hands touching

After the death of my husband from Alzheimer’s, celebrating what would have been my 65th anniversary had its challenges.

January 21, 2015 – Today is mine and Ken’s 65th wedding anniversary. I usually think of our years together as more than 50. 65 is considerably more than 50, but I’ve known of others who have reached higher numbers in their pledge to one another. That’s a wonderful thing.


Marriages that last until one of the partners passes on are apparently rare. What is the national average now? One in three fails in divorce, and stats tell us that with a second or third marriage, divorce is even more at risk. I don’t profess to know what makes committed partners split. I’m sure it can be any number of things. What I do know is that in my immediate family the stats aren’t even one of our three. It’s more like three out of five, but I know the reasons are as different as the people involved. I’m just very glad that Ken and I were able to support them in whatever decisions they made. But more, I’m happy that the two of us made it to the end. Continue reading



Mabel Ann & Kenneth Romick at the beginning of Alzheimer's onset.

Mabel Ann & Kenneth Romick at the beginning of Alzheimer’s onset.

When a spouse, or any loved one  dies,  there should be time for mourning. After all an important person is gone from your life. Whether it be a parent, a child, a dear friend or a spouse you have to adjust to that person being absent from your entire life. For as long as you live they are gone. In and of itself, it gives you the right for extreme sadness. Sadness expressed in whatever manner you reflect or choose.

Unfortunately, depression often comes as a part of mourning. As a major component of the mourning process, it needs to be fought with all of the emotional forces you can muster, controlled and put aside as soon as possible. It can manifest itself in many ways other than sadness: Lack of sleep or sleeping too much is a sign of depression as well as losing your ambition or interest in doing much of anything. Of course, feeling sad is a natural emotion with a loss as great as death. But depression shouldn’t be allowed to remain and alter your everyday life. Your doctor can help. Medication for a short term can be helpful and is permissible. So is professional counseling. Continue reading


To-do list in a notebook

Photo courtsey Creative Commons
My to-do list has dramatically changed this holiday season.

January 10, 2015 – Many people write a holiday letter telling all about life and their past year. Expounding on accomplishments, not only by the family, but an update on the mailman, the neighbors, the pets and so on and on. Just kidding here. The big change that came into my life this year was Ken’s passing.  It turned my life upside down. I started living in a more laid-back kind way, letting go of many of the things I thought I had to do.  These are some things I haven’t done, becaue everything is no longer as important as it was when he was alive and before AD took him away.


1. My Christmas cards are still in their boxes. They won’t be ready to mail until around December of this year, 2015. Meanwhile instead of resolutions I’ve decided to reinvent myself. I read a bit of Wayne Dyer on the internet and he advised against resolutions. Instead he advised change, and not a commitment to change overnight, but to begin on a change taking small steps. You can do anything for five minutes. So if you are going to work out. Do it, but start a little at a time. Yes. Five minutes is a good goal and one that just about anybody can do. Who can fail in five minutes? Then when you do the five minutes you can extend your time. Be a success with your changes to a better you by establishing attainable and realistic goals.

2. So, back to Christmas cards. My friend Jane in Idaho is always the first card to be received. If I mailed mine now, January, then I would be the first in 2015 to get my cards out. Instead be ready for new news when this year’s Season arrives – any time after Halloween.

3. I didn’t wrap many of my Christmas gifts. The ones that got wrapped granddaughter Kristina did for me. I did manage to stuff grandson’s new socks in a Costco pharmacy bag and stapled it shut. At least he had to work a little getting it open, so it was almost like a wrapped gift.  

4. I didn’t wrap daughter-in-law Sabina’s gift either, and lost track of where it was, so she got it in a Macy’s bag on the morning of December 26.  I’m not getting forgetful I’m just taking life easy.

5. I didn’t put up the Christmas tree for a few reasons. The first was because I didn’t feel up to getting everything down and up and then down again, then back up in the rafters. Even though Ken could see the tree in previous years, it was meaningless. With his Alzheimer’s he has long since forgotten all about celebrations. His last comment when seeing the tree decorated with lights twinkling was, “Pretty, what’s it for?”

The second reason is because Buddy, the new dog gets tangled up with the computer wires under my desk. I didn’t want to have him take down the tree if he did the same thing with the decorations, lights and garland.

