Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Family Time

 

As I’ve gotten older, I lose more loved ones each year. It always saddens me when someone passes away to realize that I haven’t seen them in a decade or more. I’ve learned the life lesson that family time is to be treasured.

My time with Jim was entirely too short, but we packed a lifetime of memories in the years we had together. We both came from large families where jam sessions were common events. My mom and her brothers used to bring their guitars, fiddles, and other instruments to every get-together. Jim’s family was the same, so we had the love of music in common. Before dementia, Jim could play any instrument with strings, but I never played anything and seldom sang.

About five years ago, I learned to play the ukulele and was pleasantly surprised at how much joy it has brought me. Since I’ve joined the family band, several of us get together three or four times a month. Our practice sessions are fun, learning experiences for all of us.

My brother Jimmy and my mom are the only two original members of the family band. My mom’s birthday happened to be on the day that we played music at the nursing home in Stover.

We began the program by singing Happy Birthday to my mom, and it ended with the residents singing Happy Birthday to her. We all laughed when one of the residents sang, “The old gray mare ain’t what she used to be…”

My aunt and cousin are residents at the nursing home, and they always come to see us when we play music for them. I was having trouble walking and used my cane to help me make my way to the door. As I walked past my aunt, she smiled at me and said, “It seems odd that now our kids are senior citizens.”

We met with other family members at a restaurant to celebrate Mom’s 96th birthday. We’ve had big birthday parties in the past for Mom, but due to Covid, birthdays had been smaller celebrations for the past three years. This small gathering of family felt almost perfect. We missed Tom and Teresa who weren’t feeling well and cancelled, and Marshall who had too far to drive.

As we gathered around the table, we had several conversations going at the same time. We enjoyed visiting with each other, and before long, my brothers took turns telling “Donnie jokes.” My brother Donnie passed away in 2012, but they still remembered several of his inappropriate jokes and the rest of us enjoyed hearing them.

Family dynamics constantly change. My mom is the only living survivor of her birth family. She has suffered through the heartache of losing her parents, brothers, sister, her husband, a baby, beloved grandchildren, and a grown son. She’s outlived many of her friends and other relatives.

Several of us “kids” call Mom every day, and she is always upbeat and ready to enjoy each day as it comes. My mom is a shining example of how our lives are in balance when we learn to focus on the blessings that life has to offer.  

Yes, part of our hearts will always grieve for those who have left this world before us, but to honor our love for them, we must love the living. Love and time are the most precious gifts to give or receive.    

 

Copyright © January 2023 by L.S. Fisher

http://earlyonset.blogspot.com

#ENDALZ

Monday, January 30, 2023

It’s a Mystery

 

When I read books, I always like a mystery. The book itself might be in a different category, but I love to try to figure out “who done it.” It gives me a feeling of accomplishment if I can outguess the author.

For the past two days, I’ve had a mystery of my own. On both days, my PC was hooked up to Wi-Fi, and the internet throughout the day. Both evenings, I decided to practice my back-up program for Cedarhurst with the songs I’ll sing if I have to do the program solo. I don’t plan to have to use it and it hasn’t been transferred to my Kindle and is still on my PC, or the Synology, to be exact.

Tuesday night, I pulled up the first song without a problem. After I finished it, I didn’t have Wi-Fi or Internet and couldn’t pull up the second song. After several frustrating minutes of rebooting my PC, I gave up and played songs that were already on my Kindle.

Wednesday night was a complete repeat of the previous night. Harold was working in his office so he told me to bring my PC in and he would see if he could figure it out. I took my PC into his office, and (of course!) everything cued up just as it was supposed to do. He had me take it back into the kitchen and put it on the breakfast bar. It worked again. I moved over five feet or so to the table where I’d been using it to pull up my songs so I could practice using the Block Rocker and my new cordless microphone. Once again, no internet or Wi-Fi.

“Maybe the signal is too weak,” Harold said.

“It worked fine all day,” I said.

