If we could look back on all of the people who have helped make up our life’s tapestry what would it look like?  Colorful, I’m sure — often brilliant in its scope and varied in texture.   Supposing all of those people were represented by a different color — not a racial thing — colors from the Crayola box and no one can choose the same color.  Now look to see how those colors come and go — in and out of our tapestry —  each entry bringing new vibrancy, contrast and dimension.   At times,  though, our people must pack up their color and move away, but there are times when the color is gone because of a misunderstanding, lack of compromise, anger, grievance or whatever?   The reasons friends and often family members leave our lives isn’t important.  It’s what we do about it that counts.  Do we hang on to the anger/frustration/hurt or do we let it go, and in letting it go is the loom of life left open for more weaving with those colors later on, or it is closed?

On that tapestry there is a major section where there are two dominating colors:  him and her — male and female — husband and wife.  There are times when those colors are bright and other times when they appear dull.  While it is natural to not always agree — and that’s all right — the colors can be dimmed even more over little neglects, hurts, offenses or lack of appreciation just to name a few of the myriad of complaints that are a part of two people living together.   Take note, however, this isn’t about the serious crimes in relationships and marriages which might bring about breaking up or divorce.  It’s about the little irritating (and sometimes not so little) things and about letting them go.  I suppose this is all about forgiveness.

In the beginning of our marriage I was, admittedly, a pouter.  And I was very good at it.  Whenever there was a slight (and believe me I can hardly recall what most of them were) I would pout for a while — perhaps even a day or two.   Ken agonized while I pouted and finally he would apologize.  That’s what I was after:  “I’m sorry.”  Not only did his words say what was important so did his big, sad, hazel eyes.  An apology was always followed by immediate forgiveness on my part.   We never exchanged harsh words or names, nor did we yell at one another.  I pouted and he apologized:  our m.o. for years and years.

One evening at our home after a neighbor secretly spiked our already delicious punch, Ken got a bit tipsy (along with several other unsuspecting guests).  Recognizing his carefree state of being he announced to everyone in the room that I was going to be really angry with him.  Then he added,  “Well, at least this time I’ll know what I did wrong.  I’ve been apologizing for the last 15 years and I never knew for what.”   After that declaration I took note.   When he offended me I told him immediately why I was angry.  Total communication.  I was mad and he knew why.  Furthermore, his apology didn’t come as quickly as they had in the past because he now had to recognize what he had done and make amends.  Pouting — perhaps.  Apology — probably.  Letting it go — forgiving — eventually.

Alzheimer’s has taught me differently — just let it go — now.   When you live on a roller coaster, emotions carry you to highs and lows you never thought possible.  At times I have seethed with frustration and often feel anger to a point where I have to leave the room over things my stricken husband says or does.  Then a few minutes or hours later when he has forgotten he’ll seek me out looking so bewildered and with sadness in his eyes will ask, “Did I do something to make you upset?”    I know he can’t help not remembering, he can’t help being arrogant at times, he can’t help lashing out at me in his own frustration.  Then I hear his words as he recognizes me once again and he says, “If I have upset you, I’m sorry.”  I am swept with a feeling of calm, and to my own surprise I can truthfully answer, “No.  You didn’t do anything wrong.  Everything is okay.”  I have learned to let it go even when there can be no apology.

As I review my life’s tapestry there are a few earlier threads which have clashed with my present color scheme and in retrospect I don’t miss their shades and hues.  My tapestry is beautiful without them.   The past is gone and all is forgiven.  It’s just a matter of letting go and remembering the advice of a dear friend who said, “True forgiveness is remembering without pain.”

Originally posted 2009-05-04 02:09:34.


This gallery contains 1 photo.

Various capital 'A' letters.

These simple tips for Alzheimers Care will help you in your caregiving  tasks.

January 29, 2016 – Alzheimers Care as a whole is difficult. Caregivers have a lot on their plate. Furthermore, there is no due date on this mission of mercy. There are times when it appears to be endless as the months turn into years, and no one has an answer. According to studies on Alzheimer’s disease it can last 20 years or more. Unlike measles or mumps there is no time limit, nor will there be a scheduled time when the disease will be over.

