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Stranger in A Strange World
Lonestray
Posted: Monday, June 2, 2014 4:26 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 

Way back in 1947 I entered a world that was totally strange to me. Prior to then I'd been locked away in the custody of the Irish State for the years that should have been my childhood. It was pretty scary to be free for the first time around age sixteen, but also exciting. There was no one to turn to, but then there never was. for the first time, I was in control of my life to do as I wished. It should come as no surprise that by the age of seventeen that I sought the safety of Forces life where I would be clothed, fed and housed. I had already been institutionalized.

My most important decision was to live in denial of my past and keep my own company due to the shame and stigma attached of having 'spent time' in the Irish Industrial Schools system. As I have no home to return to during vacation periods, I traveled around the UK and stayed in boarding houses.

My life changed for ever when a young clothing factory girl arrived on the scene. She became my savior and inspiration. A quiet gentle girl from a very  materially poor background but it contained over abundance of riches in love.

In my proposal of marriage all I had to offer was a dream. With her by my side the impossible became possible. How she ever suffered me over the years I'll never know. There was so much to learn about your conventional world. Simple events like birthdays I knew nothing of, nor my date of birth till I joined the Forces. Presents at Christmas was a new experience.

When she was struck with Alzheimer's like many others for their first time, it was my second time to find myself a stranger in a strange world.

Like most events in life I chose to confront it in my own way and was not prepared to let outsiders control our lives. During the long years of lone one to one caring, my past reared its ugly head and I was forced to confront it. Imagine my surprise to find that the reason I was 'put away' was because I was charged at Dublin District Court as a two year old with 'begging'. My sentence; fourteen years. All contact with family was forbidden. As a result I never got to know who I was, nor any relatives.

Suffice to say, I fulfilled all the promises I made to my wife and loved her all the more behind the mask that was Alzheimer's. Would I do it all over again? In the blink of an eye I would. I was not her care giver, I was her husband. That's what husband' do?

Sadly in being a husband 24/7 year on year alone in our own home, in my attempts to pass on my experiences on a UK site, some care givers were upset. It made them feel guilty and inadequate. Now I'm left wondering if it was worth writing my story: 'Alzheimer's Care My Way.' As with most things in life, I do them my way. 


Jim Broede
Posted: Monday, June 2, 2014 5:23 AM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


I do things my way, too. But I'm always looking for better ways. Ever evolving. I don't let my past stifle me.I am not yesterday. I am today.  --Jim.
Lonestray
Posted: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 9:22 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 

We cannot escape the fact that we are all children at heart. The influences of our childhood determines who we become. Most children are raised, supported and nurtured by parents or relatives that instil their sense of values.

 

In my case, I lacked that support and nurturing. Growing up in what I assumed was an orphanage with some 160 other male children, ranging from babies to age ten. year, it was not possible for a handful of nuns to provide the love and nurture a child requires.

There were many advantages to be gained from such a beginning. Conformity was the order of the day whilst in State Custody. To be left-handed was not tolerated it was beaten out of me.

Once free in a strange world I had control of my life to learn by observation. Just two of the lessons I learned were; Society was made up of those that fished and the fish and I chose to avoid being hooked. The other important lesson was that the whole of life was made up of positive and negative experiences. Not unlike electric power you have to 'plug-in' with both to be enlightened.

True love comes with a lot of pain and for me there is no true saying "Better to have loved and loosed, than never to have loved at all." No matter how bad you may feel ask yourself why? There may be a lesson to be learned, or you may care deeply for some one. If it's the latter you are fortunate to have been/are that close.


Jim Broede
Posted: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 10:00 AM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


 

 

It’s important to keep evolving, Lonestray. Don’t remain static. I recommend the pursuit of happiness. One way or another. Whatever works for you. We all take different paths. But still, many of us arrive at the same place. Though it’s also all right to come to a different and unique destination.  Savor it all, if you can.  That’s the blessing. The ability to love. Life itself. No matter the circumstances. --Jim    

 


Lonestray
Posted: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 2:40 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 

Jim, I've never remained static, in fact I've never ceased running from my past until recent years whilst caring for my late wife. I had a dream and in pursuit of that dream, it took me around the world.  Work in three countries in mainland Europe, the Far and Middle East gave me an insight into other cultures and lifestyles.

 
 Life was not all roses as unexpectedly tragedy unexpectedly struck, our youngest child; 15 year old daughter was killed. For the first time in my life I experienced emotional pain. In childhood I'd witnessed other children die but I experienced no emotional pain.   

 

 By the age of 54, I achieved my goal and retired early from my post in charge of a large multi-national work force. It was a time to enjoy help in raising our fast growing nine grandchildren.

 For the winter of our years we had planned to spend tending our land and enjoying our family. Sadly it was not to be. The uninvited stranger, Alzheimer's invaded our lives. My wife was just short of sixty when she was diagnosed, and I was three years older. Like every other aspect of my life I approached the care giving in my own way, learning as the illness progressed.

As I reflect on the final years we shared together I have few regrets in caring for her in my own way. Had I taken notice of doctors who had given her just days to live, she would not have survived an extra pain free four years. We managed 52 years of marriage.