Harold punched a few buttons to browse around to the innards of the PC. Finally, he glanced over at my setup. “Disconnect your cordless microphone, because it uses Wi-Fi,” he said. Well, I hate it when he figures out a mystery that bumfuzzled me for two days!

Life is full of mysteries, nothing more important or perplexing than medical mysteries. When we were seeking a diagnosis for Jim’s memory loss, we received several possibilities ranging from low blood sugar to early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Of course, these various diagnoses were from a barrage of tests. Some of the various by-roads we traveled included Parkinson’s, picks disease, stroke, vitamin deficiency, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and several others that I cannot recall at the moment. Not once did anyone suggest that he had corticobasal degeneration, which is what his autopsy showed. Although he did not have the plaques and tangles of Alzheimer’s, the disease presented in much the same manner. The outcome was the same.

Currently, I’m on my own medical mystery-solving venture. I have known conditions and I have a mystery ailment that has to be uncovered through the miracle of analysis of the plethora of tests that I’ve already undergone. I think that my future may involve more tests to refine the results of the screening tests. I’m hopeful that by targeting the correct disorder, my good days will outnumber my bad ones. I would be super-duper happy if I could just skip the bad ones and have a lifetime of good days.

The biggest mystery many of us face is wondering what-the-heck is going on inside our bodies. I love a good mystery, but not when solving the mystery is crucial to quality of life. I might be able to outguess an author’s plot, but I can’t begin to comprehend God’s plan for my life.

 

Copyright © January 2023 by L.S. Fisher

http://earlyonset.blogspot.com

#ENDALZ

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

A Game of Chance and Choices

 

I went to the casino with my 95-year-old mother and my aunt. I hadn’t been to “the boat” for about  four years. My mother paused her casino visits during the height of the pandemic, but once things settled down some, she resumed her favorite pastime.

My mom and I neither one have any illusions that we are going to hit the jackpot. We just take modest amounts of cash that we are willing to spend on the entertainment value.

Life, like gambling, is a game of chance and choices. We press the “spin” button and hope that everything lines up to move us forward with a win. If instead of winning, we rack up losses, it becomes a choice to know when to walk away and try something different.

Chance and choices played a big part in my marriage to Jim. The way I met him was a combination of chance and choices. By chance, I met Jim’s uncle on one of our Saturday visits to town. His uncle chose to bring Jim with him the next weekend to meet me. If it wasn’t love at first sight, it was darn close to it.

I was a student in college and Jim was in Vietnam. Neither of us had any money, but Jim obtained permission to take R&R in Hawaii so we could get married. Gambling, or the roll of the dice, was how Jim made the money to buy my plane ticket to Hawaii and to pay the expenses for our stay. He often liked to say he won me in a crap game.

Chance is often the difference between health and illness. We all know healthy people who are struck down by a terrible disease—cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, autoimmune disease, diabetes, arthritis, and an endless list of other chronic diseases. Sometimes, choices tip the scales for some. Throughout the decades of our lives, we all acquire bad habits that increase our chances of developing certain conditions.

We used to think that tanned people looked healthier, smoking was cool, certain drugs were not addictive, sports injuries weren’t serious, and what harm could come from eating junk food. Choices turned into habits and chance (or genetics) often determined whether our lifelong habits would come back to haunt us when we were older.

I’ve found that my medical conditions just keep piling on top of each other. Each year, I’ve had to add more pills to my arsenal of prescription drugs. Although recently, my family physician discovered a new condition and nixed one of the medications my rheumatologist prescribed. Getting old isn’t for sissies. No pain, no gain, takes on a scary connotation.

 One of the most distressing aspects of my current health situation is being exhausted most of the time. I was always a self-motivated, high-energy person who never napped. I wonder how I used to work ten-hour days and then spend an additional two hours tending to Jim. Obviously, I was a much younger, healthier version of the person I am today.

Now, after an hour of work, I have to take a break. Taking a break might be lying on the couch napping, reading, or watching TV. Another way to relax is to play my ukulele and practice for the family band nursing home gigs. I like to work on songs I know and new songs I’d like to learn. It’s hard to think about pain and getting old when you’re enjoying yourself.

