Sunday, December 06, 2015

Giving thanks

Giving thanks has gotten me through some of my darkest days. It softens my heart to the things around me that I couldn't see before... the miracles, the blessings, the goodness of God.

Thank you ~

  • for my health so I can work and care for my husband.
  • that Randy loves going to his adult daycare every day.
  • that he has no sense of time, so he thinks I am only gone a few hours, when it's really 9 hours.
  • that a friend we haven't seen in over 35 years, shows up at our door and prays for us... and fills our home with God's peace and presence. Forever grateful.
  • and the next day he fills our home with 50 lbs. of red potatoes he and his wife just dug up from their home in CO. Um, potatoes anyone?
  • for my long commute to work... praying, laughing and singing to Randy's CDs.
  • and praying, crying and praising Jesus after I drop him off. 
  • for my daughter's healthy pregnancy, for their little boy who arrives in February.
  • for God's continued provision. My heart can hardly take such love.
  • for Randy's songs that minister to me right where I'm at each day.
  • for the Alpine Bakery Bread store. (50 cent loaves). Ok, so I love bread.
  • for my friend Kathy that comes sit with me each week while I process and grow in her counsel.
  • for dear friends that volunteer to care for Randy every Saturday while I work.
  • that truth-tellers call at just the right time, when I am losing it.
  • that I got to host Thanksgiving for my sister-in-law and her two boys and their families.
  • for leftovers and the turkey carcass and my turkey noodle soup.
  • that Tyler will be delivering the package I send him for Christmas.
  • he works for FedEx and his route includes where he lives. How cool is that!
  • that a women in the UK just ordered Randy's CDs. Yup, Randy goes international! 
  • for the Frontotemporal dementia Facebook page. A wealth of info and heartbreaking stories.
  • my brother Ronnie and his valiant battle with multiple myeloma. So proud of him.
  • for his wife Debbie's strength and courage as advocate and caregiver.
  • for my new friends Pat and Mary Ann at my dementia support care group at Randy's daycare.
  • that Randy is so sweet and easy to love and care for.
  • for Glen Campbells documentary "I'll Be Me". So heartbreaking. So important.
  • for Randy's Mom and my Mom. Love talking to them on the phone every few days.
  • for my on-call mechanic Tim and my mechanic Terry. 
  • my van is being fixed as I type. So grateful.
  • for snow days. Ok, more like two days without a vehicle, where I am house-bound and hoping to get lots done. :)
  • that when I asked Randy "what is one Christmas decoration you want me to be sure and put out this year?". He immediately said My Mitten Garland. Click the link to read the story.
  • Love that it's his favorite too.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

frontotemporal dementia paradigm shift

Something is happening to me over these past couple years. I'm changing. As a result of the many changes in my life... I'm changing. Pain and suffering and grieving and loss have a way of making or breaking you. Trust me, it has broken me in more ways than just my heart. But it's also making me into the person God intended me to be... dependent on Him, desperate for Him. Did God allow the unimaginable, the unexpected so He could be all I needed, that He could be enough? Yes, I believe for me, it had to be to that extreme. Because He loved me that much.

You see my husband Randy was my everything. My rock. My comforter. My provider. He was a man of faith that heard from God and obeyed. And I followed. I trusted his walk with God. Everything I knew to be true about God was evident in Randy. God is good... Randy is good. God was good to Randy... so any goodness in my life was a result of riding on the coat-tails of Randy's God-given goodness.

And then my husband started changing. Little things. As far back as 2010. I have a vivid memory on a road trip of him saying "I'm not as sharp as I use to be". Of course it was in reference to getting older, but I subsequently filed it in my memory bank.

And then he really started changing. Unusual behavior. Detached. Isolating. Poor judgement. Lack of empathy. Poor decision making. Hiding the truth. Unable to do anything. He did not acknowledge our anniversary, Valentine's Day, nor my birthday. And today I was reminded... not even Halloween. This was a man that loved Halloween. He would transform our front yard into an old cemetery... with headstones, skulls, skeletons, iron gates covered in spiderwebs... and we'd sit out front for hours handing out candy. Three years ago he did nothing. And has not mentioned it every year since.