With her passing it came as no surprise to be diagnosed with stomach cancer. Just another of life's challenges. The cancer was so advanced that it required my complete stomach removal. I've adjusted to a daily life of bouts of pain. In the pain free periods I like to push the boundaries by continuing my daily runs of four miles. In four months time I'll be 83 and only hope I retain the ability to keep control of my life there after God willing. The early years taught me not to rely on others.

 


Jim Broede
Posted: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 7:05 AM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


 

 

You are truly living. A fascinating life, Lonestray. I’d love to meet you some day. Face to face. I travel about the world. I have a feeling. We will meet some day. In the flesh. We already have met in spirit. And maybe that’s sufficient. But I always want more. My dear sweet wife Jeanne had a 13-year siege with Alzheimer’s. Now I have a second true love. A wonderful Italian. I flit back and forth. Between Minnesota in the USA and Sardinia. Perhaps our paths have crossed before. Without knowing it. But still, I know you. Oh, boundless life. So, so wonderful. You are no stranger. --Jim

 


Lonestray
Posted: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 9:18 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 

I've never lost the curiosity of the child within, as my mind is constantly active. There have been many social changes since my early life. It must be hard for many to imagine my early experiences. In class we initially used slates to write on and some years later we progressed to using pens with nibs that were dipped in inkwells. Blotting paper was used to dry the writing.

In the summer months we went barefoot. In many ways nobodies' children were the fortunate ones as we knew no different life. The damaged ones were those were taken from their parents with whom they had bonded. Children have a natural way of survival in those circumstances. They create a make believe world with imaginary friends.

The most painful period of my childhood was when I was transferred to an adult Industrial School at the age of ten. The Christian Brothers ruled with brute force to maintain control of in excess of eight hundred boys. There were five dormitories, each housed 160 plus boys.

I well remember a priest's visit from America. It was a Father Flanagan. He spoke in glowing terms of schools for orphans and delinquents he started in the US, referred to as Boys Town. They sounded like wonderful places. Unfortunately his views of the system in operation in Ireland, describing them as a national disgrace was unwelcome. State and Church pressure forced him to leave Ireland.

As I moved through the decades I've witnessed many changes. Without a doubt I can say I've had the most amazing life. There are time I ask myself how I managed to survive. What might people say if they knew this guy who won two national titles at sport and represented his country, started out life as no one's kid.

Now I'm piecing together the history of the family I was denied contact with. The more I unearth the more unbelievable the story becomes. Accepting the negatives and positives of life have enlightened my way.


Jim Broede
Posted: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 12:37 PM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


 

 

We must communicate directly. And privately. Please contact me at jbbroede@hotmail.com. You are a remarkable human being, Lonestray. Let us open a private correspondence. Believe me. You have been blessed. Despite the heartache.  You know it, too. --Jim

 


Lonestray
Posted: Thursday, June 12, 2014 3:27 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 

Jim,

To describe me as remarkable, I don't think so. A misfit would be more apt.

 

 The best thing to happen in my life was was to meet the girl who became my wife. She constantly remarked "You're strange." When the mood took me I'd bring her flowers and a box of chocolate or other present. Asked what it was for I'd reply, "Because I felt like it, why do people wait for birthdays?"

 

 From my perspective I see the social system is organized in set ways and many people fear deviating from the norm. So it was I found with care giving for a LO with AD. Though each person is an individual in their own right, it appears to me that 'one size fits all' with regards to treatment.

 

 The first port of call when confronted with a problem is to resort to medication rather than treat the underlying cause. Often it is both less stressful and time consuming to eliminate the causes of frustration, anger and stress. As a last resort we seek advice from the 'experts' and doctors. Who knows our partner/spouse of family member best?

 

 It is oft repeated, that each person is different, yet the same treatment and medications are recommended.

As with most things in my life I'm not in the habit of giving advice. I listen, question advice given, then act as I consider best. So it was when caring for my late wife. When most advice was not to attempt to care for her at home on my own at the end stage of her illness, I chose to ignore it and go my own way.

I'm only too aware that not everyone is capable of undertaking lone care giving as each circumstance differs. I was just fortunate to have managed it.

 

 Along the way I learned many lessons. It was a very humbling experience to undertake the daily chores of washing, ironing, cooking, shopping, house work in addition to taking care of all my wife's needs. As I live alone I'm now more than ever, conscious of the daily chores my wife carried out while raising our children. It's all such drudgery and boring. God bless all those wonderful women who quietly carry on such work day in an d day out.  


Jim Broede
Posted: Thursday, June 12, 2014 12:21 PM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


 

 

Daring to be a misfit, Lonestray. That’s what makes you so remarkable. We need more misfits in this world.  Individuals that don’t act like robots. Non-conformists. That venture out. That go beyond the horizon. To find the meaningful stuff of life. True lovers. True dreamers.  You are to be appreciated.  Marveled. I want to know more. Keep musing.  --Jim

 


Lonestray
Posted: Friday, June 13, 2014 9:28 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 

As is always the case I'm busy at the moment, so I'll just mention something I've noticed on my learning journey along one of life's paths.

As we pass through the orchard of life,few appear to notice the abundance of fruit, never mind to reap the rich reward of sampling life's fruit.

 

 I do so miss the happy times we spent in the home I had to leave, due to down sizing, in order to care for my wife.

