FEAR OF PATIENT

MAKING A GOOD MATCH

February 17, 2017 —  I am sure I’m safe in saying that very often the caregiver has some fear of their patient. That’s why it’s so important in choosing a caregiver for your loved one that you don’t try and mix a Goliath with a David. Caregivers aren’t issued sling shots. My husband was 6′ 2″ and weighed 180 lbs when he was at his best before he became a victim of Alzheimer’s disease.

Finding a caregiver for him was quickly stripped from my grip following a horrific automobile accident seven years ago where I was removed from the entire scene of Alzheimer’s for a good three months/ I was totally incapable of any hands-on care that usually had been my responsibility. I also knew before the accident that finding someone to help me would be necessary for the year of 2010. Just watching his decline during the previous Holiday season I knew that it would be a must for his future well-being, to have help, especially if I wanted to keep him with me at home.

HANDING OUT RESPONSIBILITIES

Following the crash, and our family being informed of the accident, an evening of stunned acceptance mixed with shock and wondering how they could possibility handle caring for not one, but two parents in need, and not having any idea how long my healing would take, our son Keith stepped forward as if he were the CEO and assigned responsibilities to each one of his siblings. He, of course, as a good CEO accepted the burden of seeing that all needs were met and continued as the self-appointed executive issuing commands and supervising follow-through until I was well enough to return home and take over as the one in charge.

“FIND DAD A CAREGIVER!”

That was one of his early commands and directed at his sister Deborah who is the oldest of our children. Immediately, she called the work resources for our church. At the time, the work coordinator told her that there were no posts for that type of work. Knowing that a caregiver was a must so their father could come home from the hospital, she called a local agency. The caregiver arrived before Ken was released from the hospital. The caregiver was not told that her patient was  a man, nor was she aware of his size, weight and apparent strength.

On the way home from the hospital Ken had a bowel  accident. Entering through the front door, with Ken in tow our two sons Keith and Kenny, mentioned that Ken had  had an accident in his shorts and needed to be cleaned up. The caregiver was sitting with our two daughters discussing the situation. No one volunteered, but even the paid professional declined to step forward. The two sons took their father into the bath with the walk-in shower and cleaned him up. Finishing up the week, the agency contract was not renewed, which was a good thing. The job was beyond her capabilities. She had not been matched with her patient, and admitted she was fearful of him.

HELP ON THE HORIZON

A few days later one of the work coordinators from church contacted Deborah telling her that he could personally recommend a man who had cared for his father-in-law during the last years of his life, and was looking for work. Debbie invited him for an interview. A perfect match. Ben cared for Ken until he retired with David substituting on Ben’s days off. Following Ben’s retirement David became our full-time caregiver — another perfect match.

Part of having a caregiver in the home is making certain that the caregiver is big enough and strong enough to handle their patient. Unless the man is very small, it’s best for a man to care for a man, and a woman to care for another woman. That makes both patient and caregiver more comfortable.

AGING, ILLNESS AND GRATITUDE

CAREGIVING NO MATTER  WHAT

February 10, 2-17 — During the Golden Age of Hollywood Bette Davis was one of the super stars, and when you watched her on screen she was truly a shining star. Stars, however, even glamorous stars like Miss Davis don’t last forever and as she  grew older she no longer played the romantic lead, but bravely took on character rolls that were probably more exciting to play than sweet-young-thing parts.

During an interview and well into her senior years she told the host that “Getting old wasn’t for sissies.” How true her words were then and are still true today as the generations slip quietly into senior citizens — ready or not.

PATIENTS OR CAREGIVERS

No one really gets to choose which roll may befall either the husband or the wife in any given relationship. In my case I was the caregiver and Ken the patient. There are times, however, when both the husband and wife are patients with one illness or another, and that presents even greater problems within the lives of concerned family members and devoted friends.