So many changes. My security, my motivator was gone. Yes, my motivator. He was invariably working on something... vehicles, yard work, home improvement projects... and that always motivated me to work on my projects. Needless to say, I have done nothing these past three years but go to work. Gosh I sound like a victim. What I'm trying to say is, the things I loved to do, that energized me, that fueled my creative juices stopped. And now I'm trying to figure out how to do life without someone by my side to motivate me in the day-to-day.

Grieving never stops, especially when the one you are grieving is still here. It is truly the long good-bye. Every day his brain is diminishing more and more. Every day that the disease is progressing, he is regressing. I am so thankful that upon getting his Frontotemporal Dementia diagnose (May 2014) all my expectations disappeared. I couldn't control this disease. I think we can all agree that expectations can be the death of us and anyone associated with our expectations. When we expect, we are trying to control. Randy's disease is degenerative. Short of a miracle, I can't change it. So I immediately loved and accepted him. Period. No more unmet expectations. Ever again. And I love him more than I ever thought possible. He is the best part of my day.

So the layers of loss come in waves. Some I can ride, and some literally push me over the edge. (assuming I even got in a boat) Just so you know, I can't swim, so imagine my fear issues surfacing in using this particular analogy. ha! Anyway, every day can trigger a loss. Quite frankly, Facebook pulls the trigger the most. Yes, Facebook happens to be my social life and it often backfires, especially when I am weak and tired, making me an easy target. Seeing friends visiting a National Park... total breakdown. That was our dream, to visit as many National Parks as possible. Church activities, weddings, gatherings... things we can no longer attend... so hard. So much of what brought me value, worth and significance are gone. Our influence, our ministry expressions were my identity. Even my roles as Mom, grandma and friend have changed dramatically. And Randy no longer sees me as his wife, but rather his caregiver. None of those roles should ever have defined me. It matters only how God sees and defines me. I have barely cracked the surface in grasping these Truths.

I recently had a major self-loathing day. I didn't like myself much. I was so done. I felt like such a failure as wife, Mom, grandma, sister, friend and caregiver.
So I posted this on Facebook ~

Yesterday was hard. I didn't like me much. I was so done with me, with life, with everything. My fears and failures had gotten the best of me. My pleasing and striving left me weary and tired. Then I woke up to this on Facebook ~ thank you Ann Voskamp.

"Lord, when I don't like me, You still love me, You still like me, You still lavish me with acceptance. When I am fed up with me, You invite me to Your feast. When I am done -- with me, with life, with everything, You whisper, "Hang on, I am making *all things* -- *you* -- new." (Rev 21:5)
And when I want to quit, You cup my face: "This great work I started in you? I won't stop that beautiful work until you are fully, completely, gloriously beautiful" (Phil 1:6, 1Cor 2:7)
So this becomes our brave & broken-hearted hallelujah, the one we sing into the dark, even when it's hard to believe:
I am His Beloved, His Beloved, His Beloved... and even now I will be held.
In the name of the only One who loved us to death & back to the real & forever life."

This is what I am choosing to believe. That He is not done with me. That He won't stop until I am fully and completely, gloriously Christ in Linda. This is becoming my brave and broken-hearted hallelujah, the one I sing into the dark, even when it's hard to believe. 

And it's changing me. 

Photo taken Oct. 2011 ~ Door County ~ Washington Island

Monday, September 07, 2015

Randy's 62 today

62 things about my husband Randy ~ he turns 62 today.

