The Storm


3 weeks ago just as I was settling in for the night, this random storm hit out of no where.  It had been a rainy day, but I had not anticipated anything like this as I am a bit of a self confessed weather geek.

I was upstairs, as I heard the winds pick up outside pretty quickly. I decided it was best to go to the main floor of the house, as soon as I got there I heard all kinds of debris hitting the house, i immediately  headed to the basement!

As I took refuge in the basement I could hear the chaos outside, I heard all kinds of “big things” hitting the house and I heard several trees fall in the woods.  And just as I was about to cower under the steps in the basement, the storm stopped! I emerged from the basement and made my way outside onto the deck.

It was dark out but I could tell there was damage to my deck and the yard, but I could not see the woods.


So I anticipated sunrise the next morning so I could get a better idea of the damage.  As soon as there was enough light I was out checking things out.

Now please keep in mind, I did have damage, but in the big scheme of things, it really wasn’t that bad.

So I was surprised at my reaction.  As I surveyed the woods…….. my beloved woods, I got a little emotional and overwhelmed by the damage.  In the 20 years we have lived here I have never seen it this bad.  There were some 10-12 trees down between our house and the neighbors and I  had some minor damage to our deck, some siding and the gutters.  But just looking at the carnage of it all really got to me.  I survived the storm fine, but it was seeing the wrath of it all laid out before me that really got to me.


The aftermath of the storm got me thinking……that is kind of how my life has been the last 5 years…….a STORM!  It has been chaotic on so many different levels,  working full time and raising two busy, sports minded teens and taking care of dear hubs has been a storm.  I can not even begin to describe the constant chaos and surging emotions that we have dealt with the last 5 years.  But alas, both kids are off to college and Curt is well cared for at a memory care facility…..and I am left home to survey  the “storm damage” from the last five years.

When your life is crazy you focus on the big picture and learn to leave some of the details behind.  You learn to look beyond the giant clothes pile on the floor and focus on the fact that you have clothes to wear to your job/school each day,  you let the garage go and just throw junk in there that you are too busy to think about what to do with it, your landscaping over grows, you have dog pee on your carpets and you don’t care,  you don’t follow up with routine household maintenance, you miss your dentist appointments and the dog doesn’t see the vet for 2 years….you get the picture…..and you know what,  it’s ALL OK… are too busy to deal with the details, you surviving each day.

But now, I am slowly picking up the pieces of the chaos.  People often ask me what I am doing now that I am an “empty nester”

Well let me assure you sipping tea and reading a book isn’t in picture quite yet.  There is still much to take care of,  catch up on, and slowly start to return some degree of normalacy to our very not normal life.  It is like I am slowly re-entering the world again.


It’s a real weird place to be right now, I miss Curt terribly.  The Curt I visit every day is sweet, cute and so endearing.  While I am happy he is that way… Curt  was not a cute, endearing guy.  He was man’s man, he hated to shave, he sweated up a storm while playing drums, he watched football with a passion and yelled loudly at the TV during a game, he ranted about politics and trash talked anyone about his Eagles,  he loved to pitch baseball endless hours to Tyler and had a goofy engaging sense of humor.    That was my honey!  :)  And I miss that guy.


But through all of this the ONE thing that remains constant with  Curt is his passion for the Lord!  He loves when I pray with him, he verbally eeks out those amens as we pray together.  He still cries every time I play the Chris Tomlin song, “I Will Rise” and he sits so calmly when I read the bible to him.

Yes it’s been a STORM, But God reminds me constantly of Job 2:10, when Job speaks to his wife and says:

..You speak as one of the foolish women would speak.  Shall we receive good from  God, and shall we not receive evil?……

And the words of Philippians 4:11 frequently echo in my mind:

Not that I am speaking of being in need, FOR I HAVE LEARNED IN WHATEVER SITUATION I AM TO BE CONTENT.

It’s hard, honestly it sucks at times…….. but do you see the word learned?  It’s a reminder to me that I am learning, it’s a process.  Some days are really harder than others….but I am learning to be content and TRUST God’s plan in the storm.


~And our crazy journey continues, as I met with an elder care attorney today to make plans for the future and will probably have to move Curt to a new facility.  Things get kind of complicated as we run out of money to private pay in March, so I am checking into Medicaid funding for Curt.  Prayers are appreciated as we move forward, there are no real easy answers in terms of funding with this disease.


Curt on the other hand is actually doing pretty well.  He was recently taken OFF of hospice care since his weight remains stable and he has not had as many falls.   He has been stable for the last 6-8 months or so.  He laughs a lot, eats well, is tired frequently, his face lights up when he sees me and still knows the kids and his friends and family.  He loves to listen to music, and  will often say with clarity when listening to music when a cool drum part is coming up….”wait for it” He rocks out to that 80’s rock, stuff he played in his teen years.  His speech is hard to understand, I only know about 10% of what he says.  But he smiles a lot and that makes a hard pill a bit easier to swallow. :)



The kids and I at Liberty Univ. about 3 weeks ago on a lovely fall weekend.  Pressing on and making new memories. Trusting the Lord and His Plan.

Dearest friends, thanks for being there for us IMG_4527

$5.29 Please

I ordered the same peanut butter cup ice cream treat I have been getting  Curt for the past year, but this time was different.

‘That will be $5.29,” the man at the drive-thru told me.

He had quoted the price to me numerous times since Curt entered the memory care facility last July.



But today for the FIRST time I realized this “Avalanche” that I have been buying at least once a week for Curt cost $5.29!!  $5.29…who knew?

I know you are probably confused at this point……how did I not realize the cost of that “Avalanche.”


It’s simple folks……… through the chaos & busyness, I was hearing the man but not really hearing him for over a year now.

But as summer lingers on and my life FINALLY slows down a bit, I finally heard the man.

You see,  I would usually roll into the ice cream place, cruise up to the drive-thru, announce to the man,

“One large peanut butter cup Avalanche, with a lid on it, in a bag….please”

He would say some price, I would get my ice cream and be on my way………….crossing another task off my lengthy mental to do list as I pulled out of the drive thru. 