ILLNESS OTHER THAN ALZHEIMER’S

While my years of caregiving were dedicated to my patient with Alzheimer’s disease, other couples are faced with health issues that may also lead to crippling consequences. Example: A few months ago friends that Ken and I have known for at least 65 years met their adversary when Bill suffered a stroke. Bill is still a big man and his wife, Misty, is a delicate little snip of a woman. So they have a wonderful couple who live with them, who shares caring for Bill, keeping the house and yards shipshape and provide friendly companionship. As we all grow older and are faced with almost inevitable bouts of various illnesses we have choices. We can become angry and bitter and be disagreeable old grouches that no one wants to be around or we can choose to accept what happens and be as kind, loving and outgoing as we, hopefully were before.

THINK ABOUT GRATITUDE 

I paid my friends a visit this afternoon and we talked about the book I’ve been reading written by the son of some of my church friends. The title, and available through Amazon, is “Flip The Gratitude Switch.” Certainly finding gratitude in any debilitating illness, including those destined to be terminal is not much to be grateful for, but when we search deeply we do find things for which we can be grateful even during our darkest hour.

I mentioned that I was grateful I was able to keep Ken at home with the wonderful caregivers we had and that I was also grateful for the  many years of marriage and family that we, as a couple, still enjoyed, most of the time, until he passed on. Misty and Bill celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary last year and many months before his stroke. They expressed their gratitude for all of those precious and happy years together and for their children and grandchildren. While Bill has a paralysis in his right arm, and his speech is still a bit garbled, his mind is bright and alert, with an amazing memory — more gratitude. We even managed to play a fun card game before I left to come back home, and Bill helped me play the right cards.

Adversity will always be a part of most of our lives. Finding the good hidden somewhere within the bad can help us over the rough spots and help us get through the challenges of growing older. Remember. “Getting old isn’t for sissies.” So be ready to flip the gratitude switch that will help you build up a stronger armor

 

 

PERSONALITY CHANGES AND ALZHEIMER’S

A LITTLE AT A TIME

February 2, 2017 — My husband Ken loved to talk, and was often the life of a party. He was a natural when it came to telling stories — one after another. Once while visiting a friend, Fred, in the hospital where we also shared the visit with his daughter Lisa. Ken and Fred exchanged stories never allowing Lisa to get a word in edgewise

On the our trip home I mentioned that Lisa had wanted to spend time with her dad as well as we did, but Ken never allowed her a moment of time to say a single word. “That’s just rude,” I said, telling him that in his joy of conversation he must allow others to join in. Sheepishly, he had agreed that he had “hogged” the time.

ALZHEIMER’S CHANGES PERSONALIES

Of course that day with Ken and Fred was long, long ago before Ken had any experiences with the disease even though his mom and dad both suffered from the debilitating illness later in our lives, and we spoke of the challenge we (the family) had to deal with now that grandma and grandpa were both a part of the mind destroying illness.

Of course, when Ken, himself, became a victim he was totally unaware of the many ways in which his personality would change, and how quickly he would go from “life of the party” to a silent observer off in a corner. Even when another guest would pull up a chair and talk with him. He was limited in what he would or could add to the evening.

Furthermore he had sincerely liked people and found them interesting, wanting to spend time with them. Curious about their jobs, profession or hobbies, the former Ken came armed with never-ending questions to keep the conversation moving. However, as AD took more and more control he became a bit fearful of being left in a situation where I might not be around to help him.

DISCOMFORT WITH  STRANGERS

When the DMV insisted on him being retested for renewal of his license, he stood alone at the desk reading the long sheet of questions. Believing, for a while, he could cinch the test he looked over to me periodically, then winked. The wink was to reassure me that he had a handle on the whole procedure. In actuality he didn’t. We didn’t discuss what happened, but I was certain that as he read the question, then the multiple choices he became so confused he forgot the questions. He failed the  written test so miserably they wouldn’t allow him to take the driving test. I was relieved. The DMV became the “bad guys.” Never did he show anger to me or the family that he could no longer drive.