  • his Dad spent 28 years in the Air Force.
  • they lived all over the world.
  • Randy had three older brothers and a sister 2 years younger.
  • he started playing guitar and writing songs by age 10.
  • his Dad retired to Arizona in 1966.
  • Randy accepted Jesus as Lord & Savior as a teen.
  • he carried a Bible to school after his decision for Christ.
  • Randy's Maryville Class of '72 graduated over 1000 students.
  • He rebuilt his beloved '69 Dodge Charger in the late 70's.
  • his sister Patty was killed by a drunk driver in 1974 at age 18. (Randy was 20)
  • we met at a concert ministry in 1978.
  • we married in 1979.
  • he graduated from Grand Canyon College in 1980 ~
  • with a Bible and History degree.
  • immediately began 3 decades of full-time ministry.
  • Hand in Hand staff doing follow up, discipleship and concerts. 
  • High School youth pastor for 4 years.
  • three years as the church janitor.
  • Randy Thompson Ministries doing concerts around the country.
  • 90 different cities in 20 states.
  • worship pastor at Open Door Fellowship for several years.
  • senior pastor for 4 1/2 years.
  • Randy also wrote and co-produced 8 CD's.
  • he's a Dad to Shawn (1982), Miranda (1984) and Tyler (1989)
  • he took each of the kids on a WI Concert Tour when they were 10.
  • he was a great Dad.
  • he entered the computer age in the late 80's with the first of many Macs.
  • he was a computer geek from the get-go.
  • he recorded his last and final CD Thirsty at home on his Mac.
  • his brother Barry died of esophageal cancer at age 55.
  • Randy turned 50 a month later.
  • the day after hiking out of the Grand Canyon.
  • he reads the Bible most every day of his life.
  • he is a man of faith, trusting God with all his heart.
  • his Mom modeled the gifts of the Spirit every day of her life.
  • Randy was a wonderful, devoted husband and helpmate.
  • Randy wrote a book about his 30+ years in ministry in 2013.
  • Randy was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Dementia in May, 2014.
  • he stopped driving before the diagnose.
  • he still prays every day.
  • he still reads the Bible every day.
  • he still remembers most everything.
  • he still loves going to his adult day care every day.
  • he is still a prophet & evangelist, sharing Christ at the day care.
  • he still loves me and tells me so when I tell him I love him.
  • he has lost all empathy and compassion.
  • he no longer sings and plays guitar.
  • he rarely mentions his family and friends.
  • he has not gone in our back yard in over 2 years.
  • he is unable to do anything other than read, eat and watch TV.
  • he will not let me cut his hair or clip his nails.
  • he loves watching old Billy Graham crusades on television.
  • he has 4 grandchildren and another blessing on the way.
  • Emolyn & Elsie and Nathan & Jonah... and baby Mertz.
  • he is the best part of my day, driving to and from his day care.
  • we laugh and pray and play his CDs real loud.
  • we can spot the new Dodge Challengers like no bodies business.
  • he loves Disneyland and National Parks.
  • he loves Jesus and longs to stand before Him and hear ~
  • well done good and faithful servant ~ Matt. 25:23
  • he is aware he has dementia, but says he is doing great.
  • and he is, because he is trusting and believing the One who matters most.
* photo courtesy of Sandi Shipley Photography

Monday, August 03, 2015

the latest

  • reading Hinds Feet on High Places. Read it back in the late 70's.
  • so good. So what I needed. Love allegories.
  • watched Uncommon Valor yesterday. Cried and cried at the ending.
  • remembering those Vietnam POW bracelets in high school.
  • my husband finally got a haircut and shave after a year.
  • nothing short of a miracle.
  • dear friends took him to a Barber Shop and he let them.
  • now he needs his nails done. Like badly.
  • some of the many effects of frontotemporal dementia.
  • used an oil change coupon last week from Tempe Dodge.
  • we bought our 2006 van from them 162,000 miles ago.
  • my husband took such great care of our van over the years.
  • still runs like a champ.
  • I love sliced apples with crunchy peanut butter.
  • that's been my lunch every single day at work for the past two years.
  • and I still love it. Like a lot.
  • everyone at works thinks I'm nuts. (pun not intended) 
  • I only get two 10 minute breaks in an 8 hour day at Fry's.
  • I could take an unpaid 1/2 hr. lunch, but I would get so bored.
  • I'm either suffering with planter's worts or cancer sores.
  • for months. Not even kidding.
  • finished up season 5 of Blue Bloods.
  • love Commissioner Reagan.
  • Season 4 of Longmire is on Netflix in September. Can't wait.
  • our refrigerator died a few weeks ago.
  • found a similar one, like brand new on Craig's List for $395!
  • included delivery, installation and hauling off our old one.
  • I am humbled at God's overwhelming provision. Thank you Jesus.
  • and last but certainly not least ~ (drumroll please)

Our beautiful daughter Miranda and her amazing husband Aaron 

are going to have a baby in February!

