Happy Mother’s Day

With Mother’s Day being celebrated this Sunday, I wanted to pay homage to ALL MOTHER’S (and this means all individuals who fit the role of a Mother regardless of gender) who selfishly give of themselves, day in and day out.

(Just so you know, I wrote the following Mother’s Day Blog Post 2 years ago. I re-read it for I didn’t want to re-hash anything I had already written but I thought it appropriate to repost it with a few additional words and photos. The additions will be in italics and bold.)

Holidays. There are so many holidays on the calendar that it’s difficult to keep track of them all. Some of them are legitimate and some are just made up for some reason or another.
The one holiday that I truly believe is the holiday of holidays is Mother’s Day. The reason I say this is because, without Mother’s, none of us would be here. Sure, the Father’s had a little something to do it with it but the Mother’s are the ones that carry the burden.

In an effort to explain the importance of Mother’s, I went to merriam-webster.com to look up the definition of “Mother.”Mother's Day
This is what I found:
a :  a female parent
b    (1):  a woman in authority; specifically:  the superior of a religious community of women
      (2) :  an old or elderly woman

First, let me say I believe Merriam-Webster needs an update.
Second, I apologize to all Mother’s, both female and male (who assume the role) for the insincerity of the definition.

While I am no expert, and not a recent guest of a Holiday Inn Express, (hope you get the joke) I would like to give my own definition, or explanation, of what a Mother is.

A Mother is someone who:
– can soothe anything, no matter what the age, with a hug and a kiss
– will fiercely protect her family like a lioness protects her cubs
– praises their children for the good they accomplish but also holds them accountable for any and all of their wrongdoings
– can make your favorite meal impossible to replicate because of her “secret special ingredient.”
– can assume the role of sole provider when no other support is available or not given
– can assume the role of caregiver of a spouse/significant other, parent or grown child when that individual is no longer able to support or provide for themselves.
– rises from her sickbed to take care of her family no matter how bad she feels
– consistently puts others before themselves
– loves unconditionally

A Mother's Love

I could go on and on, however, I think you can see that a Mother cannot be defined by any one definition, especially by the definition provided by our friends in the dictionary profession. A Mother’s definition (can change on a daily or hourly basis or at a moments’ notice.) Defining a Mother is almost impossible because of the infinitive person he/she is.

In addition to caring for her children, most Mother’s are also wives, which involves taking care of a “bigger child” with a different set of issues altogether. Most of the time, that “bigger child” has no clue as to what his wife does on a daily basis because he is too busy complaining about his day, playing golf, getting together with his friends, playing X-Box, Fantasy Football, etc. (Just to be clear, I am not grouping all Men/Husbands into this category, but YOU know who you/they are.)  😉

(My Mother was a stay-at-home wife and Mother. She not only cared for her 5 children (all born within 10 years) she also cared for my Father who, those of you that knew him, could be more than a handful. She did everything that was asked of her and more.
As her own parents aged and then became ill (my Grandmother, unable to walk due to a spinal issue and my Grandfather with Alzheimer’s) my Mother and her sister cared for them.
Later, my mother helped my Sister take care of her daughter, Mary, who was taken from us in 1998 due to Cystic Fibrosis.
Then my Mother helped take care of her own sister Carol until her early death.

She was one of the strongest women I have ever known, but I see a lot of her in my Sister as well as my wife Shannon, who is now my Primary Caregiver. Like I said about my father, those of you who know me understand what a job that must be for Shannon. She is more than a wife and Mother, to me, she is My Hero!

So, for most of my life, I’ve been surrounded by these very strong women, women who have put themselves and their needs last for the benefit of the families they care(d) for.
I know there are many other Mothers in the world who are just like the women I know and love, but as usual, they fly under the radar, some staying as far back in the background as they can so that their “SUPERPOWERS” can remain a secret. However, those that truly know and love them, their secrets have long been revealed.

In my definitions of a Mother, one of the things I stated was, A Mother is someone who: rises from her sickbed to take care of her family no matter how bad she feels.
When my Mother was stricken with Alzheimer’s, over time she forgot how to do things, forgot what things were, but she still tried. She still had that Motherly Instinct inside trying to get out.

