Monday, January 31, 2022

Pencils and Erasers

I saw a quote a few weeks ago, that said, “If you can’t be a pencil to write someone’s happiness, then try to be the eraser to remove their sadness.” I really like this concept. I stopped and thought about ways to write and erase at the correct moments.


To write:

  1.  Call or visit a family member or friends. Give the gift of your time.
  2.  Invite them to go with you for one of their favorite activities. This can be anything from going to a casino to fishing. If you care about someone, you know what they like to do.
  3. Plan a day trip to visit a museum, botanical garden, theme park, craft fair, or quaint town. Take someone to a play, movie, or concert. Be sure it is a performance that resonates with them.
  4.  Be kind.


To erase:

  1. When someone experiences a tragedy, be present. Keep words to a minimum and listen to them. Give comfort and avoid platitudes.
  2. Send cards with personal messages of encouragement. Let them know you are there for them and willing to help them through a rough patch. 
  3. Once again give the gift of time. Share a quiet cup of coffee, a glass of wine, or reminisce about humorous antics, and be a genuine friend.
  4. Be kind.


What if you are the person fighting sadness? I can only speak for myself because each individual has to develop his or her own coping strategies. I like to pick up my ukulele and sing a few happy songs. That does wonders for me. I’ve also found reading a good book can take my mind off my troubles. Sometimes, just jumping in the car, turning up the oldies channel, and going for a drive helps me clear my head. I have an underlying layer of optimism that helps me through the tough times.


All of these ideas come with a warning. If someone is clinically depressed, you may not be able to do anything that will make them happy. You could wind up bringing yourself down. Jim had PTSD and was often depressed. It took me a long time before I realized I wasn’t the reason he was depressed, and could only do so much to help him.


Jim loved to travel and planning a trip, made him happy. He often said, “I need something to look forward to.”  When we were in Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain National Park, he was in his element, especially if we camped in the mountains.


Jim also loved to spend time visiting with family. He loved his cousins, uncles, aunts, siblings, in-laws, parents, and friends. He also loved to visit his childhood places and when we were younger, we made numerous trips to Oregon and Idaho.


With his music and storytelling, he was his own pencil and eraser. The underlying depression and sadness was always there, but he learned how to cope and find his moments of joy. He had a deep abiding faith and I believe that’s all that kept him moving forward as long as he did.

Be a pencil as often as you can, or an eraser when appropriate, and you can’t go wrong.


Copyright © January 2022 by L.S. Fisher




Saturday, January 22, 2022

Sick and Tired

One time when Jim’s cousin Leroy from Idaho visited us, he sang a song, “I’m Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired.” I had never heard the song before and haven’t heard it since. The line stuck in my head for months, and about the time, I thought it was relegated to the distant past, it has become a theme of mine.

It’s hard to believe that this month is on the second half, and I have not written one blog post. I’ve mostly been concerned with making it through each day. I’ve been sick since the first week of the month, and it looks like I may be even sicker and tired-er before the month ends.

Of course, when I had first symptoms, I took a Covid and flu test. Both were negative, so I breathed a sigh of relief. I woke up a few days later and after a coughing fit, I couldn’t breathe. On a Sunday when no rapid tests were to be found, options were limited. I finally was able to get an appointment at Urgent Care. This time, they did a molecular test and sent it off to a lab. After listening to my chest and talking with me, I was prescribed medicine for bronchitis.

Wouldn’t you know, one of the meds was not available, but the pharmacy thought they would have it the next day. Three days later, I once again tested negative for Covid.

I think we are so focused on one thing that we ignore other possibilities. I’ve heard of a lot of upper respiratory viruses that are not Covid. I believe that when we hear that someone has tested negative for Covid, we think they will be fine. I will testify that is not always the case!

The up side to my current illness is that my arthritis hasn’t bothered me at all. Still, I’m ready to return to life as normal, and  it would be awesome if I have a break from the arthritis pain too.

Today, I decided to psych myself into a better mood. I’m wearing a Life is Good shirt to remind me that life is good.

 Life can wear us down when we don’t feel well. People who have life threatening disorders can fight valiantly for life. They undergo the most aggressive treatment with the possibility of being cured. Others choose quality of life over quantity. These decisions are a personal choice.

An incurable disease like Alzheimer’s presents a different set of problems. Jim lived his life with chronic pain and mental anguish. The onset of dementia was a cruel blow for him and to those of us who loved him. Our choice with Jim was to keep him as physically healthy as we could and as pain free as possible.

 Before we accepted the diagnosis, we ruled out the possibility of a curable disease. Forgetfulness and confusion aren’t always caused by dementia. Drug interactions, thyroid disease, diabetes, vision or hearing problems, liver or kidney disease, tumors, strokes and other conditions can be confused with Alzheimer’s disease. This is a good reason to have a complete physical exam to eliminate treatable conditions.

 Often people are afraid of a dementia diagnosis so they refuse to go to the doctor. It is a person’s best interests to rule out treatable conditions, rather than accepting the worse case scenario and doing nothing.

 When Jim’s autopsy report came in the mail and the first line read, “No evidence of Alzheimer’s disease,” my heart took a nosedive. My biggest fear was that regardless of all the tests, we might have missed a treatable condition. After reading the rest of the report, I realized that although Jim didn’t have Alzheimer’s disease, he had an incurable degenerative brain disorder.

Our human bodies betray us at times. We often hear that as long as there is life, there is hope, but hope isn’t only associated with life in this world. When our fragile existence ends on earth, eternity awaits us where no one is sick and tired.

Copyright © January 2022 by L.S. Fisher