And they didn’t live Happily ever after … An Alzheimer Story

Yesterday our community in Vernon, British Columbia, observed a Walk for Alzheimer Research and for those who are living with Alzheimer Disease and their families. The Ukeleles for Fun band for which I usually play percussion performed for the walkers as they rounded the arena track. I wasn’t able to participate this year as I had an important commitment at my church, but I was there in spirit. I also contribute regularly to the Alzheimer Society’s research campaign and have been doing so for many years. I urge everyone to consider regular donations of whatever they can afford to Alzheimer research. The main reason I am so committed to this worthy cause is that my late husband, Gus Johannesson, had early onset AD, was diagnosed at age 58 and died four years later. At the time of his diagnosis our children were 12 and 17 years’ old. Now my present husband, has been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and is getting some help from an Alzheimer drug that wasn’t available when Gus needed it back in 1992. It is not a cure, but can hold off many of the complications from AD for a length of time. I’m hoping and praying that a cure may be found in the near future. In remembrance of Gus, I am sharing a copy of the letter that Alzheimer Manitoba asked me to write for their 1994 campaign.

Gayle Moore-Morrans


 

Alzheimer   Manitoba     

Johannessons at Pishew Falls MB 1988

And they didn’t live Happily ever after . . .

November 7, 1994

Dear Friends,

This September my husband Gus turned sixty. We wanted to celebrate as many families do, but the plans for our party were a bit different. His 60th “Toast and Roast” became the retirement party he never had and an affirmation of what he has meant to his family and friends while he is still able to appreciate it.

On the day of festivities we presented him with a book of remembrances gathered from friends and relatives around the world. This book is a tribute to Gus’s life as well as a tool for memory as he copes with his illness.

Two years ago Gus was diagnosed with Alzheimer Disease. I can’t say that our lives immediately changed. The disease doesn’t change your life overnight, but has over a number of years changed every aspect of our lives. To date, the cause of AD is unknown, there is neither cure nor definite treatment; it is progressive and will eventually be terminal.

It is incredible the emotional upheaval we all have been through these past years. All four of us have had counselling and hope that it remains available whenever we need it. The family has found comfort, relief, professional information and fellowship in support groups for adult caregivers, a children’s support group, the early stage support group, numerous educational sessions, and from Alzheimer staff and volunteers.

The Alzheimer Society of Manitoba has been able to provide these services because of people like you. I am happy to have this opportunity to personally thank you and let you hear firsthand how meaningful your help is for my family and many others.

It took a long time to really recognize that something serious was happening as Gus has always been a bit of the “absent-mined professor” type and we just figured he was getting more-so with age. This is not the situation. A man admired for his keen mind, having studied at the doctoral level in systematic theology has now forgotten how to tie a tie or manage the simple task of handling a sandwich. In happier days Gus was a Lutheran pastor giving support and guidance to others. Today he is on the receiving end.

Alzheimer Disease attacks the whole family. We are all hurting, angry, frustrated, scared; dealing with a tremendous loss.

Your roles change. I have had to become in as many ways as possible mother and father to my children and husband, directing all my energies outside of the workplace to the family. The children and I have become caregivers, not easy for an adult, let alone a twelve-year-old and seventeen-year-old. A caregiver’s day is often referred to as the “36-hour day.” That is how we live, each and every day.

As is typical with early AD, symptoms come and go resulting in good and bad days. So far Gus’s skills that are totally gone are writing, public speaking, driving, anything mathematical, and many deductive reasoning processes.

We thank God for the good days, for the patience that we are learning, for on-going medical research, for the help offered by the Alzheimer Society and most of all, for the prayers, love, help and support of family and friends.

Our family includes you when we say “Friends.” You probably don’t know us personally, but as a supporter of the Alzheimer Society you help make each and every day a little bit brighter, a little bit easier.

Once again, thank you for making our lives happier. Please continue your needed support. It is your caring and generosity that makes the difference!

With our sincere appreciation,

Gayle Johannesson

P.S. The number of families coping with the devastating reality of Alzheimer Disease is expected to at least double in the next decade.

 

LOCATION WRITING AT A BEACH

LOCATION WRITING AT A BEACH

Our Location Writing Group met on August 20, 2014 to do some creative writing at a beach on Okanagan Lake.

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Frances, a new member of the group, created a beautiful lyrical poem which took a mystical look at the scene.

Lure of the Lake

While lime licked willows toe hold the water’s edge
And golden cheat grass carpet the hillside
Porcelain clouds hover over ponderosa pines.

I wonder, can they feel the lure of the lake
Are their eyes drawn into its sun dappled ripples
Their ears caressed by its soft soft lapping ?

Frances Warner

Gayle focused on  the many, many details she was seeing, arranging them so as to create an alphabetical look at what she was experiencing while writing at the beach.

AN ALPHABETICAL LOOK AT LOCATION WRITING ON THE SHORES OF OKANAGAN LAKE

Ambience and Atmosphere Aplenty!