CLINICAL TRIALS

He was evaluated for clinical trials. During one conversation the doctors doing the  examination said they would like him to spend at least a night for better observation. When they left the room he whispered to me, “I don’t want to stay here without you.” I assured him that I would never leave him alone. AD had taken my “knight in shining armor, my valiant protector.” and left me with a frightened little boy. It was me who was left alone. Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease.

 

 

ALZHEIMER’S AND PARANOIA

January 27 2017 — “They’re all different,” said my friend Madalyn whenever I tried to compare Ken’s brain deterioration with her husband Darwin even after he had passed to the other side. That was certainly true about the length of time each of the two victims suffered from the mind-crippling Alzheimer’s. Darwin passed on after a three-year battle while Ken endured for nearly 15 years with signs showing long before he was released from the dungeon of rotting minds.

Not only does AD attack each victim in a different way, which results in the same dementia, symptoms can be very different. That’s why I claimed in my last post that there is no clear one-size-fits-all list of instructions or actual caregiving procedures that applies to every dementia situation.

PARANOIA

Unreasonable, imagained fear of something is a good place to begin. For example: Ken believed that someone who lived behind us was shinning bright lights through our back windows to spy on us. In his imagination they meant to do us harm and he was overly strict in his insistence that no one was ever to touch the coverings on the windows for fear of this enemy being able to view into and invade our privacy.

MIGHT BE OF VALUE

Our friend Grace was fearful of throwing away something valuable and held on to every scrap of paper  believing it was irreplaceable. This made it difficult for Grace and her husband  Glen when it was decided the couple would move to an assisted-living facility. With Glen’s encouragement telling her that he would buy her another of what she was pondering about, or they could print additional copies of a favorite poem once they were in their new home. With his help she was more cooperative, and able to agree with discarding various papers, but it took the two of them to make her decisions, and her trust in him never waivered. All Alzheimer’s patients are not so cooperative which can bring about enormous problems.

MOTHER NATURE ON A RAMPAGE

My father-in-law Nick scolded me for placing the table lamp back on the end table near his chair. “No, don’t put it there,” he insisted while I was cleaning the living room. “The lamp has to stay on the floor.” Their living room boasted a large picture window which overlooked San Francisco’s Bay with the magnificent view continuing out past the Golden Gate Bridge. His chair and end table were placed near the window’s left side. In compliance with his instructions I placed the lamp back on the floor. “It has to stay there,” he repeated. “There could be an earthquake and if the lamp happened to be on the table it could fall over and break the window.”

THEY ARE ALL DIFFFERENT

Just as their minds were different during all of their well years, those deteriorating minds are different within their haunting disease. Caregivers should remember that their patients are still individuals, and need to be treated with respect and patience as AD continues to rob them of who they were.

CAREGIVER DIRECTIONS

NOTE BOOKS READY

January 13, 2017 – As a former caregiver serving five family members since 1973 I can trufully say “There aren’t any directions.” Having 40 years years experience I can assure you that every case is different Just as every patient is different so are the ways of caring for each individual.

Certainly there are the basics for giving care: especially to a close friend or a family member

  1. Be loving, kind, patient and treat them as you would like to be treated if you were the patient.
  2. Provide, if possible, some kind of activity even for a fading mind.
  3. Take care of yourself. If the caregiver becomes incapacitated who will do your job.
  4. Get help if possible. It’s tough to care for someone all alone.
  5. Live as normally as possible. Good for you as well as the patient..
  6. Provide nutritious meals and keep to a schedule Don’t forget liquids.
  7. Provide a clean-up time for showers and dressing This is a 2 person job.
  8. Watch for “pressure sores” and infections.
  9. See that the patient has regular checkups with his primary care doctor.
  10. Have a hospital bed delivered when needed.
  11. When you can take a break, get away from your duties. Time spent elsewhere allows you a better perspective.
  12. Get your sleep. You function better and adjust to emergencies when you are rested.
  13. And the list goes on and on, but these, of course are generalities in the caregiving world We all know them just by living in our world, especially if we’ve been a parnt.

