Laughter Through Tears


See that faint smile on his face? 

Even the confusion of dementia didn’t prevent him from appreciating a lovely lady like his therapist. He didn’t really understand who she was or the purpose of the therapy, but he followed along because she was so kind and, yes, very pretty! 

The dementia didn’t prevent him from being the manager that he was in a work career that spanned 45+ years. During those nine months in the Alzheimer’s unit, he often mistook the other residents as employees. One day my mom and I were sitting with Dad in the main visiting room. We were off to the side in chairs near the large fish tank. About seven other patients, all women, were seated around the long tables, in the various forms of regress that are the hallmarks of dementia. Dad motioned at the others, shaking his head with disgust, and informed us that he wasn’t sure “what was up” with these ladies.

“What do you mean Dad,” I inquired.

“They come here every morning at 6 am and just sit around all day doing nothing. I’m surprised they haven’t been fired yet. I’d fire them if they were my employees,” he informed us.

My mother and I looked at each other, startled and then quickly looked away, attempting to conceal our laughter.

The dementia didn’t prevent him from wanting to leave. He would ask us to bring the car around, so that we could go home. We’d have to tell him that he needed more therapy and couldn’t leave just yet. Those were the hardest moments, knowing he wasn’t ever going home. It was incomprehensible to me that he would never sit in his brown leather chair, or plant the tomatoes and onions by the garage, or make his daily rounds at the local grocery stores, mom’s list in hand. 

The dementia didn’t steal his appetite. He continued to eat the food that came to him on a tray three times a day. They weren’t like the meals mom cooked and towards the end it had to be pureed. We would bring him home cooked dishes and baked goods, which he ate with enthusiasm. I’d also bring McDonald’s french fries and chocolate milkshakes and other take out items that he used to love. It was incredibly satisfying to watch him enjoy his old favorites.

The dementia didn’t steal his sense of humor. I remember an incident, involving one of the other patients, that showed Dad could still appreciate a moment of levity. Dick was one of my favorite people in the unit. He was good-natured and smiling all the time. One day he stood up from his chair and gave a “reach for the sky” kind of stretch. As he stretched he began to pass gas loud enough for everyone to hear. It was a long, slow puttering sound that lasted about five full seconds, having no meaning for him or the other residents sitting nearby. Once again, my mom and I almost lost it, but we managed to control ourselves. At least until my Dad looked at us with a very obvious WTF expression and proceeded to roll his eyes and shake his head.

There were a few funny moments during the mostly somber months Dad spent in the nursing home and we’ll always remember them. Dad’s clarity at those times allowed us to see what remained of the father I had always known and loved. They were a true gift.


However, over time the dementia did steal every part of my Dad, including his life. Fortunately, the placement in the nursing home only lasted nine months. I had no idea the extent of my own depression and pain until the day he passed away.

I was with him at the end. The moment the hospice nurse announced that he was gone, I felt my spirit soar right along with his. With a smile and tears on my face I kissed his cheek, leaned close, and whispered: 

“Hey, Dad, guess what? The therapy is finished. You’re finally going home.”


Followers & Likers: You Rock!


The body is a house of many windows: there we all sit, showing ourselves and crying on the passers-by to come and love us. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

So, I showed myself and they came…125 so far. While I didn’t exactly cry on anyone, I was hoping that a few people out there would “love”me. Love, meaning pause long enough to read a post and connect (on some level) with my words and/or photos.

My blogging history is relatively short; I posted once in January and twice in March of 2015. I began regular blogging this past November. My purpose was two-fold: establish an on-line presence (very important in today’s job market) and to get my thoughts & feelings out of my head & heart. They can drive a person crazy and make you feel like you might explode from all the emotions!

A lot has occurred in these last few years and blogging is very therapeutic…all at a great price. While I was working full-time and finishing a college degree, my dad began to fall…a lot. After much doctoring and tests it was determined that he had dementia. This lead to a slow and heartbreaking decline that eventually landed him in a nursing home. He lasted nine months and passed away peacefully last March. I’m going to get around to writing more about those events; I’ve only written a couple so far:  Band Aids and Grown up Band Aids. These were some of my very first posts. 

There have been other changes as well.

  • I moved to Florida and joined my son, daughter-in-law, and daughter.
  • I left the comfort & familiarity of my little apartment.
  • I left my job of 18 years to pursue a new and better career.
  • I left my SO (significant other) to hopefully figure out his own issues; we’re doing a long distance relationship and taking it one day at a time.
  • I left my son, as well as my mom, brother & sister-in-law, and a sister.

These changes weren’t easy, but they were necessary. I’m still trying to figure out where I’m headed and what my purpose is now. For many years that purpose was clear, but not so much anymore. Change is a part of life and necessary for growth. I published a quote yesterday from Viktor Frankl that spoke to my own situation. I have lots of things that I want to do and experience. Right now I’m feeling a bit lost because I’m not yet working and I don’t have a place of my own. But, I’ll find my way; I always do.

Thank youI guess that’s what makes followers & likes so important; you know somebody is listening and affirming what you’re feeling. Like a good friend who drops in or calls unexpectedly, just when we need it most. Of course, we don’t have time to read or comment on every post, but it’s truly comforting to know you folks stop by once in awhile to listen or take a look.

So, thanks to all of my “followers and likers.” I’m glad I can share bits & pieces of my life with you through my blog and look forward to reading, learning and laughing more with you through yours!

A New Kind of December

Lying poolside in December and basking in 79 degree sunlight is truly a dream come true. After a lifetime of cold, snowy winters, I decided that I wanted to turn in my sherpa lined boots for flip flops.

Sandman SnowmanAs a kid, I loved sled-riding, building snow forts, and ice skating. The frigid temperatures never bothered me and snow days off from school were the icing on the cake!

Fast forward 30+ years and things have certainly changed. The only winter sports I engage in now involve clearing snow from my car and successfully traversing icy sidewalks and parking lots with the hope of not falling down.

I didn’t believe it would ever happen, until my son and daughter-in-law moved to Florida two years ago. When my daughter joined them this past summer, what had seemed unlikely suddenly became a possibility.

Aside from wanting milder winters and more sunshine, there were other things pushing me to move:

  • I  finally earned a college degree and was eager to find employment that would reward that effort both personally and financially. Good jobs in small towns aren’t plentiful, so I would have to consider moving anyway.
  • I spent the last three years helping mom care for my dad who had dementia. He passed away last March, but my mom has grown increasingly dependent on others, in addition to suffering several falls. As the child living the closest, I would (once again) be the main caretaker. This would force me to remain in my current job, for the foreseeable future, without any chance of personal growth.
  • The relationship with my significant other was comfortable in some ways, but after nine years I needed a commitment for more than a dating relationship. Because he was dealing with issues of his own, I believed our future was limited.

So, I side-stepped all my fears and left. I’m currently job searching and am being somewhat particular about which ads I answer. I want my choice of prospective employers to be the right one. I’m enjoying the time off with blogging and other projects that I never found time to do. Lately, I feel guilty about not applying to more positions.

My mom is living with my brother and his wife, which is a much safer situation for her, since he works from home. Because I came to Florida she had to give up her house and move, which she’s not happy about. More guilt.

Within two days of telling my significant other that I was leaving to seek new opportunities, he began the process of change that I had been hoping for. Always loving and supportive, he encouraged me to “spread my wings,” but is hoping that I will return to share a new and improved life with him. Yep, you guessed it…even more guilt.

Lying under this palm tree I’m thinking about how happy I am on one level, yet feeling guilty for the above mentioned reasons. Then it struck me:

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another. ~ Anatole France

I’ve apparently got some self-reflection and work ahead.