Friday, December 31, 2021

The End of 2021


At our last music practice, I worked on a Roger Miller song, “Walking in the Sunshine.” It’s a peppy, short song and I figured it would be an easy song for our upcoming nursing home gigs.

When I sing the song, I sing it twice, and then use the first line of the song as a tag out. For the unsuspecting, it sounds as if I am planning to sing the entire song again.


I sang “Walking in the Sunshine” at a jam session with other musicians once, and I finally had to say, “The End.” Otherwise, I don’t know how many times, we would have gone through the song.


Once upon a time, movies and books always said “The End” as if you couldn’t figure out you had reached the end when the credits rolled on the screen, or there wasn’t another page in the book. Now, we get a little more credit for being able to figure it out, regardless of how ambiguous the ending.


Life is full of beginnings and endings. We usually look at beginnings with anticipation and high hopes. Endings can be a hot mess of emotions.


We go through this every New Year’s Eve. We realize that all the beginnings weren’t on New Year’s Day, and all the endings weren’t on New Year’s Eve. Throughout the year, we rode the rollercoaster of time.


In the past year, we welcomed a great grandchild into our family. Our grandson married his soul mate. Yes, we had happy times.


Adding to the highlights of the year, I’ve participated in some club meetings, we had an in-person Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and our family band played at area nursing homes. We had glimpses of life as semi-normal again, then new versions of the same old virus made us go off the rails. Family members were sick, friends died, and here we go again, and again.


Healthwise, this has been a challenging year in our household. Sometimes, I think my husband and I are racing to see who can check out first.


This has been a year of chronic pain for me. After a visit to the orthopedic doctor and shots in my knees, I’ve felt better the past week or so. How long will it last? No one knows, but at least I’ve been able to sleep.


We have found ways to solve our mobility problems this year. We had a stair lift installed to give us access to our basement. We replaced the steps to our garage with a lift. We use grocery pickup and have a cart to bring the groceries into the house. I don’t try to lift a gaggle of bags and carry them up the steps anymore. I simply load the groceries onto the cart and pull it into the house.


My doctor always reminds me to pace myself. “Don’t try to do all your housework in one day.” There wasn’t any chance of that happening when every step I took was painful. By the time I got the basics done, I didn’t have the time or energy to do anything extra. We were finally able to find a housekeeper! I think she gets as much done in four hours as I could in four days.


One thing about a challenging year—we don’t have any regrets that it has ended. As far as 2021 goes, we just need to say “The End” with authority.


Now, it’s time to punch our tickets and get on the rollercoaster for a new adventure. Look out,2022, here we come!


Copyright © December 2021 by L.S. Fisher





Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Searching for Words

Our newspaper has word search puzzles, and I work them to relax. I know I could drag out my crossword puzzle books or Sudoku books for a more challenging experience. The trouble with those types of puzzles is that sometimes I’m stumped. With word search, I can, and do, always finish. After I complete the puzzles, I crumple the pages and throw them in the trash, so I’m not sure why I feel compelled to finish.


I work the puzzles willy-nilly where I circle the most obvious words first. I’ve found that in word search puzzles, as in life, the simple words are the hardest to find.


This morning when I was searching for words, I realized that as a writer, I often search for the best words. Stringing selected words in the correct sequence to convey a thought is much harder than it seems.


In real life, I sometimes find myself at a loss for words. When you know someone is hurting, or troubled, or angry, sometimes it is better to say no words, or at least a minimum of words. No one wants to hear, “I know exactly how you feel” because you don’t. An angry person does not want to hear, “you are overreacting” or “you are wrong.” If someone is troubled, she doesn’t want to hear, “here’s what you should do…” Nope.


Sometimes, I search for simple words—as in a thought I want to express. I can visualize the correct word in my mind, but it won’t come out of my mouth. I have the same problem with names of people I know, but they won’t topple off my tongue.


Searching for words to call objects can be a sign of dementia. It can also be a sign of an aging brain with overflowing figurative file cabinets and scads of misfiled information. When we are young, all that stored information is easier to access. As we age, I imagine our brains look a lot like a junk room where we have thrown decade’s worth of useless debris.


I find myself searching for more than words. I spend too much time looking for countless items that aren’t where they should be, or they are in a “safe place” where I put them so they could be found. Makes me understand why Jim kept saying, “Right here, but I can’t find it.”


Often, I search for meaning. Why does life deal us misfortune, pain, sadness, or adversity? Those answers aren’t in the Why? book that my grandkids used to love. With certainty, I can say that I don’t question the blessings of life. My greatest blessing is, and always will be, the people I love.


I seek peace and relaxation. The only drama I want in my life is through the books I read, TV shows, and movies.


I ask for God’s intervention to keep me from letting the words spill from my lips when someone rants on and on about viewpoints that border on insanity. I hope He grants me the ability to mentally chant the Serenity Prayer instead of listening or responding.


Let everyone search for the important words: Love, kindness, peace, faith, and joy. Remember, the simple words are the hardest to find, but if you don’t find them, you can’t complete the puzzle.


