My sister, Mary

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It’s National Sisters Day so naturally, I need to write about my sister, Mary.

Gosh, I wish my sister and I didn’t live 765 miles away from each other; this photo expresses exactly how I feel.

We visit each other, but not often enough, and when we do visit each other, it’s just not the same. If we lived next door to each other we could pop into each other’s homes, take walks together, and talk face to face instead of by telephone.

We’re not getting any younger, nor are our husbands. Having close proximity to each other would guarantee in-person support for when life takes a toll on our bodies and minds, and let’s face it, regardless of how healthy you think you are, life happens when you least expect it. Our mother’s death, while she slept, is proof of that. So is our father’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease that took his life four years later.

My sister, Mary, and I are creatives: she’s an artist (paints and such) who holds gallery events, and I’m a writer and a published author. In so many respects, Mary is just about my most ardent supporter, as I am of her. When we’re neglecting our craft, we remind each other of the passion that brought us to this place, and that what we produce needs to be in the hands of others to benefit them.

Yep, Mary is my best friend and best friends should live closer to each other so they can have a front row seat to what life sends their way. I don’t at all predict my imaginary neighborhood will ever come to pass, but what I can predict is how close Mary and I will remain on this unpredictable and impermanent journey called life.

 

 

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My novel’s 1st anniversary

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Requiem for the status quo‘s anniversary is the perfect opportunity to announce my involvement with a fabulous project focused on Alzheimer’s disease.

I am one of over 150 authors from around the world who will be represented at the Alzheimer’s Association – Western Carolina Chapter’s Dementia Education conference in Charlotte, N.C., this August. I, and over 25 other AlzAuthors, have donated copies of their books, which will be given away in a raffle to conference attendees.

I wanted to support this cause because during my caregiving experience in the early 2000s, I most definitely could have used more fiction about Alzheimer’s to normalize my day-to-day stresses, and some up-to-date non-fiction to help my learn-as-you-go caregiving experience. Something else from which I surely could have benefited is the non-profit, AlzAuthors. AlzAuthors.com is a nonprofit website that shares information on books and blogs about Alzheimer’s and dementia. I am proud to say that I, too, am a member of this fine organization. Had it been available prior to my father’s death from Alzheimer’s disease, I no doubt would have tapped into its resources.

AlzAuthors started in 2015, when Founders Jean Lee from Ohio, Vicki Tapia from Montana and Marianne Sciucco from New York, who had also written books about Alzheimer’s, met in cyberspace. They discussed the growing need for resources about dementia. A year later, after Shannon Wierbitzky joined the team, the group started a website and published posts from 60 authors. In 2017, Canadian Kathryn Harrison and Ann Campanella from North Carolina joined the administrative team.

Since that time AlzAuthors has published weekly posts, sharing resources about books and blogs that focus on Alzheimer’s and other dementias. The site has grown to include over 150 AlzAuthors from around the world and has a bookstore with a vast collection of top books for individuals, doctor’s offices, assisted living facilities and other eldercare services. AlzAuthors also has a thriving presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. AlzAuthors Jean Lee and Ann Campanella, whose memoirs were recently named to Book Authority’s Best Alzheimer’s Books of All Time List, will share “The Story Behind the Stories” of AlzAuthors at the Alzheimer’s Association conference.

“Together We Can,” the Dementia Education Conference held by the Alzheimer’s Association – Western Carolina Chapter, will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 29, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.at the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, 3400 Beatties Ford Road in Charlotte, N.C. The event is geared for healthcare professionals, caregivers, people living with Alzheimer’s or related dementia and members of the general public. Attendees will learn more about research, caregiving practices and tools to assist in the journey with Alzheimer’s. For more information, visit ALZ.org/NorthCarolina or call 800-272-3900.

For more information about AlzAuthors. visit their website: https://alzauthors.com/.

Lighten up Mondays

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We had new windows installed upstairs and downstairs – the whole house – and with new windows come new wood trim around each window that needs painting. That’s what we’ve been doing and after four separate days of prepping and painting, we finally finished the downstairs this past weekend…in 89-degree weather and 75% humidity…and don’t even ask me how we’re gonna handle the 2nd-floor windows. Painting humor for you…but painting isn’t funny or fun.

*****

Two painters go fishing and find a honey hole. They pull in huge keepers with every cast. They soon catch their limit and the first painter says to the other, “this lake is huge, too bad we won’t be able to find this spot again.”

With that, painter #2 jumps overboard and disappears below the water. A short time later he resurfaces and gets back in the boat.

Painter #1 – What the heck were you doing down there?
Painter #2 – I marked this spot by painting big red X on the bottom of the boat.
Painter #1 – You idiot! What if we don’t get the same boat?