Getting that ice cream became another task on the ever growing list, another task, a task I needed to do, and it was now DONE.  The details eluded me, but who cares because the task is DONE!!  There are now 10 other new tasks to move on to!

It seems like for the last 4-5 years that is basically how I have been living.   Some weeks were more crazy than others.  Summer provided some relief, but I was also driving the kids all over the east coast for baseball or lacrosse and then driving to college visits.

This is my first summer in five years where I am home!

I have some free time!

I can relax some!


But here is the problem, I honestly don’t know how to relax……….

I know, you are like really Sandy?

You just chill, relax….how hard is that?!?!? Hello?!

Harder than you think, I have been task driven for so long, it’s kind of weird to have a smaller list with time to accomplish the things on it.  Also time to think about ONE thing at a time and not FIVE at a time. 

My brain has such trouble focusing, I am so used to moving from one thing to another constantly!  I have actually tried to start a book and get about 2 pages in, and my programmed brain tries to move me onto the next task on my list.

But alas I believe I am heading in the right direction, thus my new awareness of the price of an Avalanche!

And thus my start of another new normal……….


I know it’s been long since I last updated my blog, honestly I just could not manage another “thing” on the endless “to do” list.

But finally on this second week of July I find I have some time and even renewed energy to produce some kind of blog entry!

Life has been has been a roller coaster ride for sure.

IMG_2035 (1)

This past spring Madi graduated, which was a huge milestone.  She had quite a journey with high school, as Curt was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when she was in 8th grade.  Her high school days were different from some with having her dad plodding along through the stages of Alzheimer’s, but we also worked hard to keep things real normal for her.  She was involved in a ton of clubs, loved playing lacrosse, kept those grades up (4.0!) and discovered a passion for ceramics along the way.

IMG_2021Just need to add that this cool pottery creation is an actual working fountain.

Pretty darn proud of all her accomplishments through high school.

So proud to see her walk across the stage to receive her diploma in June.


Oh such a journey………


As for Curt, he continues to slowly slip into that depths of the black hole of Alzheimer’s.  I now  find myself only understanding about 20% of what he says.  He is also much more tired during the day and has fallen several times as of late.  It is such a brutal disease to watch someone slip into.  I think so many times of how mortified Curt would be to see himself at this stage of the disease.  He has lost weight and is moving so slow, he struggles to even lift his head certain days to look me in the eye…..a far cry from my athletic, agile and witty husband.


Yet through it all……it is well.  I think the lyrics to this song on constant play on my iPhone seems express how I feel about the last 5 years.

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
It is well with me

Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can’t see

And this mountain that’s in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea

So let go my soul and trust in Him

(It is Well/Bethel Music/Kristene DiMarco)


Yes folks, it is hard, I am not gonna lie and say this has been easy by any means.  Its NOT!  Yet………I truly can say It is Well, there is a certain contentment found when relying on the Lord and trusting Him for the future that allows me to say……It is Well. <3

Hoping to blog more,




I have learned so much


I remember the moment well…..It was about 4 and half  years ago, I was at Madi’s cross country meet.  Shortly after the gun went off for the start of the race, Curt called me.  He had just finished his 5 hours of memory testing with a neuro-psychologist.  The Dr. was asking that I come in for the follow up appointment and Curt wanted to know what day worked.  It was at that moment, on a brisk fall day during a cross country meet, I had this sinking feeling of the storm that was to come.   He then called me back as he left the office and told me how miserable he had done on the testing.  He explained to me how he could not draw this “stupid” clock he was asked to draw, how he could remember details of a story passage that was read to him but had no idea the over all story line, how he could not even draw a simple square to start a 3-D drawing and on and on he went.  Just as I saw Madi  coming towards the finish line to medal in this meet, I stood there also hearing the words from Curt that would change our lives forever. 

And so began our Alzheimer’s journey at age 46.   So on this snowy day in March, I find myself  thinking back on all that we have endured that last few years. And there have been many ups and downs on our roller coaster ride.  I also realize all that I have learned along the way!  So here are my random thoughts today….warning they are random!

Curt and I really did have a good marriage.  Things got a little muddled and not so good about 2 years prior to his diagnosis, but now I realize what I was seeing was not the start of marriage problems, it was Alzheimer’s. 


A sense of humor goes a long way in a marriage.  The ability to laugh at your mistakes and laugh with each other is a gift.  I can’t tell you how I miss so many of the silly sayings we used to say to each other and our stupid jokes. Sometimes,  I can still say them and get Curt to laugh…..but other times it is all forgotten.

Curt always used to say in a fun loving, yet serious way, “Got to please the babe.”  Meaning he was always about what he could GIVE to a marriage not what he could GET from it.  He always led with that example well, but some times as in any marriage that attitude would get lost, but I see now more than ever that was a driving force in all he did.  I still see a glimpse of that attitude from him now and then amidst the Alzheimer’s brain fog, it reminds me of how deep rooted his desire to give more than get in our marriage was.

So many of the little annoying things that Curt used to do, really don’t matter now.  If I could go back and change something,  I would not let those things bother me.  I see now how in the big picture of life, dumb stuff like that is a waste of time to get caught up arguing about.  So what if I would do something different, his quirky or annoying things were Curt and that was who he was, and it’s those things I even miss!


  When helping someone in a crisis or in great need…’s the “doers” not the “sayers” who make a difference.  Many people mean well and say so many nice things and offer to help, but it’s those who take action that make the biggest difference.  Those that help with the practical stuff.  There were times that our dirty laundry pile was so huge, I would just have to wear “dirty” clothes to work ( true confession folks, but when life is crazy I was just happy to show up to school what I was wearing really didn’t matter, I was there).  I would find what I needed from the laundry pile stick it in the dryer with a dryer sheet and then wear it.  There were several times when a dear friend and Curt’s caregiver would help with the laundry, THAT WAS A HUGE HELP!  Someone even came and cleaned out my fridge one time, really you get over being embarrassed about the moldy stuff growing. :)  It was those practical, hands on things that helped so much.

