Inspiration

By Charles Towne 

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a series of articles on caregivers and caregiving.

One evening several years ago the phone rang. It was my wife and it was obvious that she was distraught and that she had been crying.  She told me that she had left her workplace in Apopka and instead of turning right to go home she turned left and drove and drove and drove. She drove over twenty miles out of the way and ended up at the Orlando International airport.

About a month later the incident repeated itself.

During this time Nanny was involved in three minor fender-benders and then she rear-ended a pickup truck at a stop light. She was given a ticket for careless driving for that last one which resulted in her having to take a driving course.

Much to her dismay, she couldn’t make heads or tails of the traffic signs and the inevitable verdict came back, “NO MORE DRIVING!”

Like most of us my darling, my well-educated world traveler, my adventurer, took driving for granted.  It was like breathing and walking, something she knew she would always be able to do.  And then one day she was no longer able to do it.

Please imagine one of your greatest freedoms is suddenly snatched away from you.  Imagine losing your ability to do something that you have always enjoyed doing, imagine…

One day I found my sweetie sitting in the driver’s seat of our pickup truck.  She was neatly dressed and her purse was on the seat beside her.  Her face was wet with tears.  I opened the door and asked, “What’s wrong honey, why are you crying?”  Smiling her beautiful smile She looked at me through her tears and said, “I can’t find my keys… Charles, have you seen my keys?”

And so now, after fifteen years of caregiving, I was forced to make a decision.  As difficult as it was I am satisfied that it was the right decision.

Nanny is now a resident of the Florida Living nursing center.   She doesn’t understand why, just that she is.

I love my wife.  I visit with her for a few hours each day.  It is not what I planned, it’s just the way it is.

A CAREGIVER’S PRAYER

Dear God, please help me to be understanding and compassionate as Jesus is understanding and compassionate.  Please help me to always speak words of encouragement and hope to those that need it.  Let others see Jesus in me.  Speak to me and give me grace.  In Jesus’ blessed name I ask it, Amen


Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.

27 COMMENTS

  1. Heart breaking story. I love Nan. Unfortunately, this is what happens to the mind when dementia settles in. I’ve experienced it with my loved ones as well. It is evil and takes down everyone involved in the afflicted person’s life. I pray for all of those involved. God bless you Charles. You have a big heart.

  2. Oh Ernie, how true! We as Christians have the blessed hope of Jesus’ ultimate return to sustain and keep us. Praise Papa God from whom all blessings flow! Thanks so much. Chaz

  3. Dear NH, heart breaking? Yes, but not the end. There will come that time when the faithful will hear those blessed words, “Well done my good and faithful servant, enter in to the glory of the Lord.” As I look outside this morning and see the rain I know that the rain will stop and the sunshine of God’s promises will replenish men’s hearts! The troubles of this life are temporary and fleeting but in each difficulty there are lessons to be learned that we can be solid and faithful. Thanks for the kind words my dear friend, Chaz

  4. After my Betty became a Full Time Resident, I would come in twice daily to help feed her. At first, and after the evening meal (Betty was always in bed for her evening meal), I never noticed a problem with her memory. From 2016 until she passed away March 7 2018, her short time memory started to fade! At the last I would help feed her and then take the food tray back to the cart. Sometimes she would ask me “Have I eaten yet?” And, her short time memory was getting progressively worse!

    The only thing, her long time memory was as good as ever! She could remember every bad thing I had done in our 53 years of marriage! But, she loved me anyway, and that was the most important thing of all. Some day I will get to see her in Heaven and all the pain of losing her will be gone forever!

  5. Don, it is our persistent and ongoing faith in our loving God that sustains us from day to day. What a blessing to know another persons love. Yes my friend, Betty always loved you and you have something to look forward to, something that will be more beautiful than anything you can imagine. Blessings pal, Chaz

  6. I can’t begin to imagine how heartbreaking it is to experience what you have had to Chuck. My prayers and love to both you and Nancy.

  7. Ahh Donald, it is nothing! Papa God promises us that we will not be called to endure anything that He did not give us the power to stand. “I will not allow you to be tempted beyond that which you are able to endure!” Blessing on you son, Chaz

  8. Thank you, Chuck. Another story, painful, but so remindful of what many caregivers…and patients go through. Thank you, Lord, for your promise of a brighter tomorrow,
    a tomorrow filled with hope, knowing that your word says you will never leave us, nor forsake us.
    A promise of a healed and glorified body in Heaven and a promise of a reward waiting for us, because of our belief and trust in Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
    Hallelujah!!
    As difficult as it may be, remember the word tells us to lean not unto our own understanding, but to fight the good fight until the end.
    May God’s gracious love, mercy and protection be on you, Chuck, as you live your life giving unselfishly of yourself. God’s blessings on you and Nancy.