TOOLS

There are tools out there to not only use as a caregiver, but as an individual just living life one day at a time. For example: on another email address I have I often get posts from Phil Bolsta who has written a book which he titled“Through God’s Eyes.” I haven’t read the whole book, but I have read a chapter and excerpts from it.

As a woman of faith I think another term for “Through God’s Eyes” might be seeing with eternal perspective and asking oneself, “How does my present situation as a caregiver relate to my beliefs about eternity and life after life? He uses “love” and “fear” as tools in helping solve earthly problems. Love being the positive approach and fear, of course, being a negative approach. For me through my beliefs and spiritual understanding I use Faith and fear. Our teachings tell us that you can’t remain fearful if you maintain faith. Think about that through God’s eyes. Trust that he loves you and has a plan for you. It wouldn’t be unreasonable for you to wonder and even ask what that plan could be. Perhaps it isn’t your plan, but thoughtful prayer may allow you to catch a vision of what our Creator’s plan is.

WHY

I believe we spend a lot of time asking that question when adversity enters into our life. “Why me?” Say to yourself, “Why not me?” I don’t know of anyone who has escaped adversity in their life. Illness, untimely death, unthinkable disease and unimagined accidents or happenings seem to be a constant with life. Then for some folks out there as soon as sone problem is solved, another appears out of nowhere and they begin all over with their struggle about whatever is appearing to bring them down and down, often asking, “Why me again?”

I still read one special blog written by Sherri Zshocher titled “Living in the Shadow of Alzheimer’s” or Living With Bob and Al. Bob is her husband and Al is Alzheimer’s. She too is a woman of faith and often includes appropriate scripture and a bit of good advice to end her daily post: “Pause, Praise and Pray.” Begin and end your day the same way. Communication with the Lord always helps.

 

RESOLUTIONS FROM LAST YEAR.

WHERE DID 1016 GO?

January 8, 2017– That was the lament from so many of my friends and family. One of them complained: “I blinked once and the year was gone.” That was my feeling as well.

2016 was going to be the year of my reinvention. After being alone for two years, but having my granddaughter Kristina live with me after Ken passed on, I am not the new me, but I suppose that’s all right. The goals of the last few decades remain unaltered: I still want to lose some unwanted weight gain. I’m still striving to redo my house, the inside of which hasn’t seen a paintbrush since 1996, and it’s beginning to show. I’m still working on three books lounging in my computer, and I’m not exercising the way my doctor would have me begin my day, listing “workout” as the top priority in my daily routine.

REMEMBER THE MOTTO

“When you fail, get up, dust yourself of and try again.” I recall reading accounts of dedicated AA members, who almost expect to fall off the wagon before they can get it right. So, this year 2017, I’m just going to post my “old” goals once again and aim higher.

LISTS

I’m going to start lists. Maybe that will help. I shall outline my day just as if I were back in high school. We usually had a different class every hour. At the end of the hour we were dismissed by a bell which encouraged us to hurry to the next class to learn/”to do” something different unless we had a two-hour class with intense instruction which was needed to not only read or be instructed about the next step, then it was the next step during the second hour. I can do that if I don’t donate those two hours for watching TV or reading about everyone on Facebook, which is an easy thing to do in the way of getting sidetracked.

Just think, two hours of P.E: walking and then doing the floor exercises. Still belonging to a gym I could go there. Not only to exercise, but to do the physical therapy for my ailing knees. I still have in an unopened box waiting to be opened: “Gym in a Box.” I could do that as well.

LISTS AND LONGER LISTS

So I’ll just read my own blog for a few days and I’ll have my list already started. Furthermore, my friends, while Alzheimer’s 24/7 will always be a part of my life, and on occasion I will post something of interest, particularly if it’s good news about a real treatment or a cure.” Other than that I’ll be moving on with my dedication and blog to becoming, maybe not a new me, but a different me. I’ll just hope it’s a better me.  So for 2017, get out there and see what life has to offer after AD, because readers used to tell me that there was life after Alzheimer’s. Perhaps I’ll find it this year.

 

FINDING THE NEW YEAR MAGIC

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WHAT TO SEARCH FOR?

