Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving Blessings are just everyday blessings we just take for granted.........

We made our first road trip since Kirk's rapid decline. (Since our last trip to Houston, more confusion has set in). We made one pit stop! Those that have been around Kirk lately know how huge that is! Lol!  His mom and stepdad live in the same house Kirk grew up in.  He remembered how to get there once we were in Abilene.( He told me where to turn, stop, etc....)  Once we were in the house that's where his memory grew dim.  I thought for sure this would jog his memory or he would at least remember which room was his. It only reminded me of how much I hate this disease!

God showed our family his grace this weekend........ Kirk's family is quite blended. All the brothers were together this weekend under one roof. No one cared about the past or how we all became a family. What mattered was the fact that WE were just that,  FAMILY.  We gathered to give thanks for our blessings that in the past we all have taken for granted. Today we were reminded of just how precious those blessings really are!  As we stood there holding hands and heads bowed in prayer, I lifted my head and took a peek. I saw brothers, step-brothers and half-brothers. I saw sisters-n-law, cousins, sisters, moms, dads, step-moms and step-dads, husbands and wives.  I realized at that moment that through the years God has shown his Grace and Glory and planned for this special day. He took us all on our own personal journeys to get us here to realize his grace is sufficient. How awesome! How amazing! He loves us so much!!!!!!

Kirk's brother, Keith took him hunting Friday morning. He was so excited! You would have thought it was his first hunt ever! I love to see him so excited! He loves the outdoors and it seems to energize him.

As we drive home, I switch my brain to planning mode. I pick up the RV this morning and load up for 10 days of  "Griswold Family Fun" !  Everyone is excited! I reflect this morning on the meaning of this trip. It's a bit overwhelming! In my heart I take this sweet community with us! I'm not going to focus on the prognosis of Kirk's disease, instead we are going to "dance like no one is watching" !

I posted  a quote that talked about people with dementia still have stories to tell, still have character, they are all individuals. Kirk reminded me of this last night. He asked if he made me crazy sometimes. I stopped and thought about what I have done to make him think that. I try to make life as easy as possible for Kirk.  This adds alot of extras on me and can be stressful. I realized that I need to be more patient and listen to him more. My sweetheart is still in there, he still needs to feel important and needed. A lesson learned!

So last night he took the trash out! ;)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Close your eyes....


Just for you.......Thank you for loving us.

At a crossroad......

So much has taken place since my last blog..........

I  heard this quote somewhere before....... "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." This is for my dad, thank you daddy for standing with me in the fire.

This week's events confirmed that it is time to take a step back from work and be with Kirk.  I can already feel a sense of peace and weight lifted. (That could just be the control freak in me:)  ......nobody can take care of him like I can.) 

I sit across from him in the evenings and watch him close his eyes, he says he is dreaming.  In the most precious, patient and soothing voice he tells Parker(our soon to be born grandson) how to catch a fish, catch a baseball and takes him to the zoo.  He cradles his arms as if he is holding a baby and strokes his head.  He tells me he is dreaming of Pops. After watching him I understand what he is talking about. He is dreaming of Parker calling him Pops. He is dreaming about being a Pops.  He will most certainly be the best Pops ever!  

Sleep is overrated! It's funny what your body will adjust to.  I am definitely overdue a good night's sleep. I should be sleeping when he is sleeping, but I steal those moments while he is sleeping and watch him, caress his face, play with his ears (that's his favorite).  I hit a brick wall Tuesday night and I'm so thankful my dad was here. Kirk had a very rough weekend and I was beginning to feel it.  I have tried extremely hard to keep my emotions at bay while I am at school. My students are so precious to me and their little hearts are so compassionate towards my family.  I guess I had been a little grouchy that morning. :) When I returned from lunch I found a sweet little note from a student. " Please cheer up, we love you Mrs. Russell", if she only knew how bad I needed that reminder.

Dogs are so smart! I have watched our Golden, Malaikah with Kirk. She does not leave his side. If he gets up to go to the bathroom she is right behind him. I have also paid close attention to her when he has bad days, where he barely remembers anything.  She wakes up whining in the middle of the night or is very anxious all day. M ....loves him so much! She knows........

This week my mind has wondered off a lot....... I find myself saying out loud, "is this really going to happen? Am I really going to lose him?" Each time something happens with Kirk I feel as if I have lost another piece of him that I can't get back.  Those times keep coming too fast.

