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“Guwisti and mom” Geocaching Through the Fog of Alzheimer’s

Eric Schudiske on February 17, 2014, 7:20 pm

11 Comments | Permalink

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momandI52finds

A record day for Carol and Kristie (Guwisti and mom) with 52 finds

Crumpled geocaching log sheets record simple, even fragile moments. Laughter, singing to classic country music and victorious thumbs-ups roll into three words for a daughter and her best geocaching partner. They sign logbooks with, “Guwisti and mom”.  If you’ve geocached around Arkansas in the United States, you’ve probably read those three words on geocache log sheets for years.

But Kristie Boucheer Moore says all those geocaches are becoming flickers of half-remembered moments from her mom. “Her Alzheimer’s began a couple of years ago and has slowly progressed… She has problems remembering recent events and tends to repeat herself. She’ll ask me a question and say, ‘I’ve probably already asked you that, huh?’ And then she laughs. I don’t mind. She has a childlike exuberance which is infectious.”

Kristie began geocaching in 2010. The librarian happened upon something called, “geocaching” in an article. Soon she and her husband found their first geocache. She said they’ve been hooked on the outdoor adventure ever since.

Carol and Kristie

Carol and Kristie

After her father’s death Kristie searched for ways to spend time with her mom. “My husband and I told her about our new hobby and she thought it sounded silly. We took her to find an ammo can and she found a plastic grasshopper inside as SWAG and has loved it ever since! This was when she was in the very early stages and quite independent. She’d go caching with us every once in awhile, but not as much as she does now.”

The more Alzheimer’s becomes part of their lives, the more they find themselves searching for geocaches, “You really have no idea how much my mom means to me or how much we love geocaching together!! I am so happy my mom and I have found ‘our thing’ to do together.”

“Guwisti and mom” is now appearing on geocaching log sheets at a record pace. They recently broke their record and found 52 geocaches in one day.

“It’s definitely me and her time, my husband will usually go have ‘guy time’ and mom and I go caching. We usually go on weekends, in fact when I call her on Saturday morning she always asks, ‘any new caches?!’ She thinks all caches are a First to Find opportunity.”

Carol has also discovered she’s part of a larger community where she’s welcome to just be herself. Kristie says, “She loves all types of caches and she goes to events with us as well, she might not talk much anymore but she loves being around everyone and hearing their stories.”

The quiet stops when Kristie and Carol start driving to their next geocache, “Caching has given us a way to connect in the outdoors. My mom has never met a stranger, all her neighbors love her and help look after her. Since developing Alzheimer’s she’s quieter in group situations. But she sure talks a bunch while we’re out caching. I’ve heard more about her childhood than I ever have. She loves to sing and we listen to old classic country and sing while we cache.”

It’s the activity of geocaching that Kristie believes builds something stronger than memories. They’re focusing on the moment being lived, not the moments that have been lost, “It’s a great opportunity to spend quality time with a parent who honestly might not even remember your name in another year or so. We’re creating memories out there and while she might not remember exactly what happened, I think she will remember the happy feelings and general good times. I will always treasure the memories made while out caching with my mom. It is also, I suppose, a stress free time for both us. She’s not worried about remembering something she has forgotten and I can step out of the role of caregiver for a few hours. Geocaching has us both looking for something that neither one of us knows where it is. It lets us live in the moment.”

Carol and Kristie

Carol and Kristie

 

 

  • Bluebird9

    What a fantastic way to save memories of your mom and you. I do caching with grandchildren and I own they will have memories of our time together. Good luck on more caches.

  • WVTim

    Great article, my mom had Alzheimer’s before she died. We would take her geocaching, lots of time she would stay in the car and be our “recorder”. Every time, she would ask if we took the cache and every time we would explain the rules of geocaching. At the time it seemed a little tedious, but looking back it was some great times. Thanks Kristie for sharing.

  • Guwisti

    My mom always asks if we were first. She’s really latched onto that
    First to Find thing. :D She used to race me to the caches, but now she
    has to use a walker so she’s become my recorder as well….sometimes she
    will spot the cache from the car though!

  • Guwisti

    I’m sure they will always remember caching with you. It really is a great way to spend time with family. Good luck on more caches to yourself as well! :D

  • Donna Smith

    what a great way to spend some time with your mom, and forget about that dreadful alzheimers for awhile, and just be kids enjoying the hunt.

  • Guwisti

    Exactly! :)

  • John Alfred Douglas

    I lost dad Alzheimer’s and then lost mum a year later when me and my sister met at the cemetry I asked my sister if it was ok to do a geo cache at the cemetry gate now we have days out caching together mum and dad would have love caching and they spent lots of time walking in the Yorkshire dales and my sister has put a TB in that cache by the cemetry gate in memory of mum and dad so they can still go on walks together

  • Cindy Potter

    Thank you for sharing your story! I work at Geocaching HQ. This is the type of story that motivates me to come to work every day. You are a terrific daughter. I hope someday my children reach out to me in a similar way.

  • Guwisti

    Thank you so much! I don’t know about terrific, but I try my best. Maybe one day mom and I can get up there to visit HQ! :D

  • Guwisti

    I often think that perhaps my dad would have enjoyed caching. He was blind, but he could find things really well by feel. But then again, perhaps it’s a good thing that we didn’t discover it before he passed so that it could be my mom and I’s thing. Dad and I always went fishing. :D Sorry to hear about the loss of your folks, but I’m glad your sister and you are caching together!

  • thefab5willisclan

    Awesome story!!! Thanks for sharing.


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