Happy New Year Fireworks 2017

I found the New Year magic and realized it wasn’t fireworks.

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 boyfriend at year’s end.

 

THERE HAD TO BE NOISE

The two of us knew there must be noise to welcome in The New Year so Janet fortified us with metal dishpans 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

BE THE ANSWER TO SOMEONE’S PRAYER

December 23, 2016 —  This is a reprint from Christmas 2010, and is so applicable today knowing that there are so many homeless and less fortunate than we are. I was joyful when, in spite of the problem of Alzheimer’s in our home, I could be of help to my fellow man.

Last year, a week or so before Christmas, I flipped through our church magazine stopping at an article titled, “Be The Answer To Someone’s Prayer.”  Captivated by the thought I read the article through. But how could I be the answer to someone’s prayers I wondered feeling totally inadequate to qualify for such a spiritual undertaking.

Please don’t misunderstand.  I believe in causes, dropping money into the Salvation Army’s kettle, helping others, and I loved all of the old TV angel programs often to the point of shedding a few tears at the happy endings.  I have also been known to hand money to a guy carrying a gas can who asks for help in getting his car filled and the family back home.  “It’s a scam, Mom,” I was repeatedly told by any one of my adult sons.  “That’s all right,” I have answered.  “If it is a scam, then he has the problem, but I did the right thing in helping.”  Is that an answer to someone’s prayer – again I’m not sure – or am I a sucker for a scam?

It was several days before Christmas. 2010 had not been a great year for  us. Ken’s Alzheimer’s had been relentless in rotting his brain as I continued to care for him as best I could. Furthermore, our car had been hit by a drunk driver in February leaving me close to death. With fabulous care, wonderful doctors, and the Lord’s blessings I recovered, doing my rehab, walks and exercise. Several months later I was near normal, and now here  it was Christmas time again.

As I was getting dinner, I heard the doorbell. Answering, there was a man asking if he could rake the leaves from my lawn for a donation?At first I just wanted him to be gone so I could get back to dinner before it burned or Ken got involved making a mess of everything. Then I recalled the article I had just read about being the answer to someone’s prayer. I rethought my former annoyance and said, “Go ahead, and put the leaves in the recycle can at the side of the house.

I went into my room and took two matching bills from my wallet putting each one into separate front pockets of my jeans. If he did a poor job I would give him one. If the lawn was clear from leaves I would give him both bills. A few minutes later the bell rang again. I looked at the lawn and it was free from leaves except for the few fluttering to the ground. “Here you are,” I said handing him the two bills, “and Thank you.” “Thank you,” he called and Merry Christmas.”  Was I the answer to his prayer. Again, I don’t know. Perhaps the amount of the two bills was all he needed. The one thing I know for sure is that I felt good. The best I had felt in a long while.

 

ANOTHER ACT OF KINGNESS

In a recent email I read the following account from a doctor who had been on his way home after a long, difficult day at the hospital. As he left his work he felt totally worn out and anxiously  journeyed toward home and comfort on the cold winter’s night. Suddenly, his car spluttered and chocked forcing him to take the next exit off the freeway. “This is all I need right now,” he grumbled pulling into the nearest gas station to see what the trouble might be. The car stalled near a very troubled woman who appeared to have fallen down next to a gas pump.  Asking if she needed help, the tearful, haggard woman said she didn’t want her children to see her cry.  Our Good Samaritan, as it turned out, noticed the older car filled with stuff and three kids in the back – one in a car seat.  Summing up the situation he took his credit card and sliced it through the machine nearest her gas pump saying, “I’m the answer to your prayer.”  She looked at him with surprise, and he followed with, “You were praying, weren’t you?”

As the car filled he went next door to a McDonald’s, then returned with two bags filled with burgers plus fries and for her a cup of coffee. The children tore into the food like  small hungry wolves.  “What are you,” the woman asked, “some kind of angel. “No,” he replied, “Angels are pretty busy this time of year, so in ;many cases  God has to use humans.”

