As they swung the pickaxe and wielded shovels trying to dig through the huge roots of a Bald Cypress Tree and the rock hard Kansas clay just below the roots, the heat index reached 111 degrees yesterday.  Three young men sweated and strained, pulling up water soaked sod to get to the roots and the clay. 

In this heat and at my age, it seems much better to watch others work than to join in the digging.  Today the work continued with more digging, with the addition of the job of bringing huge rocks from the truck in the street in front of the house to the back where they now lay until they find their way to their permanent place in what will be a waterfall, a pondless waterfall.  

They had a little walk-behind Bobcat to move the rocks, but the rocks had to be loaded into the bucket and carried from it.  The well is dug, the liner laid out.  Tomorrow the pump will be installed, the filter filled, the rocks arranged, and later, maybe the next day, the native plants put in place. 

There will then be a waterfall flowing into a manmade wetland to provide an aesthetically pleasing solution (hopefully) to an ugly problem with standing water fed by regularly cycling sump pumps of three houses, ours being the middle one.   

We have committed substantial personal resources to this project.  I cannot be sure that the days and weeks and months will confirm it, but my expectation is that the setting on our deck become more of a sanctuary than it already is. 

This little place where we live is our world most of the time.  We are not completely homebound, but we spend the vast majority of our days here.  To put it bluntly, my goal is to keep from going crazy.  I will do Mary Ann no good if I lose my bearings.  The spiritual grounding that provides me with stability is the primary source of equilibrium.  That grounding needs to be sustained.  We have been through enough to confirm that I am not invincible.  It would be stupid of me to think so.  No human is. 

I recognize the need to have times of respite to help keep balanced and maintain the ability to care for Mary Ann’s needs in a way that nurtures her as a whole, complex, vibrant somebody who happens to have Parkinson’s.  I need the respite to be husband rather than a grumpy and reluctant care provider.  

Mary Ann and I are more grateful than we can ever say for the Volunteers and Mary who schedules them.  We recognize Mary to be a very special gift from God to our household.  The Volunteers give both of us time away from each other.  That time away makes our time together better. 

Tonight, Mary Ann enjoyed the company of good friend Barb.  While Barb was with Mary Ann, I ran some errands and spent time in my favorite close by place of respite.  There I encountered the doe that has been there the last few times.  The two wild turkeys returned to feed for a bit.  The view was as good as ever.  The humidity in the air created layers of mist with varying density, giving depth to the plains that extended for miles in front of me.  I encountered a nice young man there, watering some new plantings.  He is the realtor, excited about the open house coming this weekend, an open  house with the purpose of seeking folks to buy the twenty-eight lots that will be filled with homes, thereby eliminating that place of respite. 

For me to be a good care partner to Mary Ann, there need to be accessible places of retreat and respite, places I can be while we are at home together and there is no Volunteer available.  My office with the computer and the worship center is a place of respite.  The A-V monitor allows me to be here while Mary Ann is in bed or in her transfer chair in the living room. 

The deck can be such a respite with a little planning.  It is possible to plug  the monitor into an outlet on the deck.  My hope is that the addition of the waterfall will increase the power of that setting in providing renewal and refreshment.  Without the need to have a Volunteer scheduled so that I can drive to some other place for respite, our little corner of the world can provide more of what is needed to keep our system healthy and functional. 

Meaningful Caregiving will not happen by accident.  Sometimes it takes pickaxes and shovels wielded in 111 degree heat index weather to help create what is needed to nurture the spirit and sustain mental stability so that meaning can be found day after day in the tasks of caring for someone loved deeply. 

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