I am happy that my mom enjoys life and is still in good enough health to play music with the family band. Soon, we’ll have the best of both worlds when we celebrate her 96th birthday on the same day we play music at the nursing home in our hometown.

Chance gives us adversity, but we choose whether we prevail in spite of them. My choice is to follow my mom’s example and do that which brings me joy.

 

Copyright © January 2023 by L.S. Fisher

http://earlyonset.blogspot.com

#ENDALZ


Saturday, December 31, 2022

In Retrospect

 

At the end of each year, I believe almost everyone thinks about the events, relationships, and milestones that defined the “old” year. As we weigh the scales of good and bad, memories will shift the weights from one side to the other.

Those who suffered catastrophic events may not shift all the weights to the bad side. As you see people standing in the rubble of their homes, some will say, “Our family is alive,” and immediately recognize the importance of life over possessions.

When you get to be my age, much of life is a blur. Years pass without making any special blips on our radar. Other years are marred by death or other disaster. Some years are memorable because of births, marriages, reunions, vacations, and celebrations.

 In our morning conversation, Mom and I were talking about how unreliable memories are. Two people can remember the same event with different outcomes. In our memories, we can confuse people, dates, times, place, or worse yet, reality.

I know that I have glitches in my memories. When I try to remember something that happened five decades ago, I will most likely be fuzzy about the details.

Recently, I had a friend who was hurt because someone relayed a “story” about her that never happened. Why would a person do that? In fact, why relate a hurtful story even if it is the truth, much less a false memory or a mixed up memory?

When Jim was in the nursing home, I turned on a recorder and told what had happened that night. I began each day’s tape with the date and time. When I transcribed the tapes, I could tell by my tone of voice if it had been a good day or a bad day.

As I transcribed the tapes, it seemed like a fictional story. I could not consciously recall most of the individual days or events. I used the tapes as a basis for the unfinished memoir that I wrote about Jim. It has been a monumental task and each New Year I give myself the annual pep talk, This is the year I finish the book.

The problem with finishing Indelible isn’t a lack of material…it is too much material. I also want to scrub anything that would cause anyone unnecessary hurt and want to change names to protect the privacy of the residents and staff.

At times, I’m blunt on the tapes. I was Jim’s “voice” and my number one job as a caregiver was to make sure he had the best care possible. I respected the hard job that staff had, and many of them became my friends and I trusted them. Others came and went, often leaving chaos and aggravation behind them.

Yes, some memories stand out, but others don’t. We need to sort through them to separate truth from fiction.

 As for 2022, the jury is still out. It’s been a mixture of good and bad. I certainly like to think that the good outweighed the bad. Regardless of the kind of year 2022 was, it is over. Tomorrow begins 2023.

We’ll know more about the New Year as it unfolds. The year 2023 is the Chinese year of the Water Rabbit and is predicted to be a year of hope. No matter how you feel about China and the Chinese, the entire world could use a year of hope, health, happiness, and peace.

 

Copyright © December 2022 by L.S. Fisher

http://earlyonset.blogspot.com

#ENDALZ

 

Sunday, December 25, 2022

From Blue to Merry in Fifty

 

By midnight, I knew I was not going to have a restful night’s sleep. I moved to the living room and turned on the TV. I chose a Hallmark type of movie on Prime, and settled in to drift off to slumber-land. Instead of lulling me to sleep, I watched the entire show. It wasn’t the normal girl meets boy, kiss at the end type of movie. At 2:30 this Christmas morning, I was still awake.

I realized that I wouldn’t fall asleep while I was famished, so I trekked to the kitchen for toast and milk. Not long after my early a.m. snack, I fell asleep.

The morning was half finished by the time I pried open my eyes. I thought about turning on the Christmas lights, and thought why bother. As I lay there, Christmases past came marching through my thought stream, and I didn’t even want to get out of bed. I thought about all the big dinners at Virginia’s house, the kids opening their presents, eating dinner at the nursing home with Jim, and waking last year to the sad news that my beloved sister-in-law had died. The sadness just took over.