Finally, when she lost her ability to speak, she would sing. (She sang in church for over 40 years and she loved movie soundtracks, especially The Sound of Music. When she would clean, she would put that soundtrack on and just sing away as she cleaned the house.) Although Alzheimer’s took away her speech, she kept that perfect pitch. No longer knowing the words she would make up words or say la la la la, but I could recognize the song. I truly believe it was her way of saying, “Here, let me make YOU feel better by singing to you!.” Even if that wasn’t true, I don’t care. No one can disprove it so I believe it to be true because that’s who my Mother was . . . and although no longer of this earth, STILL IS!

(As a side note, in the last few hours of her life, I was the one singing to her. My sister held the phone up to her ear and I sang her a song.
There was eye movement as I sang as if she was actually hearing my voice. It is said of Individuals with Alzheimer’s, the hearing is last to go. My sister and I will ALWAYS believe she heard the music she so loved. A few hours later, she passed away. With that said, NO ONE will ever tell me the power of music does not matter.) 

Mom's Hands
(I’m not sure of the date of this photo but I do know this is the last photo I have of my Mom and me. She NEVER, EVER went out of the house without makeup on or her hair done, let alone take a photo with no makeup on so I didn’t dare post a photo of her with no make-up or with her hair not done. I wanted everyone to remember her how she was . . . BEAUTIFUL!
At one point during my visit, she reached for my hand with both of hers and we just held hands in silence, looking at each other, she towards the end of her Life with Alzheimer’s and I, just starting out. I’m so glad I was able to capture this moment and although we were silent, I felt we had a great conversation.

So to all the Mother’s in the world, regardless of whether you’re married, divorced, single, an adoptive Mother, a Father filling the role of a Mother, I hope your Mother’s Day is everything you want/need/hope it to be. We all know you deserve much more than just 1 day a year and hopefully, you receive it.

(I will never forget one of the priests at St. Agnes Parish in New Orleans, Fr. McCallion. He had a very strong Northern accent, but it fit right in with what we call a “New Orleans Accent.” Anyway, even to this day, at the end of his homily, I can still hear him giving his Mother’s Day wish as only he could.
” . . . and lastly, I would like to wish all you Mudda’s and Happy Mudda’s Day!”
It would get as big a laugh as it just gave me when I typed it.

So, in the words of Fr. Mac . . . HAPPY MUDDA’S DAY to my Mom, my Sister, my wife and to each and every Mother who reads this!

Until Next Time . . .
Peace!
B

Mother's Day

Don’t Wait until it’s Too Late!

Don’t Wait until it’s Too Late!

It’s Valentine’s Day once again . . . the yearly celebration of love, romance, flowers, chocolate and Hallmark cards. It’s a Day set aside every year to remind those of whom we love just how much their love is appreciated.

For those of us with Alzheimer’s, we may not remember from one day to the next what day it actually is. Tomorrow, we may forget that today was Valentine’s Day, yet we will still tell (and show) our Spouse/Significant Other/Family/Care Partner just how much we love them. For us, without really knowing, every day could be Valentine’s Day and we wouldn’t have a clue.

 

calendar
My actual calendar

To be honest, the only reason I know It’s Valentine’s Day is because it says so on my calendar. It may sound strange but I no longer know what day it is. I go by the numbers of the month. I sort of know when the weekend is because everyone will be home. I still won’t know if it’s a Saturday or Sunday but I will know it’s a weekend. 3 day weekends, however, confuse the hell out of me. Looking at the calendar now, I see tomorrow is Presidents Day . . . a holiday . . . CONUFUSION DAY!!! LOL

 

But back to Valentine’s Day. I tell my Wife / Care Partner / Best Friend Shannon “I LOVE YOU” several times a day. I do the same with Asheton and Bradley. For Shannon, I will write her a note and leave it on her pillow or bedside table, send her a text or an e-mail, not just on a holiday, Anniversary or special day, but on any day, at the moment I think of it. If I don’t, I’ll forget. For the kids, I’ll send them a corny joke or just a little something just so they know I am thinking about them.

Why should we wait for a special romantic holiday to tell our special someone how much we love them and how much we appreciate all they do for us? One day, we will not be able to communicate those things with whom we love the most. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my family to ever wonder how much I loved them or if I ever appreciated them. I want the last words they ever hear from me, the last words I want them to remember me saying, is “I LOVE YOU!”

I guess what I am trying to say is, don’t wait for a holiday to come along to tell your lovedIMG_1559 ones just how much you love them. And no, I’m not just speaking as someone with Alzheimer’s, I’m speaking just as a person. You never know when that “last time” you see or speak to someone will be. So, don’t let a card say the words for you. Say the words with your own voice. Don’t wait until you’re not able to communicate to then try to communicate your feelings. Tell them now and tell them often.

