Monday, May 20, 2013

short stories

And now for something completely different:

I enjoy listening to audio books, while I travel and work.  I have also found many pod-casts where short stories are read aloud.  Some of my favorite are the Gutenberg Project, Cast of Wonders, Pod Castle, and Escape Pod.  Some of these are predominately science fiction and fantasy literature.

My newest find is Toasted Cake.  This week Tina read aloud the story After the Earthquake by Caroline M. Yoachim.  You can read this story here.

It's a story about memories, bring a tissue.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I just got a phone call, from some machine, somewhere, trying to leave me an automated message, trying to sell me something.  ugh

As I walked back to the kitchen to put the phone away, I was overcome with the desire to call my Mother and have a real conversation. To chit-chat on the phone and talk about everyday things. I wanted to talk with my Mom.  What a stab in the heart that was.  How many years has it been since we've really talked together? Six? Seven? I don't know.
This is horrible.

I have had to "be with her where she is" for so long.

At first it was her being withdrawn, her self isolation, her quiet questioning appraisal at what was going on, trying to figure out how to cope and not slip up. Then it was her repeating and repeating her stories. Then it was her anger at everything because nothing was right.

In 2006 I painted Mom's kitchen: the walls, the woodwork, the inside and outside of the cabinets.  Then I stenciled blueberries around the top of the wall. It took six times around the kitchen, two different stencils and three different colors of paint. Up and down ladders, balancing over the range and sink.  This project took all summer.

As I look back on this time of painting and being with my Mom, I can now see the start of her detachment, the quizzical looks she would give me.  Like she was someone who had never seen anyone ice skate, and was watching me do it for the first time. She was the one who taught me how to paint and how to stencil.  But that summer, she stood back and watched me do it with curiosity and doubt.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


I think Mom's pain and mood medications are in a better balance.  She is walking about more easily and rising from a chair with much less agony. That is a good thing. She is a bit more cooperative with her aides, she's not as aggressive or nasty. That is a good thing too.

We look at her photos, over and over, and as we do Mom has been asking questions. Usually difficult to understand questions, but she asks them over and over, adding and removing words each time. 

Why don't I teach school anymore?
Why aren't I at school?
Were you angry/jealous that I taught school?
Where is my husband?
Where is my Mommy?
Where is my Daddy?
Why are you here?
Why am I here?
Where is my boyfriend?
Were you angry/jealous that you didn't come on this trip?
Were you angry/jealous that you weren't at this party/event?

I find it very interesting, that this is one of the few times, since dementia has crept into our lives, that she is asking about my emotions, about me.

We are looking at pictures from her trip, with Dad, to Europe. Something they did in their retirement years, at a time when I was grown and gone from the nest.  We are looking at photos of beautiful churches and castles. Why does she ask me if I was angry that I didn't get to go? Where is this kind of question coming from?

We are looking at pictures of all her girlfriends at their monthly birthday luncheons.  Her "dear friends" who still come and visit, even though she no longer recognizes most of them.  Why does she ask me if I am jealous that I wasn't at that party?  What does she really need to know?

I was always so happy that my parents got to travel in their retirement years. I was always so glad that they got connected into a group of nice folks in their retirement.  "Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other's gold."

She has also been asking about her Mother and Father. With big teary eyes, she'll ask me "Where's my Mommy?"  She knows something is wrong, but she can't recall. Her face contorts, her whole body shakes with grief. I can't divert her to another thought, to a happy place. "Tell me, tell me!"
"A long time ago, your Mommy got very, very sick, and then she had to die."
"Don't lie to me!" she yells. "Tell me the truth."
"She died a long time ago, when you were a girl, and it was very sad. We all miss her very much."
We go through this line of questioning over and over
"Where is my Mommy? Where is my Daddy? Where is my Husband?"
I can't fiblet my way out of these questions. She remembers enough, but not enough. She is full of raw fresh grief, up to the top, spilling out her eyes, no fiblet is going to sooth that.

Monday, May 6, 2013

purple perennials

Last fall when I was busy getting ready for the Walk to End Alzheimer's, the color purple was everywhere. I dyed t-shirts purple for our Walk team. I dyed my hair purple (eeep).  I put purple laces in my sneakers.

That fall I also bought 36 tulip bulbs, purple of course, and planted them.
They are now in bloom. They are beautiful.