Meanwhile, caregivers endure as best they can. Suggestions and help to me were always welcome. Though this may seem succinct, these brief descriptions offer a lot of important advice. From a booklet I have read published by the Alzheimer’s Aid Society of Northern California, “A Practical Guide For the Alzheimer Caregivers, complied by John and Bea Gorman, they have introduced ten A’s for Alzheimer’s Care. Check it over and put to use whatever you may find helpful in your daily battle against this or any disastrous disease.



ALLOW – as much freedom as possible.

ACTIONS – help when verbal communications fail.

ASSUME – the patient can understand you.

APPRECIATE – good moments and good days.

APPROPRIATE– activities help pass time, reduce agitation & boredom

AGITATION – can be alleviated if you stay calm, reassuring and respectful.

ADULTS – Mental level is not always equal to social level.

ADAPT – the task to fit the ability. Break tasks into steps.

ASSESSMENT – Ongoing. What is safe and works now, may not later

on. Keep watching, evaluating and be open to changes.

Originally posted 2016-01-30 18:32:32.

old man at a concert hall

Ken had his own excuses, but when we did manage to get ready and go, we had a good time.


November 6, 2015 – “I can get ready, or I can go, but I can’t get ready and go” was one of my mother’s favorite phrases as her Alzheimer’s continued to limit her once endless activities. It was during the last few weeks of living in their beautiful country home in Sonoma County, California. I was there to pack their house and be ready for the rest of the family who would arrive when I said “Ready, get set, go.” At that point the family would show up with trucks in all sizes, shapes and capacities. Once everything was loaded and we began a caravan it all looked like a scene from the movie “Grapes of Wrath,” especially with the borrowed cattle truck bulging with boxes and various pieces of furniture.

But while I was working in getting the place packed I suggested that we clean up and go to Occidental, a tiny little town nearby, famous for their delicious Italian dinners. I knew it would be a long time, if ever, that the folks would be in the area again. “Come on Mama, let’s get ready, and then we can go,” I encouraged, as she scurried around looking for her favorite warm sweater. “Well,” she said in a casual manner, “I can get ready, or I can go, but I can’t get ready and go” For her each request had become a challenging chore. We settled on just going. The restaurants in Occidental were casual in every sense of the word. So dad and I settled on just going. The meal was wonderful, and I know they, especially Dad, would miss their favorite quick dinner and it’s convenient location, just two miles from their home.


Ken never used my mom’s quote. He had his own. “I can’t go,” he would explain as soon as I said, “Let’s go.” “I have too much to do here, or I’m in charge here, and I can’t leave the house without some-one to watch things while I’m gone.” Tip-toeing around his excuses looking to counter whatever he said so we could be on our way wasn’t easy, but I usually persevered and soon we were on our way to wherever I had planned.


One evening I had planned that we attend a festive concert at one of our church buildings where it was all right to wear casual clothes instead of our Sunday best. I was doubly happy because some of the large buildings can be cool, if not downright cold, so wearing our jeans was a good thing. We easily found seats and waited for the performance to begin when suddenly I knew I needed to go to the ladies’ room. If I took Ken with me he could wander away, or we would probably lose our seats, and we had good seats. I was sitting between Ken and another man that I had seen now and then at services and other events. Quietly I explained that my husband had Alzheimer’s and I needed to be gone for a few minutes. I also mentioned to him that Ken mustn’t wander because of his AD. “I’ll be happy to care for him while you’re gone so don’t worry. He’ll be fine.” I left and was back in record time and Ken was just fine. My volunteer said that Ken did want to leave and look for his wife, but my new friend convinced his charge that I would be right back. The evening was worth every effort and I do believe that even Ken enjoyed getting out for a bit of entertainment.

It doesn’t take a village to care for Alzheimer’s patients, it just takes a lot of thoughtful people and I have been blessed with many of them.

Originally posted 2015-11-08 04:23:59.



