Sexual intimacy in memory care


Today, 4/22/2015, Mr. Rayhons was found not guilty of third-degree sexual abuse of his wife. Please read a comment I posted on this article with an update that occurred during the trial process relating to the roommate’s depiction of the evening in question.

Originally posted on Baby Boomers and More:

Love birdsThe attached New York Times article by Pam Belluck addresses the ambiguous loss experienced by men and women whose spouses are still alive, but not fully there.  More specifically, it addresses the need for intimacy that still exists for the spouse without cognitive decline, and that can also exist for the spouse with the decline.

It is a well-known fact that advancing age doesn’t mean the end of desire for sexual intimacy.  Whether in the privacy of ones home or in a long-term care housing situation, sex is alive and well.  Even people with varying degrees of dementia maintain the desire for intimacy.  What the above NY Times article so carefully exposes, however, is that sometimes the act of consent for such intimacy can be a subjective one when viewed by a third party.

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Lighten up Mondays

Happy sunshine faceEarth Day is this week, April 22nd, 2015.  I’ve managed to find some some humor to spread in honor of our planet’s day:

Amusing Earth Anagrams:

  • Global Warming is an anagram of “Ball going warm”
  • The causes of global warming is an anagram of “Foul gases gleam with carbon”
  • Greenhouse Effect is an anagram of “Huge trees offense”

The day an environmentalist dies:

An environmentalist dies and reports to the pearly gates. St. Peter checks his dossier and says, “Ah, you’re an environmentalist, you’re in the wrong place.” Thinking that heaven could never make an error, the environmentalist reports to the gates of hell and is granted entrance. Continue reading

Sexual intimacy in memory care

Love birdsThe attached New York Times article by Pam Belluck addresses the ambiguous loss experienced by men and women whose spouses are still alive, but not fully there.  More specifically, it addresses the need for intimacy that still exists for the spouse without cognitive decline, and that can also exist for the spouse with the decline.

It is a well-known fact that advancing age doesn’t mean the end of desire for sexual intimacy.  Whether in the privacy of ones home or in a long-term care housing situation, sex is alive and well.  Even people with varying degrees of dementia maintain the desire for intimacy.  What the above NY Times article so carefully exposes, however, is that sometimes the act of consent for such intimacy can be a subjective one when viewed by a third party. Continue reading

Lighten up Mondays

Happy sunshine faceThe tax man cometh:

There are two things you need to know about taxes: the filing deadline is April 15th and when you write your check, just make it out to China. – David Letterman

Tax day is the day that ordinary Americans send their money to Washington, D.C. and wealthy Americans send their money to the Cayman Islands. – Jimmy Kimmel

The U. S. Senate is considering a bill that would tax Botox. When Botox users heard this they were horrified. Well, I think they were horrified, it’s difficult to tell. – Craig Ferguson

I’m not going to pay taxes. When they say I’m going to prison, I’ll say, no, prison costs taxpayers a lot of money. You keep what it would have cost to incarcerate me, and we’ll call it even. – Jimmy Kimmel

65% of people say that cheating on your taxes is worse than cheating on your spouse. The other 35% were women. – Jay Leno

When it comes to taxes, there are two types of people. There are those that get it done early, also called psychopaths, and then the rest of us. – Jimmy Kimmel

Guilty as charged.


Setting aside our perceived limitations

Movie director clapboardEarlier this year, Richard Glatzer, co-director of the award winning movie, Still Alice, died at the age of 63 after battling ALS for four years.  It would have been unfortunate if he had gone with his first reaction when approached to adapt Lisa Genova’s novel into a movie.  (Evidently, he almost turned down the project.)  Fortunately for us, he did not.  One article on this subject indicated that it was Glatzer’s personal connection to independence-robbing illness that gave Still Alice a greater authenticity.

From what I understand, Mr. Glatzer used one finger – using a text-to-speech app – to communicate every directive.  I don’t have to know anything about film directing to understand that doing so with his “limitations” would have been extraordinarily clumsy and time consuming.  I wonder if his decision to accept the project was made in part because he believed he was the best person for the job.  Did you see the movie?  Wouldn’t you agree?