She then shared her story about a worthless boyfriend, never to be seen again, who had left her with the three children. She was on her way to California where she would be reunited with her parents with whom she been estranged  for more than five years. They were willing to help their daughter and her children until she could get back on her feet, and were looking forward too meeting their grandchildren.

The doctor saw the woman on her way, and then returned to his car. Tomorrow he would take it in to his mechanic and find the problem. Getting into the car he had no trouble getting it started again, and he was certain that the mechanic would find nothing wrong.

 

SILVER BELLS, AND CHRISTMAS TIME BEFORE ALZHEIMER’S

Dear Readers:  December 10, 2016 — It’s that time of year once again, one where we think of others and strive to be more charitable and generous with our fellow man. As I thought about this blog, I’ve decided to share one I wrote in 2009 Some of the season’s treasurers are made up of sight and sound. So I think again of the sound of silver bells ringing. Come with me to another time and place.

CHRISTMAS TIME LONG AGO –My friend, Kenny, (not to be confused with my son Kenney nor my husband, Ken) loves winter and everything about it: the cold outside and the warmth inside,the threatening storm clouds filled with buckets of rain  or snow, and a blustery north wind eventually pushes him home for a cup of steaming hot chocolate, but most of all he loves Christmas and all that it represents.  And one of his favorite Christmas songs is “Silver Bells.”  No doubt written long before he was born, he hums the melody and chants the words reminding me of another time and place when Ken and I were young and living in the “City.”  The city for us being San Francisco, California.

When we were first married, we lived in a one-bedroom flat just north of Twin Peaks  and three long, steep blocks up the hill from Market Street.   Then it was down the hill to catch any street car taking us downtown to shop. 

Unlike my friend, Kenny, I never did memorize all  of the words to “Silver Bells,” but bits and pieces spring to mind when I think of me and Ken shopping for our first Christmas in the city, which was long before we ever heard the word Alzheimer’s. Let’s see, what were some of the words? 

“City sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in Holiday style….” Then it spoke of “children laughing, people smiling….,”   and somewhere it told of shoppers hurrying home with their treasures —  and the bells —  “Ring-a-ling, hear them sing….soon it will be Christmas Day….”  It is such a joyful song and the lyrics tell it just the way it was — and possibly still is – somewhere.   

I remember the two of us being part of the happy crowds along Market Street, dodging raindrops as we wandered from one department store to another until we reached the Emporium which was our favorite.  The windows were a panorama of Christmas: elaborate winter scenes with colorful lights and delightfully animated characters.  Everywhere, it seemed,  you could see the Salvation Army bell-ringers next to a donation kettle and when you listened you heard “Ring-a-line.” Whether the writers of the song were thinking of the donation kettles, or sleigh bells, we never knew, but it didn’t – and doesn’t – matter. It was the bell ringers we always thought about when we heard the song – and to this day it is their image, the cheerful volunteers, for the Salvation Army that enters my mind when I hear Silver Bells.

Years later, about  a week and a half before Christmas when Ken and I walked through our neighborhood to see the lights. he remembered he hadn’t done any Christmas shopping, I promised him we would go the following week.  Of course, Alzheimer’s prevented his remembrance of his earlier remark, but we went shopping anyway.  My list had a few empty spots so we drove to the Mall three nights in a row; short trips so Ken didn’t get too tired. Going near the dinner hour is a good time to shop, and grab a quick bite to eat for ourselves.  Either people are at home for the evening meal or inside the Mall at any one of the restaurants.  Furthermore the stores are less crowded, the lines to the registers comparatively short and they moved quickly.

I like the Malls.  They are warm and dry and convenient, but this year, somehow, I missed getting wet dodging those raindrops, and I’m not sure if I noticed as many smiling faces and laughing children, but most of all I missed the bells. 