I have learned a lot about trusting God.  We often say we Trust Him, but geez, I said that, but did not truly Trust God.  It’s so easy to trust when things are going our way.  But the real struggle is learning to trust God when things don’t go according to OUR plans.  I have prayed, yelled and screamed at God and begged for my plans, goals, and wants to succeed.  I often have felt God did not answer my prayers……but I have come to realize He has answered them according to His plans not mine.  He sees the big picture, I see a glimpse of it and think I know what is best.  But I am always reminded of Proverbs 3:5~TRUST in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding. ~ I had heard that verse a million times, but now I think I really get what it means!

  And that’s it for now……..lots more I could share, but I must also get those FAFSA’s filled out and get all my tax info together on this snowy day. We appreciate your ongoing prayers for the uncharted waters that lay ahead.  Its been a crazy journey for our family.  I do see the wear and tear of it all starting to wear us down a bit.  Thankfully, Curt at this point is pretty stable lately.  He has some rough days and moments but over all seems pretty steady.  He still retains that great sense of humor.  Just the other day one of the staff members was teasing him, saying, “you wanna go?!”  (Curt would always say that, and try to fake fight ya) Curt smiles, and replies clear as could be, “I don’t want to hurt you!”  He is my honey through it all. <3  

Oh my, This is Embarrassing!

Oh my the last time I wrote a blog post was in September!
 4 months since I posted on this ole blog of mine.
Where do I start so much has happened…
I have been so busy….
I have been overwhelmed and honestly, tired.
Tired of living in chaos, tired of always being tired, tired of dealing with migraines, tired of being responsible for everything, tired of making decisions on my own…………
Where do I start……Let me start with Josh……….


I was at our local Target one night a few weeks ago.  I hear a voice calling out my name, as I glance in the direction of the voice, I see a young special needs man waving at me with a big smile on his face.  I recognized him, but I just could not remember his name.  I was confused, I didn’t think he was one of my former students, but how do I know him I wondered?
I went over to say Hi, and he gives me a big hug, and immediately says, “where is Mr. Morris?”  It’s then I noticed the young man is wearing an Eagles football hat.  Then it hits me………..
This is NOT one of MY former students, this was a student that Curt used to love to trash talk football with while he had cafeteria duty.  This young man attended our high school before I started teaching the special needs group I have now.
He wanted to see Curt, not me, I was hopefully just a way to get to Curt.  Josh was so eager to talk football, it all spilled out, he wanted me to tell Mr. Morris all of it, every bit of his onslaught of trash talk.  “Don’t forget anything I told you, tell him all of it” he prodded me with an exuberant smile on his face as I turned to leave.
Curt with D and SI cried as I walked out of Target into the brisk, cold wind of that gloomy evening. I thought, Oh how I miss Curt, how I wish he could trash talk football with everyone (and trust me he did it well!).   I miss him around the house, I miss him watching Fox News while I was still trying to sleep on school mornings, I miss him yelling at the TV during football season, I miss his drum playing,  heck I even miss him while shopping at Target.  I know you are thinking he is still here, but really, so much of him is gone.
I yearn for those engaging glimpses of his fun sense of humor when I visit.  I love seeing his hands start moving to play drums when I play music, I love when I see his sweet smile and how he tells me every time he sees me he loves me. 
  But that is all they are……glimpses.
I have heard people say when a spouse has Alzheimer’s, it’s like being a “married widow.”  That is a good way of explaining it.
And that I think accounts for my lack of blogging lately…….simply, I am tired and overwhelmed.
It’s been a long 4 years, Oct 1st 2010 Curt was diagnosed, but Alzheimer’s had been lurking in the shadows for at least 2 years before that.   I have been the one leading the family charge for sometime now, getting the kids through sports, college visits, teaching them to drive, college apps, paying the bills, walking the dog, laundry, car repairs and car wrecks, yard work, back surgery, emergency appendectomy, two broken ankles for Tyler….oh the list goes on and on and on……
family pic thankgiving
But I have also learned that is exactly where God wants me to be at a loss, having no strength to press on.  Realizing I can NOT do this on my own.
It is only as I daily seek His strength can I muster the daily fortitude to get up and press on.  When I lose that focus on the Lord I tend to grasp at frustration, negativity and hopelessness.  It’s such an easy ploy when life throws you more than you can handle.
As I embark on 2015, I am taking a moment to reflect on this journey, to focus on how God has met our needs in ways I could never have imagined, and how I have learned that He alone gives me strength daily to lift my head and press on!  So today as I head back to school after a much needed break, I am thankful for the many lessons learned on this journey.  Including a big one, a constant reminder that my ultimate goal is not to be able to fix everything and control everything but to simply seek first the kingdom of God and commune with Him and trust God to take care of the rest!

Happy 2015 Friends!

Curt with Santa
So much has gone on with Curt in the last few months as he continues to decline.  He was placed on hospice care about a month ago.  He had lost a lot of weight and has struggled.  But hospice care has been a real help and support.  I am going to leave you with this video link from a TV interview I did a few months ago on having a spouse with Alzheimer’s.  Just click on the blue link to view it and see the article.
WGAL The New Face of Dementia
And hopefully I will be back here blogging again
before 4 months pass  😄


He Knew

The summer of 2009 we vacationed at one of our favorite places, the Adirondacks in NY.

We went tubing through a really cool chasm, slept in a tent in a pine forest, hiked the breathtaking chasm, relaxed several days on the shores of Lake George, kayaked for the first time, hiked a 4,000+ mountain together and just enjoyed family time together.

Fast forward to this past summer as the kids and I spent a week together in the Adirondacks. The kids hiked a 5,000+ mountain, we swam in a creek, the kids went cliff jumping, we rented a boat on Lake George,  relaxed at the pool, drove up Whiteface Mtn, we kayaked & paddleboarded, we embraced the fresh air and natural beauty of the area.  Once again we enjoyed family time together at one of our favorite places.

Top of whiteface

While in the ADK’s this year, it occurred to me probably for the first time…… Curt knew.

We drove up Whiteface Mtn and I got to the top of mountain and was looking out over the beauty of mountains at the shores of Lake Placid  I realized……..he knew.