When I finally dragged myself to an upright position, I grabbed my walker, and headed to the coffee pot. After a couple of cups of java, I went to the laundry room to fold the clothes I dried last night and to put on another load to wash. Then, I bundled up and took the dog out.

Harold was just as lively as I was, and we finally ate breakfast at ten o’clock. Instead of getting brighter, my day just seemed heavier. Bah, humbug, a blue Christmas.

Finally, I called my mom. She, too, sounded a little down. She had turned down all invitations, because it was just too cold outside, and she was home alone. We only talked briefly.

I went back to my chores, but I thought about all those stranded motorists and people spending Christmas at the airport. They had risked it all to see their loved ones for Christmas. I thought about my mom who lived only 50 minutes away on cleared blacktop highways.

“I’m going to go visit Mom,” I told Harold. “I think all the tires are low on my car.” I knew we had just purchased extra hose so we could air up tires in the garage with the air compressor in the basement. I had to take the hose down the stairs, and needless to say, I “don’t do stairs” well.

After Harold’s detailed instructions as to how to hook the two hoses together, I managed that part of the operation. I had to phone for guidance as to how to turn the darned thing on. “It’s a little wire lever on the grey box.” Well, I’d never have noticed that dinky little wire as the “on” switch.

I came back up from the basement on the chairlift and joined Harold in the garage. I had my first lesson in airing up tires. The problem was the blind was leading the blind, and we couldn’t read the pressure gauge. The solution was for me to get in the car and check it on the display.

Finally, all tires were duly aired and I was ready to rumble. I grabbed my ukulele and Kindle, kissed my hubby, and headed out.

Mom and I spent the afternoon together. First, we visited, then I took out my ukulele. “Sing some of the songs you’ve been working on,” Mom said.

I played a few songs. Mom really liked the Ray Price song. “You should add that one to your list. You really do a good job singing it.”

“Now, it’s your turn,” I said.

“Oh, I can’t sing very good anymore.”

“Doesn’t matter. It’s just us.” I played “Coat of Many Colors,” one of the nursing home favorites. Mom sang the song flawlessly.

I put away my ukulele and prepared to head home. By spending the afternoon together, Mom and I both felt a hundred percent merrier than we had earlier.

I called Mom when I was almost home, because mothers worry. As soon as I walked through the door, the dog met me to let me know she needed some outside time.

As soon as we came inside, I flipped the switch to turn on the Christmas lights. The cheerful twinkling made me smile as I thought of spending Christmas with my mom. Today turned out to be a merry Christmas after all.

 

Copyright © December 2022 by L.S. Fisher

http://earlyonset.blogspot.com

#ENDALZ

Saturday, December 17, 2022

If We Make it through December

 

When Merle Haggard’s song “If We Make it through December” became popular, our kids were little and we were struggling financially. Jim used to sing the song, and it encompassed our worries at the time.

December has some bittersweet memories for me. Jim and I started our marriage on a warm December day in 1969. Jim had flown in from Vietnam, a hot spot in more ways than one, and I had flown in from a cold Missouri winter. After our wedding in an army chapel, we walked the warm sands of Waikiki Beach. From a taxi window, we saw a shirtless man wearing a red loincloth and a red Santa hat. It took me more than a heartbeat to realize that it was a Hawaiian version of Santa. Jim returned to Vietnam in the early Christmas morning hours and I flew to the states.

When we began our lives together, we lived in Manhattan, Kansas. We learned how to budget the small amount of money we received once a month. After the army days, we moved to Missouri.    

Instead of being a joyful time, December was a time of stress. We had to stretch our income to pay the rent and utilities, taxes, insurance, buy groceries, and cover the occasional emergency. Frozen water pipes and cars that wouldn’t start were reoccurring problems. I can remember Jim getting up at night and starting our car periodically so that it would start the next morning.

We decorated our small artificial tree, and carefully shopped to put presents under it for our kids. Life was hard, but once we made it through December, we psychologically felt like we’d made it over the wintertime hump. That’s not to say we didn’t have bone chilling weather or blizzards all the way in January, February, or even March.

