New Year

THE TWO FACES OF JANUS AND GROUNDHOG DAY — THE MOVIE

Janus

Even without the two faces of Janus, AD caregivers often see their tomorrows filled with the repetition of their yesterdays.

It’s January again and at times I want to ask, “Didn’t we just do January?” The answer coming back would be, “No.  That was last year and 11 months have transpired in between.”  I really know that, but there was something about that first day of 2012 which brings about thoughts of Janus the Roman God of New Beginnings after whom the month was named.  Being who he was it is said that he had two faces: one looking forward and the other looking back.  While Janus probably didn’t have my caregiving assignment, or if he did he never mentioned it, I see a disheartening sameness in my life while looking in either direction.

Being able to look back is a good thing, and in that respect we are much like the mystical god, but better because we who are mentally healthy can look back without needing a second face.  We have memory and can learn from history – especially our own.  We learn from making mistakes, taking wrong turns in the road, and what works and what doesn’t.  Furthermore, we can look ahead making daily plans, and plan for the future. My problem is constantly seeing more of the same thing coming in my tomorrows as filled my yesterdays.

Suppose that by looking back and ahead we see only repetition.  I guess that’s where I was as this New Year began; living in “Groundhog Day” – the movie – without the romance.  Bill Murray’s character Phil, an angry, arrogant, conceited jerk, had to keep repeating February 2, until his attitude changed, or until he got it right.  Andie Macdowell’s Rita, the love interest, eventually helped him through his maze of repetition producing a new, reformed and lovable Phil; a delightfully funny movie which Ken and I enjoyed together long before his Alzheimer’s was even suspected.

Remembering the movie, though, I found I was identifying with Phil’s frustration of constant repetition – without the laughs.  It’s true that I’m not tied to a stockade then released to perform certain duties, but it is the repetition of those twice-daily duties from which there is no escape: getting Ken up, cleaned and ready for breakfast each morning, and getting him cleaned and ready for bed in the evening.  (It is much more complicated and emotionally wrenching than it appears in my simple sentence, but long ago I promised myself to always be discreet in my writings about my husband.)

My caregivers, wonderful though they are, cannot do these chores alone.  I am their assistant, and I know I am blessed beyond measure to have them.  I also know that having Ken home is so much better for him, and me, than placing him in a care facility. Yet, the schedule inhibits my planning a totally free day.  No matter what I’m doing I must stop at designated times and with my cell phone in a pocket I’m always on call for undesignated times, which can put a damper on my project regardless if it’s at a crucial point or not, and help the caregivers.  That’s when I feel as if I’m living in “Groundhog Day” – the movie.

Admitting to me that I dread the routine I also recognize that the dread causes a buildup of resistance in planning my day.  Recognition is a first step.  While I understand that the day will be interrupted, it’s the accepting of the interruption that is difficult – and I ask myself – why?  After all, once involved in any project we can be interrupted in anything we do; altering our focus by a phone call, a visitor, a question, or a problem with the project itself.  Then I realized those interruptions are, not only easily accepted, but often welcomed as a mini-break because they were never built into the day’s plan as a constant, as is my husband’s clean-up time.

When Ken retired we became very spontaneous, often ditching less-important, flexible plans for some fun times spent together.  I suppose that loss of spontaneity is rather debilitating adding to the lack-luster feeling of sameness.  Actually, it can be rather hellish when time offers us no opportunity for change in our life; little variety,  few surprises, no rewards, no excitement and not much in the way of looking forward.

With that in mind, and as a caregiver who has been putting break time on hold during the past Holidays, I need to move headlong into the tomorrows and make positive plans for this coming year, and I’m the only one who can do it.  Not resolutions, just plans, even sketchy plans including projects and fun, but in the doing I’ll still need to schedule those time periods to accommodate my daily duties as assistant to Ben and Crizaldo which is a must, and learn to conquer my feelings of dread and resistance.  A recent email message offered a really great motivational shove: “Life has no remote.  Get up and change it yourself.”

It is essential for my own well-being to get out more with my movie group, my lunch group, and with Madalyn where we meet at Wendy’s for a baked potato with extra sour cream, butter and no salt because periodically we deserve a two-hour, carefree lunch.  I might even plan on painting the living room.

I know I don’t have all the answers to lighten up the tedious work of caregiving and the reality of losing my husband to this cruel disease.  What I do know is that I don’t want to live my life in the sameness of “Groundhog Day” – the movie – no matter how funny it was — because even never-ending funny without any hope for change can be hellish.

Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/forresto/4258770494/

Originally posted 2012-01-14 03:42:41.

FINDING THE NEW YEAR MAGIC

Happy New Year and fireworks

Photo courtesy Creative Commons Finding the New ?year’s magic has to do with finding the magic throughout the year.

January 1, 2017/January 1, 2015 — Happy New Year to all of my friends, family and readers. As we begin another new year, let’s hope for the best in having all we need in health, happiness, and new jobs. I wish all of you joy as I repost this older blog from a few years back. In my youthful search for something special happening on New Year’s Eve I found that what I thought was magic was not magic at all. The magic is what we do with what we have including the love shared with our family and friends.

SEARCHING FOR THE MAGIC

From the time I was old enough to remember hearing adults shout “Happy New Year,” I believed there was something magical happening as the clock chimed 12:00 p.m.  Furthermore, I was missing it all because I was a child and had to be in bed early. Then one year my parents went out with friends on December 31, leaving my sister, Janet, and me in the care of our older sister, Polly, who was 16. At last, Janet and I knew we could stay up until the bewitching hour because Polly was caught up in her own reverie of sadness in not having a boy friend at year’s end.

THERE HAD TO BE NOISE

The two of us knew there must be noise to welcome in The New Year so Janet fortified us with metal dish pans and wooden spoons. Polly didn’t care what we were doing, taking to her bed early. My favorite big sister planned we would march up and down the sidewalk in front of our building (the fourth floor flat being our home) banging our dish pans at the first sounds of celebration. At 12:00 we heard horns honking and whistles blowing in the distance, but that was all, so we high stepped our march and drummed our pans more vigorously. Still nothing. “Is that all?” I whined with great disappointment.

“Come with me,” ordered Janet. I followed her up the flights of stairs into the kitchen where she took one of Mama’s best cooking pots (the heaviest of her hammered aluminum cookware) and ran to the front of the flat overlooking the street. Throwing up the window and calling, “Look out below,” Janet tossed the pot into space watching it fall down and down until it hit the sidewalk. Still no magic. If San Francisco had no magic, where could it be found? Janet tried three more times with the same result, “Thud, clunk, clunk, clunk.”

We retrieved the pot (fortunate that it hadn’t taken out a drunk from the corner bar) put it back in the kitchen and we both went to bed still wondering where was the magic — the celebration — this miraculous thing that changed one year into another — where was the old bearded man carrying the sickle — and the stork delivering the Baby New Year? Continue reading

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