So excited! So thankful. So very, very blessed!

Saturday, July 11, 2015


My husband Randy no longer carries guitar picks in his pocket.

He’s been carrying a handful for as long as I’ve known him.
We'll be married 36 years next month.

Just so you know, we’re not talking a few picks… more like a dozen. I know.

“Why do you carry so many picks?” I would ask.
“You never know when one might fall in my guitar” he would reply.
“Really? That many during one concert?” 
I would smile, cuz musicians are quirky like that.

Our granddaughter Emolyn became so enamored with her Pop Pop's guitar picks one Christmas (2009), she carried one in her little hand the entire evening while watching her Uncle Tyler, Pop Pop and Daddy play and sing Christmas carols.

Emolyn ~ Aunt Miranda ~ Mamaw
Tyler ~ Randy ~ Shawn
Well... a few months ago he was down to only one guitar pick in his pocket, even though he had not played his guitar in over a year. 

And then one day, he never put it back in his pocket.

I was heartbroken. I think I felt as long as he had one in his pocket, there was a chance he would play again.

So it has remained there ever since… along with some change, a wad of lint and his watch.

I couldn’t bring myself to remove it. So I let it collect a layer of dust, knowing one day I would snap a photo for keepsake.

My husband has Frontotemporal Dementia.

Picks Disease. 

You can read Randy's story HERE.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Randy's Care Instructions

My husband Randy goes to a wonderful Adult Day Care facility 5 days a week, 9 hours a day. And he loves it. But I also work Saturdays and the Day Care is closed on weekends. So I leave him in the care of precious friends and family that watch him in 4 hour intervals. I was recently asked to update Randy's care instructions for the volunteer group. I am posting them on here too, so I will remember this particular stage in Randy's frontotemporal dementia (Pick's disease).

Thank you so much for caring for Randy. Your time with Randy ministers to me deeply. It’s overwhelming to think you would take time out of your busy Saturday to love and care for my husband. Know that I am always praying it is a special time for you too.

I want to give you a few insights into Randy as you care for him on Saturdays.

He is still so nice and kind and easy to care for. That may not always be the case as the disease progresses. But God continually reminds me that Randy asked Christ into his heart, not his brain… and that no matter what is happening to his brain, it will not destroy the true essence of Christ in Randy. Can’t tell you what a comfort that has been to me as his dementia progresses.

He will immediately ask you to take him to QT for a Coke. He has a gift card that I keep loaded, that enables him to go into QT by himself. (unless he forgets his wallet) I would prefer one Coke per shift.

He will ask you to take him to Home Depot, AZ Mills Mall, the Art District, the Rim, Disneyland, etc. He is totally ok when you redirect to other things if you prefer not to do those things… such as, taking Koda for a walk, a hike @ South Mountain, walk around Tempe Town Lake or Kiwanis Park, watching a movie or Channel 21, etc. 

Do not take him to the Art District anymore. Not the appropriate place for him. 

He loves talking about the Bible, CS Lewis books, Disneyland, Ronald Reagan, the galaxy, the SR71 and memories you shared together. Ask him about the book he wrote on his 30+ years ministering in concert throughout the country. He loves to share about his years on the road and the life-lessons he learned along the way.

He will go in his room off and on throughout the day to read his Bible and that’s ok. Feel free to hook up to our WIFI if you choose to do so.

His memory is quite amazing. He will recall things that we have all long since forgotten. Don’t hesitate reminiscing about memories from the past. He will surprise you with the details he remembers.

Put a movie on rather than giving him the remote, otherwise he will flip through stations and drive you crazy. :)

Be ready in case he wants to take Koda for a walk. It will be a short walk. He will want to show you the Dodge Challenger parked in our neighborhood. Remind him that he is not to trespass on their property in order to get closer to the car.