It seemed that our rental houses were always cold and hard to heat. I remember a December when we lived in a two-story barn-shaped house with little to no insulation. We had filled our propane tank in anticipation of the long, cold winter ahead. We closed off our upstairs bedroom and slept on a pull-out couch in the living room. The kids’ bedroom was downstairs too. It wasn’t too bad until the time that the weather was so cold the propane wouldn’t flow through the pipes to the stove for a couple of days. We piled on the covers and used my blow dryer for extra heat.

  We weren’t alone in our dread of the bitter winds of December. I can’t even imagine how hard the winter months are for homeless families. Some of the churches provide “warming stations” for the homeless or the unfortunate folks who are without heat for some reason.

Dementia made Jim restless at night, and I worried that he would wander off in the wintertime. It was only after I installed an alarm on the front door that I was able to sleep at night.

After Jim lived in the nursing home, I always spent Christmas with him. I would take him some of the special dishes that Virginia had cooked and ate dinner with him. He had a little tree in his room and the halls were decorated for the holidays. It was the changing face of holiday traditions.

Jim has been gone since April of 2005, but sometimes he seems just a breath away. Other times it seems like a final chapter in my life’s story that ended like a Nicolas Sparks’ book.

When a loved one dies, life goes on, but it will never, ever be the same. After Jim’s death, I had to rebirth my life and focus on what remained rather than what was gone. Now, I just need to make it through December.

  

Donations to the 2022 Sedalia Walk accepted through December

Click www.alz.org/sedaliawalk  search for Jim’s Team

Copyright © December 2022 by L.S. Fisher

http://earlyonset.blogspot.com

#ENDALZ

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

The Clock Is Ticking

A few minutes ago, Harold asked me if I had set my timer to remind me of something I needed to do. “The clock is ticking,” I said. This kind of conversation takes place several times a day at our house. 
   Our cell phone is the perfect place for timers, calendar events, reminders, and my favorite of all is our five-minute warnings. When we have to leave the house for an appointment, we set a five-minute warning. When the alarm sounds, it means we have to have our PCs locked away, ice water or mug of coffee ready to go, and be prepared to head out the door.

Around our house, the clock is always ticking for one thing or another. I sneaked in a nap yesterday, but I set my timer so that I wouldn’t sleep too long.

I used to have this grand idea that I would schedule my day so that I could get everything done in a timely manner. It wasn’t long before that was overtaken by the chaos of sharing a house with two other beings—a husband and a dog.

The best-laid plans are easily interrupted when one or the other decides I have to drop everything because they need attention. I started today with plans to work on several different projects. Before I’d finished my first cup of coffee, the dog wanted to go outside. I bundled up like I was going on a polar expedition and still felt the chill as I urged the dog to hurry, resorting to bribery.

As I was working on learning a new song, Harold decided he really needed me to help him with a spreadsheet. This is almost humorous since he can build a complicated spreadsheet in the time it takes me to power up my PC. We got into an argument over a heading. “Let’s not get bogged down with the heading,” I strongly suggested. “It looks fine the way it is.”

“Well, that’s not the way I want it,” he said, which meant we had to figure out how to fix the heading to suit him. Obviously, he figured it out or we would still be working on it. Meanwhile, the clock keeps ticking and my projects are unfinished.

I used to be fine with double, or triple booking my days, but between the two of us, we had three doctor’s appointments in two days. There is nothing more tedious than sitting in a doctor’s office twice in one day.

We have different doctors in the same clinic, but couldn’t schedule our appointments at the same time. I had discovered a lump near my collarbone a week earlier and they wanted me to watch it and see if it went away. So, I had an entire week to consult Dr. Google. Although, there were a lot of scary things it could be, I decided not to worry about it. The clock kept ticking as the time grew closer.

As the nurse was checking me in, she looked across the room and said, “I can see it.” The doctor came into the room, felt the lump, and said, “It’s arthritis between your breast bone and your collarbone.” Say what? Of all the things, I considered, that was not one of them. They took an x-ray to be sure, but the lump is mild arthritic change of the sternoclavicular joint. As my son pointed out, “It could have been worse. You already knew you had arthritis.” I’m learning more about the human skeleton than I ever wanted to know.