  9. My mom quit driving before the disease made her, I think she was just getting too nervous to drive. As the dementia progressed she often wanted “to go home”,she lived with and was cared for by my sister and I would visit as often as possible. I learned that going home was fairly common with dementia patients and it meant something different to each of them. In my mom’s case it often meant walking with her all around the subdivision while she looked for her car! At times we would stop and ask people we saw if they knew where her car was! I always thought of it as exercise for mom, otherwise she would just sit in a chair, and it offered a chance to meet lots of nice neighbors. I thank God for those times with mom, they are still precious to me!

  10. Dear CSG, my heart goes out to anybody that has lived with and cared for a dementia patient. We often are called upon to endure a lot that another may have a little. Our love for the one in a diminished state exemplifies Papa God’s magnificent love for a sin sick world. Persist! Persist in love. Persist in what is right. Persist. I treasure the moments of lucidity with my darling. I treasure her smile. I treasure her! Thanks for your prayers. May you be greatly blessed. Chaz

  11. Yes Richard, I agree. Any time we spend in love as you and your sister have done so faithfully I am sure is accepted as reasonable service by our loving God. Difficult? Yes there are difficulties, but we are better people for the difficulties. I feel so very sorry for those that walk away from what can definitely be almost intolerable at times but such blessings at others. Nancy’s son has abandoned his mama. In twenty two years there has been little contact. He is embarrassed. She has three grandchildren that she has seen three times because of parents that don’t want to be bothered when Nancy needs them so much. I think that the children are deprived of such a great blessing by not knowing their grandmother, and yes, she is a GRAND mother. Sad, so sad. God bless you my friend and thanks for the comment. Chaz

  12. Chuck I was rereading the comments and this is for Don Young….. I know what you mean about long term memory because my mom was 92 when she passed away but before that, as I would visit, if I didn,t stay alert she would manage to sneak up behind me and give me what we used to refer to as ” a clop on the back of the head! ” . When I asked what that was for (remember I was in my 60′ s), she always smiled that mother knows best smile and answered, “you know why!” The worst part was that I did! !!!

  13. Once upon a time I was companion during the day to a lady who had Alzheimer’s. All she wanted to do was sit in front of the tv. No comments, she just sat there. Maybe she would doze off once in awhile. Tried to get her to “help” me make cookies. She couldn’t do that. Tried to get her to walk outside. She didn’t want to do that either. Was very frustrating. I felt very helpless but more than that I felt bad for her as her quality of life was so limited.
    Then when, Larry, my late husband’s health began to decline, as he was in the late stages of leukemia, he could no longer drive himself anywhere, but he was able to get a scooter and that seemed to be satisfactory for him. We lived in the small town of Keene, tx where everyone knew each other and He
    could toodle all over town, visiting whoever he wanted.
    God was so precious through it all! Gave me strength and courage to meet his needs up to 2 weeks before he passed away. Then we had to take him to hospital as he was too weak for me to help him to bathroom, etc. But a better tomorrow is coming when there will be no more death, nor sorrow nor crying, nether shall there be any more pain . . . Come LORD Jesus, come soon, amen!

  14. It seems like dementia and Alzheimer’s take such a major toll on everyone involved. Thankfully, we have faithful caregivers who take on these enormous challenges. So many people need the support and advice from the caregivers who have gone before them and learned some valuable lessons to pass along. Charles thank you for your passion for helping the caregivers who are just starting on their journey.

  15. Pal, That has always puzzled me, how in the world she knew I did something errant even before I did whatever it was I was supposed to have done. My mother didn’t give me a clop on the back of the head, huh uh, she just pointed her finger at me and shook her head. As I remember I was somewhere in my latter seventies the last time that happened. All I could do was shake my head in return and forget whatever it was that I was planning. Bless mamas everywhere. Chaz

  16. Linda, I can just visualize Larry toodleing around Keene on that scooter! It had to be something and I am sure it added to his quality of life. Larry loved you sissy. God bless you all. Unka Chuck

  17. Thanks so very much Kristin. I believe that we are all called to be servants and to help one another as Jesus would and does help each of us. You are a blessing to those that visit with you as only you can be a blessing. Each of us are called but not everybody responds in a Christlike manner. Blessings my friend, Chaz

  18. Donald and Richard, and then there was always the old “Mama ploy!” The mama ploy went something like this: Mama- “Why did you do it?”
    Me: “Do what mama?”
    Mama: “You know very well what you did and don’t you deny it!”
    Me: “But…?”
    Mama: “And don’t you dare but me young man! You just wait until your father comes home and then you will really get it!” This was called (the Father ploy.)
    And this was usually where I would hang myself.
    Me: “Oh nooo, I didn’t mean to do it! Please Mama, don’t tell daddy!”
    Only years later after I had children of my own did I finally catch on.

