Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Jim's Team Since 1998

I reached out to the Alzheimer’s Association when Jim’s dementia became problematic. Penny Braun, Executive Director at the Alzheimer’s Association Mid-Missouri Chapter, told me about the Sedalia Memory Walk. I registered for the walk, but couldn’t decide how to tell Jim about it since he was in denial that he had an Alzheimer’s type of dementia.
A few days before the walk, Jim saw a small article in the paper about the upcoming Memory Walk. “We should go to that walk,” he said, “because I have memory problems.”

We arrived at Liberty Park expecting to see a crowd, but instead saw four people and a dog. We joined Chuck and Helen Hannaford from Slater, Penny Braun and her dog Victoria, and Joetta Coen from the Mid-Missouri Chapter. Jim and I were the only two people from Sedalia.

Our small group walked through downtown Sedalia with Helen blowing her hunter’s horn while we collected donations from business owners, passersby, and from members of the VFW.

I haven’t missed a Sedalia walk since 1998. The name of the walk has changed to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and the location has changed, but the mission is the same: A World Without Alzheimer’s.

After the 1998 walk, Joetta Coen asked me to chair the next walk. I remember telling her that if I could get my family to walk, we would have more people. My fantastic committee members grew the 1999 walk to more than 100 participants.

Between 2000 and 2019, participation ranged from 200 walkers to a high of 444. Then, the pandemic hit. In 2020, to avoid a large gathering, the Alzheimer’s Association announced a “Walk Everywhere” event. It didn’t take me long to decide that Jim’s Team would walk the original 1998 route.

Walk Everywhere was a trip down memory lane. With my arthritic knees, the walk was more of a challenge than it was the first time. We stopped and rested on the steps of the beautiful public library. The 2020 walk made me feel closer to Jim, and in its own way, brought our journey full circle. It was a stark reminder of how personal and important the walk was for my family and me.  

Lord willing, September 17th will be my 25th walk. A few weeks ago, it occurred to me that I am the only person in Sedalia who will reach that milestone this year. Some of my family members are not far behind me. I plan to poll them and find out who will reach the 25th walk milestone next year or in the next few years.

Jim’s Team has also been the most consistent fundraising team in Sedalia. We weren’t the best fundraising team every year, but we’ve always been in the top three. Over the years, our team has brought in more than $70,000 in the fight to end Alzheimer’s, and to support families dealing with dementia.

The Sedalia Walk is Jim’s legacy. He was the sole reason that our family became involved in the Walk, and our inspiration to continue. I often hear from people who never knew Jim while he was living, but still feel a connection to him.

My first blog post, Indelible Mark, (January 19, 2008), came straight from my heart: “When Jim developed dementia at forty-nine, we knew life would never be the same. Our memories eventually became my memories. The disease stole Jim from me, but it could not steal the indelible mark he left behind.

“In the end, instead of erasing Jim, dementia ensured he would never be forgotten. His two pictures on the cover of Alzheimer’s Anthology of Unconditional Love are indelible images of Jim. In one picture, he smiles from beneath his favorite Stetson. In the other, he walks away from the camera on a beach in Oregon. I can’t imagine his indelible memory living in a happier place.”


To register or donate to the Sedalia Walk click

Copyright © August 2022 by L.S. Fisher


Sunday, August 28, 2022

Driving on Sunshine

Harold and I recently took a road trip to Springfield. For the first time in a few years, we took a trip where the destination wasn’t a doctor’s office. 

Well, we weren’t going on a random trip—we did have a few goals in mind. At the top of the list was a butcher block top for the Big Green Egg cabinet that Harold designed and had built. The cabinet was originally going to have a granite top, but they weren’t going to be able to cut it for several weeks. After giving it some thought, I suggested that we get our deposit back from the granite  and use a butcher block countertop instead. We could pick up what we wanted at Grizzly in Springfield.

We also needed to get new turn signal/brake lights for the Cargo Master trailer. That wasn’t as simple as we first thought. Those lights come in a hundred different shapes, and none of them matched what we had. Once Harold located a close match at Lowe’s none of the local stores had them in stock and the online order form wouldn’t work correctly. Finally, Harold located the lights at the Lowe’s in Springfield. That worked out well since we were going there anyway.

Next on the list was to go to a grill shop and pick up a few “essentials” for using the Big Green Egg. Finally, we wanted to go to Sam’s to get a few items that do not ship well in August heat.

As we headed down the road to Springfield, it reminded me of the road trips Jim and I took to Branson. Jim loved traveling, but as his dementia worsened, we couldn’t make the annual trips to Colorado anymore, so we substituted shorter trips to Branson. We usually stayed in a cabin near the lake. We were a short drive away from the Branson Belle and Silver Dollar City. We always took in a couple of country music shows, which always included Tom Brumley’s show. Jim was always happy on those trips.

