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A balance sheet for life. Friday March 6, 2015

For over three decades I have kept a personal diary. My husband now suffers from Alzheimer's, but he still really enjoys listening to the 'story' of our life. Some bits I 'skip', lots are horribly prophetical, and I confound people by correcting the deficiencies of their memories.

When the going got tough I would write a 'balance sheet' of the good and bad of the moment, the bottom line had to be accepted or acted upon. Blank spaces usually meant a 'down' time, because in 'good' times I never missed an entry - however hectic things were.

I have been doing Moodscope for over two years - some blogs I print and refer back to. One was Suzy's 'A few pretty things'. My 'balance sheet' now is that however bad things get I will find a pleasurable moment if possible.

After a particularly harrowing time it is a cup of coffee with a Zelenka Mass, Mozart's Requiem – the Messiah (nearly worn out).

When going out, even in near despair, it is smart clothes, matching jewellery, high heels and head held high – one thing I have found being the 'carer' is that one 'slumps'. Meal times, such an event, being passionate about table linen and china, are nearly a thing of the past – but, still, a candle and a single rose/marigold/nasturtium will give some semblance of elegance.

The 'few pretty things' brings back so many memories – we made many visits to India – a woman living on the pavement, with cardboard boxes between her and her neighbour, cooking for her family in a pretty sari. In Kerala, along the water ways, a man came out of his hovel, swam half way across the backwater, picked a water hyacinth, then swam back and put it in his wife's hair.

Sadly, at the moment, there is a 'debit' for which I can find no 'credit'. Our neighbour's cats have destroyed all our birds except the sparrows and a few tits. At night I am kept awake by bitter regrets of a cavalcade - of robin (I swear he said 'Good Morning'), little dunnocks, who waited till Robin was out of the way – he was territorial. Fledgling sparrows who would squeak for mum to feed them until they realised it was feed themselves or die. I am really in mourning for my little friends, and during the empty mornings in the garden have trouble, like Polyanna, in finding something to be 'glad' about.

The Gardener.
A Moodscope member.

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crafty wee midden Fri, Mar 6th 2015 @ 5:26am

Just to say (((((((((((((the Gardener))))))))).....x

Anonymous Fri, Mar 6th 2015 @ 7:09am

Hi, have you tried a cat deterrent? There is an approved rspb one they also have a list of other things that you can do to make your garden undesirable for cats such as plants they don't like the smell if and planting spikey plants around feeders. I appreciate you have a lot on but maybe this effort would allow you to recapture that joy. Eva

Hopeful One Fri, Mar 6th 2015 @ 7:17am

Hi The Gardner - your blog had so much heartfelt resonance with me as I am in the similar situation like you except that things have moved on for me with my wife's Alzheimer's deteriorating to the point where she needs nursing care. Curiously I have more or the less the same strategies as yourself like keeping a journal( I always try and note down three things that made me happy and three things that make me feel grateful.One of yesterdays 'happiness' was rescuing a hibernating bumblebee which just missed my spade),doing my Moodscope and contributing, whenever I can, something hopefully constructive,enjoying nature and always turning up well dressed no matter how I feel inside..So thank you for sharing and trusting the moodscope community your experience..I feel so much better in myself having read your blog as I realize that I am not alone and determined like yourself not to allow this dreadful disease to claim two victims.

The Entertrainer Fri, Mar 6th 2015 @ 7:46am

Dear Gardener, I've been thinking about Peter Sellers as "Chance" or "Chauncey Gardner" as he becomes in his last film, "Being There." There is so much deeper wisdom in this film even though it is supposed to be a comedy. Most of it comes around the themes of the Garden - plants, growing... So I was drawn to your poignant blog post and touched.
I do have some lovely recordings of birdsongs - but I don't know if that would help or hurt. If you'd like some, I can mix them into some Mozart for you...

Anonymous Fri, Mar 6th 2015 @ 9:01am

Dear Gardener, my profound sympathies to you. It is so hard being a full time carer. Can you get help and respite for yourself? To recharge your batteries? Thinking for two, etc, wears you down.
I am sorry about your little birds. We enjoy our garden life, and last week a sparrow hawk came down with its prey, and tucked in as we watched this amazing creature. Needless to say the robin, sparrows and coal tits had retreated!
I don't know what to say to help except know that we on Moodscope care about you. Love to you and your husband. Xxx

Anonymous Fri, Mar 6th 2015 @ 9:49am

Dear Gardener,

reading your post this morning profoundly moved me. I've been through difficult times myself lately, although nothing compared to what you are going through now. And I admire how much strength and resolve, and yet love, kindness, and caring is in your words. And I agree, it is the little moments and pleasures in life that give us strength and help us to carry on in bad times. I wish you a great many of those, and may other birds settle in your garden very soon. They may sing a somewhat different tune, but I am sure it will be a nice one as well!

Mary Blackhurst Hill Fri, Mar 6th 2015 @ 10:07am

Just sending you good wishes.

Anonymous Fri, Mar 6th 2015 @ 10:29am

So touching. How challenging it is to document the good moments- even though I know there ARE good moments - each day, when the bad, sad and downright ugly moments are like a constant deluge that threaten to overwhelm us throughout the day. The hope mingles with the hopelessness and vice-versa.

Your sadness about the birds is so, so understandable and heartbreaking. Like the commenter above, my neighbourhood has a resident sparrow hawk too. In my very sensitive, raw and fragile moments (and there are many such moments) I have to try and explain to myself that I'm projecting my very human feelings onto little creatures that don't overthink&over analyse like I do. They won't feel the depths of sadness or sensitivity like we do either. So hard though!

I hope we hear more from The Gardener during the coming seasons.

Siobhain Fri, Mar 6th 2015 @ 12:19pm

I felt very angry on your behalf when I heard about the one thing that gave you comfort being taken away ie your garden birds. While I like cats I wouldn't have one for this reason. Then at the end of your piece the thought for the day was around anger. There seems to be a Buddhist type theme on Moodscope that anger is destructive. I once heard that depression is anger turned inwards in other words non expressed anger. You have a lot of legitimate reasons to be angry at the moment so don't try to suppress it too much. We can accomodate others needs too much before our own. If you have the strength take the advice of the cat napper above and try and restore one thing in your life that gave you pleasure.

Anonymous Fri, Mar 6th 2015 @ 1:27pm

Your dignity, elegance, wisdom and pain came through loud and clear this morning and i was as moved by your blog as everyone else who has commented (and many who haven't, i'm sure). The birds may have taken the joy with them at the moment, dear lady Gardener....but i believe you will always find the beauty...and therefore the joy....and the hope. Very best wishes. susan xx

Suzy Fri, Mar 6th 2015 @ 11:28pm

Ah m'lady. What a very touching post (and not just because you mention my post! :o).

Caring for your husband and dealing with such a heart wrenching illness must feel harrowing at times. Your grit-like determination to keep noting the things for which to be grateful, as well as doing all in your power to keep life a pleasant as humanly possible, even on the grey sky days, is a source of inspiration and example to us all. Thank you! I hope when it comes to writing more posts you become the "constant gardener". ;o)

Anonymous Sat, Mar 7th 2015 @ 8:21am

I'm very moved at your bravery. I wonder at times how I would cope if I found myself in a similar situation and I hope I would be able to follow your example and present myself to the world head held high and looking good. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

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