In front of the Post Office, there was a bell-ringer and a donation kettle, but I don’t believe I saw any others.  I doubt that San Francisco’s Market Street would be any different.  The Emporium has long since been absorbed by Macy’s, its glory days gone, the display windows dark  and forgotten.  I miss that almost innocent, joyful spirit  from long ago — you know — the way you feel when you watch “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and I wonder if the bell-ringers and the donation kettles are as few and far between in San Francisco as they were here in suburbia.   Not having them  …….”on every street corner”……… with their silver bells somehow diminishes the celebration of the Season by giving and sharing our abundance.

This year of 2009 is now a Christmas past.  The hustle-bustle is over and so is the cherished music of the season.  I doubt we’ll be hearing “Silver Bells” any time soon and the donation kettle in front of the post office is gone.   

Our Christmas with family went very well and Ken did as best as he was able.  However, his AD has advanced considerably since last Christmas, and I know that soon I will need help in caring for him. 

Opening gifts was meaningless to him even though I coached him through the process.  Our daughter-in-law, Sabina, and our granddaughter, Jessica, baked him some cookies.  He was impressed with that gift.  “These are mine,” he proclaimed.  I thought to myself, “A bit of enthusiasm, how nice.”  While each passing year comes with a little more melancholy, I still acknowledge that I have much for which to be grateful, and I periodically pause to express my thanks to the All Mighty for blessings and for the birth of his holy Son, Jesus Christ, and the real reason for this joyous season.

However, I think I’ll go to the Mall tomorrow and pick up some silver bells at one of the big “After Christmas Holiday Decoration Sales,” but, I won’t be packing them away.  Instead, I’ll keep them close by and ring them periodically to remind me to keep on counting my blessings and that in spite of AD, life is good. In fact, it’s been a wonderful life.

AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE

TODAY IS A GOOD TIME TO BEGIN

December 9, 2016 – Recently – less than a month ago – most of us sat down to a Thanksgiving dinner and proclaimed our gratitude for all the good things that come into our lives such as family, friends, food on the table, a warm bed and heat in the furnace. And we are grateful, I do believe that. Yet, many pushed their chairs away from the table to scurry down to the mall to purchase more of what we had just given thanks for: more of whatever. I realize that much which was purchased, at the expense of spending precious time with friends and family, was in preparation for the busy, hustle-bustle Christmas holiday. There must be presents for all. I suppose it’s just our materialistic nature and over-the-top advertising that drives us too spend, often more than we can afford, in an effort to show everyone that we do really love them. What’s the answer to this compulsive buying? I don’t have one, but we can begin with gratitude for what we have.

GROCERY SHOPPING

Today I needed to refill my pantry, cupboards, and that big white box in the kitchen with many stock items that were either very low or I was completely out. That included fresh produce. Getting into the car and halfway to the grocery, I wondered if I had placed all the reusable bags back behind the seat or were they still sitting on a kitchen chair waiting to be returned to their proper place for the next trip for food. In California, in certain counties, and I live in one of them, any store that sells food of any kind no longer asks, “Paper or plastic?” You either bring your own bags or juggle your purchase home any way you know how. So I said to myself out loud, “Darn, I forgot my bags.” No big deal. You can buy bags at the grocery, but that goes against my grain. I have more bags at home than I know what to do with, and I don’t need more.

That’s when I thought about gratitude. Quickly I put my forgotten bags from my mind and moved onto what was important. I am grateful that I have a fully stocked store close by where I can buy anything I need. So instead of grumbling to myself about the forgotten bags I switched to being grateful for the convenience of a nearby grocery.

IT’S AN ATTITUDE

A young acquaintance of mine recently published his book on Amazon. The title tells the story. “Flip The Gratitude Switch.” Good advice, and we all should do that every time we find ourselves grumbling about any annoying problem we might believe we are suffering. Most of us are not suffering. Most live in a comfortable home with comforts and luxuries never before imagined by any society in the world.

What’s more, they tell me that with the technology out there we haven’t seen anything yet. That brings just a little bit of fear to my heart, but when good things come, I’m going to be grateful and strive not to grumble about the inconveniences of life. After all, my children survived having to walk through nine feet of olive green shag carpeting to change the TV channel, and then nine feet back to their chair, but they were grateful they had a television.

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