Back in 2009 before we knew  the horrors of dealing with Alzheimer’s, Curt had an inkling of the storm to come.  (He was diagnosed Oct. 2010)

He would pause on that 2009 ADK trip to cherish and take in the beauty of it all.  He teared up a bit while touring the chasm astounded at the beauty of it all.  He reflected on it’s majesty comparing it to heaven and telling me how he longs for that day to be with Christ in the heavenly realms.  He would remind each of us that day to slow down and reflect on all that God created, and savor it.

Ausable C C

I on the other hand remember thinking to myself……Geez Curt aren’t you being a little dramatic, this isn’t like you to get all emotional about this stuff…….. I agreed with him in word but really didn’t give it much of a thought………until our recent trip to the Adirondacks.


As I stood at the peak of Whiteface Mountain looking out and embracing the vast majesty of it all, I remembered Ausable Chasm and Curt’s words of wisdom and insight.  He was tuned into hearing God’s voice and striving to make the most of his time on earth.  I on the other hand continued rushing through things, planning the next event of vacation, figuring what to eat that night for dinner, my mind was constantly going.  But I was not taking the time to pause and reflect on the things that truly matter.

C on top of rocks

Curt knew……he kept encouraging me to slow down in that lovely Chasm to pause amidst my busyness.  To keep Jesus at the forefront of it all, to see His majesty in the natural beauty, to yearn for the things of Christ.

But I would meekly protest that dinner had to be prepared around the fire, the kids had wet clothes from tubing we needed to get back to the car and change right away, it was getting cold and they were wet……yet he persisted with dawdling behind and just taking it all in.

C at lake george

He knew spending time with the Savior was what really mattered. He knew a storm was coming, he wasn’t totally sure what it was and that would take hold of his brain and totally transform it….but he knew his time on earth was short.  He even at one point told me he felt his life would be cut short and he was at peace with it.  I remember saying something like, “Oh honey how can you know for sure, really don’t worry about it.”  Yet he insisted that he felt an inkling that his life would be cut short and he wanted to honor Christ.


He knew……………………..


The day he was diagnosed, he was stoic, non emotional and proclaimed with confidence he was ready to meet his Savior.  He knew and was prepared for that day he would pass from this life to the next. When the diagnosis came, he was prepared and at peace.

I am thankful for the reminder of a life lived for Christ by my husband!!!  He was prepared when he received a horrible diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, he was at peace with it because he was prepared.


2 Corinthians 5:6-8 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.


John 11:23-26 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Yes Curt worked to live a life for Christ.

Update on how he is doing

We moved him to a Memory Care facility on July 2 it was a rough first week or so.  But I am so thankful he seems to be adjusting.  He enjoys the staff at the facility and feels comfortable and cared for there.  I start school on Tues. this week and despite thinking the best time for Curt to move to a full time memory care facility would have been mid August…..God knew better and July 2 was the perfect time.  He is now well adjusted and I don’t have to carry that worry into the school year with me!  He is eating a little better  and I bring him plenty of Burger King, ice cream, Oreos and Snickers Ice Cream bars to keep him happy.  He still knows me as his “honey” and is always asking when I will get there! He continues to struggle with communication, it is get so much harder to understand his expressive language ( what he is saying).  Yet he seems to still have a strong receptive language ( understanding of what he has heard).  I notice him starting to interact with the other residents and that warms my heart to see him care for them.  Here is a pic of him sitting on his bed in his “man cave.”


Running the Race

Back in the days of one flavor of Gatorade, I was a high school and college athlete.  Those were the days when orange Gatorade was the greatest thing out there, trainers at high school sports were non existent, college coaches wrote hand written letters to recruits, and we wore really cool polyester sweat pants to practice.

Yep I played soccer and ran track back in those days.  Actually for my elementary years I was the only girl in the boys soccer league.  Yep that was the 70’s before the days of Title IX.  I remember the thrill of getting to play on my first all girls soccer team in 9th grade!

But my main sport back in the day was track.  I ran the 100, 200 and 400 (ok back in the day it was the 100, 220, and 440).  And the race I remember the most was the grueling 400.  It was a sprint, one lap around the track.  But honestly how can you sprint one lap?  So you had to train and come up with a strategy on how to attack that race.  Go out hard, stride the back stretch, keep good form, and finish strong coming out of the last turn.   It was the finish strong part that was the hardest.  How can you finish strong when your legs felt like jello!

track team soph year

The biggest part to finishing strong was training hard.  Running 100 and 200s to work on speed and running 450’s and 600’s to work on that endurance piece.  I remember training so hard at times that I actually threw up once after a race and once during practice.


But the thing  I keep thinking about lately is in order to finish well, I had to train hard.


And train hard, and work hard……it wasn’t easy at times (um, remember the puking after practice!).  There were many times I didn’t feel like going to practice or running that 6th 200 of practice or 4 400’s then a break then 4 more.  I was dying out there…..but I kept pressing on, I kept working hard.

Over the years I qualified for the state track meet several times and I still vividly remember the finish line at that meet.  I remember coming out of that last turn with my eyes squarely  focused on THAT finish line.  It was at that moment with my eyes focused on the finish line, I would find out if all my hard work paid off….did I finish well?!?!

state ribbons 

I am drawn to the memory of that finish line a lot lately.


I am drawn to the memory of working hard to finish well


I am drawn to the memory of how hard it was at times, how I didn’t feel like working hard some days!


I am reminded about being weary and tired yet continuing to press on.


I am reminded of this bible verse, that I memorized in college shortly after I stopped running after tearing my ACL.

Hebrews 12:1-2

New International Version (NIV)

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I am not going to lie, it’s been a rough year!  A rough school year for this tired teacher, a long winter, and a year filled with many unexpected challenges and frustrations, along with Curt’s ongoing digression with Alzheimer’s.  Just this week, Curt asked me if I had a boyfriend?  He had no idea we were married.  He wants to “go home” at night, and gets so mad at me when I don’t take him home.  It’s hard.

But…….I am running the race, working hard, training hard and persevering.  I am fixing my eyes on Jesus. 

