down the sage highway lingering on the edge of Tuesday, I find a corner church with vestments of faded crimson and moss laden stone. the entry with seven stone arches hides the smoky habit and madness of regret. the silver river mist lies beyond the churchyard. I check the postcard, it’s not today, maybe next time.
We are staying at my dads house in the town I grew up in for a little while. I am revisiting places I knew back when. Today we drove down to Dalby Springs, a community that was a spa retreat back in the day due to water from a spring. I have drank that water, which is rust red and looks like tea. It has a vague sulphuric smell too but it is near the Sulphur River. It is still available from a hand pumped well behind a home that used to be a small general store.
We visited the old Methodist church and cemetery there, I think I attended services there once when my dad spoke. A lot of the graves are either from the 1800s or the latter half of the 1900s. There are names there I grew up with. There are names there I still know. There are many markers that have fallen or have been half covered by grass. There are markers outside the chain link fence and I just wonder how many graves have been lost to time.
The church I remember being small and mostly plain. Now, it is empty except for the choir seats and a piano. The roof has a hole in it and about half of the pressed tin ceiling tiles are missing. There is a hole in the floor where the roof leaks. There looks to still be electricity to it and an air conditioner compressor in the yard but if it still works, the cool air would escape through the missing front door and broken windows.
What have I lost and found this year? Right now the losses seem much bigger than what I have found. I have lost the future we had planned. I have lost my faith in humanity. I have lost my belief that Americans will do the right thing. I have lost my pride in being a Texan. I have begun losing my husband. I have lost time spent alone.
My biggest personal loss stems from the fact my husband lost his job last spring because he couldn’t remember how to do his job. After numerous tests, 6 months later we got the diagnosis of Early Onset Alzheimer’s. Surprisingly, it doesn’t put us in a financial bind…yet. We had planned to keep working until I qualify for Medicare and then get a motor home and travel. We got the motor home two years ago. As long as it doesn’t become a financial burden and I feel he can still keep making new memories, we will keep it. I just wish I could afford to take 2-3 months off from work now to see some of the things we wanted to see.
What I have found are some small things and maybe not so small. I have found confidence in driving the motor home, and I feel I drive it better than he did. I will be driving it solo for two days next week to meet him and friends in Big Bend. I drove it for 1400+ miles while on vacation to New Mexico this fall. He’s not allowed to drive anymore. While in New Mexico, I found I remember how to drive a stick shift, we borrowed the camp Jeep while there to do a little sight seeing in. I also found I am pretty good at driving off-road. I will be doing some of that next week too, I’ll be towing our Jeep. I have also found the deepening friendship of three women I have mostly weekly Zoom meetings with. We talk about art and projects we are working on and just connect. I always feel better after talking to them. One of them has a home in Terlingua and I will see her next week.
I don’t know yet how this year is going to balance out, it may take some time to find out. The next few years probably aren’t going to be great as I lose my husband to Alzheimer’s, the early onset version moves faster. I have seen him fail noticeably the last 9 months. He is now on a drug that slows the progression of the disease and it seems to be helping. It can’t be stopped though. I don’t know how long before I have to quit my job and stay home with him. I will take it one day at a time and deal with what I have in front of me right now. I am probably not planning ahead as much as I should but sometimes I just can’t.
I have hope that in some ways next year will be better. At least there is a vaccine for COVID-19 and we will get it and can stop worrying so much about one thing. And we have a new president coming in who I hope will start to bring us back together again as a nation.