The summer heat is coming, so do not take Koda for a walk till the sun is down, or the concrete will burn her paw pads. Randy will need to be reminded of that.

Keep the front gate and laundry room door locked, in case he goes outside quickly and without you knowing.

You are welcome to take him for lunch or dinner, but I would prefer it was fast food, cuz trust me, he will eat fast or take a few bites and want to leave, and you will have to take your meal home to finish. He will stay longer if you distract him with questions or stories. A burger, chicken sandwich or a sub at Burger King, Wendy's or Subway will suffice. No fries, as he will not eat them. He loves an occasional Blizzard at DQ.

He scopes out a bathroom wherever you take him. Be aware of that, as he may disappear quickly, because he sees a bathroom and will want to go.

Do not feel like you need to entertain him. He will mention a lot of things, but will want to leave soon after you get there. He is content to go for a walk or drive. Do not feel you need to have a destination where you get out of the car. Remind him that Linda is coming home soon, so we need to head back to the house.

He has no sense of time. Although he will want to go outside and wait for me around 8pm, knowing I will be coming around the corner at 8:20. I put a couple chairs out front, so you don’t have to stand till I arrive home. 

He’s becoming more restless and fidgety in the evening. He loves the old Billy Graham Crusades in Channel 21. That seems to help.

I do ask that after your time with Randy, that you take a few minutes to either text or email me with any insights, concerns or observations. It’s important that I get your take on his behavior as the disease progresses. 

Do not hesitate to call me or my daughter Miranda (if I can’t get back to you right away) with any questions during your time with Randy.

A simple thank you just doesn’t cut it. Wish I were more eloquent in conveying my heartfelt gratitude. Know that your prayers and acts of service have changed me and my walk with Christ and my dependency on Him. God bless you!

GOD is so Good and Faithful.

Love you all dearly,

You can read Randy's story HERE.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

this 'n that

  • blew through 4 seasons of Blue Bloods
  • have a huge crush on Tom Selleck
  • I do believe Rumer Has It on DWTS
  • my name is Linda Thompson and I'm a box hoarder
  • I can't let a useful box be destroyed at my job, so I bring it home
  • my garage is full of empty boxes waiting to be filled
  • and my van is outside in the sweltering heat
  • something is wrong with this picture
  • the new Jurassic World toys just arrived at my store
  • just watched the movie trailer and well... freaked me out
  • big shout out to Auto Zone & Discount Tires
  • single women, single moms and widows everywhere thank you!
  • I've always said if you talk to anyone long enough you'll know someone mutually
  • happens more than you'd think at my Fry's
  • I will have worked at Fry's for 2 years this August
  • 40 hour weeks are a bit much, don't you think
  • we should all work a 32 hour week
  • and make the same money of course 
  • Randy is obsessed with the new Dodge Challengers
  • we see several every day to and from the center
  • he drove a '69 Dodge Charger when we met in '78
  • he literally rebuilt the entire car at sometime or another
  • he still misses it and talks about buying another one some day
  • he has never fussed or argued about not driving 
  • he hasn't driven in well over a year
  • he's the best part of my day
  • 3 generations of Thompson Dads & Lads 
Randy ~ our son Shawn ~ his sons Nathan & Jonah (age 3)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

a year ago...

Seems hard to believe that it's been almost a year since my husband Randy was diagnosed with early onset dementia. Frontotemporal dementia. Pick's disease. You can read his story HERE.

There are still moments when changes in his behavior are so overwhelming it's like a punch in the gut. I can hardly breath.
And then there are moments that are so sacred and beautiful I don't want them to ever end.
Such is the life of a dementia caregiver.

I am so blessed that Randy loves the Adult Day Care Monday through Friday... and that dear friends and family spend their Saturdays caring for him while I work... and that I am daily covered in prayer... and that I don't have to worry because my needs are being met. But I do anyway. I pray to God to take all my worries and fears. Every day I lay them at His feet. And then systematically heap them all back in my handy, dandy backpack and carry them around all day. It's exhausting. I long for the day when He comes for His children and I can spend eternity in His presence. Till then, I cry out to Him daily, to know His peace, joy, freedom and acceptance here on earth.