Leaping over a hurdleYet all of us are faced with far less daunting struggles than those experienced by Mr. Glatzer and we cave in to our well-honed ability to find every reason not to pursue a task that requires exceptional action on our part.

I’m ashamed of all the excuses I’ve come up with to postpone – or to avoid entirely – new ventures that required more of me than I was willing to give.  Ugh – I grieve those lost opportunities when I think of the benefit to me and others such ventures would have provided.  But crying over spilled milk won’t undo the past.

Going forward I can commit to seizing new opportunities and disregarding the emotional and physical hurdles in my path.

I can, but will I?

Will you?




Lighten up Mondays

Happy sunshine faceThis week marks the start of the Major League Baseball season so I’m throwing some sporty jokes your way:

On June 26th, 1985, at Jack Russell Stadium in Clearwater, Florida, organist Wilbur Snapp played Three Blind Mice following a call by umpire Keith O’Connor. The umpire was not amused and saw to it that Mr. Snapp was ejected from the game.

Here’s a quote attributed to the late, great Babe Ruth: “It took me seventeen years to get 3,000 hits in baseball.  I did it in one afternoon on the golf course.”

One morning in elementary school, the students were in their geography class where the teacher wanted to test the students on their knowledge of U.S. cities and states.

The teacher asked the class, “Does anyone know where Pittsburgh is?”  Francis raised his hand and said, “Yeah, Pennysylvania.”  The teacher replied, “Very good Francis.  Now, can anyone tell me where Detroit is?”

Rachel raised her hand, “That’s in Michigan.”  The teacher again replied, “Very good.”

Trying to confuse the children the teacher asked, “Where’s Kansas City?”  Ross raised his hand and said, “Oh, oh, pick me.  I know!”

The teacher said, “OK, Ross.  Where is Kansas City?”

“Last place!”

App-licable to retirees

Person with cellphoneSome of us have owned smartphones for quite some time now.  Others have finally joined the 21st century, just recently retiring their Motorola flip phone. (Love you Honey!)

Sure, the latest and greatest phones are used to make calls – oddly enough not as frequently as we send texts – but they can also help us through our day-to-day schedules.  Jonah Bromwich, New York Times columnist, provides retirees with information on apps we might find quite useful. Continue reading

Rejection: part and parcel of the writing craft

Labyrinth redGetting Out of the Labyrinth: Part 6 – Submission. The attached article on the submission process of trying to secure a literary agent, was written – and experienced – by now successful author, Kate McIntyre.  This exceptional article is Part 6 of a series that so painstakingly and accurately describes the writing journey of a debut author.

God help my withering writer’s soul and those of other struggling writers that perish in publishing purgatory.

Continue reading

Lighten up Mondays

Happy sunshine faceIt’s the last Monday of March which means April is upon us, which means in the United States it’s income tax filing time.  Here are some one liners that might tickle your funny bone:

  • The U.S. Post Office just recalled their newest stamps; they had pictures of IRS agents on them and people couldn’t figure out which side to spit on.
  • If a lawyer and an IRS agent were both drowning and you could only save one of them, would you go to lunch or read the newspaper?
  • America is the land of opportunity; everybody can become a taxpayer.
  • Children are deductible but they’re still taxing.
  • Nothing has done more to stimulate the writing of fiction than the itemized deduction section of the income-tax forms.
  • Filling out your own income tax return is something like a do-it-yourself mugging.
  • A man admitted he lied on his income-tax return – he listed himself as the head of the household.
  • The best things in life are still free, but the tax experts are working overtime on the problem.

Dont panicAnd here’s an original from me:

I hope this first full month of Spring doesn’t tax you too heavily.

Whistleblower Speaks Out on Suspected Elder Abuse


Do not hesitate to do what is right for mankind. Please, get out your whistles.

