I am a member of an author group called AlzAuthors. This group is a compendium of authors who have personal experience on the Alzheimer’s caregiving path. To celebrate the group’s 3rd anniversary of existence as well as reaching out to those who might be looking for resources during June’s Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, many books are offered at a great discount and some are even free of charge!
This sale only runs from June 6th through June 12th so I encourage you to visit the site’s post that spotlights those books being discounted during this time. Click here to access the AlzAuthors post and grab yourselves a book or three for yourself or for someone you know who might benefit from the titles being offered. When you reach that site, clicking on each book’s cover takes you directly to the Amazon eBook purchasing discount.
I am privileged to be offering my own title at deep discounts during this sale. Requiem for the status quo is only $1.99 in eBook format on Amazon.com and if you’re craving the paperback version, my publisher, Black Rose Writing is offering that format at half-price. When you get to the checkout screen on my publisher’s website, be certain to put in the Promo Code ALZAUTHORS to receive the half-price discount.
Long distance relationships don’t always work out but the relationship I have with an Adelaide, Australia online magazine works to perfection. I’ve never wanted to be the selfish one in this relationship, but I feel I’ve received far more from it than they have.
A wee bit of history: I’ve been writing for this magazine off and on for some time and then late last year, Grandparents Day Magazine offered me my own column; my own byline. Now I’m guaranteed a page in every publication.
Then, just a couple weeks ago, the editors/founders of the magazine reached out to me wanting to promote a writers’ group to which I belong: AlzAuthors. AlzAuthors is made up of a compendium of authors who share their personal experiences with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias to benefit others. Their motto is: To make a difference. One can sing a lonely song, but we chose to form a choir and create harmony.
So today’s celebration of kindness is two-fold: one, Grandparents Day Magazine generously reached out to me and the author group to which I belong; and two, AlzAuthors members chose to share their difficult Alzheimer’s disease journeys so that others could benefit from their vast experience – much of it learn-as-you-go. As a member of the AlzAuthors group, I can testify to the fact that once I had been through a family caregiving experience – for me it was for my father – I hoped it wasn’t for naught. Being able to share my experience with others through my novel’s publication just seemed right. The same can be said for the more than 150 books written by the AlzAuthors members.
And that, my friends, is my Kindness Fridays for this week.
Over the years I’ve discovered that when we are part of a community of people, our quality of life increases. The support of others can’t be beat. For me, community is like-minded people with a common thread through their lives that provide meaning and purpose for one’s day to day existence.
I found community in a writer’s group called AlzAuthors, a compendium of authors who have all been affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia. All of us authors share our experiences through our non-fiction and fiction works to bring knowledge, comfort, and understanding to those on a similar journey to the one we have already completed. Trust me, we all wish such a group were not necessary; that the common thread we share didn’t involve the always fatal disease of Alzheimer’s and related dementia; but it is necessary and we’re filling a need that as of this writing doesn’t show any chance of abating.
I’ve never met any of these authors – I live in Washington State and the rest of the authors represent just about every state in our nation – but because of our common journeys, we are members of a community. Are we all politically aligned identically to each other? Probably not. What about religious practices, do we follow the same spiritual practices as every member of the group? Hardly, but it doesn’t matter. What we have in common does matter: we are dedicated to encouraging and helping families and individuals whose lives have been interrupted by Alzheimer’s disease. Speaking for myself, I am so glad that my novel, Requiem for the status quo, can reflect the good and the bad decisions I made and other individuals made, so that those who are still on the Alzheimer’s journey might do better because they know better. I hope you’ll get to know us AlzAuthors through our website and that you’ll become an AlzAuthors Reader Community once you’ve browsed through our bookstore. Click here to go directly to the AlzAuthors Bookstore to find a library of books – more than 140 as of today – that link directly to Amazon or other purchase outlets.
So that’s it. This week I celebrate the kindness I have found in the AlzAuthors Community. Sure beats going it alone.
The best way to paint this picture is to assume you’re in the kitchen, you pull out a gallon of milk from the refrigerator, take it to the counter to pour yourself a glass of milk and the full glass of milk spills on the counter, over the edge of the counter, and onto the kitchen floor.
If another family member is in the near vicinity, that family member intervenes, tells the person who inadvertently spilled the milk to leave the kitchen, and the other family member cleans it up.
“But Mom, I spilled it, I should have to clean it up.”
“You didn’t do it on purpose, Irene. You already feel bad for spilling the milk, let me lessen your burden by cleaning it up for you.”
And that’s what happened throughout my childhood, and it’s what happens now in my adulthood. A little kindness goes a very long way…all the way from Grandma Conroy’s Edmonton, Alberta kitchen in the 1920s thru 1940s, all the way to mine in Redmond, Washington in the 21st-century.
My husband and I had the privilege of keeping the spouse of this family member company at the hospital during the day’s nail-biting, angst-filled four-hour surgery. All of us, family and strangers with a loved one in surgery, were gathered in the same neurosurgery waiting room, a room where the surgeon meets up with families immediately after the surgery to deliver the exploratory news that summarizes the surgery and its outcome.
Approximately fifteen minutes prior to our surgeon’s meeting with us, another neurosurgeon met with a family fifteen feet away from us in the waiting area. Their news was not at all good. The only words I heard were, “I know you hoped this surgery would be the end of it but that is not the case I’m sorry to say.” The four daughters and husband immediately started sobbing. I felt I was an unwelcome observer because of the grief I witnessed.
Then my family member’s surgeon met with us and declared that he had removed all of the massive tumor from my sister-in-law’s brain and it was not cancerous. We were relieved and felt exhilarated but tamped down our excitement.