 

 Much of the wonder and beauty of the place I soaked up, and yet, I was left wondering how so many trees in our orchard could each produce different fruit. There were many varieties of apples, pears, plumbs and green gauges. Yes, each tree looked different. Though nurtured by the same rain, sun and Mother Earth, yet each fruit tasted and differed in appearance. Why? Mother Nature as it's best?

I'll be in touch with you tomorrow Jim.


Jim Broede
Posted: Friday, June 13, 2014 11:04 AM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


 

I am strange, too, Lonestray. Different. Not afraid to be. A romantic idealist. A spiritual free-thinker. A political liberal. A lover. A dreamer. Yes, even a fool. I want to savor it all. Slowly. In no hurry. Please, give me forever. I’ve learned that even the worst of times lead to the best of times. Your true love. Came into your life.  Because of what once seemed like misfortune. Turns out, it was good fortune.  Misfortune put you into the right place at the right time.  A blessing. --Jim


Lonestray
Posted: Saturday, June 14, 2014 9:22 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 
Changing Times.

 

Presently there is uproar in Ireland and other countries with regards to the discovery in Co. Galway of the remains of almost 800 small children in Co. Galway.

 

 Two children were playing in the grounds that was once part of a Mother and Baby Home. They came across two concrete slabs. They prised them apart to discover a septic full with the skulls and bones of infants. Frightened they hurried home to report the findings.

 The Mother and Baby Homes were for women who had children out of wedlock. The babies that survived were put up for adoption and those not adopted, were sent to Industrial Schools. They were used as free labour for the State up to the age of sixteen. 

 

There is much shock, outrage and anger today at the Order of Nuns that worked in these 'Homes'. What today's generation fail to take into consideration, it was of a different period in time when conditions were vastly different.

 It is important to view these event in their proper context. Women who had children outside of marriage where disowned by their family. They brought shame and stigma on themselves and their family. Those children that survived also bore that shame and stigma, as a result could not, would not speak of their childhood. Would anyone have believed them?

Here's the question, how well do you know your parents or grandparents and the conditions and circumstances they grew up in? Many have endured war and hardships that are difficult to contemplate.


Jim Broede
Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2014 10:17 AM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


 

 

I’ve walked the same sacred ground that my paternal ancestors walked, Patrick. In the Palatine region.  In the southwest corner of Germany. In a little village. Kashofen.  Not all that far from France. I’ve found cousins never knew I had. Fritz. Walter. Manfred. Now I’ve traced my paternal ancestors. Back to the 1600s. In Switzerland. I feel a spiritual connection.  On my mother’s side, too. Czech. I exist. Because of misfortune. To my maternal grandparents. They died young. Ages 26 and 38. My mother became an orphan. Prompted her into a marriage of convenience. To my father. A man she really didn’t love. The marriage ended tragically. The suicide of my father.  But the ebb and flow of others’ lives turns out to be a blessing. For me. Brought me into existence. Much of the same goes for you, Patrick. You have been blessed. By others’ misfortune.  Life evolves in strange and mysterious and wonderful ways. Depends on how one looks at life. I like my interpretations. It’s as if I’m living in a novel. Unfolding. A paragraph, a chapter at a time. So much to savor. --Jim

 


Lonestray
Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2014 4:26 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 

Now that I live alone, I miss the daily routine of being there for my wife. One of the main reasons for living is gone. There is much time to reflect and set new goals.

From the age of sixteen, on my release from State detention I chose to forget my early life and to keep on running. Luckily I had always been address as 'Charlie' up to then, not my correct first name. Therefore I was mentally capable of leaving 'Charlie' locked behind the gates of the Industrial School when I left. I had a new name, 'Patrick', with a fresh life in a strange new world.

How the change came about was just by chance. Some months before my release, I discussed my fears with two other lads that had no family.  My concern was being hired out to some employer that might find my work unsatisfactory and return me to the detention centre. I'd witnessed unfortunate rejected kids being severely punished and have their heads shaven as a mark of shame.

So scared of such a fate was I that one of the lad suggested I approach the most vulnerable old Christian Brother and of beg him to search for any relative  I might on the outside. Some months later he informed me there was someone who would be along to 'pick me up' on my release date.

In the past year or so I note on my official records my release date was the day before my sixteenth birthday. The significance of birthday mean nothing to me. No mention was made of it.

On that day I was introduced to a strange woman; "This is your son" remarked the Christian Brother. "What's your name?" asked the woman. "Charlie Rice" I replied. "Are you sure you have the the correct boy?" asked the woman. Now I was scared, a wrong answer usually resulted in a beating.

I was relieved with next question from the Brother: "What's your number?" My number would always be correct: "11536'. He looked down the list he held and confirmed: "That's correct, he's your son."

The woman in turn told me: "Your name is Patrick."

She did not have a home to take me to and over the following days she spent little or no time with me.  I guess she was disappointed in the package she came to collect and we both went our separate ways.

I was free to explore a new and exciting but strange world. There was so much to learn and so little time. My lack of a formal education proved an advantage in many respects, as I reflect on my success in different fields.

Reading the many posts on these boards brings home to me the deep abiding love, sorrow and suffering that so many have for their Mothers, Fathers and Grandparents. That is one experience I'll never know. Sadly I can't ask our Daughter or Son but only guess of the pain they have been through with the loss of their Mother. Please God let them not suffer when it's my turn.


alz+
Posted: Friday, June 27, 2014 4:20 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3560


Irish poet at heart? First time to MUSINGS section, up before dawn, time to read your thoughts at length.