We only have one month left in this year and it’s one of the busiest months of all. I flipped the page of the wall calendar to get a good look at December. Oh, yes, along with all the electronic bells and whistles, I like to see the entire month with my appointments, scribbles, and notes on it.

There’s something comforting about having a physical calendar as a backup. Just to think that a calendar was all I had to keep track Jim’s appointments. Of course, my memory was much better then.

Looking back on the past eleven months, I feel a sense of loss for the loved ones who are no longer with us. I feel joy for the new additions to the family and the little one soon to join us. Time doesn’t slow down for us to catch up. We have to keep moving forward because that darned clock just keeps on ticking.  

 

Donations to the 2022 Sedalia Walk accepted through December

Click www.alz.org/sedaliawalk  search for Jim’s Team

Copyright © November 2022 by L.S. Fisher

http://earlyonset.blogspot.com

#ENDALZ 

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Not Your Usual List

 November is a time for self-examination and giving thought to our many blessings and giving thanks where thanks are due. Many of my Facebook friends have been posting one thing they are thankful for each day this month.

I’ve never participated in this delightful idea, but felt compelled to complete my monthly list in one fell swoop. I made the list and entered it into One Note on a sleepless night. After reviewing the list, I realized that I don’t remember seeing any of these items on their lists. I always suspected my thought processes might not be the same as the average person, but until now, I’ve kept some of the weirdness under wraps.

I am thankful for...


1.      Mice. It’s easy to think of mice as pesky rodents with no purpose in life other than leaving droppings behind furniture and chewing up important papers. But mice are extremely important when it comes to medical research in general and Alzheimer’s research in particular.
2.      Sleepless nights. On sleepless nights, my brain goes into creative overdrive. My best ideas come to me in the middle of the night.
3.      Wishes that didn’t come true. Throughout my lifetime, I’ve made a lot of goofy wishes, and I’m so thankful that they didn’t come true. I don’t think the life of a fairy princess, a rock star, superhero or being married to Paul McCartney is what God had in mind for me.
4.      People who hurt my feelings when I was young. Yep, all those cruel kids made me into a rhino-hide adult. It is almost impossible to hurt my feelings, because frankly I don’t give a poop about what insensitive, rude people say to me.
5.     Failure. I’ve learned more from my failures than I ever learned from my successes. Let’s face it, when I make a really bad mistake, I try hard to not do it again.
6.      Not being beautiful. Being beautiful is a burden I wouldn’t want to carry. Besides, I had to work a lot harder on my personality.
7.      Hard times. There have been times in my life when it was a challenge to figure out how to pay the bills, feed the kids, and not have too much month left at the end of the money. Because of  hard times, I’ve never had that fear of being poor that some people have. Been there, survived, and know that happiness isn’t based on the size of my bank account.
8.      Hard work. Without years of hard work, I wouldn’t have done as well in my job as I did and wouldn’t be enjoying my retirement.
9.      Having my heart broken. If a few boys hadn’t broken my heart when I was younger, my life would have turned out differently. I’m happy with the way it turned out, so thank you for breaking my heart and forcing me to move on.
10.  Rainy, gloomy days. When the rain falls and the sun is elusive, it is a perfect time to sleep in and laze around reading a book.
11.  Boredom. My life is so hectic that if I find time to be bored, I can relax...or think of something totally fun to do.
12.  Hunger. When I’m hungry, I know I haven’t overeaten.
13.  Paying bills. When I pay bills, it means I have another month of electricity, internet, phone service, and a zero balance on my credit cards.
14.  Not winning the lottery. I’ve always known that winning the lottery would screw up my life, and I like it the way it is.
15.  Flies and spiders. When I’m in a murderous rage, I can squash a spider or swat a fly and not suffer an ounce of guilt.
16.  Clear packing tape and plastic wrap. The way these two stick to themselves and trying to figure out how to get a roll started teaches me patience.
17.  Old age. Without old age, I’d have to pay to get into ballgames and wouldn’t get senior discounts.
18.  People who don’t like me. They teach me to stand up for myself.
19.  People who take advantage of me. They keep me on my toes and help me say “no.”
20.  Running late. It’s amazing how much time I’d waste waiting if I got to everything early. Besides, I’ve avoided traffic tickets and dangerous driving when I decided it was better late than never.
21.  Anger. If an injustice makes me angry, it means I am passionate enough to care.
22.  Fear. I might not be alive today if I didn’t have sense enough to be afraid from time to time.
23.  Ignorance. Since I clearly don’t know everything, ignorance means I always have something to learn.
24.  Grumpy old men. Without them, grumpy old women wouldn’t have anyone to argue with.
25.  Lousy TV shows. When a lousy show is on TV, it is much easier for me to turn it off and do something productive.
26.  Bratty kids. I’m so thankful that none of those bratty kids belong to me.
27.  Runny nose. Without a runny nose, I’m sure my head would explode from the inside out when I have a head cold and infected sinuses.
28.  Thunderstorms and lightning. We need the rain to replenish the earth and the lightning keeps me honest since I don’t want to be struck down for telling a lie.
29.  Bad lab results. Without bad lab results, I wouldn’t have incentive to work toward being healthier. I would have continued the same bad dietary habits with the same results.
30.  Uncertainty. I don’t know everything that is going to happen in my future! Uncertainty keeps me optimistic that the best is going to happen and not the worst.