How can it be that in the course of a quarter hour’s worth of time, one family’s extreme happiness could co-exist with the other family’s extreme devastation?
I guess the answer is that life happens to all of us; sometimes it is good, and other times it is not. Very sobering, to be sure.
I am ecstatic that our news was good but very much aggrieved that the other family’s was not.
This real story takes the place of this week’s Lighten up Mondays.
Most of our utility bills are in both my husband’s name and mine. Our Frontier phone/internet bill, for whatever reason, is only in my husband’s name.
We’ve lived in our current house for over fifteen years. Approximately one year into our residency at our current address I called to make a change to our services. I found out that because only my husband’s name was on the bill, I was not permitted to even talk to the Verizon (now Frontier) customer service rep. Jerry was home at the time so I requested his presence in my office and told him he needed to talk to the utility person to authorize me to do business with the utility. He did so, they supposedly noted his permission/authorization in the file, and I was able to complete my service request with the utility. Over the years, it took at least three additional calls to Verizon/Frontier before they stopped asking my husband to intervene to authorize everything I said to them. Dilemma solved, right?
We recently upgraded our internet from Frontier’s DSL, also known as slow-poke broadband, to internet service provided by our cable TV company, Wave. The new cable modem/router was installed and voila! Instead of a Download speed of 9.6 mbps, Wave’s Download speed is a wapping 100+ mbps. The primary user of our iMac computer – that would be me, The Little Woman – is thoroughly ecstatic with the improved service.
The day after unplugging Frontier’s DSL and plugging in Wave’s extraordinarily fast internet service, I called Frontier to cancel our internet service – but still retain our landline phone service with them – and the technician said, “Is this Jerry I’m speaking to?” to which I responded, “No, I’m, Irene, Jerry’s wife.” “I’m sorry, you’re not authorized to make changes to your service, is Jerry available?”
Imagine the top being blown off a pressure cooker on my end of the phone line.
“Oh, do not go there. My husband authorized my involvement with this account almost fifteen years ago and did so repeatedly each and every time you questioned my authority to the point where you finally stopped requiring Jerry’s personal authorization.”
“I’m sorry Ma’am, but if your husband is there to make the request, we’ll take care of this for him.”
I hung up on them. Five minutes later I called back to make the cancellation of service request, speaking in a lower voice and identifying myself as Jerry, and the customer service rep simply asked Jerry’s birthdate, which I provided, and presto-chango, our cancellation of internet service request was granted. Keep in mind, in the past when I successfully was able to get through to Verizon/Frontier to talk about our account, I had to provide Jerry’s birthdate, our account number, and the private PIN provided by the utility to verify my authorization capabilities. If they had asked that of Jerry – the authorized person – he wouldn’t have known where to find such information. Why? Because The Little Woman is also the Finance Manager for the Olson household. Bills get paid utilizing bank account resources because I set up these recurring charges to be paid automatically just as so many of you do for your own household. I move money around from one account to another, set up new accounts, fund them and the like because as the household Finance Manager, I am dedicated to keeping us financially organized, healthy, and comfortable in our retirement.
Am I mad at Jerry as a result of this fiasco? Not in the least. He was out of the house when this most recent matter occurred and when I relayed it to him he said, “Oh oh, I hope you didn’t hurt anyone too badly.” He thinks this whole authorization requirement is a joke, especially since he relies on me to manage everything having to do with our finances. He knows I’m quite accomplished at taking on these tasks and is thrilled that he doesn’t have to mess with the minutiae of managing this aspect of our lives.
I guess I can say I had the last laugh, however. Lowering my voice and using language patterns that might be common for the Man of the Household allowed me to wield the authority that up until now had fully evaded The Little Woman of the Household.
He doesn’t have to.
All of us came into this world without guile, judgment, or well-practiced hidden agendas. We didn’t learn that type of negative behavior until we got older and became seasoned in the fine art of selfishness and deception. I know, those are cruel and unfair words for me to say because I’m quite certain most of us do not purposefully act in a manner that is disingenuous or self-serving. With that said, however, I also know that one hundred percent of all babies are not capable of such mind games.
Our grandson – fully reliant on his parents, grandparents, and other adults – has every reason to consciously act in a manner that always guarantees the adults in his life will serve his every need. Fortunately, he doesn’t yet know how to do that. The innocence and pureness of his untainted mind has no room for such chicanery.
When my husband (his grandpa) repeatedly makes that silly noise that draws laughter from our grandson, the little guy isn’t running the following commentary through his head: Okay, that noise is kind of boring me at this point because it is SO yesterday, but I should probably laugh each and every time so I don’t hurt the old guy’s feelings. Nope, it doesn’t even occur to him to pretend because he is genuinely tickled by it. The laughter that comes from this absolutely adorable eight-month-old person is honest and outward-serving, not inward-serving.
When his mommy drops him off at our house on the two days we watch him every week, I can oftentimes be heard saying, “Is that my grandson? Oh my goodness, it is my grandson, I’m so happy to see you!” He breaks into that delightful, heart-melting smile of his, exuding pure kindness by his obvious delight at seeing his Grammo and Grandpa. When he smiles like that I think to myself: You’ve made my day, just by being you.
Our grandson gives out kindness free of charge, a kindness that isn’t dependent on his current circumstances, regardless of what they may be. Innocence is such a beautiful thing, isn’t it? A pure mind – that consequently holds only pure intentions – is one of the most valuable commodities on this earth. What a privilege it is for my husband and me to be on the receiving end of such goodness.
Many thanks go out to his parents for entrusting us with this grandparenting opportunity..