Clearing The Garden

This has been quite an interesting week.  Last Friday John Van Zanten  of Van Zanten Landscapes came by with his crew and spent from 7 a.m. to almost 4 p.m.  chopping down the jungle.  Unfortunately the yard had become so overgrown that the blueberries were being squeezed unmercifully by blackberry vines, holly and the wisteria.  Meanwhile, the raspberries were lost in the tall grass.   When they emerged into the daylight, they were small and rather sparse but with berries on their branches waiting to ripen.  The pink dogwood was buried in tall grass with a small alder tree growing right next to it – that bed is clear and the Fontinia stump has some sprouts coming out of the top.  We have a big stickery bush on the corner of the front window that grows so tall it blocks the view – so does the forsythia at the other end.  For the moment it is trimmed way back but will be growing again with more energy.  It is  quite a difference now – they even unearthed the McIntosh apple tree by the hedge – poor thing was so overwhelmed it kept sending branches farther out into the yard for sun.  Now it has sun but the back part is all bare.

John and his crew came back on Monday to do some more clearing – there is still a third in the back by the street that needs clearing out as well.  I asked Nancy of Artistic Garden Concepts to come by and give me some ideas about plants for the bare beds.  I want good looking plants that are very low maintenance and she had some great ideas.  So we will work on a 2 stage plan – otherwise it is  a lot in one go.  So I will check with John to see how soon we can replant with low vibernum and a couple of other lower growing ground covers.

While they were out clearing the undergrowth, I was in the process of clearing out and organizing the office.  I accomplished a lot in those two days, though it didn’t really show on the surface.  Then I had my haircut much shorter than usual – I like not having to fuss with hair dryer, styling and hairspray.  It may not be as short as Judi Dench or Jamie Lee Curtis, but not a whole lot longer.  I have spent the last year or so clearing out old stuff inside me with my deep tissue massage – would one say it is a good spring cleaning all around?

We are in the process of finding a place for my Mom to live, she is at the point where she is very, very confused and really needs more care.  She is getting close to the late stages of dementia and we want to do the best for her and for us.  We found a place in West Seattle that has Adult Family Homes and Assisted Living.  I am not sure which will work for Mom.  There is also a Day Center for them to go during the day, plus she will have a doctor, OT, PT, Social Worker, dentist, etc. to make sure she is well  and is at  her best.  Once I get the paperwork in – the young woman was on holiday last week so I have to give it to her on Monday.  There will be a case worker to assess what suits Mom, then they will recommend places for us to see.  We will probably choose two and show those to Mom to see which she likes.  Kathy has been laying the groundwork and has been an enormous help and has also become a really good friend.

I will admit to being close to the end of my rope, even with caregivers every day.  If she is up for breakfast with me, we go through 50 questions and after the 8th time she has asked a question, I am ready to tear my hair.  She can be stubborn, ornery and contrary at times, other times she is quite cooperative.   She wants to leave this life so much, but she is scared and confused – she is scared there won’t be anything after she is gone.  She so wants to believe that Dad and Josephine the cat will be there to greet her, but isn’t ready to let go of this life she doesn’t want to live any more.  It upsets and hurts me to see her like that, I want to fix it and make it all better – but I know I can’t.  I reassure her they are waiting for her – I asked Monty on Friday if he could see anything for Mom and he said they are preparing a place for her with guides to help her through the transition.  I believe it but even when I tell Mom that, she doesn’t believe it.  Is it too good to be true for her, therefore it must not be true?  Maybe deep down she doesn’t feel worthy.

Someone told me awhile back that this is the hardest part – no kidding!  I have been going to caregiver’s support groups and I realize I am quite fortunate that Mom is not violent, doesn’t wander off, isn’t incontinent or swears at everyone.  She sleeps a lot and that also helps too.  But it is difficult to see the woman who has been such a big part of my life not recognize me except occasionally and is as confused and unsure as a 3 or 4 year old.  When she is finally able to truly let go and join my Dad, it will be upsetting for me.  I also will know she is no longer confused and scared, instead she will be free, light and filled with joy.

I have been feeling that all this clearing out is also in preparation of all of us going into a new life.  Hanging on to the past and all the “stuff” from it  means there is no space for new things to come in – I am working on that just in my own life as well.

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2 Responses to “Clearing The Garden”

  1. caseykurlander Says:

    I think this is a great message. I lived with my grandma, who has dementia and Alzheimer’s for over a year. All I can say is that I have many, many stories about the ups and downs. You can check them out here:


    • Lee Kaplanian Says:

      Thank You so much Casey for your comments. It really does help to hear others and their stories, I learn from them and I hope in some way I am of help to others. I have been blessed with good friends who also have dealt or are dealing with the same type of situation, I appreciate them so much.

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