We have come to a crossroad........ over the next two weeks I pray God shows me the next step to take.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Riding with the windows rolled down..................

"I like Big Butts and I cannot lie, you other brothers can't deny"..........This is the song Kirk and I shouted to each other tonight....... We were being silly.   Come on you know this song too:)!
You are singing it now, right?!

I look back at this past week and sigh.........a lot to think about. I am reminded by my son that God did not bring us on this journey with plans to leave us on the side of the road stranded. He is going to make sure we get to our destination safely.  (this kid amazes me!)

We all handle stress and bad news differently therefore we should not judge others reactions if it is not what we expect. I found myself in this situation........Opening up about how much Kirk has declined to his children...... I failed by trying to protect their hearts from breaking. I still see that 7 year old little boy and 10 year old little girl, but that's not reality.  Reality is Kirk is declining and we are all needed in the trenches.

I sit and watch him all the time. I am memorizing his face, his expressions, everything. I ask him every night "Who am I and what am I to you?" and he answers, "You are Stacey and you are my beautiful wife". (he's still a smooth talker:)
He enjoys the wind in his face..... when I am driving down the road he always rolls the window down and holds his head out of the window. He says he feels free.

If you have been to visit Kirk lately then you have heard about "our cabins and the 100 million dollars he won" He talks about elaborate cabins with deer running everywhere and everyone is welcome. He tells you that you just need clothes, no money. He is taking care of it all.  Yesterday he told me randomly that he wanted to be buried in his purple striped tie and purple shirt. I asked him if he wanted to look like an Easter egg. We both laughed then he looked straight in my eyes and said "I'm serious".  Today as we were driving to Bailey's fishing tournament he said, "I know this is random but I want to be buried in Abilene, because that's where I have spent most of my life"   I type these painful truths because it is my reality. Is he preparing me? Does he know something I don't know? When he speaks about the cabins he is preparing, is this his Heaven?

Monday, November 11, 2013


What are you suppose to do when you do not have anymore "BIG GIRL" panties to put on?   I think if I hear that expression one more time I shall scream..........

Today was different, when I came home he stared off in space a lot....... of course he said he was good. "I'm always good". It's almost as if he knows what is ahead of him....
It has been almost a month since we had the PET Scan.  Results are in, but the doctor wants to review the images herself.  Today I received news that we may be looking at alzheimer's, instead of frontotemporial dementia. I'm not really sure what to feel or say about this news. I don't think I feel any different because IT has a new name.

Selfishly I'm saddened today by the role I have to take.......... I miss him!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

You can Laugh about it or Cry ........We prefer Laughter!


Kirk: "Honey, did you know I held my breath for 4 hours today?"  Me: "Are you sure?"........Him: "Yes I did, I'm pretty awesome?" Me: "Yes you are, Sweety"

Him: "Last night I won 100 million dollars on The Chase!" Me: "What?" Him:  "Yea, I'm going to build hunting cabins for you and the boys and all our friends?"  Me: "Sweet!, You are always thinking about others."

These are the kinds of conversations we have lately, the line between what is real and what is not real seems to be thinning. I wonder what He thinks about all day? Where his mind goes. I am so thankful for Mrs. Donna. She has quickly become apart of our family. Kirk and Mrs. Donna play cards, go outside and Kirk's favorite thing about Mrs. Donna is she cooks!!!!!:) She keeps him occupied throughout the day.

Kirk: "Can I climb up in the attic today?" Me: "Why?" Kirk: "I want to get my hunting stuff" Bailey pipes in: "I'll get it down!"   Kirk:" I can do it, I can climb a ladder!"  In the beginning Kirk realized he was unable to do a lot of things, lately he has become unaware of his inabilities. He is a bit of a daredevil which makes me nervous. Everyday we have a moment of silence in our classroom. I take this opportunity to pray for my students and pray for the Lord to protect Kirk from harm.

Kirk: "Can I fly?" Me: " Well, What cha thinkin'?" Kirk: "Do you remember our honeymoon?" Me: "Yes" Kirk: "I want to do that again, that was fun!"

Kirk: "I can do a magic trick, wanna see it?" Me and Bailey: "Sure"  Kirk puts a toothpick in the end of a towel and breaks it. Then hands Bailey the towel and says, "now get it out" Bailey takes out the toothpick that is now in two pieces. Kirk: "Check that out!"