And my eyes are fixed on the finish line, because when all is said and done, how we run this race for Jesus is all that really matters.  The race may be hard, but may we all finish well!

Pressing on………..

family Easter






So where have you been?

Jesus Dark Chocolate – Well thanks Sandy for FINALLY sitting down to  chat with me.  You have totally deserted me the last month or so! Where have you been?

Sandy- Well thank for contacting me JDC, and setting up this interview.  I know I have been MIA the last month and  a half.  My goal is to update this great blog, once a month…..but yea that didn’t happen in February!

Jesus Dark Chocolate – Was February a real stressful month for you?

Sandy – Well no, not more than the average chaos and stress…..actually I pretty much call chaos and stress normal.  Let’s see….. a  water pipe burst in my garage, my heating unit in the house was down for a day and a half, I had a minor woman surgery with pre-op appointments and follow ups (fun times!), we found out Tyler has a herniated disc in his back and I shoveled the driveway a lot with all the crazy winter storms.  But really it seems the stresses of life don’t phase me as much anymore.  If I had a normal, stress free life I think I would get bored!  But I do miss having Curt along my side to help with running the household and the decisions of the day.  I miss his wisdom and insight.

C and I

Jesus Dark Chocolate – Well it does sound like February was an interesting month for you.  How is Curt doing these days?

Sandy – Well……… I have been slowly watching him slip away for 3 years now.  You would think it would get easier to handle when he continues to falter and struggle.  But it doesn’t.  Just the other day he asked me what my name was.  And last night when we got home fairly late from Madi’s lacrosse game, he wondered what “this place” is?  It was our house, our house that we have lived in for 19 years….and to him, it was just another unfamiliar place.  It’s an ongoing grieving process……Nancy Reagan said years ago when referring to the late President Reagan and his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, “it truly is the long goodbye.”

C enjoying HC

Jesus Dark Chocolate – Oh you are right, it is a slow, demoralizing good-by.  Well changing the subject a bit, What is up with Tyler’s back?

Sandy – When he was home for Christmas break we thought we were treating a hamstring injury.  But as the hammy started to heal, we realized what he was also feeling was nerve pain and tingling in the leg.  We figured it out and took him to our chiropractor.  But he had to return to school 5 days later.  The trainer and the staff at college treated him right away with PT, traction table, chiropractic care etc.  But one night, while simply brushing his teeth, everything went from bad to worse.  He is currently getting epidural steroid injections in his back.  He just received a second two weeks ago and is schedule for a third on Wednesday this week.

JDC – Well that is a total bummer for Tyler.  How is he handling it and how are you dealing?

Sandy – Tyler is bummed and really misses playing baseball, but he is a Morris and continues to stay positive and is truly seeking God’s wisdom and direction in this. Me, well that is another story.  I miss watching him play!  I feel like our normal life these days is stressful and emotional, and watching him play provides a moment of escape from the worries of the day.  Does that make sense???

JDC – Yes it does make sense.  Well all of this sounds pretty discouraging,  I mean just listening to you, things  sound pretty depressing!

Sandy – Well my friend (oh I mean my blog),  it has been pretty depressing!  But that is the beauty of it all!

JDC – Oh I missed that life lesson, there is beauty in discouragement??  I am not really with you on this one!!??

Sandy – Well trust me, I was really missing it too.  But then one, FRIGID night when I was out walking the dog, and  praying.  The tears rolled down my cheeks and nearly turned to ice and  God spoke to my heart about Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  In ALL your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight (NIV)

I have heard those verses probably thousands of times over the years and had become rather numb to it’s meaning.  But on that night it was the part Lean Not on Your Own Understanding, that really punctured my soul and spoke to my heart.  In my own understanding Curt having Alzhiemer’s, Tyler having a herniated disc in his back his freshman year of college on a baseball scholarship…… make NO SENSE!  You can’t help but ask, Why does this stuff happen to us. 

But the verse says, Lean Not on Your Own Understanding, it may not make sense to us.  But the Bible still tells us to trust.  And let me tell you THAT is hard!  Real hard for this mom.   But in these discouraging, depressing times, I am truly surviving on God’s strength alone and in that I am learning to trust.  To trust that He has a plan in all of this, and I don’t have to like it! 

Yes, Trust, God is in charge, He never said I will see how this is all working for some good, but I TRUST that it will.  Yes I trust, despite my tendency to kind of think I have a better plan than God’s plan…….  :)

I am learning to try to stop carrying the burdens alone and to Trust the Lord for them.  Madi had the flu  this past week and was  down and out for the past SIX days! But once again I am reminded to trust the Lord with the burden/worries of the day!  It’s not always easy…….

JDC – Oh that Trust thing can be tough, Trust me I really don’t get it! :)

Sandy – Well JDC I am just starting to get it, I have a feeling it’s a process.  But I am thankful to be at this place on this crazy journey!

JDC- So how can friends pray for your family?

Sandy – Well do pray for WISDOM with decisions as we move forward with Curt.  I need to start deciding on how to proceed with care for him.  I am good through the rest of the school year, but it’s next school year and even this summer I am worried about. Our wonderful community help to raise almost $10,000 for our family through Alzheimer’s Awareness nights at our high school basketball game.  This money has allowed me to contact an agency to help provide much needed personal care for Curt.  I am so thankful for the support from our community.  But I just need some direction as we move forward.


Also pray for Tyler’s back, the kid breaks 2 different ankles last year during basketball season and a mere year later he is dealing with a large herniated disc in his back.  He gets one more epidural steroid injection, if it does nothing we will have to consider surgery.  So please pray for wisdom and healing for him!

Athletics Headshots portraits. December 4, 2013. (photo by Les Schofer)

And it’s spring sports season.  That means life gets a little busier for Curt.  We will be sitting outside at Madi’s lacrosse games.  Those kind of outings are just getting harder for Curt to endure.


And just pray for me……….

JDC – Well thanks for getting back in touch with me your favorite blog!! Now go enjoy some dark chocolate and a cup of coffee!  Stay in touch!