Beach, Bay, Boats, Birdsong, Blue herons and Blue sky enhanced by

Creek, Canoe and Cumulous Clouds, all part of God’s Creation.

Duck and Drake Drift Dreamily by, now and then Dipping their heads into the water with their tails pointing skyward. Dog Dips, too, but into nearby creek. Docks Dappled along the shoreline remind us of watery Deeds to come as Day unfolds.

Efflux of East-born Vernon Creek Eddies its way into Okanagan Lake to our right. Elegant Egret Enjoys her Elevated view of Earth.

Footprints cover the sand at our Feet, as Feather Flutters to the ground. Forests Flitter along the mountains rising from the lake.

Green everywhere – from Grasses, Groves, Grounds, Golf course; contrasting with the Grey-blue water.

Houses Hug the shoreline. An occasional Hawk Hovers overhead.

Irrigation sprays along the slanted mountain fields as an Islet Isolated in the creek’s entrance to the lake between Vernon beach and Indian Reserve beach offers a private refuge for birds and dogs.

Jubilant Joy Joins us with dogs who Jump and cavort in the water, splashing from creek to islet to lake.

Kin Beach lies beyond the Indian Reserve beach, connected to the sprawling lawn and picnic tables of Kin Park. Waves Kiss the shore, blown by breezes and enhanced by the Keen trail of Kayak or the greater wake of motorboat.

Lake Lies resplendent, Luminously reflecting the sky.

Mountains and Marina stand silent, broken only by the flutter of Maple leaf flags, Motor

Noise and the distant Nod of Northern Nimbus clouds. We wonder if rain is on its way.

Okanagan Lake Oscillates before us. Ochre beach of Okanagan Indian Band’s Priest’s Valley Indian Reserve Number 6 beckons from across the creek, reminding us that this is their native soil and water, Owned by them for centuries past.

Poplars, Pine and Pontoons Partner to Police the

Quiet which Quickly returns between sounds of distant motors, screech of seagulls and Quack of ducks.

Reeds, The Rise, Riparian land and Indian Reserve stand as witness to the combination of nature, development, ecology and history.

Splashing Swimmers, Sassy Seagulls, and Spinning Spiders leaving webs gleaming in the Sun from nearby bushes. Sand, Shore and Stratus clouds. All point to the

Unity of nature and the Uniqueness of each of Us living beings.

Vernon, British Columbia spreads behind and above us on each side as we glimpse across the Vast expanse of

Waves to the Wilds along West Side Road and the Wakes of a Wide variety of boats – motorboats, speedboats, fishing boats, sailboats, canoe, kayak and pontoon.

X is not at the beginning, but at the end of SyilX, the local native people’s own word for themselves, owners of the beach and members of the Interior Salish ethnological and linguistic grouping and part of the Okanagan Nation Alliance.

Yacht Club in the left foreground gives a grandiose handle to the colony of sailboats clustered near Paddlewheel Park. As the day grows warmer our ears pick up the Yak-Yak, Yammer and Yatter of dog-walkers, beachcombers and swimmers, the Yipping of dogs and the occasional Yawn of sun-bathers gathering on the wider beach across the creek.

Zigzag of path twists and turns on the opposite mountain, giving access to a Zenith where those with a Zest for climbing may be able to enjoy a Zephyr, if they are lucky. No matter the weather, they are guaranteed a wind of some sort – gentle breeze, gusts or full-blown gale. The Okanagan is always stimulating, enlivening and invigorating.

Gayle Moore-Morrans

Reblogging “Location writing has locals putting fruits of labour to paper”

This article appeared in our local newspaper, The Morning Star in Vernon, BC, on Wednesday, August 27, 2014, highlighting Gayle’s Location Writing group.

001-Location Writing Participants     Gayle writing - colour

Location writing has locals putting fruits of labour to paper

 

LOCATION WRITING IN A COUNTRY RESTAURANT GARDEN

001-LW-Friesen's - Writer's Group

LOCATION WRITING AT FRIESEN’S COUNTRY TYME GARDEN RESTAURANT, COLDSTREAM, BC

 Here we are again in another lovely venue. Just Patricia, Miss P and Gayle sitting and writing in a cozy, shady corner of the back garden.

Sounds? The whirl, whirl, whirl of an irrigator watering a nearby field; a dog barking in the distance; the occasional lowing of cattle in the adjacent field; the clatter of dishes from the Country Tyme kitchen; the steady, low chatter interrupted by louder laughter from restaurant guests sitting around tables scattered throughout the restaurant garden; the dampened whiz of cars driving past on Kalamalka Road.

Smells? Luckily, no cow manure; just the overwhelming aroma of ham, bacon and maple syrup. Though it is already 10:30 a.m., late risers are still having breakfast and brunch seekers are arriving. It is tempting not to think ahead to what promises to be a delicious lunch for us at noon, instead of concentrating on writing.

Feelings? Caressed by soft breezes, surrounded by beautiful flowers and protected by shady trees, I am lulled into a sense of peace, an assurance of God’s presence and inspiration to work on a pressing editing project.

