Monday, October 8, 2007

Are you getting things back to normal?

Several people asked me on Sunday "Are you getting things back to normal?" I was shocked the first time someone asked me that. What does normal mean for me anyway? Has there even been a normal day in the last 9 years? Do people have normal?

There's no going back to 9 years ago. Even if I could it would mean that I wouldn't know Judy and we wouldn't be married and I'd be 5 grandkids short. I'd be 50 and I don't even want to repeat that. And so many other things that I can't even imagine it. It's like It's a Wonderful Life when Jimmy Stewart wishes he hadn't been born and Clarence fixes it for him and he learns that every life and every second of every life is so connected to every other life. And Clarence gets his wings and we learn that angels have their own problems. Or like that scene in Our Town when Emily has died and she's in the cemetery and wants to go back and relive just one day. And Mrs. Gibbs tells her to pick the least important day she can but Emily picks her 12th birthday. It is so painful for her and she only hits the highlights.

It's really the same way it was when I came here in 1998. I didn't like it at all at first. It was hard for me. My son wants me to write some of that and maybe I will but not now and maybe never. Little by little though I found my way and things became manageable and eventually things fell into some kind of normalcy. And then later when mom died it happened again except that there were two of us that were screwed up and trying to find a new way. And then there was the uncertainty of dad's disease and my marriage and trying to figure out how to make it work.

That's all it is really is figuring how to make it all work. That's what I'm doing now. There are little things and big things and maybe gigantic things. Right now I am concentrating on learning to live with my wife and hanging out with her and handling these various meetings and so on when they happen.

For instance, today I had 3 meetings and a lunch. And when it was over I got in my car and at first I thought I'd swing by dad's house. But then I thought "why?" and so I headed straight here. Doesn't sound like much but pretty significant. Or like yesterday I went to church with Judy while she practiced in the orchestra. And then we came home - here - together. That's a pretty big deal. Or Saturday my gas grill ran out of propane but Sunday I found the nearest Blue Rhino exchange place.

I suppose they are baby steps but they seem pretty adult size to me.

Am I getting things back to normal? I think I am. It isn't always pretty. It's stop and go and full of errors and indecision and guesses. And sometimes it seems like it is a dozen steps backwards for every one forward.

The giant things are "where are we going to live" and "what am I going to do" and stuff like that. Some of my blog friends are dealing with whatever is bigger than gigantic problems like faith and the meaning of life.

I don't know any of that.

I'm trying to figure out how to spend 7 nights here instead of one. I think its harder for her than for me.

SNAFU - Situation Normal All Fouled Up - well, edited for decency - that's what we said in the army.

I've arrived.


nancy said...

you sound like you are adjusting to your new life. i'm happy for you and judy both. i'm glad you are taking baby steps and in some instances bigger steps.

my prayer is that all of us AD caregivers will eventually learn to adjust to our new life and enjoy life and never forget to thank God for all our blessings.

thanks for continuing to post terry. i so enjoy reading your posts.

~Betsy said...

When I was talking with my best friend from high school, Kelly, shortly after my dad died and my mom moved in here, I expressed my need for normalcy. She said, "Yes, but what is normal exactly? You now have entered a new normal."

Indeed we have. As caregivers we have one type of normal and as after-caregivers (or whatever we should call it) there is an entirely different one. I'm so happy to see you finding your new normal. You have been an inspiration to me - Nancy and Lori, too.

I am so glad you are still posting. Your words are so insightful and oddly comforting to me.

Say hello to Judy for me. Horse people are a special breed!

~Betsy said...

Oh, and as for the cat hair from Babe that you referred to in a post to me, two words: lint roller. ;)

SKYGIRL said...

Oh Terry, I have no words of wisdom for you, friend. I do cry, as I read all of your stories, and your feelings of...loss? Because that is what you are feeling, it is just indescribable, I imagine.

But just like birth, everyone experiences Death, their own, and others, some really important, and some not so important? I guess it might help to know that others have been through it, and not only survived, but have thrived?

I am not sure. I am just glad you are expressing your feelings, whatever they are, they are....right.

And I just feel so sad for you, so do not know how much help that is, as I cry over my keyboard. :-(

Lori1955 said...

I haven't got a clue as to what normal is. Sometimes I feel like I am running away from life rather than living it.

I know you are having to make some big adjustments. You are used to being a visitor at Judy's instead of really living there. I'm sure it is difficult for her too.

It's all the little things that seem to trip us up isn't it.

arutherford said...

Well, Terry, you got me to thinking. What exactly is normal. So I looked it up and below are just a few of the definitions listed, followed by the antonyms, which I like much better:

Normal: (n) the average or mean; the standard; (adj) usual; without any special characteristics or circumstances; characterized by average intelligence or development.

Normal-Antonyms: exceptional, rare, uncommon, unusual; intellectual, mental, soulful, spiritual, unconventional, special

I'd say that none of us are "normal," thank God, or we wouldn't have put our lives on hold while we cared for our loved ones. I'd even go so far as to say that we are extraordinary and that just as we haven't been living "normal" lives while we took care of our LO, we ain't gonna being living "normal" lives now. We have all been changed, for the better, because we have allowed God to be our Rock and Strength and we will continue to do that. We are beloved by Him and I don't think he makes "normal" folks. I think He specializes in exceptional folks. AND, that ain't braggin' (as Dizzy Dean would say-I bet you remember him) 'cause we can do it!
Keep blessing us with your writings.

flintysooner said...


Dizzy and Paul lived in Oklahoma a while. Now I'm a little young to know this first hand. But my teacher's father owned a grocery store in Holdenville, OK and she told me stories about the Deans. They were really poor and had to buy groceries on credit. Mrs. Raine, my teacher, said her father always granted credit to people and did the same to the Deans and sometimes he wasn't completely repaid.

That happened in the Dean's case but years later Dizzy sent her dad the full amount with a nice thank you note.

My parents and I think others who lived through the depression had a different appreciation for people like Dizzy and Paul. And Dizzy and Paul were so different from the star athletes of today.

I hadn't really thought so much about that but I think it is true.

Thanks Ann for commenting.

Cindy said...

I, too, was caught off guard the first time someone asked, "So, are things getting back to normal for you?" Many times, especially the first few months after Uncle Fred's death, I didn't know what "normal" was. It took time for me to adjust to my life without him. It took time to go out somewhere on the spur of the moment, because I was so used to having to plan all outings in advance.

Anyway, I didn't mean to go off on a tangent. I do "get" what you're saying.

Cindy V.