Although I won’t remember saying those words to them or hearing those words from them, they will remember hearing those words from me and hopefully, feel them in their heart forever.

To me, that’s all that matters.

PEACE,
B

The “IS” is Now

The “IS” is Now

At this time of year, most everyone starts looking back at the past 12 months with wonder as to where the time has gone. Please don’t think I’m more confused than I already am. I know it’s Christmas Eve and not New Year’s Eve. I’m just getting a jump start.

You may be thinking:
Were my New Year’s Resolutions successfully carried out?
Were plans, made early in the year, brought to fruition?
Did I become the better person I set out to be?
Why didn’t I start that Christmas Saving account like I planned?

It’s the natural thing to do. It helps to look at the un-dones and positively plan for the future, a future we don’t know.

As for me, Alzheimer’s has taken away my abilities to look at the immediate past with clarity. I’m not saying that for you to feel sorry for me, I’m just letting you know. I can see some of the past but most of it is guesswork.

The phrase, “You cannot change your past” comes to mind so there’s really no use in looking back or dwelling upon the “what if’s!”
So I look for the postive’s in having Alzheimer’s. It helps get me through each day. You see, the only thing I can do at this point is to “Live in the Moment” and enjoy those moments to the best of my ability.

So, on this Christmas Eve . . .
I will not look to the past for accomplishments or miscues
I will not look to the future for I have no idea what waits for me

I will look at the beautiful face of the woman who has pledged her love and life to me and be so very, unbeleievably thankful she has put up with me through all of this.

I will look at the faces of my 21 and 15 young adult children who each and every day day give me not only their love, but their support, kindness and patience.

I will think about my 28 year old son and the young man he has turned out to be.

I will think about the little, tiny Yorkie-Chihuahua fur ball named Dallas who has made such a difference in my every day life.

I guess not having the ability to look at the past makes it easier to look at the here and now. The past is what we had, the present is what we have now and the future, well, there’s no certainty as to what we will have.

So, if you like, you can join me on this Christmas Eve, not thinking about what was, or thinking about what will be, but instead about what is. The “IS” is right here, right now.
Enjoy It . . . Experience It!
The “IS” is now!

Until Next Time,
PEACE and Merry Christmas!

B

 

 

The One Good Thing

The One Good Thing

The one good thing, if there is such a thing, about having Early-Onset Alzheimer’s is the long term memories are still intact. They pop up at any time, day or night, with no rhyme or reason. They are just there like an old friend, ready to reminisce and bring a smile.

At 55 years old, I have a lot of memories floating around in my head. Being it’s the Christmas season, those memories are of growing up with my brothers and sister, racing to the Christmas Tree on Christmas morning to see what Santa brought us. Mag_transRED_AM-62_webI’ll never forget my first transistor radio. 1968. It was red with a black, leather covering. I asked my brothers what station I should listen to, they told me and the first song I heard was “Sky Pilot” by The Animals.
My Mom tried to suggest I listen to talk radio. lol  I stuck with the music!

A few years later, I got a green bike with green, metallic banana seat. It seems all the kids in the neighborhood got new bikes that year and despite the cold wet weather, we had to go outside and ride them.

Another year was walkie-talkies.

I remember my favorite toy of all time…a milk truck. When the door opened, a milkman swung out holding a bottle of milk. It was made of cast iron. My sister, whom I love and adore with all my heart, sort of bent my milk truck. I won’t say how, but the little milkman never swung out the door again!  😦

Then there was the Christmas, once we were older, my oldest brother got us all silk underwear. We still don’t know why, but it was a great gift!!!!

After a number of years, I started gaining weight . . . a lot of weight, enough to take on the role of playing Santa Claus. That was a lot of fun but putting on that Santa suit in the humid Louisiana December weather was no picnic. I lost about 10 lbs inside that suit.  🙂

My Mom loved the Christmas Season and she made it so special. Right after Thanksgiving (you remember when there were no Christmas decorations

IMG_2291 (Edited)
This is a pic I took of one of the actual albums my Mom used to listen to. They were distributed by GoodYear and Firestone 

displayed BEFORE Thanksgiving)

she would start playing her Christmas albums, singing along with Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis, Mahalia Jackson, Barbra Streisand, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gourme, as my Dad climbed up in the attic, cursing, yelling, hitting his head while getting the Christmas decorations down.