Originally posted on :

As a 42-year veteran officer of New Hampshire’s Portsmouth police department, John Connors is serious about his duty to protect the community. And when his wealthy elderly neighbor Geraldine Webber, already in her nineties, began receiving frequent visits from fellow officer Aaron Goodwin in 2010, Connors sensed something was amiss. His cause for concern was genuine; two weeks after she met Goodwin, Webber told Connors that the younger police officer had fallen in love, would soon leave his wife and children to move in with her, and that she would ‘give him everything.’ By that time it was clear that Webber’s diagnosed dementia was manifesting, but what was the role of Goodwin? Did he encourage such a delusion through undue influence? The motive for manipulation was simple – Webber bragged that she was rich, even showing her neighbor $30-40,000 in hundred-dollar bills hidden in a silverware drawer. Indeed, Webber’s estate turned out to be worth…

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If you have a brain, you’re at risk for Alzheimer’s


If Alzheimer’s was any other disease, it would be considered an epidemic. Its prevalence is pervasive, its outcome, always fatal. Maybe if it qualified as an epidemic, people would stand up and take notice. Everyone has a brain. Everyone is at risk for Alzheimer’s.

Originally posted on ALZWA Blog:

In its new 2015 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, the Alzheimer’s Association explored how healthcare providers disclose an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

45 percent of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or their caregivers say they were told the diagnosis. In contrast, more than 90 percent of people with the four most common cancers (breast, colorectal, lung and prostate cancer) or their caregivers say they were told their diagnosis.


Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, the fifth-leading cause of death for those age 65 and older and the 3rd leading cause of death in Washington State. It is the only cause of death in the top 10 in America that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed. facts2015_prevented_cured_slowed_infographic

Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in the nation. According to the Facts and Figures report, Alzheimer’s and other dementias cost the country $226 billion this year and are projected to…

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Relationship between TBI and dementia


How timely that this article on brain injuries coincides with my article titled “Neurological hell” that I posted just a few days ago.

Originally posted on ALZWA Blog:

 By Ramon Diaz-Arrastia, MD, PhD

Brain xrayTraumatic brain injury (TBI) has been one of the most common maladies in human history.1  Recent quantitative studies from burial sites of prehistoric modern humans2;3 indicate that approximately one-third of our ancestors experienced cranial trauma sufficient to result in a skull fracture.   This high rate of TBI in prehistoric humans makes it likely that genetic variants that confer resistance to brain trauma, or foster repair and plasticity of injured neural tissue, would have been selectively favored through evolution.  TBI remains a major problem in modern societies, primarily as a consequence of traffic accidents and falls.   In the United States alone, an estimated 1.7 million people sustain a TBI annually, of which 275,000 require hospitalization and 52,000 die.4  Rates are even higher in developing countries.5

TBI is perhaps the best established environmental risk factor for dementia.  Cross-sectional and longitudinal studies…

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Renaissance – Baby Boomer style

Abby Ellin, New York Times, writes about the late-life renaissances that many Baby Boomers experience when they re-decide what they want to be when they grow up.

Path of lifeWhen we were younger, many of us drifted into college studies and post-college careers that may or may not have been our first choice but at least paid the bills.  As we near retirement, or even years before retirement, we wonder, “Is this all there is?”  And when we wonder like that, we get dissatisfied, and when we get dissatisfied – if we’re gutsy – we’ll do what it takes to become satisfied.  If we don’t attain our desired level of satisfaction, we’ll languish: lose vitality, grow weak, and become feeble.  My oh my, is that what you want? Continue reading

Lighten up Mondays

Happy sunshine faceI’m a writer so I am always intrigued with word arrangements and different takes on relatively normal phrases.  Here are several paraprosdokians: figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is unexpected. Credit for this entry goes to Larry Brooks of

  1. Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.
  2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but it’s still on my list.
  3. In filling out an application, where it says, Emergency Contact I put ‘doctor.”
  4. I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
  5. You do not need a parachute to skydive unless you want to do it again.
  6. I used to be indecisive; now I’m not so sure.
  7. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
  8. I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.
  9. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.
  10. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut and still think they’re sexy.


Neurological hell

NFL players are choosing early retirement. Is the future of football under scrutiny?

I LOVE football. Actually, I love the Seattle Seahawks, but I cringe each time a player gets pummeled in the head.

