Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Gift: Part 1

I haven't talked about my Mom-in-law for a bit and I thought you might like to get an update on things with her. 

My MIL and Ruby

As many of you that visit me regularly know - I have been a caregiver part time for my MIL with Alzheimer's for years now. Well recently she had worsened in her condition and due to increased depression, anxiety and behaviors my Father-in-law had decreased his work time (because she does the best at home and with him) - so I was caregiving only part of "part time".  

Unfortunately a few weeks ago she has even worsened more and meds were increased and my FIL made the brave and loving decision to stop working for now and stay home with her full time. We talked to him about burn out...about other options etc. He was adamant that he wanted to do this and have as much time with her as possible, while he can still manage things and she's safe to be there. So we have respected his decision. We are however still involved regularly and helping whenever we're able. My Mom just took her for a haircut a few days ago. I still take her for MD appointments and make sure her fungal toenails are taken care of (clipped and to pedi appointments). I still bring them meals at least 2 days  a week. My hubby & bro-in-law (their sons) often have lunch with them during the work week when they take a break. I call and check in. As the weather improves I will go get her for walks and visits here to give my FIL more of a break. They go out to dinner with other relatives one night a week.  So for now there is a rhythm and routine that appears to be working. My FIL said when he feels the time is right he will let us help him look at facilities for her. 

Many years ago now I talked my MIL into going to a scrapbooking class with me. I knew I was going to get into it no matter what - but I'd thought it'd be so much more fun to share with someone and she had always been really artistic and liked things like that. She agreed and thankfully the rest is history! For many years we scrapbooked regularly together. Due to that we have the wonderful gifts of the scrapbooks she made during that time. They're a legacy of love - as well as a history of the family that we wouldn't probably know if she hadn't done that. I believe it was God's hand and we're all incredibly grateful for it!! I have looked through the books with her many times and she used to have some connection and genuinely triggers of some memories of family/relatives. Now there appears to be no real memory to any of it. So sad and feels unfair.

Anyway, I know this post is lengthy but I wanted to give you the update and share this info - as I thought that for a time here on Tuesdays I would share some of the pages of her different scrapbooks she made. Today I'll start with the gift of the heritage scrapbook she made for each side of their family - my MIL's and my FIL's.   They're so beautiful and special and I feel this is a way I can honor her a bit. So here are a few pages from her side of the family. I may share a few more next week and then my FIL's side after that. She made family trees that I won't share here due to privacy of names etc. 

The inscription she put on the inside cover of this album.

Her grandparents are the young man in the front right of the first photo and the young lady in the front left of the second photo.

Different photos of her grandparents. Aren't old photos just the coolest?

I love the blue paper she used in that top one - like old wallpaper. I love looking at the old cars and styles of their clothes!!

My MIL said this was a photo of her grandpa up in a tree with a friend. Love the caption that was on the back! Lol

Look at those old cars. And the hats and boots of the ladies! Right out of Downton Abbey don't ya think? ;)

Here are those pages side by side in full layout so you can see the together how they are in the book.

This is my MIL's grandparents. I believe Alzheimer's can have a genetic component as this maternal grandma of hers also had Alzheimer's/dementia fairly young (started in their 60's) like my MIL.

I love the way she pieced the borders on these pages - looks so old fashioned. And I love the stickers like the old trunk & the watch.

My MIL's mom. She was an only child. 

These are those pages side by side to see the full layouts. 

Thank you for tolerating this lengthy post. In the future series of posts they won't be nearly as long. This one was due to all the updating as well. Thank you for all of the kind thoughts and prayers you've shared as we go through this journey. They mean so much, and I've shared them with hubby too and he has thought it's wonderful that I'm finding such sweet friends in blogland. So again -thank you and blessings to you!!


  1. You know! My thoughts and my heart are with you my dear and with your family and MIL too. Hugs across the miles! xx

    1. Thanks so much Amy! I feel it and send hugs right back!! ;)

  2. I love all your posts, but by far this has been my favorite. It wasn't lengthy at all Carrie, and it really touched me in ways you can't imagine.

    Not only was it wonderful to see these old photos, but hearing about what has been going on, the history of your family and everyone's involvement, really gives me hope that there are wonderful people in this world, and you're right up there with the best of them.

    The albums really brought her 'to life', and yes, it's very sad and unfair that this has happened, but she's so very fortunate to have such a loving family.