 

On Christmas Day, Mom would break out the “once a year Christmas China.” She had just enough for the adults while the kids ate at the kids table, eating off the everyday plastic plates. I felt so grown up when I was not only allowed to eat off the Christmas China but to sit at the grown-up table. The food actually tasted better! But, enough about me.

We have a saying in our family that no holiday or family get-together was complete unless my Dad (who was known for his temper) didn’t get pissed off at someone or something.

One Christmas, I don’t remember the exact year, but it was probably in the 80’s, my Dad, as usual, got pissed off at something. One by one, my brothers (I have 3) their wives and my sister all headed for the smoking spot (the front porch) to have our “after dinner smoke.” Of course, the topic of conversation turned to the times Dad would get pissed off. We laughed and laughed and were having the best time when the front door opened and my Mom came outside. We all quieted down and looked at her. She looked at all of us with such a serious look on her face and said, “I sure wish I smoked, but I gotta go back in there!”
We lost it. She started laughing. As she walked back inside, she turned around and said, “oh sure, y’all just stay out here and laugh!” with a smirk on her face, which made us laugh even harder. That was my Mom.

She had such a great sense of humor. I guess she had to, being a stay-at-home Mom, having 5 kids in a 10-year span. She had to find the humor in anything she could. In my opinion, she loved Christmas the most. She knew the family would all be together and she would fix our favorite things. She got joy out of that.

Although Alzheimer’s affected her memories and all else that came with it over the last 10-15 years of her life, I hope some of her long-term memories were still there. I hope they brought a smile and a warmth to her heart.

Being the youngest child, my Mom and I shared a lot of things. Music is my favorite . . . Alzheimer’s is my least favorite, but I like to think that my Mom, being my Mom, somehow knew I would be the one to share her Alzheimer’s so she showed me how to live with it gracefully. When it gets tough, and it does (I’m not always the happy person you see in pictures and unfortunately, I do have a bit of my Dad in me that comes out every once in a while) I feel her with me, calming me down.

My Mom also collected bells, little decorative bells, some bigger bells, she just liked them.01043e4af1cb1845977d37e9119f4c5ba7a4af24da

Thanks to my wife, the bells continue to ring. Since we have a love for
Disney, she combined our interests and gets Disney Bells every year for the tree. I can’t tell you what that means to me. I hope that tradition continues within my family for years to come.

This will be the first Christmas Mom will not be of this earth. My Dad passed away 5 years ago so at least they are together again. I just hope he has learned to calm down a bit. But if not, I’m sure Mom will take a walk out to the front porch, breathe in a breath of fresh air and go right back in to calm him down.

Merry Christmas, Mom . . . and you too Dad!  🙂

This is from one of my Mom’s Christmas albums:
Doris Day –  Silver Bells

ENJOY and have a Very, Merry Christmas!

 

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving. A day where we pause for a moment to give thanks. Give thanks for what? We give thanks for everything big and small, important and insignificant. We give thanks for life!

What that life is, is totally up to you!

If you determine your quality of life, based upon whether you’re rich, poor, healthy, ill or somewhere in between, your rating scale is off. Money cannot and does not buy happiness, it buys material things. If material things make you happy, and you surround yourself with these things, then fine. However, a materialistic world often blurs the realism of life. Just remember, we were all born into this world the same way and we all go out of this world the same way . . . penniless.

This reminds me of the poem, “The Dash” by Linda Ellis.
(here’s a link to them poem:The Dash)
The dash is the little, bitty mark in between the date we were born and the date we die. Although not nearly as big or prominent as the dates on either side, it is the most important.

Two stanzas of Ms. Ellis’ poem stand out for me:

For that dash represents all the time
that they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own,
the cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

So, on this Thanksgiving, I give thanks for my life, my dash.
Is it perfect? NO, but nothing ever is.
Is it hard? YES, but nothing worthwhile ever comes easy.
No matter the imperfections or the hardships, I wouldn’t trade my life for anything. I consider myself the luckiest and most loved man in the world, and for that, I am THANKFUL!

 

Mother’s Day

(With Mother’s Day coming up, I wanted to pay homage to ALL MOTHER’S ((and this means all individuals who fit the role of a Mother regardless of gender)) who selfishly give of themselves, day in and day out. I wrote the following Blog Post 2 years ago. I re-read it for I didn’t want to re-hash anything I had already written. I am reposting this with a few additional words and photos. The additions will be in italics and bold.)

