Sunday, January 30, 2011

Getting out.....

We share so much about staying in that I thought we would speak to getting out.

Last night, WB and I traveled up the road a piece to attend Mick and Rick Springer's 50th Birthday Party. Hosted at Val and Mick's home in Alabaster and only a mile from our longtime friends Skip and Cathy McKay. So, when news of our going to the party arose, Cathy demanded that we also stop by to see them. I was nearly giddy with the invite.

It had been over a year since we had visited them in their home and with the thought of some of Cathy's cooking and homemade margaritas combined with some time alone with her, I simply could not resist. 

The scenario has always been: Bill and Skipper Dee gather in the den in front of the television chatting it up while Cathy and I sit around their large island to catch up. She is the queen of the margarita ~ always has been always will be. This has been a standard for about 18 years, however WB no longer gets to enjoy those famous concoctions. Well, perhaps he could, but with the medications he takes I shudder at the prospect of repercussions. There was a funny moment when he said to me, "have another, I'll drive us home." Heck, if the po-po pulled us over in Helena on the way home, we would both end up in the hokey.

It was evident to Skip the decline in WB's communication abilities in just a short time. We had spent Labor Day 2010 with them at our family favorite, Inlet Beach ~ that was just 5 months ago. Strange how I see subtle changes and then remarkable to me how marked they are to people who do not see him so often. Supposing that is the way these things go, it also validates for me some of the issues we face with daily living. Sometimes I just need people to see and experience what I am to help keep my coordinates in check.

From there, we moseyed on over to Val and Mick's to find their party at full tilt. Great music, great food and great times. Early on, I had worried about WB and how he would do, but when people extend their hand to the "legend" before he can get his sea legs under him, it is all good. Warmly embraced by people he had not seen in many years. Some knew of his illness, perhaps some did not but it simply did not matter. Our hosts made no real big play about the elephant in the room and for that I am grateful. First class, all the way. Thinking back to several years ago, WB would have worked the crowd like a champ. Head thrown back with that hearty laugh while swapping stories.....

So, except for the constant tugging at his jacket to try and cover the extra 10 pounds, he assumed his new normal position. Lean, smile and observe.

From attending events several times a week to trying to get to something once every couple of months is not a symptom of not wanting to see people. Sometimes, it just wears me out to make it happen. The party had been on the books for several weeks and we literally began getting him ready for a 7:00 pm party at 11:00 am. His worries over which jeans, what boot, the color of his belt, which jacket, what time will we leave, who will be there, is it cold outside, when will we a merry-go-round, it cycles over and over. Round and round and round we go, where it stops, nobody knows.

After two shirt and three jacket changes, I am dressed and ready to walk out the door as he intently studies his fish while sitting in his chair, still in whitey tidies. Clothes have been ironed and laid out on the bed for hours.

He finally got some pep in his step when I casually asked, "well, are you going with me?"

Thirty minutes later with Kate nearly in tears, the animals nervous as hell and I am feeling my blood pressure in my ears, we pulled out of the garage.

It is so important to get him out, but it is getting so hard to make it happen. Lately, when we make doctor appointments, he is spit shined but they get to see me in yoga pants, tennis shoes, a make-up free face with not even a watch on. And, early morning appointments are brutal as they tamper with the ebb and flow.

Cathy called me last evening to check my progress and I told her I was putting on my face to which she then exclaimed, "say it ain't so!"

The girls were shocked when we returned before midnight and had called several times to make sure he was holding up while offering to come and get him so that I could stay.

Andy met us at the door upon our return. He's a keeper!
Once again, the effort was worth the result ~ and Fuzzy the DJ taught me a new dance move! You just can't beat that on a good day. Valerie has become a real constant in my life. Somehow she always knows when to pop up with encouraging words, scripture and prayer or a girls night out. Our instant friendship has matured with understanding, six degrees of separation and a genetic family tie. A real treat last night was to finally meet their precious daughter, Ashley. She is absolutely beautiful ~ inside and out.

They say to expect rain with a busy week ahead. Plans were to encourage him to wash Black Beauty today, but I think we may pass. It has been quiet this morning and with the prospect of getting some studying in along with the assistance he will need to make the car washing chore happen...well, lets just call it spades and say it is simply not on my radar screen.

Until next time,


My name is Rhonda Brantley and my husband, Billy Ray Brantley suffers from Early Onset Alzheimer's Dementia. This is the best shot we have at documenting daily living.

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