Brain superimposed on treeThe above Washington Post article suggests American football may some day fall away as a sport, similar to what happened to boxing.  Many years ago, I remember boxing being the sport that people gathered around their televisions to watch, whether at home or in the bars.  I can understand why nowadays most of us would rather not watch two people bash each other in the head; a head with virtually no protection in the boxing ring.  But even with all the sophisticated helmet and body gear covering football players on the field, players are still sustaining concussions that could sooner or later place them in neurological hell. Continue reading

Rejection is a passing fantasy

Enevelope greenHave you ever been rejected? Read the attached NY Times article: Accepted? Rejected? Relax You’ll see that the article was retitled since it first appeared so when you click on the link, you’ll see the subject matter as being about college admissions.

Rejection affects all of us: it’s not just about college admission policies.

I’m a writer; I should know.

I’ve only been looking for an agent for 30 days, therefore the 15 rejections – or what I like to call not interesteds – I’ve received out of 60 submissions sent is only 25% of the total so far.  Wow, 75% of the agents haven’t turned me down yet! Continue reading

Lighten up Mondays

ShamrockHappy day before St. Patrick’s Day!  I’m half Irish so I want to celebrate by providing a couple Irish-themed jokes to start off your week with a laugh or two:

A Spanish singer chatting on television used the word manana.  When asked what that meant, he said, “It means, maybe the job will be done tomorrow, maybe the next day, maybe the day after that, next week, next month or next year.  It’s like, who cares?”

Shay Brennan, an Irishman in the conversation, was asked if there’s an Irish equivalent.  “No, in Ireland we don’t have a word to describe that level of urgency.”

There was a Scotsman, an Englishman, and an Irishman all taking a tea break at a building site.  The Englishman pipes up, “If my wife puts cheese on my sandwich again, I am going to kill myself.”  The Scotsman says, “If my wife puts egg on my sandwich again, I will kill myself.”  The Irishman says, “If I find ham on my sandwich again, I will kill myself.”

Sure enough, the next day all three men open their lunch boxes and find the sandwiches are all full of cheese, egg, and ham so they all go off to different parts of the construction site and kill themselves.

Later in the week, all three men are being buried and the Englishman’s wife says, “If he didn’t want cheese on his sandwich he should have told me.”  The Scotsman’s wife says the same concerning the egg sandwich.  Then the Irishman’s wife pipes up, “I can’t understand this, Paddy makes his own sandwich.”

I write because I have to

On my Facebook page a couple weeks ago, I said it didn’t bother me that I had sent out a handful of queries in my effort to secure an agent and had received one or two not interesteds.

Please read my manuscript!

Please read my manuscript!

As of today, I’ve queried 50 agents, received 11 not interesteds, which leaves 39 agents unaccounted for, from whom I may not receive a response because although agencies usually indicate their expected response time, oftentimes they only respond when they’re interested.  That leaves this Land of Limbo for agents on my spreadsheet who may have exceeded their indicated response time.  Do I delete them from my spreadsheet?  Do I give them another week/month before writing them off?

You see, searching for an agent is like looking for a job.  The writer’s query letter is like the cover letter to ones resume.  The resume is the writer’s manuscript.  If the agent likes what they read in the query/if the employer likes what they read in the cover letter, they want to look further. Continue reading

Lighten up Mondays

Happy sunshine faceWith winter still having a strangle hold on the East Coast and spring tempting us elsewhere, here are some weather jokes to get you through your day:

Don’t knock the weather. If it didn’t change so much, most of us wouldn’t know how to start a conversation.

It’s been raining so much in Seattle, the Chia pet I threw in my garbage is now blocking my entire driveway.

According to a news story, if global warming continues, the only chance we’ll have to see a polar bear is in the zoo … so in other words, nothing is going to change.

If I’m on the golf course and lightning starts, I get inside fast. If God wants to play through, let him. – Bob Hope said that one

Query Letter: Your Book’s Audition


As a writer who is in the process of querying agents (27 queries sent thus far with MANY more to send, still waiting for 21 responses) this advice is very timely.

Originally posted on Laura Lee Anderson:

Most actors hate auditions. I don’t know why. I love them.

An audition is your chance to show yourself at your best. You’ve spent years honing your craft. You’ve spent days polishing each detail. You’ve spent hours preparing the material. Now all of those years of work are focused into three perfect minutes. It is not a necessary evil. It’s the culmination of everything you’ve worked for and the gateway to the thing you want most.