One of the great things about making a list like this is that it made me realize the thing I am most grateful for is living the life I want and wanting the life I live. I am happy to be me and I don’t envy anybody else’s life or want to be somebody I’m not.

Copyright © November 2013, 2018

Copyright © November 2022 by L.S. Fisher

http://earlyonset.blogspot.com

#ENDALZ


That Which Sparks Joy

 

At our house, there’s a serious need to declutter. I have way too much “stuff” cluttering up my house and my time. It seems that when I try to declutter, I hit snag after snag. All I can say with certainty is that my husband and I don’t often agree on what to throw away and what to keep.

The KonMari Method of decluttering takes you methodically through items in your home: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items, and then to the hardest of all—sentimental pieces. The idea is to keep only the things that speak to your heart and discard the ones that no longer spark joy.

In theory, that might work, but would it work for me? The thought of piling all my clothes in the floor and touching each item would require weeks. I’m sure after the first hour, nothing would spark joy, and the mess would spark anxiety.

I detest the idea of having a garage sale. When people go through decluttering classes, the normal places to donate are overwhelmed and won’t take more donations. The last time I separated good clothes to donate, I wound up throwing them in the dumpster. That goes against my grain, but no one was taking donations and I wasn’t about to put them back in the closet.

The other problem I have is “wrong time of year.” As I go to put away my summer clothes, I see things that I didn’t wear, but when snow flies, no one wants summer clothes. I put seasonal clothes into a tub and take downstairs. It’s hard to think a season ahead, especially when out of sight, out of mind.

I really need to look at all the projects I’m working on and throw them into the middle of a virtual floor and decide which ones still spark joy. It’s not that I really want to dump all my obligations because I do like a variety of pastimes to keep me from being bored, but my mind constantly nags at me to finish the unfinished.

In the past five years, I’ve found that playing my ukulele and singing with the family band sparks more joy than any other volunteering that I do. It’s a win-win-win that I spend more time with my family, provide entertainment to residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and have a way to relax and forget my troubles.

Now, I understand better the reason Jim found so much solace playing his guitar and singing with his family. Jim suffered from physical pain and mental anguish from his PTSD. Music became his lifeline. His favorite singers were Buck Owens, Elvis, and Michael Martin Murphy. He could learn a song faster than anyone I ever knew. He had a great memory for lyrics and could play the tune after hearing a song once. It was sad when all he could remember was the song “I Ain’t Had a Good Day.” Maybe on a certain level, he knew what was coming and that song stuck in his mind. 