April 24, 2015No matter who, Alzheimer’s appears to be

unraveling mind

The slowly unraveling mind is an everyday part of the Alzheimer’s World.

waiting for it’s next victim striking at friends, neighbors and family. As my husbands former caregiver – he passed in October 2014 – it would seem that not a day goes by but I don’t hear of another person entering the Alzheimer’s world, another diagnosed case of AD causing untold grief to another family. This time it’s the father of one of my young friends. Continue reading

Originally posted 2015-04-28 06:28:48.


Hands touching on a bed.

One of the hardest decisions I ever made, choosing care and comfort for my spouse.


October 26, 2014 – When do we actually make life decisions? It was many years ago when both Ken and I were younger and much healthier than we have been these past few months. A long time before either of us thought about a life-ending situation. We were new grandparents back then with decades ahead of us when we would watch this new generation grow and develop as they rebelled and struggled, as did their parents, before reaching adulthood.


It was one of those evenings when either my heart was palpating or Ken was having a Crohn’s disease attact that we entered the ER of our HMO hospital explaining our need to see a doctor and be evaluated.

Taking the needed information the admitting nurse then asked,

“Have you filled our your Advance Directives?”

“No,” one of us replied. “What are Advance Directives?”

Within a few minutes she had covered all the information they would like to have on file which would state our wishes if we were unable to converse with authorities at some later date. She then slid the forms across the counter for us to take home and fill out.

It was one of the most  important life decisions one can make. But admittedly, this was not at the top of our “To do” list so they were placed with another stack of papers to do later.


And it was later, much later when I ran across them as I was going through stacks of papers as we do periodically when cleaning and tossing, especially the office.

I briefly looked them over once again and said to Ken, “As much as we want to ignore this, it is wise to get it done so the hospital will have them on file. We just don’t know what the future has in store.”He agreed, even though neither of us planned on leaving the planet on the next bus.” Our discussion suddenly became serious as we perused each section discussed these important decisions.

“If I can’t have a quality life, then I don’t want any heroic measures taken to prolong my existence,” he said. On that we both agreed


So if there are no breathing machines, what do we want them to do was the question at hand? Did we want life prolonged with a feeding tube? Did we want a possible bout of pneumonia reversed with a treatment of antibiotics? A UTI infection?

We both agreed that there would be no feeding tube, but backed down again when it came to treating pneumonia and other infections. It was then that Ken remembered what he had said following the funeral of his parents as each had succumbed to Alzheimer’s loosing all memories and just lying in bed waiting to die, but not knowing it. “I don’t want to end up like my parents,” he had declared with absolute finality.


So when the ER doctor asked, “Do you want us to treat him with antibodics for his infections?” which had already been put in place. With my son, Keith, nearby, I said, “Remove the antibodics.”

“We’ll get him a room, and change the instructions to “Care and comfort only,” the doctor said kindly.

Those were the most difficult words I have ever spoken, but remembering his words of years before,” and having witnessed his illness for what seemed forever I knew we had made the right decision. He had already lived with more than 14 years battling Alzheimer’s. Heal the infections and bring him back to face more of the same? Why?


Allowing him to go and not have to continue the terrible journey into the dark corners of the AD dungeon was my final act of loving this man who had been everything to me for nearly 65 years. How could I not let his spirit soar back to God who is our home?

Originally posted 2014-10-26 15:04:15.



Sad and happy theater masks

Many people with Alzheimer’s can be moody, adding to the difficulties of caregiving.

May 2, 2013 – Ken’s personality was never moody or mean. In fact it was the opposite: friendly and kind. Alzheimer’s, as it intrudes into the brain, does often have a negative effect on the victim’s actions.


Eating is a good example of the good things in his life. He enjoys every meal placed before him and eats with gusto. Everything is good to him, especially desert. He responds to the finale of a good meal with bright eyes and raised eyebrows right from the first bite. If the eyes could speak they would say, “Mmmmm, that’s good.”

