consciousness outside of drinking and drugs was fair play. The drinking and drugs came later.

So much for the leap back in time, let us resume our conversation in the present,

“Hawaii you here”

Just what are you doing here on my blog? Rest assured, I lay awake at night puzzling over why so many people from so many places with so many different backgrounds visit “Travels with Tio.” Is it the catchy title? The image of a stunning sunset over the Teton Mountains in Wyoming, the witty and humorous posts, the poetry? Or, are you intrigued by how a blind guy stays sane while caring for his demented wife?

As I get about 1 actual comment for every 50 visitors to my site and this is not a statistically relevant sample, I’d really like to hear from you. Rest assured that I will sleep better at night and will certainly answer you back. Heck, I might even send you a package of “Pop Rocks.” (Send your mailing address to tiostib@gmail.com, and I will introduce you to this unique candy experience).

“Hawaii you here?”

tio stib

You might also enjoy: Jumping Off, Life Journey Poems & Prose

My Dementia Diary 77 – The New “Normal”

We don’t do sudden impulse road trips anymore, those wild moments when we would throw stuff together, hop in the car, and head out for parts unknown. Instead, a rash trip for us is a walk down to the drug store for an ice cream cone.

We don’t do drop-in gatherings with friends now, those spontaneous get togethers where wine and finger food would just show up and the buzz of excited conversation filled a shaded patio. We don’t get those invitations anymore. Do you think the fact that most of what comes out of my wife’s mouth is babble has something to do with this?

There are no longer any discussions about what we’ll do today, or this week for that matter. Such rational exercises are not possible with her dementia. All the planning is on me and I keep things as simple as possible.. While predictability used to annoy me, I now find order and stability comforting.

I’m having difficulty letting go of the delusion that a blind guy and his wife with dementia are a “normal” couple. Fortunately, life keeps slapping me in the face, reminding me that we’re not.

The truth is, we’re both disabled, we’re older than most of the people around us and have a radically different lifestyle. . We don’t drive. We don’t go on vacations, don’t participate in any community organizations, and our kids are grown and gone.

In truth, to most everyone else, including family members who live nearby, we’re flat out boring and awkward to deal with. So they don’t.

I’ve been pretending, hoping, this was not true, but, it’s time I face the facts.

The new “normal” is that we’re not.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: Shape Shifting, My Dementia Diary

 

My Dementia Diary 76 – FaceTime Karaoke

We keep downshifting through activities as my wife’s mental ability to entertain herself continues to diminish. Once, she enjoyed painting vivid abstracts and would do this for days. When that became too complicated she moved to coloring books. As her coloring projects no longer lasts more than a few minutes, it was time for something new.

Enter “FaceTime Karaoke.”

No, this is not a term you will find on Wikipedia because I made it up. It involves a video call with one of our kids with the addition of another device playing Mexican pop tunes. My wife immediately bursts out singing, and this impromptu concert goes on and on. It’s amazing how she seems to remember every song.

Music therapy is nothing new for dementia patients, rather, it’s recommended. For some reason, yet to be explained, Alzheimer’s destroys many parts of the brain but skips the part that stores and remembers music. Some reason this is because music is a complex array of sounds and emotions stored in a unique place. All I know is that my wife can’t think rationally or remember what she had for breakfast but when she hears those songs she learned fifty years ago, music erupts joyfully from her mouth.

Score one for technology, which allows us to connect intimately with family in far away places, sharing the fun and memories of songs they grew up with.

Yes, I’m careful to add nothing more than a little background percussion as it has been noted that my voice would embarrass a drunken frog.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: Almost Heaven, My Dementia Diary