 

Lighten up Mondays

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One of my sons-in-law is a commercial fisherman out of Petersburg, Alaska during the summer. To honor him, here’s a joke centered on the art of fishing.

The fishing season hasn’t opened yet, and a fisherman who doesn’t even have a license, is casting for trout as a stranger approaches and asks, “Any luck?”

“Any luck? Heck yes, this is a wonderful spot. I took 10 out of this stream yesterday” he boasts.

“Is that so? By the way, do you know who I am?” asks the stranger.

“Nope.”

“Well, meet the new game warden.”

“Oh,” gulped the fisherman. “Well, do you know who I am?”

“Nope,” said the game warden.

“Meet the biggest liar in the state.”

 

Kindness Fridays

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Hiking always makes me feel good to be alive, even though my joints and muscles complain more often than not at the completion of each hike.

There’s so much goodness found in the mountains, streams, lakes, and forests of the Pacific Northwest. Along with that goodness is the kindness that oozes out of every beautiful sight we behold:

  • the sweet and varied songs of the birds that are hidden from sight, but not by hearing;
  • the welcome shade provided by trees that have been around longer than my timespan on this earth and that will remain long after I’m gone;
  • the flowers and berries, both common and unique, that serve to add color to the landscape, thus softening the feel of the dirt, rocks, and rooty trails that receive our eager feet;
  • the top of the mountain vistas – what my husband and I call the payoff – that await our sweaty, achy, bodies, making us forget the out of breath effort it took to get there; and
  • the people we meet along the way who love hiking as much as we do.

At yesterday’s vista view, we met a young man who with his wife, moved to Seattle from Utah. Just three weeks into his Washington State experience Matt is in love with what our state has to offer. His wife’s job is what prompted their move: she is in her medical residency at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She has the overnight shift so Matt is taking advantage of her daytime sleep schedule to explore the new place in which he lives.

Matt is a microbiologist who is putting off looking for a job for a few weeks while he acquaints himself with his new home. We recommended he enjoy the best weather the Seattle area has to offer before getting anywhere near a laboratory. We also told him we felt certain he would have no problem finding work in his field given the renowned medical community in the area. We had a simply delightful conversation with this man who, after I mentioned my family’s history with Alzheimer’s, offered the promising breakthrough just discovered regarding a virus that might contribute to the disease.

Whether Baby Boomers like ourselves, young children, or everyone in between, the hiking community just seems to give off kindness vibes – a kindness that provides lasting benefits for these late-in-life hike enthusiasts. I know this has been a far different Kindness Fridays to which you may be accustomed, but I hope you enjoyed it nonetheless.

Lighten up Mondays

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With United States’ birthday occurring on July 4th, I’ve decided to provide some statements made by none other than Benjamin Franklin.

In the great tradition of American humor, the title of “First American Humorist” rightfully belongs to Benjamin Franklin. He was the beginning of a long line of writers who created a uniquely American form of humor filled with clever wit, folksy wisdom, and a generous portion of irreverence.

In his Poor Richard’s Almanac, Franklin wrote many clever sayings which are still part of our cultural heritage today. At 26, Franklin published the first edition of Poor Richard’s Almanac under the pseudonym Richard Saunders.

  • Remember that time is money.
  • A little neglect may breed mischief: for want of a nail, the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost, and for want of a horse the rider was lost.
  • A penny saved is a penny earned.
  • Any fool can criticise, condemn and complain and most fools do.
  • Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.
  • Fish and visitors smell in three days.
  • Genius without education is like silver in the mine.
  • God helps them that help themselves.
  • Haste makes waste.
  • Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade?
  • It is hard for an empty bag to stand upright.
  • Little strokes fell great oaks.
  • Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.
  • Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.
  • Well done is better than well said.
  • In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.
  • There never was a good war nor a bad peace.
  • Never contradict anybody.

Caregiver Guilt

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Just under seven years ago I posted this article about the guilt many caregivers feel when they are convinced nothing they do for a loved one is good enough. I felt the need to repost it today.

Living: the ultimate team sport

Do you feel as though you don’t visit your loved one often enough at the long-term care (LTC) facility in which they live? Try to acknowledge that guilt is a feeling that may not necessarily reflect an accurate reality of how attentive you are towards your loved one.

The local caregiver.

Many people have expressed their concerns to me that they’re just not doing enough for their loved one who lives in a LTC facility. Even when a caregiver visits Mom several days a week, the caregiver still feels guilty for not making more of an effort to be there for her.

Guilt is a valid feeling – I believe all feelings are valid – but the feeling of guilt may not accurately reflect what is going on. Let’s face it, most of us are hard on ourselves. The old adage, “we’re our own worse critic” came about resultant from…

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