Getting back to bed at night after a long day of routine is a good thing for my husband. His appearance shows a pleasant look on his face, which is relaxed and quiet. Within a few minutes he drifts off to sleep, and another day as his battle with Alzheimer’s is over for a few hours. Following a good night’s sleep, he’s ready for another day. Ken loves to go places, even to the doctors. although getting in and out of the car is difficult for all of us, taking a trip to see his doctor is not unpleasant. He is always cooperative with his doctor as he takes Ken’s blood pressure and checks his vitals. If Ken’s caregivers were ever as intrusive as his doctor, they would receive a push, punch or shove. Even when having his blood drawn, Ken is pleasant and cooperative.

Having his hair cut might not be something he looks forward to, but he doesn’t seem to mind. I still cut his hair rather than take him to a barber, and again he is very cooperative. Possibly, Like the doctor’s office or hospital surroundings, there must be something familiar and all right with the procedure. That’s good for David and me. It would be difficult to keep him tidy looking if he were thrashing about and fighting us, but he isn’t. He is also calm when he gets a shave.


Cleanup-time is not Ken’s favorite. As a very private person, he still likes his privacy, but David and Crizaldo make every effort to not rile him. Sometimes, though, the cleaning job must be completed. There are days during the process when he does get upset. The other day, even though Ken’s hands are restrained, he managed to bring the double fist straight up and bloody David’s nose. David, however, knows such happenings go with the job. Ken’s Alzheimer’s no longer gives him coordinated speech to be threatening as he was last year. One of the personality parts remaining with Ken is his gratitude. While not remembering giving David a bloody nose, he seems to know that when the day is over, or after a meal, he has a feeling of appreciation, and will often say, “Thank you very much.” The remark is not addressed to anyone, in particular, just an expression of gratitude. Hearing him be a little bit of the person he made me happy, if only for a little while. What can family and others expect when dealing with their moody loved one? It seems to be another quirk of the disease where the caregivers need to adjust. Choosing to never take their moody AD behavior personally is a start for caregivers to get over these difficult character changes. Remembering that being moody is not necessarily a choice for the person with Alzheimer’s. Caregivers need to learn to take unreasonable behavior in stride, and for the patient it is normal.

Originally posted 2014-05-04 00:55:25.



Sad globe with Alzheimer's.

Living in the Alzheimer’s world is confusing to both those who have the disease and their caregivers.


 It’s different now.  Holidays are different.  Life is different.  Our world is different. We now live in the World of Alzheimer’s, a place we would have never chosen.  But then, we don’t always get to choose the road where life takes us.  However, we do adjust.  That’s what one of Ken’s caregivers Crizaldo said, when we talked about world conditions and the never-ending problems constantly on the horizon. “No matter where we are or what happens,” he said, “it’s how we adjust that’s important.”


Living in the Alzheimer’s world is always a learning situation.  We learn early on that our loved one is constantly changing often taking on different personalities, some we don’t much like, but that’s not the point.  The loved one is still our loved one and the disease is taking them into a place they don’t much like either.  Our friend Ila of long ago must have known somehow that she was falling into a deteriorating condition.  There were times when she would ask her husband or friends, “What’s happening to me?”  My own mother would say, “Something’s wrong with me.”  Gripping onto who they had been, both women were puzzled as they recognized changes which must have been a very frightening experience for them.  As friends, family and cargivers we need to know how to ease their worries and set their minds to rest.  When memory is illusive it’s all right to change the subject.  If they have been diagnosed then we can just blame it onto the disease.  If not the patient can feel at ease knowing they are scheduled to see their doctor.


 Check your community.  My friend Darline goes to adult daycare three times during the week. This is not only good for the AD patient, it’s good for her daughter caregiver to have a break.  Activities at daycare may resemble nursery school, but that’s all right.  Whatever keeps the Alzheimer’s patient occupied is a gift and just what they need.


 At home activities can be something the patient has been doing all their life.  I gave my mom, who had been an expert seamstress and needle woman, a small square of quilting so she could stitch the layers together.  Unfortunately, she had lost her sewing skills and complained about the needle and the thread, and then handed the project back to me.   Perhaps I had overestimated her capabilities and it was too complex at that point in her disease so I gave her a box of trim to untangle.  This she did with great relish.  It was a challenge which she understood and did by gently undoing knots and tangles, and then she rolled each piece into a ball. When one thing doesn’t work, then try something else.