On days when I wake up and know that I’m going to have an activity to spark joy, my entire being responds. The aches and pains are pushed to the back of my mind, I have a feeling of joyful anticipation, and I don’t have to drink a half pot of coffee to be functional. On the other hand, when I wake up knowing that I have to work on an unpleasant task, have a doctor’s or dentist appointment, or have an obligation that is going to take hours to complete, I’m mentally and physically drained before I get out of bed.

The down side to getting older is an accumulation of health problems. I’ve found the key to making the most of life is to focus on the good times. During this month of Thanksgiving, I’m more inspired to think about my blessings rather than my troubles.

Family, music, a hot cup of coffee, reading a good book, my dog, stargazing, and dozens of other “little things” spark joy in my life. When we kindle sparks of joy, we live a life ablaze with possibilities.

 

 

Donations to the 2022 Sedalia Walk accepted through December

Click www.alz.org/sedaliawalk  search for Jim’s Team

Copyright © November 2022 by L.S. Fisher

http://earlyonset.blogspot.com

#ENDALZ

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Holiday

 

From Halloween forward, the stores are full of holiday cheer: Christmas trees, wrapping paper, ugly Christmas sweaters, and nutcrackers. With my big collection of nutcrackers,  I refuse to make eye contact with any in the store. The forgotten holiday, Thanksgiving, is celebrated through discounts on turkey and sweet potatoes.

In Missouri, people often flock to Branson to witness the lighting of the giant tree at Silver Dollar City. The shops are crammed with toys for all good girls and boys, electronics for pre-teens and teens, scented gifts for women, tools and flannel shirts for men.

The trip my mom, my sisters Roberta and Terri, and I took last week had nothing to do with shopping, Christmas, or Thanksgiving. Our “holiday” aka “girl’s trip” was to experience the Daniel O’Donnell show. My mom had given us a head’s up (hint), several months ago that Daniel O’Donnell was going to be in Branson, and she would sure like to go.

We knew we would have to go on one of three Wednesdays in November, so we chose the third one. Mom had to have a pesky mole removed and wasn’t sure if she would be able to go on the second Wednesday. On Monday, she came out of the dermatologist office with a Band-Aid on her face and said, “Let’s go Wednesday.” After looking at the forecast, we couldn’t have been in more agreement.

As Jim used to say, “On normal mornings you crawl out of bed at the last minute, but if you are going with your mom and sisters, you jump out of bed in a single bound.” I guess he was right, because that’s what happened on Wednesday. Because of obligations at home, our mini holiday had to be a one-day event.

Getting seats turned out to be a frustrating and tedious job. They had such a high volume of calls that Harold and I both called continually for several hours. I left one call back message, but we kept trying to get through. After six minutes, we were disconnected. Just as we sat down to eat lunch and I had a mouthful of food, my call was answered by a real live person! There were no seats left in the front half of the theatre, and seats were available on the side sections. Harold called my mom to ask her if she still wanted tickets if we couldn’t get good seats.

I happened to mention that my mom had a lot of trouble walking and that we were planning to take a wheelchair for her. After determining that she would sit in the wheelchair, her place was in a center section and we had companion seats.

Daniel O’Donnell is more than an outstanding singer, he is the whole package as an entertainer. He danced across the stage with more energy than most men could that are half his age. He told jokes and spent time interacting with the audience. Since he is from Ireland, he mentioned that he was sure that many in the audience were on holiday.

I knew that in the UK “holiday” was used instead of vacation. It made me realize that our little trip was indeed a holiday celebrating the special bond between a mom and her daughters.

The show was fantastic and we all agreed that it was an awesome day. By the time I made it home, I was tired, but it was a good tired.

I love spending time with my mom and sisters, and our one-day holiday softened the impact of my physical aches and pains, and my mental exhaustion.

It’s amazing how a day away from the daily grind can be so mentally rejuvenating.

    

Donations to the 2022 Sedalia Walk accepted through December

Click www.alz.org/sedaliawalk  search for Jim’s Team

Copyright © November 2022 by L.S. Fisher

http://earlyonset.blogspot.com

#ENDALZ