How important it was to find a man's view...of helping his wife through an illness.

Yes, your were not her care giver you were her husband. And I am sure your wife was well loved and enjoyed her life with you, all of it.

I am going to read your work. Men like you are guides for other men to keep being a husband to their wives who develop dementia. A gentle guide, someone they can have confidence in, relax into.

 

Your comment on caregivers reaction to your referring to yourself as "husband" is really interesting. It was a relief for me to finally understand not all men or women are natural born caregivers, or wives or husbands. It can be painful to read of someone not only capable but desiring to shelter a partner with Alzheimer's when they are not cut out for it. The "guilty" reactions are unfortunate, and I add to the discomfort my own jealousy.

I am a woman with the illness and my husband is doing his best, no family near by, no friends to speak of, and it has been a rough second marriage for us anyway. I was angry he did not have The Knack, he was angry he could not fix it. We struggle along but it will never be the comfortable, confident relationship you and your wife shared.

Your posts always stand out for being beautifully written and from such a calm masculine voice.

Look forward to reading Your Way. Thank you for being here on message boards. Thank you to all the men who do their best, what ever their abilities. It is a good thing to know one's strengths and weaknesses and assign the work to others better suited.

I know it is the emotional and physical environment that is the only treatment for Alzheimer's for now. Your testament to this is extremely important to the women who develop dementia and those who will befriend them.


 


Lonestray
Posted: Friday, June 27, 2014 9:54 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 

Hi Alz+,

 

I must say I'm heartened to read your comments. Of late I've been wondering if it was worth writing our story on Alzheimer's. The purpose of writing it was to offer an insight of what it was like to take on all the protection my wife required over the many years she suffered. I was told it was impossible to care for someone with early onset of AD on ones own.

Time and again I've come up against the remark: 'It's impossible'. To hear that only tempts me to discover for myself what my limits are.

At present I'm pleased to say that I've achieved the latest goal I set my self. That was to run four and a half miles each morning at 04.30 hrs, five days a week. To some that may not seem much, but I'm still recovering from stomach cancer surgery. The complete stomach was removed and in about three months time with luck I'll be 83.

 

To care comes naturally to me, it provides food for the soul. It's not unlike taking in a stray abused dog, you spend time and patience to win over its trust. In return it will protect you with its life. So it was with being a husband to my wife, it came instinctively to be there for her all the way. I'm all the richer for the experience and can only hope I gave her a quality of life she deserved up to the end.

 

From someone like you, I would much appreciate your take on my book. My attempts at entering her world, by asking how I would feel if our lives were

reversed? I can only hope I was near the target. On that score you may be of some assistance.


alz+
Posted: Friday, June 27, 2014 11:39 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3560


will read your book and send you my thoughts.

 

You are fabulous, your wife was so fortunate! Because you felt fortunate to find her.

 

Not much of that around. Give me a few days.


Jim Broede
Posted: Friday, June 27, 2014 1:23 PM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


 

 

You have a wonderful zest for life, Patrick. I’ve read your book. Slowly. Savoring every word. Every thought.  We have been corresponding privately, too. I’m getting to know you. From a distance. But really, it’s close up. In a spiritual way. Some day soon. We will meet. Face to face. That will be one of the great pleasures of my life. I look forward to the conversation. The camaraderie. You are a delightful human being. A true lover.  --Jim

 


Lonestray
Posted: Saturday, June 28, 2014 3:11 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 

Jim, no doubt having read my book you will have noticed that I lack the ability to write in a conventional and professional manner. None the less I feel that many of my ilk: children that were denied a childhood should be heard. It's a sad fact that vast numbers of children born in the Irish State were locked away from the outside world and denied basic human rights. Later they were left with the stigma and shame of having spent their childhood in Industrial School and Magdalene Laundries. The true fact were not revealed until recent years. Most of the victims were incapable of writing their stories and were aware  should they tell anyone, they would not be believed.

 

 In the final stages of my wife's AD I discovered for the first time just some of the facts of my early life. That information I jotted down in moments while my she slept. Committing it to paper was a form of therapy to cleanse it from my system. The result; my first book: 'Lonesome Stray'. The response to it came as a complete surprise. One lady professor at a  U.S. university wrote; 'written in a very unconventional manner, but not in a negative way, a wonderful read'. A Canadian writer suggested that I not let anyone influence my way of writing. The best comment came from my daughter: "It was as though I entered that sorry world with all its sounds and smells. The story ended all too soon and I was left wondering, what happened next?" As a result I wrote a follow up. I'm now considering compiling four books into one complete coherent story. It may best explain the reasons why and how a person can succeed in life despite a lack of home, family or formal education.

I've a very strong feeling that the arrival a young girl by the name of Jean in my life was no accident. For God only knows I was not deserving of such a kind gentle person to save and inspire me.


alz+
Posted: Saturday, June 28, 2014 7:02 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3560


Regarding your book -

 

I thought I would read it over weekend but could not stop. I finished last night and woke up crying. The helpless state of your wife in the nursing home situations is my nightmare. I was left in hospitals as a child, and left to die by my first husband after an infection following surgery, rescued my a friend who had never stopped at my house before but "felt compelled" to turn into our house that day. I have been left unconscious and more - I have probably been too  explicit about the details of my life  on these boards. So your own early life of being thrown to wolves and punished and shamed  for it really hit me hard.