    A SALUTE TO MAMAS EVERYWHERE! Chaz

  19. It is always nice to be reminded that our life story has many things in common with other life story. My mom has dementia. I remember when she had to give up driving. It wasn’t easy, took a doctor’s order for her to finally accept the decision. Driving in our culture has become an indicator of one’s independence. Who wants to become dependent after managing their life for 60 years. I can’t imagine not being able to go when i want to. It is my prayer for all of us that these times in our lives will be anticipated. Allowing us to make the decision to let go of things before they become necessary. And just maybe we wont have to! Jesus has a great place for us that won’t include any debilitating diseases.

  20. Kennie, your powerful suggestion about preparing for that time which for some of us might very well be inevitable is well taken. So often we fail to prepare and thus we are placed in the position where we are forced into making decisions with little or no planning. Not only is the difficulty compounded to the nth degree by spur of the moment decisions but we very well might be forced to make the wrong decision entirely. Wrong decisions might very well not only be costly but cruel as well. Oh what a glory day awaits the faithful! Blessings on you and yours my friend, Chaz

  21. Could it be a sign of the times or just apart of the human lot? We know that dementia has been around for thousands of years, in fact to the point of making jokes about it. For my entire life I have heard comments like, “OH, HE HAS OLD TIMERS DISEASE” when people forgot something. We all forget things occasionally, we forget names as well as addresses and phone numbers. Much of this forgetting is due to nothing other than mental laziness. Keeping the mind active by things other than the boob tube is important. Is the disease Cruel? Yes. Necessary? I wonder. A lot of man’s diseases are caused by the foods we consume but for heavens sake don’t anybody suggest that we stop eating the delicious slop that is part of our diet. Thanks EJ and God bless you all. Chaz

  22. Scariest thing about the disease is trying to convince a doctor that it’s something more than “old age.” By the time you get someone to look at it seriously ( or admit they have it)
    your loved one well on your way to somewhere else. Tragic.

  23. Dear Gymrat, it seems that more could be done to improve the lifestyle of these dear family members now rather than later. I have arrived at the conclusion that most doctors don’t have a clue what is going on with their dementia patients. Prescribe drugs and keep them calm is the order of the day. Yes it is tragic and I fear it is this same way in most nursing homes. Let us pray that the so called professionals see the light while something can be done for our loved ones. Bless you, Chaz

  24. I’m in tears as I read this. Thank you for sharing. To all caregivers, whether you have your loved one at home or in an assisted living facility, remember the airline admonishment to put on your oxygen mask first. My mom fell one day and thus began the downward spiral of Parkinson’s Lewy Body Dementia (LBD). I put her in a facility since I was too busy to care for her, and it seems too busy to visit her. I moved her closer to work, but then since that was part time, most of the time, I didn’t get to visit her. One day she was sitting on the side of her bed and seemed sad. I asked her what was wrong and she said, “I just want to be home with my little dog.” Within a week, I had her home. Shortly after, I quit my job and became a full time caregiver. I never had children, had no clue about this thing called Dementia, but I gave it my best as Mom went through the varying, ravaging stages of the disease. Husband said I earned my stripes one day – only my baby was 135 lb. of snarling, full-toothed hotbed of contradictions. We laughed until she no longer could. We cried a lot as she screamed at me as though it was my fault. I screamed, I prayed, I begged forgiveness. Desperate and afraid that I would go off the deep end, I learned of Share the Care, and the facility itself was wonderful, the getting here there was a logistical nightmare for her. In the last 6 months, I had Hospice of the Comforter and that was when I learned that I needed to take care of myself as well. Of all the accomplishments in my life, caring for my mother was the most difficult and yet, the most rewarding. God bless all of your readers and non-readers who care for their loved ones. Thank you for sharing.

  25. Dear candy, I have heard it said and I must agree that tears are a universal language. You have touched my heart deeply my friend and there are tears in my eyes as I type this reply. What you describe is so very frustrating and yet rewarding at the same time. Would I ever imagine entering this journey again knowing what I know today? No way! Would I take anything for the experience? Again, No way! I cherish my wife. Her name is Nancy and what a joyful child woman she is! 22 years ago I never imagined that I would be called upon to be a parent again but… such is life. All of the emotions you describe I have experienced and am experiencing.

    Dear Papa God, Please bless Candy and hold her and hers close to your heart. Let her feel your presence and hear your voice whispering her name. I praise you and thank you for touching me with Candy’s words Father. Help each of us to be what you call us to be. In Jesus’ wonderful and Holy name I ask this, Amen

    You take care dear one, your friend, Chaz

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