I was recently asked what I miss.

I miss his hugs. He still hugs, but only cuz I first hug him.
I miss his compassion and concern for others.
I miss making memories with friends.
I miss the hours we spent dreaming about growing old together.
I miss doing life alongside my helpmate.
I miss hearing him sing and play guitar.
I miss family dinners.
I miss my family.
I miss him grilling burgers on the grill.
I miss our social life.
I miss riding shotgun with him behind the wheel.
I miss roadtrips.
I miss having someone take care of me.
I miss hearing him teach at the marriage retreats.
I miss sitting in church with him.
I miss hearing him worship.
I miss his leadership, influence and service.
I miss my husband.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

hollyhocks & lighted reading glasses

  • my hollyhocks are blooming!
  • our 35 year old orange tree died this winter.
  • last year we lost our lemon tree in a storm.
  • miss our citrus trees.
  • my brother Ronnie is recovering from a stem cell transplant.
  • he is battling multiple myloma.
  • praying for his total healing
  • big toy reset this week at Fry's means brand new toys!
  • the new Lego sets are awesome.
  • I'm the toy department head at Fry's.
  • my husband loves the Adult Day Care he attends 9 hours a day/ 5 days a week.
  • he has no sense of time, so he thinks I'm only gone a few hours.
  • he has Frontotemporal Dementia.
  • blew through all 15 episodes of Rehab Addict on Netflix.
  • can't wait till they add more. Love Nicole Curtis.
  • determined to someday use my husbands power tools.
  • started Chiropractic treatments. My back and neck are a mess.
  • thankful for my full-time job at Fry's Foods.
  • dread the summer heat.
  • trying to figure out how to have a life outside of work and caregiving.
  • choosing to trust God every single day.
  • 5 years ago a friend made this video of my husband's song "I Choose to Live".
  • such powerful life-giving words of hope.
  • bought the perfect pair of light-weight capris at a thrift store last week.
  • checked the tag today for washing instruction... they are "maternity" capris! :)
  • recently found these LightSpecs by Foster Grant on clearance at my Fry's.
  • I can never have enough light while reading. Love them!

Sunday, February 08, 2015

The Joys of Dementia

One of the characteristics of frontotemporal dementia is uncharacteristic behavior. One in particular impacts appearance and personal hygiene. It never, ever occurs to my husband Randy that he should brush his teeth, shave, take a shower, cut his nails or groom himself. Things that he did without thinking. SO, he has not shaven or gotten a haircut in several months. I have not let it bother me too much, because he truly wants to do those things. He. just. can't. He will let me start a haircut and then immediately tell me he needs to go read. And no amount of bribing works. A QT Coke? A DQ blizzard? Nothing. So whenever I am given even a minute, I go really fast and make sure I'm cutting symmetrical, so when he is done, it's not too lopsided.

Well, the other day I was determined to give him a complete haircut and while he means to let me, I knew I had to come prepared with major distractions. Meaning LOTS of questions and LOTS of talking. So we began and I'm seriously cutting like a madwoman and talking like a lunatic... and proceeded to cut my knuckle. (just so you know I was a professional beautician before I moved to Phoenix) Needless to say, it started bleeding. But that was not going to deter me. I was on a mission! Yes, there was blood dripping onto his head, neck and forehead, but I kept yapping and he kept answering my questions. It was not my finest hour haircut, but by golly I did it! And when he had had enough, he proceeded to tell me he had to go read... and then I proceeded to tell him he had to go take a shower because their was blood all over him. So I showed him my bloody knuckle and he looked in the mirror and we laughed and laughed. Oh the joys of dementia! And yes, there are so many of those moments that I want to remember, that make me smile, that bring me joy.

Now on to the beard debacle. Ha! I will keep you posted.

Randy & Koda at Kiwanas Park in Tempe this morning