Holidays. There are so many holidays on the calendar that it’s difficult to keep track of them all. Some of them are legitimate and some are just made up for some reason or another.
The one holiday that I truly believe is the holiday of holiday’s is Mother’s Day. The reason I say this is because, without Mother’s, none of us would be here. Sure, the Father’s had a little something to do it with it but the Mother’s are the ones that carry the burden.

In an effort to explain the importance of Mother’s, I went to merriam-webster.com to look up the definition of “Mother.”Mother's Day
This is what I found:
a :  a female parent
b    (1) :  a woman in authority; specifically :  the superior of a religious community of                      women
      (2) :  an old or elderly woman
First off let me say I believe Merriam-Webster needs an update.
Second, I apologize to all Mother’s, both female and male (who assume the role) for the insincerity of the definition.

While I am not an expert, and not a recent guest of a Holiday Inn Express, I would like to give my own definition, or explanation, of what a Mother is.

A Mother is someone who:
– can soothe anything, no matter what the age, with a hug and a kiss
– will fiercely protect her family like a lioness protects her cubs
– praises their children for the good they accomplish but also holds them accountable for any and all of their wrongdoings
– can make your favorite meal impossible to replicate because of her “secret special ingredient.”
– can assume the role of sole provider when no other support is available or not given
– can assume the role of caregiver of a spouse/significant other, parent or grown child when that individual is no longer able   to support or provide for themselves.
– rises from her sickbed to take care of her family no matter how bad she feels
– consistently puts others before themselves
– loves unconditionally

A Mother's Love

I could go on and on, however, I think you can see that a Mother cannot be defined by any one definition, especially by the definition provided by our friends in the dictionary profession. A Mother’s definition (can change on a daily or hourly basis or at a moments’ notice.) Defining a Mother is almost impossible because of the infinitive person she is.

In addition to caring for her children, most Mother’s are also wives, which involves taking care of a bigger child with a different set of issues altogether. Most of the time, that bigger child has no clue as to what his wife does on a daily basis because he is too busy complaining about his day, playing golf, getting together with his friends, playing X-Box, Fantasy Football, etc. (Just to be clear, I am not grouping all Men/Husbands into this category, but YOU know who you/they are.)  😉

In my definitions of a Mother, one of the things I stated was, A Mother is someone who: rises from her sickbed to take care of her family no matter how bad she feels.
When my Mother was stricken with Alzheimer’s, over time she forgot how to do things, forgot what things were but still tried.

 She still had that Motherly Instinct inside trying to get out. Finally, when she lost her ability to speak, she would sing. (She sang in church for over 40 years and she loved movie soundtracks, especially The Sound of Music. When she would clean, she would put that soundtrack on and just sing away as she cleaned the house.)  Although Alzheimer’s took away her speech, she kept the perfect pitch. No longer knowing the words she would make up words or say la la la la, but I could recognize the song. I truly believe it was her way of saying, “Here, let me make YOU feel better by singing to you!.” Even if that wasn’t true, I don’t care. No one can disprove it so I believe it to be true because that’s who my Mother was . . . and although no longer of this earth, STILL IS!

(As a side note, in the last few hours of her life, I was the one singing to her. My sister held the phone up to her ear and I sang her a song.
There was eye movement as I sang as if she was actually hearing my voice. My sister and I will ALWAYS believe she heard the music she so loved. A few hours later, she passed away. With that said, NO ONE will ever tell me the power of music does not matter.) 

Mom's Hands
(I’m not sure of the date of this photo but I do know this is the last photo I have of my Mom and I. She NEVER, EVER went out of the house without make-up on let alone take a photo with no make-up on. Plus, I wanted everyone to remember her how she was . . . BEAUTIFUL!
At one point during my visit, she reached for my hand with both of hers and we just held hands in silence, looking at each other, she towards the end of her Life with Alzheimer’s and I, just starting out. I’m so glad I was able to capture this moment. 

So to all the Mother’s in the world, regardless of whether you’re married, divorced, single, an adoptive Mother, a Father filling the role of a Mother, I hope your Mother’s Day is everything you want/need/hope it to be. We all know you deserve much more than just 1 day a year and hopefully you receive it.

Until Next Time . . .
Peace

Mother's Day