Friday, October 16, 2015

Routines But Not Structure

Tammy's cousin Barb runs a non-profit that helps disabled adults plug into society in various ways. One of the ways is through a program of socializing with others while making crafts. Tammy took on the role of leading that group a few months ago and I've recently joined her. There's a fair amount of preparation involved but working with the people and seeing the satisfaction they get from being creative makes it all worthwhile. The group consists of people in Barb's program and adults at an assisted living facility where we set up shop once each week.

Yesterday's project brought out a lot of smiles when people saw what they'd be making: a scarecrow and a Frankenstein on a stick. Trying to get everyone through the project can get a little hectic because not everyone arrives at noon when we start. Some straggle in as late as a half hour after we begin and we just work with them and fit them in as best we can.

I'm getting more sleep now than at any point ever in my adult life and it's nice. When I was working I averaged less than 6 hours a night and it left me in a perpetual state of tiredness. That can't be good for a person but I managed. I think about all of the miles I used to ride and walk and all of the jobs I'd do around the house in between my hours at work and I can see how I had to be so conscious of what time it was all the time. I seldom look at my watch anymore and sometimes wonder why I even wear it.

I was telling Tammy that I'm floundering a little as I try and find my footing in my new life because I'm still somewhat of the mindset that I have to budget my time and have something to show for my day at the end of it. This lack of structure is so unfamiliar to me. Ever since leaving home at 18 to join the Navy I've lived a life of structure and purpose and now pretty much all of that has become unnecessary with the exception of some daily routines.

My typical day now consists of getting up and walking the pups then coming home and killing an hour online while waiting for the outside temp to climb a little before going out on one of my bikes or walking. I've been alternating my days of walking and riding and I like that because it keeps me excited to do each of them. I'll usually have some downtime in the afternoon of hanging out or running errands then I settle in to be with Elaine while Tammy goes to the club for a couple hours to workout and get some time away from home. She needs that.

Elaine is very content here but we can see her slipping away from us due to her Alzheimer's. She loves to sit in front of her little mirror and primp her hair and apply small stickers to her face. She will do this for hours at a time. Tammy had to take away her makeup recently because it was becoming too much of a mess. The stickers seem to work well to keep her occupied. It's what she enjoys doing and keeps her happy.

Lately she's begun talking to her friend in the mirror and trying to feed her. I'll be sitting in the next room listening to her and it sounds like she's on the phone talking with a friend. There are pauses where the other person is speaking and then she picks up her part of the conversation again.

Most of her memories are from weekends of her youth and the dances she would attend. They always end with her talking about her brother Adolph and how he would driver her and her friends to and from the dances and wait for them. She has a very special fondness for Adolph. Tammy says he was a farmer and a very sweet man who never married.

Elaine is a soft touch or an easy mark for Charlie whenever she has food in front of her. She can't say no to him and so she feeds him, even if it's soup. Our scolding words to him to not beg all went unheeded so we started tying him up to a short leash we have connected to the leg of a chair at the kitchen table when Elaine is eating.

We've recently noticed that Toby and Allie have learned the art of begging by watching Charlie. I'm considering a quick trip to Fleet Farm for two more leashes.


John Hill said...

I think that part of being an apprentice retiree is finding a new rhythm that works or getting used to living without a regular rhythm.
And I really like getting up when I'm finished sleeping! I've been sleeping much more than my 4.5 per night that I did for most of my adult life.

Kevin Gilmore said...

John, yeah, it's working out real well for me and I'm definitely enjoying every day being a Saturday but this new mindset is going to take some getting used to. I no longer feel like I'm on a vacation from work although I did have a dream last night where I was called in for OT to work the A-side (because I'm no longer certified). Ha!

Yes...being able to sleep until I feel ready to get out of bed is the best thing ever!