Moving from my lawn chair, I decide to take up a wooden garden swing close by and begin editing a prayer walk for October’s Southern Interior Lutheran Women’s Fall Event that our ELW at Peace Lutheran will be hosting. I may be retired from my former position as Program Director and Editor for Evangelical Lutheran Women, but I’ve remained in the program editing track on a volunteer basis locally. It’s nice to be back in the groove in such an inviting setting.

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Celebrating Mothering and Grandparenting

As Mother’s Day approaches I’m enjoying so many uplifting and poignant messages on Facebook regarding motherhood, as well as savouring the sight and smell of flowers that were just delivered to me from my daughter who lives with her husband and children in Norway. I’m also anxiously awaiting a call from my son who lives in California and hearing from my step-daughters in Manitoba. Yes, they are all too far away from our British Columbia home, but I guess that is a common situation in present-day life. Thank God for the modern convenience of Facetime so that we can regularly communicate and even see each other on my ipad and their iphones. (My son and I regularly go for a “walk” in the garden he maintains for the house he lives in and down to the nearby beach to check out the sand and surf.) Since Ian and I live in a popular retirement spot, many of our friends here also have children and grandchildren who are residing in other corners of the earth. Through Skype, Facetime and the like, they also manage to communicate and keep up with distant family members with the occasional long-distance flight to touch base in person.

I’m sharing a Pic Collage photo I compiled on my ipad to commemorate our great-grandchildren and two youngest grandchildren – the youngsters (or “wee’uns,” as Ian would call them in his Scottish vernacular) – the children in our lives who live far away from us (in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Norway) for whom we are Grandpa and Grandma and to whom we will be dedicating our children’s chapter book, “Jake, Little Jimmy and Big Louie,” for which I am presently doing the layout. Here they are: going around clockwise from the top center: Leland, 13 (our age-appropriate consultant for the book); Hannah, 8 (who did the drawings for the book); then Logan, 4; Brayden, 2; Lexi,2; Eva, 9 months; Gustav, 3; Caleigh, 6; and Madison, 4.  (We also are expecting two more great-grandchildren later this summer. The two photos  in the center show Grandpa Ian at his 80th birthday party in Winnipeg with six of the great-grandchildren and one grandson (Calan) whose daughter wouldn’t pose without him; plus the bottom photo of Ian and me on our 7th wedding anniversary at home in Vernon, September 7, 2010 (on the day he had his heart attack, mind you!)

photo (2)

My husband Ian (the author) just turned 82 last week and is presently in a local care home for a 2-6 week “short stay convalescent care program” to help him regain some strength, balance and walking ability after over five years of serious illness and lots of medications which have saved or bettered his life but also are essentially poisonous and have lots of nasty side-effects, the worst of which has been neuropathy in the feet. I’m happy to say that a set of new orthotics plus the exercises, physio- and occupational therapy he is receiving daily is helping. I’ve seen a lot of progress in just a few days that he has been there.

In the meantime I’m enjoying some time alone at home with only the dog to take me away  from gardening and layout duties. Misty supervises me as I plant flowers in boxes and pots on our front porch, prune the shrubs in our front and back xeroscaped gardens, get the gazebo canopy and curtains set up and hire a worker to come in and clean out our pond and waterfall. I did the latter for the first time last year and could hardly stand the sight and stench of an about-two-inch layer of rain worms that had crawled into and died in the pond at the end of last autumn, during part of our mild winter and then so far this spring. I realize they are also God’s creatures, but they are ones I’d just as soon not encounter. I’ve also included some photos of our back yard from last year to share some of the beauty of our surroundings. The first photo is of my “Benjamin memorial” to remember my infant grandson who died in 2011 in Norway at 13 days old, the day after I had arrived there. The other photos show our xeroscaping, gazebo, pond and waterfall. Hopefully, Ian will be home soon to enjoy it all as well.

Benjamin memorial 1 in my garden

Backyard-Another view Patio-pond and Waterfall

We also wish to remember and honour our own mothers who passed away in 1995 at the ages of 86 (Ian’s) and 96 (mine) in 2001. Their birthdates were within a day of each other but a few years apart: Chrissie’s on June 15 (1909) and Mil’s on June 16 (1905).

Chrissie Morrans Moorhead

Ian’s mother, Christina Morrans Moorhead, known  as “Wee Chrissie” and to her grand- daughters as “Campbeltown Gran.”

                   OUR MOTHERS

Mildred Nelson Moore at 20 and 90

Gayle’s mother, Mildred Nelson Moore at ages 20 and 90, known as “Mil” and to her grandchildren as “Grandma Mil.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers on your special day on Sunday, May 11th. After church, my friend Jean (whose children are also far away) and I plan to drive up to our neighbouring Davison’s Orchard Farm, have Mother’s Day luncheon at Auntie May’s Cafe and enjoy a walk through the blossoming apple, pear and peach trees before our dog, Misty, and I go to visit Ian. Sounds like a fun day!

Gayle Moore-Morrans