On the trip to Springfield last week, I drove our Silverado Pickup while Harold was able to notice all the changes that had taken place over the years. Part of the trip was on divided highway and part on two lanes. After being behind a slow-moving truck, I was happy when we reached the divided highway. “Finally!” I said. “Now I can pass that truck.” I turned on my blinker, checked the mirrors, and saw the pickup pulling a trailer whip into the passing lane. “I guess he’s in a bigger hurry than I am.” I said.

I turned off my blinker and checked the mirror again. “Where did he go?” I asked.

Then, I saw the truck driving into the median with the trailer at an odd angle to the truck. To my surprise, he drove back up the grade and onto the highway. “I bet that scared the crap out of him,” I said. 

Harold mapped out our route so that we wouldn’t have to backtrack. After we picked up our orders at Lowe’s and Grizzly, we went down Sunshine Street to finish our day. We stopped by the grill shop and onto Sam’s.

While we were at Sam’s we noticed the gas was about forty cents cheaper per gallon than the best price in Sedalia. So we queued up behind one of the many lines of vehicles. An employee waved us over to a shorter line. “We have pump extenders so you can use this line.” Sure enough, cars were pulling the nozzle over to the other side of their cars to gas up.

Although, I was a little skeptical, I pulled the nozzle across the bed of the truck and started fueling. This is really cool, I thought, until I went to take it out. It seemed to be stuck. Harold was working his way around the truck to help me when I thought to give a tug on the hose. Well, duh, that worked.

 On the way home, we stopped at Dairy Queen for ice cream to go with the churros I had purchased at Sam’s. After eating our cones, as we waited to pull out onto the highway I noticed a motorbike with a minuscule sidecar. As it passed by, I noticed that a dog was in the sidecar.

At the traffic light, we got a better look at the dog in his customized mini rocket. He turned toward us, as if mildly curious about the car a few feet from him, and I noticed he was wearing goggles. Harold and I both grinned and simultaneously remarked about how cute the dog was.

We enjoyed driving on Sunshine on a sunshiny day and vowed not to wait so long for our next road trip.   


Copyright © August 2022 by L.S. Fisher


Wednesday, August 17, 2022

The More I Do, the Less I Get Done

 Lately, I am busy all the time, but my to-do list is only getting longer. I start a dozen different projects, and once I get them past the critical point, I stop and move on to the next one.

At work, we used to call it putting out fires. The fire burning the hottest, and the most likely to get out of control, takes priority over the other slow burning fires. Eventually, you notice that the out-of-control fires are getting all the attention.


I definitely do not multi-task as well as I used to. Distractions slow me down and sometimes bring the task at hand to a grinding halt. I’m having a hard time working on projects my head tells me I need to do when my heart is tugging me toward something that I want to do. I would much rather play my ukulele than work on accounting.


When the real feel temperature outside is triple digits, I attend to my inside chores and projects. Earlier this week, we had a day with a high in the 70s. I decided to go outside and mow around my flowerbed and use the weed eater on the parts I couldn’t get too.


When I finished with the flowerbed, I tackled the weeds between the hydrant and the well. Soon, I noticed a squishing with each step I took. The area was saturated with water and the ground underfoot was soggy from a leak. We couldn’t find anyone who could fit us into their schedule for the next two weeks. Harold’s cousin came to the rescue, but the leak is stubbornly deep. My fifteen-minute job of weed eating on a nice day turned into a weeklong distraction that hasn’t ended yet.


Let’s just say one-call to locate underground lines took a dozen calls. The phone company said that we had no service. Harold’s response, “Does that mean I don’t have to pay the bill?” After a day of calls to renew job tickets, a contractor showed up to locate our phone line. It was exactly where I remembered them locating it before when they remembered we had phone service.


Lately, I have as many distractions and disruptions as I did when I was a full-time caregiver. If I found a task to do that required concentration, I would suddenly hear a door slam and know I’d have to stop Jim from going down the road. If I zigged, Jim zagged.


As a caregiver, I was often exhausted—mentally, as well as, physically. I suffered from a chronic lack of sleep, and was emotionally drained.


Watching a loved one slipping through the different stages of dementia is disheartening. Remaining calm, focused, and contented becomes a challenge. I found that volunteering for the Alzheimer’s Association made me feel as if I was making a positive out of a negative. The fulfillment of accomplishment helped offset the sense of failure.


I could always encourage other caregivers and understand their frustrations, but I expected more out of myself than I could give. I crept closer and closer to the tipping point. My friends, family, and my physician told me that I needed to take care of myself too.


Sometimes, I think I’m almost at that same intersection between rest and busyness again. I chronically stay up too late and have to get up too early. I’m running low on energy, which only makes me struggle to keep up with my obligations. While I’m busy doing one task, other projects become more imminent and urgent.


I crave more downtime. I miss the feeling of accomplishment when the work is completed and it is time to play. I haven’t decided whether I should buckle down and finish my to-do list, or delete it altogether and start from scratch with a focus on stress reduction.


Copyright © August 2022 by L.S. Fisher