6. I didn’t have any of the men put up the outside lights either. That decision was part of taking down everything from the garage then putting it all back. Because I didn’t put up the tree or other decorations, I didn’t have to do anything on New Year’s Day. That was always the day I used to take it all down while Ken watched all of the New Year’s Day football games. January 1st was his day and that’s what he always chose to do.


1. I said goodbye to my dear husband of nearly 65 years and have just about finished with the thank you notes for those who participated in his service and for the other help I received during this difficult time for our family        

2. I made cookies which had been Ken’s job during those years without AD. He baked, I boxed and he delivered, but if the baking and boxing was completed, I went with him to give our love and holiday greeting to everyone on our list. I delivered by myself this year. That’s all right. Ken’s tradition of good will goes on

3. I took a box to my cousin Pat whose health has reached a point in her life where living in a care facility is best for all concerned. I also take my abundance of used magazines for her to share with the other residents.

4. I visited with another friend at a different care facility. She is also a victim of AD, but she still knows who I am and reaches out for a hug when I come in. Unable to eat sweets because of her diabetes I took her a tiny artificial plant.

5, I said, “Yes,” to Kristinia when she brought a tiny puppy home that she found abandoned with his three sisters in the bushes outside of her friend’s house the evening her grandfather passed. We named him Buddy – Ken’s nickname as a little boy. 10 weeks later he’s up from tiny to 25 pounds. Three of her friends took the female pups.


I suppose it has to do with the cycle of life. I notice that many of my friends are passing on, and as a woman of faith I know they are passing on to something better. But while we are here, we have a most important calling: That is to care for one another. As we do this we can resolve that during the coming year we will all do our best in seeing that we extend ourselves to caring and helping one another. And while we’re thinking of the new year, may your troubles be small and your joy large as we continue through these happy holidays into another chapter of our lives.


May I leave with you a scripture from Matthew 25:35-40  For I was hungered and ye gave me meat. I was thirsty and ye gave me drink.  I was a stranger and ye took me in. Naked and ye clothed me, I was sick and ye visited me. I was in prison and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungered and fed thee? or thirsty and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger and took thee in? or naked? and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison , and came unto thee?                                                 

And the King shall answer and say unto them. Verily I say unto you. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.



Happy New Year and fireworks

Photo courtesy Creative Commons Finding the New ?year’s magic has to do with finding the magic throughout the year.

January 2, 2015 — Happy New Year to all of my friends, family and readers. As we begin another new year, let’s hope for the best in having all we need in health, happiness, and new jobs. I wish all of you joy as I repost this older blog from a few years back. In my youthful search for something special happening on New Year’s Eve I found that what I thought was magic was not magic at all. The magic is what we do with what we have including the love shared with our family and friends.


From the time I was old enough to remember hearing adults shout “Happy New Year,” I believed there was something magical happening as the clock chimed 12:00 p.m.  Furthermore, I was missing it all because I was a child and had to be in bed early. Then one year my parents went out with friends on December 31, leaving my sister, Janet, and me in the care of our older sister, Polly, who was 16. At last, Janet and I knew we could stay up until the bewitching hour because Polly was caught up in her own reverie of sadness in not having a boy friend at year’s end.


The two of us knew there must be noise to welcome in The New Year so Janet fortified us with metal dish pans and wooden spoons. Polly didn’t care what we were doing, taking to her bed early. My favorite big sister planned we would march up and down the sidewalk in front of our building (the fourth floor flat being our home) banging our dish pans at the first sounds of celebration. At 12:00 we heard horns honking and whistles blowing in the distance, but that was all, so we high stepped our march and drummed our pans more vigorously. Still nothing. “Is that all?” I whined with great disappointment. “Come with me,” ordered Janet. I followed her up the flights of stairs into the kitchen where she took one of Mama’s best cooking pots (the heaviest of her hammered aluminum cookware) and ran to the front of the flat overlooking the street. Throwing up the window and calling, “Look out below,” Janet tossed the pot into space watching it fall down and down until it hit the sidewalk. Still no magic. If San Francisco had no magic, where could it be found? Janet tried three more times with the same result, “Thud, clunk, clunk, clunk.” We retrieved the pot (fortunate that it hadn’t taken out a drunk from the corner bar) put it back in the kitchen and we both went to bed still wondering where was the magic — the celebration — this miraculous thing that changed one year into another — where was the old bearded man carrying the sickle — and the stork delivering the Baby New Year? Continue reading



Christmas shopping at Costco

Though it was crowded, people were in a festive mood while Christmas shopping at Costco. (image courtsey Creative Commons)

December 19, 2014 – Actually it’s been looking a lot like Christmas since before Halloween. Then when the ghosts and goblins disappeared, there seemed to be a blitz of the coming Christmas celebration everywhere you looked. By all appearances anyone would guess that Santa was due the very next day. The Christmas shopping frenzy had begun. 