Now go back to the first paragraph and replace the word “audition” with “query letter.” Do it. It will be eye-opening, I promise.

Most actors think that their job is acting in plays. Wrong! Their job is auditioning. The fruit of their labor is a part in a play. It’s the same with authors. Your job is not writing a book. Yes, in order to query a book you need to have written one, and a good one at that. But…

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My Heroines: International Women’s Day

Three WomenInternational Women’s Day: My Heroines. My heroines may look different from those posted in the attached article, and they certainly will look different from those you may consider as your heroines.  That’s a very good thing because we all have different takes on the subject but the outcome is the same: heroines we admire that made a difference in their world, and in ours.

My mother with my daughter, circa 1976.

My mother with my daughter, circa 1976.

My mother: Patricia Constance Conroy Desonier was born in 1917 and died in 1994.  Mom was a fair disciplinarian to us three kids and a fabulous confidant as an adult.  To lose her when I was forty years old was a devastating loss for me.  My biggest disappointment is that she didn’t live long enough to meet my current husband, an extraordinary man whom I met – almost  exactly to the date – two years after mom died.  Words to describe my mother (in addition to the above): talented musician, seamstress, faithful and supportive wife, involved parent, community activist, volunteer extraordinaire. Continue reading

Lighten up Mondays

Happy sunshine faceA solicitor for the Red Cross arrived at the house of a well-to-do couple to ask for a donation.  Hearing a commotion inside, he knocked extra-loudly on the door.

A somewhat disheveled man opened the door.  “What can I do for you?” he growled, clearly upset about something.

“I would like to speak to the Master of the house,” said the Red Cross solicitor.

“Then you’re just in time,” barked the young man, “My wife and I are settling that very question right now”

Requiem for the status quo

Allow me to reintroduce myself:

My name is Irene.  I am the author of the upcoming novel Requiem for the status quo.

Some of you know me as a family member, friend, or casual acquaintance.  Others are familiar with me as the author of this blog, a writer who has posted hundreds of articles over the past several years.  Still others know me because of my professional connections as a volunteer advocate for vulnerable adults living in long-term care (LTC) facilities, or because of my years as an Alzheimer’s Association support group facilitator.

Typist caricatureI’m here to announce that in addition to being the family member/friend/acquaintance/volunteer/co-employee of the past and present, I am also the novelist who has something to say.

“Oh my gosh Irene, I didn’t realize your book was already published!”

It’s not, but I’m actively pursuing agent representation by contacting several agents per day until I no longer need to.

“Why should people be interested in your book?”

Because I have an engaging way of writing about Alzheimer’s disease – a disease that will affect each and every one of you because until a cure or vaccine is developed to eradicate it, this disease is here to stay.  Whether a person’s diagnosis falls into the actual Alzheimer’s category, or into one of several other dementia such as: vascular, lewy body, frontal temporal, Parkinson’s, or dementia resultant from a traumatic brain injury (TBI), there’s no escaping its effect on the unpaid caregiver (that’s you and me) and the person being cared for (spouse, partner, mother, father, brother or sister).

And here’s a fact of which some of you may not be aware: Alzheimer’s is not just an older person’s disease; an increasing number of people are being diagnosed well-before the age of 60.

“Say it isn’t so, Irene.”

I can’t do that.  What I can do, however, is tell you a wee bit about my book: Continue reading

Richard and Molly, A True Story From the Assisted Living Facility – by Annie Mimi Hall


The development of new friendships in LTC settings can be very comforting, as was the case with Molly and Richard. Sometimes these relationships blossom while still married to someone else. It takes extreme kindness and understanding for the cognizant spouse to allow that comfort to exist for their memory impaired loved one. It’s not a breaking of ones wedding vows, rather, it’s a celebration of still having the ability to give and receive love.

Originally posted on Kindness Blog:

old couple in loveThis is  true story from the assisted living facility where I work. The names have been changed to protect the privacy of the residents. Of all the stories I could tell you, this is one of my favorites.

I have worked in nursing homes and assisted living facilities for many years. I have seen many things and gotten to know many people. Many things have touched my heart but this one is really special. 