State of the Union, Alzhiemer’s update

Trust me I am not feeling very Presidential at the moment, but the President always addresses the country each January on the current state of affairs so I figured I would do the same!  Many of you ask how Curt is doing these days… be prepared for lots of details.

I have hesitated many times to post so many details on how he is doing.  I want people to remember Curt as a strong, confident, humorous man with strong Godly convictions.  A fun, engaging conversationalist who could talk sports and drums for hours. Not the passive, struggling man that Alzheimer’s has engulfed and transformed.  I feel by giving so many details that I am exposing his struggles and leaving his dignity behind.

C with a big smile

However, I also want people to understand that Alzheimer’s can grab you and knock you down even in your 40’s! It slowly steals away your personality and being.  The Curt we see now is a reflection of a disease that is holding him captive. And so many of the things we think of that relate to Alzheimer’s is not really what Curt is dealing with.  It really looks different in everyone.

I know I have mentioned this before but it continues to be the spatial issues of life that are causing such digression for Curt.  He really can’t even get into his own bed at night on his own.  He needs guidance as to where his side of the bed is, then I guide him toward the top of the bed and tell him to get in.  He starts the process but can’t finish it, so I need to pull his arm from under him, to get him onto his back and then position him in bed each night.  I then put all the covers on him since spatially he can’t pull them up over him anymore.  He then usually falls asleep pretty quickly and stays in that same position all night!  If he needs to get up at night to use the bathroom, he can’t get out from under those covers with out help and no longer understands the concept of going pee.  He will tell me, “the water” or “the pressure is killing me.”  But when I say, “do you need to go pee?” He will now tell me he doesn’t know what that is.

Each morning when I get him out from under those never ending sea of covers (as he sees it).  We head to the bathroom for his morning routine. With out going into too many details, I will tell ya I need to help with all aspects of the morning routine, going to the bathroom, shaving, brushing teeth, spraying the man with some nice cologne and getting him dressed.

As soon as he is dressed, I tell him everyday, “Now you are ready to go and conquer your day for Jesus!”  That usually brings a smile to his face.  I then help him down the stairs ( this is a new problem, the steps) and have him sit down in “his seat” and pour him a bowl of cereal, pour plenty of sugar on it for him ( really he might as well live on the edge and enjoy his cereal with lots of sugar!) and turn on his beloved Sports Center.  He sits in his chair using a TV tray to eat his cereal. But when he is done, he can’t always move the TV tray to get up from the chair……that is another spatial issue that leaves him so disabled.  But as I get ready to head out the door for school each morning he ALWAYS tells me he loves me and reminds me to have a good day.

He still knows people every where we go, he will see old friends when we are out and he always initiates greeting them.  He loves to watch old movies, and enjoys listening to people read to him.  He can no longer read since he spatially can’t follow a sentences to the next line.  He can’t play drums, but can still play a simple beat on the snare and bangs out beats on his legs all day long! :)

college roomates

Visit from Curt’s college roommates!

One of the most frustrating things is his declining use of language.  He knows what he wants to say, but it does not come out the way he wants it to.  His words are broken, and he often stutters, or mumbles the words together.  It may take him up to 10 minutes to simply convey the thought he wants to. He has lost the meaning of simple words and does not know how to use them in the right context anymore. 

Things like, “going to our place” will mean he wants to go to bed.  Or, “go to that place down there” usually means he needs to go to the bathroom.  Or sometimes he may give a slang name for an object, TV became boob tube the other day and shower became watering hole. 

He has also started getting more lost in our house.  I used to be able to say “go upstairs to get ready for bed.”  Now if I say that to him he has no idea where upstairs is. 

So many changes as he continues his fall into the grasps of  a monster called Alzheimer’s.  I savor those moments when we do catch a glimpse of the old Curt, and allow myself a chance to take take it in and reflect on the Godly, fun loving hubs I married.

So, that is Alzheimer’s a disease, it continues to take hold of people of all ages.  An estimated 5.2 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease in 2013. This includes an estimated 5 million people age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 individuals younger than age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.  In 2013, Alzheimer’s will cost the nation $203 billion. This number is expected to rise to $1.2 trillion by 2050.

Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States overall and the 5th leading cause of death for those aged 65 and older. It is the only cause of death among the top 10 in America without a way to prevent it, cure it or even slow its progression!!!!!!!!  Yes it’s not a pretty picture is it???  But that is the state of Alzheimer’s in our house and in many houses across the United States.

C and T before college

Taken right before Tyler left to return to college

So while our situation can look rather grim and depressing at times, I seem to cling to this quote (borrowed from the blog of a dear woman who has had unbelievable struggles in the last several years, from her hubs with constant reoccurring benign brain tumors and seizures to her dear daughter (one of their 6 kids) who was just seriously injured after being hit by a car while walking on a sidewalk outside her school!)

In the darkness we have a choice that is not really there in better times. We can choose to serve God just because he is God. In the darkest moments we feel we are getting absolutely nothing out of God or out of our relationship to him. But what if THEN-when it does not seem to be paying or benefiting you at all-you continue to obey, pray to, and seek God, as well as continue to do your duties of love to others? If we do that-we are finally learning to love God for himself, and not for his benefits.
And when the darkness lifts or lessens, we will find that our dependence on other things besides God for our happiness has shrunk, and that we have new strength and contentment in God himself. We’ll find a new fortitude, unflappability, poise, and peace in the face of difficulty. 

~Tim Keller from the book Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering~

C at pretzel hut

Enjoying a milkshake at one of his fave places

Yes, we all have a choice in good times and hard times……it is our choice, and our decision on how we choose to handle things, with despair and discouragement or with our eyes focused on the big picture of a life lived to honor God.

~Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!~  II Corinthians 4 16-18

Thanks friends for walking this journey WITH us!

christmas family pic

And so it begins…..