I had a long list of necessities to buy, but my list has reverted to just about normal. Normal, that is, before Alzheimer’s became the major focus of our everyday life. No longer on the list were Depends, soft adhesive patches for Ken’s pressure sores or other supplies for his hospital-like room at home: no more disposable gloves for the caregivers, no more wipes, no more baby soap for Ken’s tender skin, no more Vaseline for his sensitive areas. He is free from the torment, and, being a woman of faith, I am happy for his relief and joy beyond this veil of pain, sorrow and tears.


That’s what he used to tell me whenever we planned our trip to the big warehouse store before AD.  Christmas shopping or just the weekly trip. He was kidding, although we might buy a pizza for dinner. What he made reference to was stopping by the numerous vendors and sampling what they were hawking. Samples were usually very good, and often we bought the product, but after six or so samples, who needed lunch. Produce, eggs and other dairy products and dog food for Doc and Charlie, our two loveable K-9s from many years ago, it was time for home. Shopping done.


I left early and without breakfast telling myself that I would eat at Costco, and I did. Following our old pattern I stopped by the vendors and sampled a smorgasbord of treats including some delicious tamales that I bought for Christmas breakfast when some of our grown children drop by to open their gifts.


I felt cheered by the Christmas spirit that was in the air as customers smiled, then stepped aside allowing a grocery cart to pass. Stopping by the food court I picked up a large pizza for Kris and her brother Karl who drops by every day or so. The three of us could almost finish it off and still have leftovers for the next day’s lunch.

As I exited the food court with my loaded cart a woman backing up with her cart walked right into me. We both smiled and she said, “Backing up is dangerous.” I smiled back and agreed. It was a good day: light and fun and filled with good cheer and good people, a fun Christmas shopping experience. That’s how the season should be. “Peace on Earth and Good Will to Men.” And cart-backing women too.



old fashioned picture of a young widow

Adjusting to being an Alzheimer’s widow is a whole new mindset. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

December 13, 2014 – So many adjustments to make when one becomes a widow. Yes, the correct term is widow, but it still filters down to being single again. Being single is a lonely place to be, but I am not looking to change my status. I will accept and adapt to thinking and living as a single person.

I do recall an old country song from years ago: Sleeping single in a double bed. For me, though, it’s even more dramatic. I’m sleeping single in our king-sized bed. Alone except for the cat Gouda. She has been my sweet feline company for a few years since Ken went into a hospital bed in the family room. 

My husband and I elected the larger bed because he was over 6′ and I was a tall woman. With a double bed we found that our feet hung over the bottom, and they got a bit chilly on cold nights.  Continue reading


pen and signature

Changing my signature from Mrs. to Ms. is something I refuse to do.  I have been a Mrs. for most of my adult years, and I will not sign as Ms.  I am a Mrs. because in my heart I still am and will always be.


December 5, 2014 – I suppose you could say, “Of course you were happier before Alzheimer’s. That statement could go without saying.” The entire world was happier before Alzheimer’s struck down a loved one. Apparently it isn’t going to stop. Its numbers are fast approaching epidemic.

Ken’s disease and ultimately his passing have caused a major change with me. Once a happily married woman: a Mrs. for most of my adult life is no longer who I am, at least according to society. Now I check a different box. Once a married woman I am now a widow, and that’s the box I now check.  Continue reading


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A family gathers for Thanksgiving dinner.

Some of our family gather for a day of gratitude and Thanksgiving at my daughter’s house.