This is a story about Richard and Molly. First I will tell you about Richard…

Richard lived with his wife, in our  assisted living facility for 10 years. They had their own apartment and were a high functioning couple. 

 A few months ago, the wife passed away suddenly. We were all quite shocked, but none of us were more upset by her sudden death, than Richard was. His mental state began to quickly decline, after his…

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A loved one’s move into memory care

An Alzheimer’s Love Story: The First Day of the Rest of My Life.

Distraught manI hope you’ll watch the attached 4 minute video that chronicles a husband’s experience of moving his wife into a memory care facility.

This is not a decision that comes easily to anyone.

Think about it.  You’ve spent decades living with the love of your life.  Your days are structured around each other; the ebb and flow of all those hours are what you crave and enjoy.

You are faced with what will most certainly be an irreversible decision to leave your wife in the hands of others.  You feel guilty, regardless of how well-informed and appropriate the decision. Continue reading

Lighten up Mondays

Happy sunshine faceSam was the owner of a world-wide branch of stores and a millionaire many times over.  When his daughter, Sandy, got engaged to a very religious young man, Sam called his future son-in-law into his office.

“So tell me,” said Sam, “what are your plans for the future?”

“Well,” said the future groom, “I plan on studying the Bible all of my life.”

“And how exactly do you plan on supporting my daughter if you’re studying all day?”

“I am sure the Lord will provide,” answered the young man.

“And what about your kids?  How do you plan on supporting them?”

“The Lord will provide,” answered the young man again.

Later that evening Sam and his wife sat down to talk.

“How did it go?”, asked Sam’s wife.

“It went great,” Sam replied.  “I had just met the young fellow and already he thinks I’m the Lord!”

Respect the crabby old lady

Angry personWhen I’m an old lady and end up in a care facility, I sincerely hope my personality and attitudes don’t relegate me to the category of “that crabby old lady in Room 210.”  Have you visited someone in a nursing home or hospital and had the distinct feeling that the patients were treated like numbers or medical cases?  You know what I mean: “the urinary tract infection in 4A” or “the decubitis in South 6.”  Wow, that’s a horrible thing to consider for myself: the history of all my years on this earth being characterized as a medical condition or an intolerable behavior resulting from that condition.

What about my history of being a pretty darn good mother/wife/business person/neighbor/community volunteer/friend?  Doesn’t that person still exist within the body occupying that bed?

Let’s all take the time to read this poem that depicts such a scene.  Gender-wise, this could be about a crabby old man as well. Continue reading

Lighten up Mondays

Two guys, Jimmy and Clarence, were standing at heaven’s gate waiting to be interviewed by St. Peter.

Jimmy: “How did you get here?”

Clarence: “Hypothermia, you?”

Jimmy: “You won’t believe it.  I was sure my wife was cheating on me so I came home early one day hoping to catch them in the act.  I accused my wife of unfaithfulness and searched the whole house without any luck.  Then I felt so bad about the whole thing, I had a massive heart attack.”

Clarence: “Oh, man, if you had checked the walk-in freezer, we’d both be alive.”

The first Valentine’s Day without your loved one

The first Valentine’s Day without your loved one..

I’m re-posting this article I wrote back in 2012 that discusses one of the many “first times” survivors go through after the death of a loved one.

Heart in handsMy article contains a link to another blogger’s article in which he discusses the experience of his first Valentine’s Day without his wife.  On a personal note, that blogger is my brother, a man who came through that period of his life a survivor.  Although he still misses his wife who died of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 69, he can now look back and relive the memories of the numerous happy celebrations they both shared throughout their almost 25-year marriage with gratitude and hope for the future.

When being a control freak is a very good thing

Think of a very uncomfortable subject that you don’t like to talk or even think about.

By any chance was that subject death?

Grim ReaperIf it is, you’re not alone.  Given the option of getting a root canal or talking about our eventual demise, many would leap into the dental chair.  Why?  What’s so yucky about death?  It’s an inevitable outcome of our life experience here on earth.  To my knowledge, no one has successfully hidden from the grim reaper when it came knocking at their door.  So what’s the big deal?  I’ll tell you what’s the big deal.

Continue reading