 Yes, life with Alzheimer’s is different, but it’s when we finally accept where we are and where our loved one is, that together we can move on.  I try to think of this experience as my Alzheimer’s husband’s caregiver as just another chapter in our book of life. Remember they can’t help what has happened to them so it’s our responsibility to help them through their confusing Alzheimer’s world. 

Alzheimer’s World photo courtesy of Creative Commons.


Originally posted 2014-02-02 18:46:45.

The Suprising Optimism of An Alzheimer’s Caregiver

This gallery contains 1 photo.


Lipizzaner Stallions

In reality, going to see the Lipizzaner Stallions would be impossible, but my optimistic self sometimes forgets.


November 15, 2014 –  As Ken’s caregiver for the past ten years I know with certainty that he isn’t going to get better, yet sometimes even myflash- optimism surprises me.  Of course he has some days that are better than others, but in the grand scheme of life and fate my husband is deep into Alzheimer’s disease.  And yet, there are times when I do forget – not really forget – but have a flash-moment every so often when I think of his illness as simply a bad cold or some other temporary setbnack.  You remember times when you  thought of things in the future when you said to yourself, “When he/she gets better we’ll go here or there, and “He would really enjoy seeing that, or he always  said he wanted to try sushi, especially with that super hot sauce.


 I believe it’s part of the human psyche  to be optimistic about the future and to think of times when things are better – at least things being better — if not the person.

 Recently when I have watched “Wheel Of Fortune” and the player wins a holiday at some distant exotic and exciting get-away island I think to myself.  Ken would enjoy a week there, and the flash-thought is immediately followed by, “ When he gets better we’ll have to check it out.”


 Several years ago I noticed numerous TV ads for the Lipizzaner Stallion shows.  A special breed of horse which has been trained in almost ballet performances where riders and horses are spectacularly graceful together.  World famous they travel throughout Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States.  Every time the ads were shown my mind dipped and I thought Ken would really enjoy watching that show. We had often talked about getting tickets in the past, but never did.  So, when he gets better, we’ll go. These thoughts, are momentary and brief because reality quickly sets in reminding me that my husband is deep into Alzheimer’s and cannot go with me, nor can we explore the new sushi restaurant that just opened uptown.


The poet John Greenleaf Whittier wrote, “For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, It might have been.”

But I don’t dwell on what might have been lamenting what Ken and I cannot do any more.  I strive to recall the good times we’ve had together and offer my gratitude prayers for what has been positive rather than dwell in what was possible had Ken not slipped away into Alzheimer’s disease.  Because this is reality and this is the moment, and this is where we live right now so it would be foolish to spend time and energy lamenting what we couldn’t do and can’t control.Yet, I am certain there will be times when something exciting comes my way and my underlying optimistic flash-thought, “When Ken gets better we’ll do that,” will run through my mind because that’s who I am.

Originally posted 2013-11-17 04:11:29.



Cat hiding under a blanket

A playful game of peek-a-boo with Gouda the cat helped me make a spring resolution to schedule time for “goofing off” and taking better care of me.


April 26, 2013 — I haven’t made New Year’s resolutions for many years, but I have decided to make a resolution this spring: to take better care of me.  As a caregiver that is often the most difficult of all tasks.  Being the first assistant to Ben and Crizaldo in caring for my Alzheimer’s husband Ken I do manage to visit friends, meet people for lunch and see some of the latest movies, but the one area which I have neglected terribly is taking care of the physical me.


 When Ken was well, especially after he retired and before AD we went to the gym and actually worked out three times a week.  Plus, he (some days coaxing me to go along) walked the dogs along the bay. Last year I managed to get to the gym all of a dozen times, if that many, although it was and is on my Monday, Wednesday and Friday to-do list.  Even though it remains at the top of my TDL the gym does manage to slip by the wayside when the list gets too long.

 At one time I also did a half-hour workout on my living room floor, but even that has been dropped from my Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday routine.  Nor have I been walking.  All of these activities have fallen into an “I don’t want to and I don’t care” bad-attitude phase.  I have asked me many times the “Why” question, but haven’t found a good answer.