Copyright © December 2021 by L.S. Fisher



Monday, December 20, 2021

Bittersweet Memories

December 20 always blesses me with mixed emotions. On this date in 1969, two crazy kids embarked on a lifetime together.

Last night, as I was trying to sleep, memories took me back in time. I remembered the emotions that flooded me when I got off the bus at the R&R center. Jim stood outside the building, and I still remember the elation I felt as we ran toward each other. I was eight hours late, and he was afraid I had changed my mind. My grueling day had involved delays from a bomb scare, a thunderstorm, and a connecting flight held up by a snowstorm. I had missed my own wedding day.


The next day, a Saturday, we had a new round of delays. We taxied to the mountains to get a marriage license, and the clerk would not accept my blood test because it was on an incomplete form. It had all the necessary information, so her husband took us to a clinic where a doctor transferred the information to a new form. We had missed the rescheduled appointed wedding time. Jim convinced the chaplain at Ft. DeRussy Chapel to wait for us. We signed the marriage license, his staff witnessed our signatures, and left. The army chaplain married us in an empty chapel.


Last night, I had flash memories of our short stay in Hawaii. We spent quiet evenings on the hotel lanai, swam in the frigid Pacific Ocean, lay on the beach and acquired sunburns, we walked hand-in-hand in Honolulu, and drove to the north shore to explore other areas of the island.


In the wee hours of December 25, Jim kissed me goodbye before I boarded a plane for home, and he flew back to Vietnam. We had no idea what the future would hold in store for us, or if we would even have a future. Life was uncertain.


As it turned out, we had many adventures together. We went through tough times, good times, happy times, sad times, but through it all, we always had love.


It’s almost scary to love someone so much that you aren’t sure if you can live without him. It’s beyond sad when a brain disease made his memories drift away like grains of sand carried into the ocean on the waves of the low tide.


Life either makes or breaks us. It is true that we don’t know how strong we are until being strong is the only option. Strength comes from within, bolstered by the love and support of friends and family.


Memories can be bittersweet—making us smile and cry at the same time. Love can bring great pain, but nothing else can make your spirits soar as high. To love life, you must love—love.


Around midnight I stopped reminiscing. I turned onto my side with my back to the edge of the bed, and snuggled into my pillow. I was about to drift off to sleep when I felt a light touch on my back. It was a gentle reminder that love outlives our bodies. 


Copyright © December 2021 by L.S. Fisher


Friday, December 10, 2021

Positivity, Persistence, Passion


I have deliberately slowed down over the past couple of years. I’ve only recently ventured out in a more normal manner and it’s been almost too much activity.  At times, I had to force myself to get in the car and go, but thoroughly enjoyed seeing people that I hadn’t seen in a long while. I will admit that these events raised my spirits, but left my body tired and my mind somewhat numb.


During the first week of December, life has been extraordinarily busy. In a seven day period, I attended two dinner meetings, a Christmas dinner, sang at an assisted living center, and topped it all off with an Alzheimer’s Impact Movement  (AIM) Zoom meeting.


The AIM Zoom meeting was a year-end celebration of our advocacy successes. It’s remarkable that we were able to continue our advocacy efforts without a forum. Advocates took to social media, email, and the occasional in-person visit to spread the news about our legislative issues and funds for Alzheimer’s research.


Before the pandemic, we advocates were 1300 strong at the Advocacy Forum in DC! When over a thousand advocates storm Capitol Hill wearing  purple sashes and speaking the same message, it does make an impact on our legislators. Our last forum in DC was in 2019. For the past two years, our visits were virtual, but successful.


The part of the Zoom meeting I enjoyed most was the Advocate Panel. Their topics were Positivity, Persistence, and Passion. The panel members each had personal, and heartbreaking, experience with Alzheimer’s.


Positivity is a contagious attitude. One of the panel members, Joe Arciniega from Texas shared a story about when he was asked to present a slide show with great Alzheimer’s information. He was impressed with the slides and enthusiastically accepted the challenge. On the day of the presentation, he discovered that everyone in the audience spoke only Spanish. With his rusty Spanish, he narrowed his presentation to the 10 signs of Alzheimer’s. He felt that the positivity from the audience was returned a hundred fold.


Persistence allows us to continue being effective advocates year round, year after year. All advocates have to be persistent to continue the fight for themselves and for others. We didn’t let a pandemic stop us from continuing our mission. Alzheimer’s advocacy is not a sprint, it is a marathon, and we want to see this thing through to the finish line.


Passion keeps all long-term advocates involved in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. Aimee Isaac, one of the panelists, echoed my very own thoughts when she said that she felt powerless and reached out to the Alzheimer’s Association. From that point forward even small wins gave her a feeling of accomplishment. She also spoke of the importance of telling your own story when speaking to members of Congress.


I am positive that someday we will have an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s if we are persistent in our advocacy efforts. When we put our passion into action, we are unstoppable.


Copyright © December 2021 by L.S. Fisher