 

The details of her lousy care in the homes is IMPORTANT, and as important is how she recuperated when brought back to a loving safe environment. I helped care for my Father when he had Alzheimer's. We kept him at home, my Mother had a man come in to help shower and dress him. My Mom is 94 and a very small woman who could not have lifted her husband off the floor. She did her best with little information and I worked full time but came every weekend and helped him his last 10 days in a hospital where he died in "hospice care" which was removal of food and water. If I had not slept in his room each night and suctioned him, comforted him it would have been hell for him. He had fallen and broken a hip, had it repaired and was put in a nursing home. The lack of awareness of staff was horrifying, and even my Mom believed them when told to not worry :he makes noises like that all the time." His face was contorted in obvious pain, he was stiffened by then, helpless and yet she sat by his bed doing crossword puzzles, never reaching out to him. I found the infected hole over his hip and he was taken to a hospital by ambulance where hospice was called in and my time with him began. I would not trade that time for the world.

 

Your book brought all these memories to life again, and I am frightened because there is no one who will give me that kind of love and care. Many women live with men who are not capable of providing care, the boards had a long discussion on DATING when your wife is no longer a "wife". The only illness I know of where I can be counted dead and disposable when most helpless.

 

I try not to judge, and your work is crucial because it demonstrates very factually day by day, minute by minute how one does this. It is a standard few will share and for many reasons. Sometimes the partner is also sick, lack of money, lack of a place to live, lack of access to real medical care, lack of knowledge about watching medications, fear of questioning authorities, not being able to lift a person, not understand we are alive and conscious even at the end. My Father and I communicated through our eyes and facial expressions which do not require WORDS. Your wife was able to say "Yes" but she also communicated with you ... in her manner, through the energy shared, emotional communication. It is a beautiful story and more important than the now popular book "Still Alice" in my opinion. The troubles of the well off are not the same as the troubles of the impoverished. And the story of Alice is by someone who is in medicine and compiled a profile of a woman with available children and a beach house and the best of care. It is a dishonest book in my opinion and left me cold.

 

Your book hurt me in that way, that I will have to find some courage and hope my children can come at the end. I love my children, both wonderful smart funny very competent people - but having to work 7 days a week to make it even with educations. I don't want to be the burden, and your book will stir up these feelings of fear and potential abandonment, being left to rot alone in wards.

 

You mention your writing style - it is natural and uncontrived. Nothing to change. There were a fewer and more minor editing spots than most modern novels done by "professional" writers. In fact they add to the reality of your words. The beauty of your work is it is from the heart and not technically perfect.

 

I have been purchasing books on Alzheimer's to have a library to share in my rural community where we have no respite care for dementia, no groups to meet, some lovely nursing homes with good hearted staff but not even a doctor who treats Alzheimer's and I feel lucky for that.

I am going to try to find a copy of your book (amazon?) and add it to the library. My husband will deliver the books to people who need to learn how to care for their loved ones, and for themselves when diagnosed.

Please keep in touch - so to speak - I was a writer, novels, poetry. I tired to write a book about this experience but the skill of editing has gone.

To understand the loss a person feels when diagnosed with Alzheimer's makes me wish I never knew. A book called "GRAMP" from 1970's is in my library as it is a photo journal of a family allowing the grandfather to live out his illness in their care and to die at home.

 

This is major contribution and I would love to see this story made into a movie instead of "still Alice". Thank you for sharing your life with all of the world.

You are a great man.


Lonestray
Posted: Saturday, June 28, 2014 9:03 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


Alz+

Thank you so very much for the kind review of my book. My heart goes out to you being stricken with this cruel disease. Often I ask myself; why is it that family members can not understand the fear, dread and uncertainty AD sufferers feel about their future. I'm only too well aware that none of us wish to be a burden on family members. To know that you are wanted and loved for who you are and have been is an important part of the treatment. It is often repeated that the 'LO is no longer there and fails to know who I am.'

 As far as I was concerned my wife was always present under the vanished ravages of time. A look into her eyes revealed the ever present vision of the young girl I married. It matter nought that she could not speak. We are human animals and like dogs have the ability to communicate. Sadly in some cases dogs are better capable.

 

There is much more to my life story. Sadly when I tracked down my father and sisters they were not forthcoming about the past. Now that I have researched most of the facts the picture becomes clearer. During my years in custody a whole different family story was unfolding in the outside world.

 

If I can be of any assistance please let me know.


Jim Broede
Posted: Saturday, June 28, 2014 10:37 AM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


 

 

The important and significant thing, Patrick, is what you’ve become. You took a circuitous route. To where you are now. And it seems to me, that virtually everything that has happened in your life eventually turned into blessings, of sort. Because all this made you what you are today.  A wonderful human being.  Really, you have far more reason to rejoice than to lament. When looking at the whole of your life. This may seem like a strange observation. But then, life is strange and mysterious. Bad often transforms into something very good. Nothing short of magnificent.  If one looks at the end result.  Patrick is Patrick is Patrick. Wonderful. Wonderful. Wonderful. A blessing. A blessing. A blessing. --Jim

 


Lonestray
Posted: Monday, June 30, 2014 8:52 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 

Yes Jim, I took what I considered the only route in life open to me. As there was no one to guide me, the one thing I'd learned from an early age was to wrest control of my life as best I could.