Having lunch one day with my friend Madalyn I mentioned that I really didn’t care that my car needed some TLC, even though I felt a little embarrassed about picking her up with so much grime on the outside of my reliable vehicle. 

“I just don’t care,” I apologized, and then repeated the IJDC about a few other things on the list.

“Do you know that not caring can be a sign of depression and stress,” she said.

I have always thought I had a good handle on the depression demon and actually don’t feel too stressed.  However, I must admit that I have been hampered about getting things done because I have fallen into the habit of not caring.  Thinking I would start to care again once the warm weather arrived, the days grew longer and our skies were clear and blue, it was easy to procastinate.  I was certain I would snap right back into wanting to get the car washed – and caring – but it wasn’t happening.  Perhaps Madalyn was right.  Could I kick the “I just don’t care” attitude, feel better and less stressed if I could get beyond this rebelliousness?  Possibly, but how? 


Kristina dropped by for a quick visit and to give Ken his monthly vitamin B shot.  She is a very “up” person and right now she lives her life with her secondary goal as having fun.  That doesn’t mean to say she doesn’t earn a living.  She does and enjoys her work as a caregiver for disabled people, and has been wonderful, at times, helping with her Alzheimer’s grandfather.  Right now, though, she and her boyfriend are pretty much into amusement when they aren’t working, and she mentioned looking forward to the weekend so she could goof off.

“Hummmm,” I hummed, how long has it been since I goofed off wondering if I still knew how.  Ken, before AD, knew how to goof off and was an expert.  Watching sports on TV was goofing off and visiting with the neighbors instead of cutting the lawn were two of his favorite goof off non-activities.  I’m not sure if wives were as good at this talent as are their husbands, especially if life dishes them a full plate of Alzheimer’s complete with accessorized ramifications. there lives would perk alone like the early morning brew — bubbly and strong.   I’ll have to think about resurrecting this goof-off idea.


Gouda the cat and I have a continuing contest over “Whose bed (chair) is this anyway?”  She either occupies my computer chair or the bed after I get up.  So far it’s a standoff.  Going in the other day to make up the bed I pulled at the covers which immediately awakened the ball-of-fur feline.  Instead of leaving her comfort zone she attacked the moving blankets.  I pulled and she dove into the exchange. “Fun,” her action declared.

My arm went under several layers of blankets for protection from her sharp, needle-point claws which were in full flight as I snaked my hand in every which direction across the bottom sheet.  She was doing what cat’s do best — chasing  a moving object.  I reacted with full participation – always guarding against Gouda’s prowess skills and weapons which now included teeth and her back feet.  Bounding here and there she was all over the “map.” My armored arm, hand and fingers became her prey as she challenged them from on top of the swathed surface.  After several minutes I said to myself, “Good grief, I’m playing with the cat.”  Do you suppose that could be considered goofing off?  Playing?  Wasting time?  Indulging in nonsense?  If that’s what it’s called – then this could be the start of something big.  I’ll put that on my to-do list: schedule goof-off time — ten minutes to play with the cat — well, maybe at least five.

Originally posted 2013-04-27 12:08:07.


lonely desert road

A lonely stretch of desert highway similar to where Buddy had his accident


For the most part I dislike nicknames.  When I met Ken he was introduced to me as “Bud.”  Bud, I thought, he doesn’t look like a Bud.  Actually, I didn’t even know what a Bud was supposed to look like.  Perhaps someone small, around seven with no front teeth, but this Bud had his teeth and was over six feet, and rather handsome.  I just knew I didn’t like the name, Bud.  In making further conversation he mentioned that his uncles back in Colorado liked to call him Buckshot.


Ugh, that was worse than Bud was my second thought: “Buckshot?  Why?”

“Just nicknames,” he continued.

“Do you have a real name,” I questioned?

“Ken,” he answered.  “My full name is Kenneth Richard Romick,” but most everyone calls me Bud.  All of my life I have been Bud, and my sister Loretta has been Sis.”

“Do you mind if I call you Ken,” I asked. Continue reading

Originally posted 2013-04-14 00:21:22.

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