Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Out on a Limb


While at the park, I noticed a squirrel sprawled on a tree limb. That made me think of the expression “out on a limb.” Then, I wondered exactly where the expression came from and what it meant.


I did a little research and found that the expression was originally literally “out on a limb” because back in the day, people climbed trees. Well, hello, I climbed trees when I was a kid. My favorite tree to climb was sycamores simply because they had a lot of limbs. Two major drawbacks were the leaves made me sneeze and the limbs were brittle. My tree climbing ended when I went too far out on a limb and it broke. I went crashing through the lower limbs and didn’t stop until I was on the ground. It hurt, but since I was able to get up and walk, I went home and kept my mouth shut about the mishap.


The figurative version of “out on a limb” came into use during the late 19th Century. The idiom means to take a dangerous, uncompromising, or difficult position that leaves you vulnerable without the support of others.


I felt I was out on a limb when Jim began to show symptoms of dementia. For about the first year, I was the only one who realized how much he had changed. Seriously, there were people in Jim’s family that thought I was the one with a problem!


Doctors thought it was everything but dementia, which was understandable because he was only forty-nine years old. We went through a myriad of diagnoses trying to find an answer. After a battery of tests, he was diagnosed with dementia of the Alzheimer’s type.


Caregivers often feel they are out on a limb. I’ve seen families torn apart by disagreements about how to care for a loved one with dementia. Sometimes the caregiving falls on one person while other family members criticize.


Caregiving is stressful and often lonely. Friends and families sometimes distance themselves from the caregiver and the person with dementia. It seems that when you need people the most some of them will leave you out on a limb.


Two-thirds of caregivers are women, and one-third of those are daughters. One-fourth of the caregivers are known as the “sandwich generation.” This means they are caring for a parent while they have minor children living at home.


I could never have made it through without family support—Jim’s family and mine. I had once cherished our “alone” time, but dementia gave a new dimension to alone time.

I don’t regret keeping Jim home as long as I could. It was a lot of stress and strain, and I remember feeling tired all the time. Still, there were good times too—quiet times when we held each other and let love erase the heartache.


You know when I think about it, that squirrel looked like being out on a limb was a good thing. He looked relaxed and confident, as if he were savoring the moment. There may be a lesson for all of us there. 


Copyright © November 2021 by L.S. Fisher



Thursday, November 25, 2021

Giving Thanks

When I woke up this Thanksgiving morning, as usual, I made my way to my coffeemaker. I try to remember to prepare the pot the night before and have coffee waiting when my alarm goes off.

I poured Half & Half in my cup and started to fill it up. Instead of coffee, I was pouring water. Apparently, I forgot to put water in the pot—again. I opened the top to pour in the water and saw a soggy filter. The problem seemed to be that after I had re-filled the canister with coffee the night before, I forgot to measure the coffee to put in the filter.


Not wanting to pour hot water in the coffeemaker, I decided to pour it out. Then the light bulb went off, and I remembered a packet of Folgers that was used like a teabag. Anyway, I used some of the hot water to make a stop-gap cup of coffee while the real-deal was brewing.


Regardless of the coffee snafu, I was grateful that I wasn’t out of coffee. That would have really been a bad start to the day.


In true American fashion, I refused to let that sour a day of thankfulness for me. I get it honest, because when I called my mom this morning to wish her a happy Thanksgiving she said, “I woke up this morning, so I’m thankful for that.”


I was a little worried about her because yesterday morning she said she had no plans for Thanksgiving. Harold said I should invite her to eat shrimp with us. “Well, she isn’t too crazy about seafood, and I know she will have invitations a lot closer than us.”


She went on to say, “I’m ready for Tommy to come and get me at noon for Thanksgiving Dinner. Then, at four, someone will pick me up to go to Terri’s.” Sounds to me like my mom is going to be well fed today.


Thanksgiving was always one of my favorite holidays. My dad wanted all of us kids to be home for Thanksgiving. When you have a big family, half were going to in-laws for Thanksgiving and the other half for Christmas. Dad finally said they would take Thank
sgiving and the in-laws could have us for Christmas. Of course, like Mom, we always wound up having two Thanksgiving dinners. My mother-in-law always cooked enough food to feed an army.


After Dad died, we carried on the tradition for many more years, but eventually we opted for a family reunion, and later, we mostly got together on Mom’s birthday. Traditions change as our lives change.


When Jim was in the nursing home, I had holiday meals with him. His mom would fix up a plate of his favorites and I took it to him. I was thankful to spend that time with him. When his appetite waned, he still had a taste for his mom’s home cooking.


I’ve crossed many speed bumps during my lifetime, but I’m thankful to be blessed with family. We aren’t gathering in one spot today, but our hearts reach across the miles to connect us inside a circle of love. I am thankful every day for my family, not just today.


Millions of Americans choose Thanksgiving Day to count their blessings. I think a better choice would be if we had 364 days to count our blessings and one day to wallow in self-pity.


Copyright © November 2021 by L.S. Fisher



Monday, November 15, 2021

It's About Time

Twice a year, Father Time plays a trick on us. Others try their hands at confusing the issue by telling people to turn their clocks in the wrong direction. When daylight saving time begins and ends, we simply have to remember, “Spring forward” and “Fall back.”

 Thinking about time made me realize that I have difficulty finding enough time to get everything done. My body sometimes rebels, and I wait for a better time.


It’s about time to take a step back and think about myself. I need to get more rest and work on pain management, not only for myself, but also for others. I need to quit putting off tasks and not ignore my to-do list so much.


I finally got rid of my landline. It was past time! For the past six months, I’ve found the ring to be an annoyance and stopped answering it. I still had caller ID from the days when I had to have it to know who was calling Jim when I was at work. Jim became the telemarketers’ best friend. He would try to tell me that somebody called, but he couldn’t remember who it was. He would say they wanted to know something but he couldn’t remember what, but he told them it was okay to do it.


I think it’s about time we are protected from telemarketers and scammers. We found out lately that many of those calls are coming from overseas and there’s nothing that can be done to stop them. People with dementia or unsuspecting elderly people are vulnerable to scams.


I’m longing for a time when I don’t have to constantly be on guard. Technology has turned an ugly face toward me with constant intrusions. I long for peaceful evenings and quiet time when my work is done for the day. Now, it seems that the work is never ending and interruptions break my train of thought and lower my productivity. At least my solitude isn’t broken with the jangling interruption of the landline ringing.


Time slips away. Days meld into weeks, weeks into months, months into years, and years into a lifetime. I hope for many good years and not years of pain and sorrow.


It’s about time for me to cherish the moments, let go of anger, and show love for my family, friends, and husband. I’ve always been a bear when I’m exhausted or hurting. It seems like lately that’s a daily occurrence.


It’s time to be thankful for life’s blessings and to use adversity to build character.


Copyright © November 2021 by L.S. Fisher