On reflection, that began when the kids that were nobodies children were either incapable, or just wouldn't cry whilst being beaten. Attending class evoked the most fear. There, the 'teachers' maintained control through fear. It was an odd manner of teaching. To test spelling the teacher commenced at the front of the class and asked each boy to spell a word. Should he spell it incorrect, he fell out to the side of the class. The exercise complete, the boys who failed received physical punishment with a leather strap that contained metal strips or coins. To this day I'm left with a timely reminder of one of those punishments. On that occasion the strap split and the coins fell to the floor. There was a mad rush for the coins. The Christian Brother discarded the useless strap, took hold of the blackboard pointer and used it to beat the boys. The thin edge of the pointer snapped. He turned it about to use the thick end. As a result of a blow to my shin, I limped about for a number of days. The scar on my right shin is a reminder of happy school days.

In among the 800 plus boys at the grown-up school (Artane Industrial School) just a handful of us first arrived from what I then believed was an orphanage. We were nobodies kids, but tough and mean. To watch the other kids receive a beating and hear them cry; "Mammy, Daddy" we would roll about howling in laughter.

Little wonder once free in the outside world I had little faith or trust in anyone but myself. To this day I question the professional class, Doctors Lawyers etc.

By observation and questioning I decide to retain as much control of my life as possible.

Multi-national companies I learned early on have most control through out the world. They dictate to Governments. My first experience with Insurance Companies made me realise that I was a small fish in their pond. In time I learned that if I could not beat then, then join them. I bought thousands of shares in one Insurance Co.

The world can be an exciting place once you learn to take control of your life.

We are each gifted with a brain to use as we chose and often to go with our instincts prove to be correct. In doing things my way so far has not let me down, most of all being a husband to the love of my life in her time of need. The history of Artane Industrial School in the 1930/40s is no longer a secret through the wonders of the world wide web. 


Jim Broede
Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 12:26 PM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


 

 

You learned to fall in love, Patrick. That’s how you salvaged something meaningful from life. Love. Offsets all the pitfalls.  Even now. You are in love. With certain memories. But also with physical exercise. With your daily workouts. Pleasures. You’ve learned to savor the pleasures of life. There are many. All you need do is look around. To see the beauty of nature.  To breathe the air. And not least, to make sense of it all. Better to have lived. Than to not have lived.  --Jim

 


Lonestray
Posted: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 9:10 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 

Yes Jim, making sense of life is what we are all challenged with. There comes a time in our lives when we cease to be involved in the race of progress. In my case it's in my eighties. It's a time to reflect on the changes and evolutions that have occurred in society and the effects it has had on our lives.

My world has changed beyond all recognition. The field of medicine is just one small example. I can recall being treated for boils with a bread poultice. For cold and flu our chests and neck were painted with iodine and covered with cotton wool.

The period prior to electrical appliances such as fridges, freezers, cookers and washing machines, most of the work was carried out by the women of the house. Fresh food and milk was kept in the pantry. Cooking was carried out on a coal fire. Cloths washing was carried out by hand in a tub with the use of a washing board, then hung out to dry. Monday was washing day. The family was washed in a galvanized tub, with the youngest child washed last. Hence the saying when tipping out the water; 'Don't tip the baby out with the water.'

Women who became pregnant outside of wedlock, were either forced to marry; 'gunshot wedding'. In Ireland if not forced to marry, the daughter was was no longer welcomed in the family. She was shunned for ever. Those who did not marry were left with the one option, to enter a Mother and Baby Home. Once the baby was weaned, the Mother was free to go minus the child. Banished from their home, with no where to live, they were sent to work in the Magdalene laundries. The babies were passed on to the Industrial Schools until the age of sixteen. The more fortunate babies were adopted by local wealthy couples and many from as far as the USA.

 The glaring omission in the barbaric practice is that the men involved were not held to account.

Present day, couples remain together and raise a family without first getting married.

From my family research, I discover that the forced marriage of my parents led to untoward misery. She was 24 and he 19. He complains in a statement that he was not asked by the priest if he had his parents permission to marry. He felt duty bound to marry. None the less her family totally disowned both her and her children for the rest of her life. That was a sign of the times. Who are we to judge?

I'm still fitting pieces of the jigsaw that is my families' life. It paints a very interesting picture of social history at that time.


Lonestray
Posted: Wednesday, July 9, 2014 9:15 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 

The two fundamentals to determine a child's personality are their nurture and their individual natural instinct. We were often quoted the Jesuits' saying: "Give me the child for his first seven years and I'll give you the man."

 It would never occur to any of us to question anything we were told in childhood. So I also found it the case in the outside world to a greater or lesser degree. Many accept the word of the professional; doctors, lawyers etc without question.

As a child there were many questions I would liked to have asked, but was wish enough to keep my peace; we did, and accepted as we were told. When I examine the Jesuit saying, I'm left to wonder why it refers only to the male. In addition can we not make the same statement of any child. On close examination of a child's background, is it not possible in some degree, to determine why children chose a certain path in life.