 November 28, 2014 – So many things for which I feel gratitude. At the top of my list is that I have a lifetime of wonderful memories with Ken. I only wish that the selfish disease of Alzheimer’s had allowed my loving husband a momentary return to his old self just so he could have said goodbye to me and his children. I would have asked for just one chance where I could have said to him, “Thanks for 64 wonderful years, but then we all know that AD never gives anything back once it has robbed the mind of life and living. So I won’t dwell on what might have been and go on to a Thanksgiving long ago when the children were younger and we were on our way to Grandmother’s house. You know, “Over the bridge and across the bay to Grandmother’s house we go. The car knows the way.” And on that memorable night it was almost believable that the car knew the way.


We always packed our clothes well ahead of departure for a long weekend in the country, and set out for Thanksgiving at “The Little Farm” located half way between the town of Sebastopol in Sonoma County, California and Bodega Bay on the ocean.  It was Wednesday evening as we headed north from our East Bay home for our annual holiday festivities. Continue reading



Liberace Album, I'll Be Seeing You

Remembering our familiar places to the tune of this Librace song, made both of us cry.

November 21, 2014 – In the early 2000’s Ken and I took our last road trip together where he did the driving. We toured west, then southwest to see places and people I doubted we would visit again: Friends in Utah, cousins in Nevada, more friends in New Mexico and more family in Colorado, then back through Utah and home again. All the way we came fortified with music we both enjoyed: Sinatra, Como, Dick Haynes,the Big Bands and a sprinkling of Liberace at the piano and in voice. As I had mentioned all of this in a previous blog many of those older tunes and lyrics touched our hearts, even then, as we both understood where this terrible disease was going to take us. As Liberace sang one of our old favorites Ken reached over and took my hand. Tears streamed down both of our faces as we accepted this deadly, unknown enemy with no weapons for defense. The tune was a romantic ballad: “I’ll Be Seeing You In All The Old Familiar Places.” The lyrics spoke of a chestnut tree, a wishing well, a park across the way and a childrens’ carrousel. At the time we both knew I would be seeing the remembered and familiar places by myself.  Continue reading



The city of Oakley dedicated their new Veteran's Memorial on Veteran's Day

The city of Oakley dedicated their new Veteran’s Memorial on Veterans Day

November 17, 2014 – I know it’s several days late following Veterans Day on November 11, but I spent that day in Oakley, California as a guest to the ribbon cutting of the city’s very new Veterans Day Memorial.  I was touched by the ceremonies and as the day moved along, I felt gratitude for all of the men of service that I have known, and for those I have never met:  all willing to sacrifice all they hold dear for America’s freedoms.


My son Kevin, who is an Oakley City Councilman and rotating mayor has been working on the memorial project for several years. When it was suggested, the Council members agreed that it was a great idea, but the city had no funds for such a project. Over the years the committee has been selling bricks, holding fund raisers and accepting donations. These aren’t just any kind of red brick, but new bricks. For each brick the purchaser pays $125.00 to honor a veteran of his/her choice. The veterans’ name is engraved with the date of service and discharge date. These bricks along with many blank bricks (available for late comers who want to honor a veteran) form the main circle of the enclosure which also displays a beautiful marble pillar to recognize and honor each branch of the military.


Rather than stone, I should say brick. In honor of Ken’s service as a Navy man Kevin purchased two bricks: one for his Navy service and another to commemorate his years in the Merchant Marines (now recognized as an additional branch of the military). Next to Ken’s bricks is a brick with “Nicholas Romick” Ken’s father for his World War I Marine service. Council and city officials were pleased to have an extraordinary large crowd in attendance.


Jumping from Oakley to other ways of honoring our veterans on Veterans Day. I have watched on the internet as many of our veterans, whose war injuries have been fatal, are escorted to their final resting place by a motorcycle brigade riding along side with American flags flying honoring the fallen service man. The escort is provided by The Patriot Guard Riders, a group of veterans from every walk of life whose unselfish purpose is to see that all veterans receive the honor they deserve. The organization is nationwide.

Through Kevin’s involvement in his city’s government he has had contact with one of the local groups of Riders. As we planned for Ken’s funeral service, Kevin asked if I would like a military escort from the church to the cemetery. My answer was a definite “yes.” I knew that my husband would be pleased, and as an owner and often rider of a motorcycle, he would have been riding with the honor riders had health circumstances been different for him. He was proud of his service to his country and for the eight-year stint served by his father, and for the service of his son-in-law and his grandsons. I was grateful for the honor riders and for that last patriotic salute by his fellow veterans. 

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