These are the times I choose to enjoy with laughter............

We ventured out tonight with kids in tow. I decided this afternoon that we were going to enjoy  dinner out ( thanks to The Yorks) and put up the Christmas tree! Yes I know it's a bit early but we are going to enjoy life, heck I might leave it up all year!!!!!!

I was reminded at dinner tonight how much I despise this disease. Everything about it ticks me off! I often have to take the role of caregiver instead of wife. It's a role I gracefully slip into especially in the evenings. See my sweetheart suffers from sundowners as well. When the sun goes down the dementia seems to reek havoc. One of the characteristics of the disease is lack of impulse control.  Kirk looses that control with food. He will eat until I make him stop. It's almost like he gets in a zone and constantly shovels it in. For a child ....I guess that is normal:/ but for a 52 year old man......not so much.  I constantly had to tell him to slow down and to use his napkin not his shirt. I felt as if I was talking down to him.....ugggh! I hate it! He is my husband for crying out loud! I would never belittle him. The worse part is I had to say these things in front of the kids. They are getting where they understand more and lovingly help their dad. Did I tell you how much I hate this disease?

These are the times I choose to cry............

Thursday, November 7, 2013

So Much To Do........So Much To Say........So Little Time.....

Kirk and I have joked and laughed about growing old together and because he is 10 years my senior we have always joked about me wiping food off his chin or me giving him a bath and all the other daily tasks that go on in the bathroom.  What we joked and laughed about is now a reality to us both. ......... This past September Kirk was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) with Parkinson's -17 at the age of 52.   It's a nasty little disease that robs its victims of their memory, motor skills, cognitive and personality. Well here we are 15 + years of marriage, a blended/adoptive family and grandparents to be 6 months into this disease.  There is one thing and mind you one thing only that I can say good about this thing is that,  My love is not aware of the damage, the randomness and the sadness.  Instead he is "HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY" these are Kirk's words by way of Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty. We, me and the kids, are learning to take life one day at a time.  We don't plan too far ahead these days.  My hope for this blogging thing is to get our thoughts, feelings, our tears and fears, our laughs and our joys, our lessons, our journey and our walk with God, tucked away for someone else to find peace through the words God placed on my lips to share.

Sometime in September 2013......

This was the first of several trips to Houston to see Kirk's doctor, with MRI in hand we would get our first glimpse at what was taking my sweet husband from me.  I remember laying in bed that night after we got the diagnosis of FTD.  I laid there gasping for air as I cried.  It felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest! I held him and cried until I saw the morning light! 

This is where God began showing me some things...... pay close attention.  I started noticing that I didn't cry very often or get sad.  We actually laugh way more! I get overwhelmed a lot, but not sad.  Of course after a month of this I thought "OK, I'm either in shock or I'm growing hardhearted......I should be balling, right?"  God began showing me what was taking place in our life was not about Kirk and I, it was way bigger.  See, Kirk is going to be healed! One day he will remember and he will be able to pick out his own clothes and drive a car again! God told me, " Stacey Do Not forget this is not Kirk's home he is just passing through!" God will heal Kirk in His time, not mine.

The Fruits of the Spirit have all been easy to understand except for one.......long suffering.  This does not sound as wonderful as the other Fruits.  Long suffering, who wants that?  It sounds painful. Give me love or peace...... No! God is showing me long suffering. My friend Jennifer and I have talked about what long suffering looks like and why that would even be considered a Fruit of the Spirit.

God is showing me what that looks like.

It's not always fun, but it is beautiful to witness!  Mind you I realize I am in the novice stage.  Go back to the overwhelmed comment......God knows that too!  My blog tonight may seem a bit scattered but God is weaving it all together.  The disease, standing strong on God's promises, long suffering, the big picture. That big picture is bringing others to Christ through a precious, intimate relationship, realness, brokenness, joy in suffering. Living out loud, Christ's love! Each person that has called, text, visited, prayed for us, fed us with food, fed us financially has been this very thing I am talking about.  The BIG PICTURE! It's not about the Russells.........It's about each one of you! Your life, your intimate relationship, your realness, your brokenness, your joy in suffering. What does that look like? Are you standing on God's promises?  I'm not only standing on them, I cling to them every day!