I like to believe that there is a difference between training and teaching children. There is no doubt that there is a place for both. Training is necessary in the military and some other professions. Teaching requires more patience, especially when it comes to children. The constant questing; like on a car ride: are we there yet..... It's easy to tell them to be quiet or even to shut up. That is the easy approach, but inhibits the learning process. We are visited with the same problem when we become care givers and our patience is tested to the full.

The advantage of my background was the lack of nurture and the fall back was nature; natural instincts. There are many disadvantages of course. I've never found the need to discover what is meant by terminology relating to schooling and many other aspects of accepted social interaction. Six form what's that? High school, is that on a hill?

The nuns trained us to repeat nursery rimes. Had they taught us, it may have more trying for them. Imagine nursery rimes; 'Rock a bye baby on the tree top'. A fair question; " why put a baby on the tree top?" Or: "Little Boo Peep, lost her sheep and didn't know where to find them. Leave them alone." Imagine a kid piping up: "If they are lost you would not know where they, how could not leave them alone.

There, may be an underlying cause why I still never give or accept advice without question.

 


Jim Broede
Posted: Wednesday, July 9, 2014 11:52 AM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


 

 

The amazing thing about you, Patrick, is that you’ve salvaged so very much out of life. You make the most/best of bad situations. Yes, you turn bad experiences into good ones. By finding elements of good in almost everything.  Don’t know who gets the credit for that. So many people have played a role in the grand scheme of your life. But ultimately, it’s been up to you. To fall in love. With life. And get this. It’s not yet over. More to come. And you’ve learned to take it one day at a time. Relishing each day.  You are on a roll. --Jim

 


Lonestray
Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2014 9:28 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 

After the years of being a husband for my late wife with AD, I'm left fearing ever being cursed with it. Should I be so unfortunate, I can't envisage how anyone could take care of me.

 To be a care giver for a parent I imagine is fraught with so many problems. As the disease progresses and the layers of time and memory drift away in a cloud of mist, you are left with someone you do not know. In their place is the once young girl or boy who wishes to return to the safety of their parents. It is a period a daughter or son you can not relate to. Their time, conditions, and society were different. It might be useful research the time and period in which your parents grew up, if you are to enter their world

 

 There is no way that our son or daughter could remotely envisage the background from whence I came. As it is, I'm still not sure of who I am. Presently I'm still discovering so many relatives that exist in the UK, Ireland and Australia. I've not met them nor am I in a hurry to do so. So far I've two surviving sisters, two brothers and another brother was adopted, that may not be still alive. There are also a number of nieces and nephews The adopted boy had a better deal than I. The mother attempted to give him away as a baby, but the Garda (Police) tracked him down and returned him.

 A document headed Children's Fold states that our 'mother' signed over the child when he was three year old, with the consent he be brought up in the principles of the Protestant  faith. The child's birth and Baptismal Certificate reveals that he was baptised in the Rites of the Catholic Church. He was later adopted and took on a new name.

My birth mother appears to have been a very strange woman.

 

I like many spouses, were very fortunate in having an in depth knowledge of our partners early life. In my case I met my wife when she was eighteen and got to know her family, her home and her background.

When she longed to 'go home', I well understood that longing.I was no longer the young man she married, but someone who was there for her every step of the way, like a faithful stray she took in all those years ago.


Jim Broede
Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2014 12:03 PM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462



 

Thankfully, your mother was a strange woman, Patrick. That’s why you exist. Why you were born. If she had been less strange, you’d not be. You have been blessed by her strangeness. Maybe. Some day. In another dimension. You’ll connect with this strange woman.  With your one and only mother. You may well have a spiritual connection now. Anyway, life is strange and mysterious.  Could be, you are your mother’s redemption. Her saving grace.  --Jim

 


Lonestray
Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2014 3:56 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 

As I attempt to discover who I am and from whence I came, each document throws up a separate story. I hold the record of my arrival at the initial detention centre. The document is numbered 2644 and lists name, age, date of birth, and date of admission. It then record when, where, and by whom I was ordered to be detained; the Judge's name. It records; with what charged and sentence: fourteen years, plus the date of my release, the day prior to my sixteenth birthday.

It is only in recent times, that when I read this information I realise that I was released a day prior to my sixteenth birthday. It is not surprising as I was totally unaware that birthdays were anything special. The section of the document headed 'Parentage' is left blank and yet the line: 'State if Illegitimate' the entry in bold hand writing records 'Yes'. Of course that is incorrect. It continues to record, height weight, hair and eye colour and general health as 'Delicate'. One has to smile with their assessment of my Educational State: Reads and Writes: Nil. Mental capacity: Good.I've no idea what they expected of a two year old. One year later the document 'report of Conduct and Character in School': "Sulky at times". I'm left to wonder why that should be?

The first eight years of my sentence was mild in comparison to my final six years in an adult detention centre, from age ten to sixteen.There, we were put to work and trained to a strict regime. The constant sound of hobnailed boots on the concrete of the parade ground could be heard as we fell in on the command from the blast of a whistle and marched or ran as ordered. The Christian Brothers took control of our minds and bodies and instilled fear. In fairness to then they had little option, for how other, could a handful of Brothers, maintain control of in excess of eight hundred 'boys'?