    1. Thanks so much Doreen! Your reply wells me up and makes my heart feel full. I think there a lot of wonderfully loving and dedicated folks out there and I do have hope for all of our society's capacity to be more understanding, loving and compassionate. She was such a special person for my whole adult life - this is a way to honor her now for as long as I (we) can.

      I love sharing bits of her this way. Blogging is so wonderful not only for the connection to friends - but to be a therapeutic, creative and healing tool. Pretty amazing to me. ;)

      God bless my Dear Friend. Your words mean SO much! xoxo

  3. My sweet friend,
    I love this post.
    I am so sorry to hear that your dear MIL is declining into that horrible disease ...
    But the love and time she put into the albums is perhaps one of the most beautiful ways she can stay with you all.
    The devotion your FIL has to his wife is beautiful.
    Yet, I know the way it affects him and his health as well.
    They are blessed to have you and your hubby helping him with the care.
    My father used to say, "You don't have to do all this for me!"
    And I replied always, "Didn't you do the exact same for me? And even more, by giving me life?"
    Hugs, my friend.

    1. Thanks so much Billie Jo! I know you understand all too well and the tears roll as I just eat up the kind words. They mean so much and go right to the soul. So thank you.

      We're keeping a close watch on my FIL as we will intervene if it becomes too much for him. I think sometimes when you're right in it you don't always see what it's doing to you. I have a lot of support too with my Hubby and his Bro. It's just funny how we women seem to be stronger with handling this stuff - plus my background was in geriatric social work so I dealt with quite a bit of this.

      Thanks again for the support sweet Friend!! xoxo

  4. I'm sorry to hear her health has declined. She is blessed to have such a loving family surrounding her.
    The scrapbooks are true treasures!

    1. Thanks so much Mari!! I feel so blessed with have those scrapbooks! I guard them like treasure because they mean so much. Especially for the future generations. ;)

      Blessings Sweetie. xoxo

  5. It's such an act of love that your FIL is willing to care for his wife full-time for now. But yes, it is certainly a physically and mentally demanding job for him. I know it's hard to go along with his wishes when you know it's going to take some sort of toll on him as well. At least he's open to making alternate arrangements when he knows the time is right. Your MIL is very blessed to have such a caring family all around her.
    The scrapbooks she made are wonderful family keepsakes, and a beautiful history passed onto her grandchildren.
    Hugs to you Carrie, and a prayer to your family to continue in the care of your dear MIL.

    1. Oh dearest Wendy! I know how much this is still affecting your heart too. It is so hard - but we're truly in it together and doing the best we can....in honor of her. We're keeping a close eye on my FIL too.

      I feel like God's hand was directly involved in having those scrapbooks and I'm beyond grateful for it! ;)

      Hugs right back to you and your family my dear GAl!! xoxo

  6. The scrap books are truly a gift! Keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers.

    Renee’ @ 2 Peas in a Pod

    1. Thank you so much Renee!! It means so much. xoxo

  7. Such a sweet post. The one thing I've learned over the last 10 years dealing with 3 separate family members with Alzheimer's is that each one is entirely different from the other and the decisions that need to be made are so personal and close to the heart. I admire your FIL for what he is doing and feel for him too as I know (even without knowing him) it is the hardest thing he has every done. Your wonderful loving family seems to have found a routine that works for now and hopefully will continue to work for a long time to come. HUGS & PRAYERS to you all. Love that you have the scrapbooking together memories!

    1. It's such a difficult disease that affect so many -as you well know! But finding a whole new community of wonderful, caring, and truly empathizing friends means so much!!

      I admire my FIL too -and you're so right in that this is the hardest thing he's ever done (& he's one tough old school kind of guy). I feel blessed that we have come together as a family the way we have - so we can honor her this way and feel at peace with the eventual outcome.

      And those scrapbooks are an unbelievable gift and I know we're all so grateful to have them. But you're right, I'm especially grateful for the memories we had working on them together. ;)

      Blessings. xoxo

  8. Don't worry at all about writing a lengthy post, Carrie, I loved seeing all those old photos! I am very sorry to hear that your dear MIL has declined but it sounds as if your whole family is pulling together to support your FIL with her care. Sending you a big hug and the strength to be able to deal with whatever comes. xx