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



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


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

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Copyright © December 2022 by L.S. Fisher