Hunger and abuse were my main concerns and each night I prayed that I would not wake up to the following morning.

 It was not as though the authorities were not aware of what was going on in these places. One Inspector reported that the livestock were better fed than the children. An example of the mind-set of those running these 'schools' was best illustrated by a visit from a committee chaired by a Justice Kennedy. The manager of the school a Father McGonagle, told the committee without embarrassment how the children were stripped naked to be strapped on the buttocks. When questioned, the Father replied he considered punishment to be more humiliating when the children were stripped naked.

 It was not until 1998 that the Christian Brothers issued a public apology for those who were physically and sexually abused. A year later the Prime Minister made a public apology to the victims.

What was going on in the outside world with reference to how and why I ended up in detention, I had yet to learn. For most of my life I just blanked out my life's early experiences. Now, as all the pieces begin to fall into place, I've come to better understand that part of social history. It has given me a true appreciation of so very much that most people take for granted. The most rewarding of all is the true meaning of being loved. Without that love I doubt I could have cherished my wife till death did us part.


SusanK3
Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 12:39 PM
Joined: 7/29/2014
Posts: 2


I can tell you truly love your wife.  Blessed man.
Lonestray
Posted: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 3:53 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 

Susan, yes I loved my wife and since she passed so many years ago, I live alone and the only person I have visit to talk to is our daughter. None the less I'm happy and content as I was born a 'Lonesome Stray' (title of my first book) and my life still overflows with the love she bestowed on me.

Periods of most days I suffer with pain as a result of my operation for stomach cancer. Next month it will be four years I've managed to survived. Still I want more out of what time I have and therefore attempt to discover my full capabilities. I'm now running between four and a half to five miles each morning and my target is to keep it up till the beginning of October when I'll be 83.

I guess that I have an Irish outlook on life:

If you are to die, there are only two things to worry about. You either go to Heaven or Hell. If you go to Heaven there's nothing to worry about. If you go to Hell, you'll be so busy shaking hand with all your friends, you won't have time to worry.

My newest venture is to attempt to compile and write my complete life story into one book.

The closer I view all the documents that relate to the family I never got to know I begin to understand the pain and suffering each member went through.

In Feb 1986 I received a letter from a woman living in England, informing me that she believed that her Mother was my sister. She had tracked me down through the Ministry of Defence records department. As a result of that letter I arranged a meeting with her Mother, her older sister, in Ireland and myself at our country house. It was my intention to discover as much as was possible about them, all family members past and present, also the circumstances that led to the break-up of the family. Talk about 'fools rushing in where angles feat to thread'. As my wife, I and my two sisters sat around the kitchen table my first question: "Did our Mother ever talk about me?" It was met with tears and upset. They had no wish to speak of the past: "Let's forget about the past and look to the future" was the elder sister's response. No, I wished to learn how and why I was forgotten by everyone. The younger sister attempted to tell me how lucky I was, with such a large house set in beautiful countryside, with a lovely wife and family. At that I stormed out of the house, followed by my wife who tried to comfort me, knowing the pain we both suffered at the loss of our fifteen year old daughter.

After all these years I now understand the heartbreak and pain the two sisters had been put through in their young lives. They were old enough to experience the emotional pain of losing two brothers I knew nothing of, plus they had been torn apart at ages of seven and nine.

 In some odd way I sought to learn the positives to be gained from what some would describe as disadvantages. The result:was that only by trying would I learn what's possible.


Lonestray
Posted: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 3:33 AM
Joined: 8/12/2013
Posts: 158


 

Some may think that starting out life as nobodies child is sad, but in fact its had many advantages. When first set free in a world I knew little of, through my eyes, it was a world full of new and exciting wonders that most people took for granted.

There was much to learn about social norms and many of the boundaries I failed to notice, or just plain ignored and lived life my way. The whole social structure appeared to be made up of boxes: early family life, schooling, college, university  followed by a chosen profession or career. My whole life has been lived outside of those boxes and I admit I know next to nothing about the contents of those boxes. For all of that I've managed to survive very well in this strange world by continuing to push boundaries. My latest venture is to manage the daily pain I suffer from the loss of my stomach. I rejoice in the pain free periods and still persist in maintaining my morning runs.

When my late wife was first stricken with Alzheimer's I went along with her wishes of choosing to ignore it, till such time it was necessary to confirm it by  an MRI scan. During the years that followed, it became time to observe and learn a new subject. It never occurred to me join a Alzheimer's website until the final year of her illness. On reflection I can't say I'm sorry not to have joined one then. My search to find a partner that had chosen to take care of a LO at home, on their own, 24/7, 365 days for years on end, proved futile. The responses were; that it was impossible. I now understand that sentiment only too well, as my attitude and perspective to life dose not conform to the norm. Presently I'm grabbing on to each moment of life I'm gifted and hoping to finish writing the story of my adventurous life.


Jim Broede
Posted: Saturday, August 16, 2014 8:45 AM
Joined: 12/22/2011
Posts: 5462


 

 

You have become less of a stranger to all of us, Patrick. With this wonderful thread. We have come to know you in very intimate ways. You have shared your grasp on life. In very open and prolific ways.  Keep savoring. You set a fine example for the rest of us. –Jim.