Every year at this time I get a bit sentimental………This makes my third year of starting back to school with out Curt.  Last week I brought Curt along with me while I was going to work in my classroom.  As I was finishing up I asked Curt if he wanted to walk down and see his old classroom.  He said, “not really, I don’t know where it is.”  I suggested we just walk down his old hallway, just for the heck of it.  He complied and as we walked together, he turned to me with this little glimmer of familiarity and said, “this is my place” and then as we continued down the hallway he walked right up to the door of his old classroom.   HIS old classroom, the place where he spent 15 years teaching HS students. 


Curt loved his job!  He would always be so excited as the lazy days of summer began to wane and the leaves in our woods began to fall, knowing the first day of school would soon be here!  I on the other hand would shudder and complain about going back, he would smile and remind me, that we should be thankful for the jobs God has given us! :)  I still complained……….

He would get up early that first week of school and be there by 6 am each day.  He wanted to have time to get work done when there were no students around.  He would say, “after school time is not time to get work done, that is time to help students.”  He would often come home late from school after hanging out after school talking to students, helping with assignments, or just giving advice.  I would often have to call him at school and say, “DINNER IS READY can you please come home!!”  I would get so mad…….now I would give anything for him to arrive home late for dinner.


Curt being a cheerleader and a trooper on a Father/Daughter night for the cheerleaders, this girl’s dad couldn’t be there so she asked her fav teacher to fill in.

He cared for his students, he worked hard to get them involved in each class, he engaged students with his witty sense of humor, and taught with a passion. 

He was diagnosed with Younger Onset Alzheimer’s Oct. 1st 2010, I remember I was making a quick stop at a local store for some much needed school clothes the next day.  The clerk who checked me out noticed my last name and asked if my husband taught at our local high school.  When I said I was his wife, she gushed on and on about how he was her favorite teacher, and even though she didn’t like World History she loved his class!

  I didn’t have the heart to tell her about his diagnosis and thanked her and went in the car and cried!

Yes this time of year I reflect so much upon Curt’s teaching days.  Just the other day we were out at a local restaurant and when the waitress brought our check, she smiled at us and said, “A former student paid for your check tonight!”  That was not the first time that has happened, it happened another time at a local Applebee’s restaurant. 

1998 Yearbook pic

1998 Yearbook Picture of this nice married couple that taught at the same high school :)

One man’s life does matter, and it does impact others.  I know, it sounds like a scene from It’s a Wonderful Life. :)

Curt was always a fan of Oswald Chambers, I found this quote in one of Curt’s books recently

“We are not made for the mountains, for sunrises, or for the other beautiful attractions in life – those are simply intended to be moments of inspiration. We are made for the valley and the ordinary things of life and that is where we have to prove our stamina and strength.” ~Oswald Chambers

Yes Curt lived in the ordinary things of everyday life and in those ordinary, daily moments he worked hard to live a life that would always honor God, and reflect a life lived with passion and integrity. 

I am thankful for the model he served to me to live that life. 

It is with that inspiration that I start my school year this year! 

Alzheimer’s and life with Teens

I  said to Curt while getting out of the car in the 90 degree heat at a lacrosse tourney, “Well honey you win the award for being the most active guy with Alzheimer’s!”  He got up 2 days in a row at 6am, I got him dressed and we headed out the door for an early 8am game in the heat.  He hung out in the heat watching two games on Sat., used the nasty outhouses, (which provided a nice challenge for me since he needs a bit of help these days…… and then I was so paranoid he would somehow lock himself in the outhouse, oh can you imagine the horror of being locked in one of those!.) And he reeled in the commotion of the two games close together.  He would get so confused as to what was going on, but would continue to go along with whatever I told him.  Sunday,  Madi had an 8am game and then not again until 3pm.  We had time to kill between games, including a long chilling out time at IHOP!  And then some shopping, which we know how much Curt loves! And then a short 1/2 hour nap in the hot van for him and then back to the last game. More time in the heat and then the 5 hour drive home.

Madi lax

Really, it’s a lot for a guy in the late moderate stages of Alzheimer’s to deal with.  But He is a trooper, he sits patiently in the heat, and really doesn’t complain.

morning walk on the beach

People often ask me how he does with these kind of things…..overall he does well.  He would keep getting confused with when Madi is playing and how long the game lasts etc.  But he would hang tough and sit out in the sun drinking lots of water and seemed pretty content.

C pool

He also LOVED our family vacation!  He wanted to be part of everything.  Really once again he was a trooper!! Got up early, stayed up late, enjoyed chatting with my extended family.  We rented a beach house with my family, it was a ton of fun.  Curt had always enjoyed the ocean.  He and the kids would be out there for hours……… when he wanted to go out in ocean we were all nervous!

Curt in ocean

But he was pretty insistent about wanting to go in.  So Tyler was the first to get him out there, and we all quickly joined him out there.  Due to the spatial issues, he had trouble judging when the wave would break, and at one point Tyler literally picked him up to carry him out so the wave would not break on him.  So,Tyler, Madi and I, and my two surfer, boogie board riding brothers, kept a careful watch over Curt while he was in the ocean.  But as it is in the ocean, inevitably the “big wave” came, and despite our efforts, we all got toppled.  We all quickly pop out of the what feels like the wash cycle of the washing machine, all looking for Curt.  For that brief second no one sees him, and then suddenly his head pops up and he loudly proclaims, “That was AWESOME!!” And that expression seemed to capture our entire vacation for Curt.  He really enjoyed the long conversation with family, the pool, the beach and just some time away.

curt beach

hanging on the front porch

But the lazy days of summer are beginning to wane as we take Tyler to college to start his freshman year TOMORROW!  And I have some back to school commitments coming up as well as looking for people to stay with Curt in the fall.  Honestly I am not looking forward to the busy, crazy, stressful life again.  I  find myself getting a little battle weary…..maybe I am just getting older, maybe it’s that fun woman hormone craziness, maybe it’s Tyler leaving……….it’s probably all of it combined.


But I have also come to understand Matthew 11:28 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Jesus gives the invitation to Come, but it is us who must get up and GO!!  We must Go the Lord, and give him these burdens.  Trying to carry them on our own just doesn’t seem to work real well! :)  So I am working more on Going to the Lord with the burdens of the day, I often try to carry them on my own. Working on that more for this Fall….Going to the Lord and LEAVING those burdens of the day there.


Thanks again for your ongoing LOVE and prayers for our family!!

Morris fam

Dashing through the………

Dashing through the chaos

in a big blue mini van

Out to the activities we will go

Praying all the way

Oh…….Always on my cell, always on my cell, busy all the way.

Yes that is how I feel lately!  I really was hoping for more of a Silent Night type of Christmas  but for now I have the Jingle Bells chaos.

And that is what life is throwing at us right now.  As I write Madi has been sick with a bad cough and fever and was just diagnosed with the flu. I have not slept well listening to her cough all night and Curt snoring all night. :)  My big, just turned 18, young man, broke his ankle in a basketball scrimmage on the first day of December. The poor guy is SO disappointed to miss a big part of his senior basketball season!

ty crutches

And poor Curt really started falling apart the 2nd week of December.  He threw up one afternoon and for almost 4 days would barely eat anything and was so confused.  After consulting with his Dr.  we took him off his two Alzheimer’s meds, since they are also known to cause stomach issues.  And guess what…….he has starting eating again.  He is fully addicted to Snicker’s Ice Cream bars, eating 2-3 a day!   But I am thankful for that, compared to the NOTHING he was eating for about a week.  And since being off of the Alz meds, we have really seen NO difference at all in his Alzheimer’s symptoms.  The meds are made to stop the forgetfulness, and other Alz symptoms, but will do nothing to stop the onslaught/progression of the disease. 

Curt and I

So December has been ROUGH, I am not going to lie.  Throw in normal Christmas busyness and shopping, and activities, Tyler’s 18th birthday, Madi’s cookie party, indoor Lax games for Madi, basketball for Tyler, Dr. appointments for Tyler’s ankle and PT, our Fresh Air young man coming for Christmas, school stuff……  I was struggling……..

But as I ponder Christmas and the Christmas story I found myself thinking about Mary the other day.  Mary pregnant as can be, riding on some large, uncomfortable donkey to Bethlehem.  I can  imagine, that was ROUGH!!  Giving birth in a small, smelly stable, ROUGH.  No epidural, ROUGH!   Yet, as a result of those ROUGH times something really good, purposeful and life changing resulted. A tiny baby who could change the world!

And so in that moment I think to myself that our life may be a bit rough right now, but it is some how ALL part of God’s plan and purpose.  And in that I find such comfort and peace this December.  Even in the rough times we cling to a Hope born in a stable so long ago!  And the promise of the Hope in Jesus is truly what keeps us going!

Merry Christmas one and all from our house to yours!!!

50th Anniversary

My entire family gathering for my parents 50th Anniversary!


Someone from our church got our wood stove working again……so thankful!

madi christmas

My sweet and lovely 15 year old! 

cookie party

10th annual cooking baking party!!!  Always fun!


One of his senior pictures!!

Curt and I #2

Alzheimer’s and Marriage

I have wanted to write a post like this for some time now, but it very personal.  I just wasn’t sure if this is something I wanted to put out there.  But it’s Alzheimer’s, it’s this disease and it’s what I work through every morning when I wake up for school and leave Curt sound asleep at home and head off to school with out him.

Yes with out him!

That is what is so hard these days, we are married, we are a partnership, we are friends…..but as of late there are so many decisions, events, happenings…just life that I am living with out his input or involvement.

That partnership is dissolving and I am forging on ahead with out my sweet husband!

He becomes more and more oblivious to what is happening with in our household, he is more apathetic, and spends most of the day at the computer or occasionally watching the news or sports events.  He seems to relish time to himself and peace and quiet.

I try to get him involved with activities, he will linger for a bit, but finds more comfort in his daily, simple routine.

It’s a slow, grieving process, that each day seems to chip away a bit of our marriage.  I am painfully aware that he is not with us when we go places and that we are losing dear Curt as he slips more and more into the big black hole of Alzheimer’s.  He may be physically with us for something, but I can assure you the Curt that is with us, is not the same fun loving, active, involved, Curt that I have known for 22 years now.

(I just had to post this OLD pic of Curt, but as you can see he was such a fun loving, goofball Dad!!  He let the kids duct tape him to a tree!!!!)

As I was pondering much of this in my heart, I read the words below at a dear friend’s blog.  Her husband has had numerous surgeries for a brain tumor that has also caused endless seizures.  Her thoughts seem to reflect much of what I have been feeling.  So  I am going to borrow Helen words from Mom of Six 

” There is peace in my heart, we have times of laughter, I am thankful to God for so many things but life is not as it once was and it’s not as it should be.  God created Adam and Eve in that garden as perfect humans.  There was not cancer, pain, sadness, sin.  But when sin entered the world all of that changed.

And yes, I believe God is sovereign over all.  I believe that He uses ALL things for our good, even brain tumors, BUT they are a result of the fall and one day…oh one day…it will be different.  

Rev. 21: 1, 3-4 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea…And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  


Phew, thanks Helen for helping me put some order to my scattered thoughts and ever shifting emotions!  We press on for there is Hope in knowing there will be a new Heaven and a new Earth, and Curt will be made new and whole again!

I do have a big prayer request to mention.  Curt still struggles with the anger issue, it really has not gotten any better, I think I have just grown more numb to it all and have not let it consume me as it once did.  But we must find him a local neurologist.  We had planned to see an excellent neurologist in Hershey, but his practice is moving to NY.  Thus I am back to starting over.  So please pray that I can find someone local ( I do have a few names to call), that Curt will be willing to go, and that we can get in soon!! (I am afraid that will be the hard part!!)  Curt really needs some kind of med to help with the anger.  The things he says is just NOT HIM and I am the one he blames for everything.  I am glad it’s not the kids, but I do grow weary of it.  Tough to listen to!

Thanks friends and readers, I can not tell you how blessed we are by so many of you!!!  Can I just tell you how stinkin nice the people of this community are!  We have been blessed with meals and so many little acts of kindness!!  <3  We are thankful!

I also have a fun praise that I will post soon…….it’s a story of God’s providence for us through a lawn mower! :)  But that will have to wait for another day.