Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Family Time


As I’ve gotten older, I lose more loved ones each year. It always saddens me when someone passes away to realize that I haven’t seen them in a decade or more. I’ve learned the life lesson that family time is to be treasured.

My time with Jim was entirely too short, but we packed a lifetime of memories in the years we had together. We both came from large families where jam sessions were common events. My mom and her brothers used to bring their guitars, fiddles, and other instruments to every get-together. Jim’s family was the same, so we had the love of music in common. Before dementia, Jim could play any instrument with strings, but I never played anything and seldom sang.

About five years ago, I learned to play the ukulele and was pleasantly surprised at how much joy it has brought me. Since I’ve joined the family band, several of us get together three or four times a month. Our practice sessions are fun, learning experiences for all of us.

My brother Jimmy and my mom are the only two original members of the family band. My mom’s birthday happened to be on the day that we played music at the nursing home in Stover.

We began the program by singing Happy Birthday to my mom, and it ended with the residents singing Happy Birthday to her. We all laughed when one of the residents sang, “The old gray mare ain’t what she used to be…”

My aunt and cousin are residents at the nursing home, and they always come to see us when we play music for them. I was having trouble walking and used my cane to help me make my way to the door. As I walked past my aunt, she smiled at me and said, “It seems odd that now our kids are senior citizens.”

We met with other family members at a restaurant to celebrate Mom’s 96th birthday. We’ve had big birthday parties in the past for Mom, but due to Covid, birthdays had been smaller celebrations for the past three years. This small gathering of family felt almost perfect. We missed Tom and Teresa who weren’t feeling well and cancelled, and Marshall who had too far to drive.

As we gathered around the table, we had several conversations going at the same time. We enjoyed visiting with each other, and before long, my brothers took turns telling “Donnie jokes.” My brother Donnie passed away in 2012, but they still remembered several of his inappropriate jokes and the rest of us enjoyed hearing them.

Family dynamics constantly change. My mom is the only living survivor of her birth family. She has suffered through the heartache of losing her parents, brothers, sister, her husband, a baby, beloved grandchildren, and a grown son. She’s outlived many of her friends and other relatives.

Several of us “kids” call Mom every day, and she is always upbeat and ready to enjoy each day as it comes. My mom is a shining example of how our lives are in balance when we learn to focus on the blessings that life has to offer.  

Yes, part of our hearts will always grieve for those who have left this world before us, but to honor our love for them, we must love the living. Love and time are the most precious gifts to give or receive.    


Copyright © January 2023 by L.S. Fisher



Monday, January 30, 2023

It’s a Mystery


When I read books, I always like a mystery. The book itself might be in a different category, but I love to try to figure out “who done it.” It gives me a feeling of accomplishment if I can outguess the author.

For the past two days, I’ve had a mystery of my own. On both days, my PC was hooked up to Wi-Fi, and the internet throughout the day. Both evenings, I decided to practice my back-up program for Cedarhurst with the songs I’ll sing if I have to do the program solo. I don’t plan to have to use it and it hasn’t been transferred to my Kindle and is still on my PC, or the Synology, to be exact.

Tuesday night, I pulled up the first song without a problem. After I finished it, I didn’t have Wi-Fi or Internet and couldn’t pull up the second song. After several frustrating minutes of rebooting my PC, I gave up and played songs that were already on my Kindle.

Wednesday night was a complete repeat of the previous night. Harold was working in his office so he told me to bring my PC in and he would see if he could figure it out. I took my PC into his office, and (of course!) everything cued up just as it was supposed to do. He had me take it back into the kitchen and put it on the breakfast bar. It worked again. I moved over five feet or so to the table where I’d been using it to pull up my songs so I could practice using the Block Rocker and my new cordless microphone. Once again, no internet or Wi-Fi.

“Maybe the signal is too weak,” Harold said.

“It worked fine all day,” I said.

Harold punched a few buttons to browse around to the innards of the PC. Finally, he glanced over at my setup. “Disconnect your cordless microphone, because it uses Wi-Fi,” he said. Well, I hate it when he figures out a mystery that bumfuzzled me for two days!

Life is full of mysteries, nothing more important or perplexing than medical mysteries. When we were seeking a diagnosis for Jim’s memory loss, we received several possibilities ranging from low blood sugar to early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Of course, these various diagnoses were from a barrage of tests. Some of the various by-roads we traveled included Parkinson’s, picks disease, stroke, vitamin deficiency, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and several others that I cannot recall at the moment. Not once did anyone suggest that he had corticobasal degeneration, which is what his autopsy showed. Although he did not have the plaques and tangles of Alzheimer’s, the disease presented in much the same manner. The outcome was the same.

Currently, I’m on my own medical mystery-solving venture. I have known conditions and I have a mystery ailment that has to be uncovered through the miracle of analysis of the plethora of tests that I’ve already undergone. I think that my future may involve more tests to refine the results of the screening tests. I’m hopeful that by targeting the correct disorder, my good days will outnumber my bad ones. I would be super-duper happy if I could just skip the bad ones and have a lifetime of good days.

The biggest mystery many of us face is wondering what-the-heck is going on inside our bodies. I love a good mystery, but not when solving the mystery is crucial to quality of life. I might be able to outguess an author’s plot, but I can’t begin to comprehend God’s plan for my life.


Copyright © January 2023 by L.S. Fisher



Tuesday, January 17, 2023

A Game of Chance and Choices


I went to the casino with my 95-year-old mother and my aunt. I hadn’t been to “the boat” for about  four years. My mother paused her casino visits during the height of the pandemic, but once things settled down some, she resumed her favorite pastime.

My mom and I neither one have any illusions that we are going to hit the jackpot. We just take modest amounts of cash that we are willing to spend on the entertainment value.

Life, like gambling, is a game of chance and choices. We press the “spin” button and hope that everything lines up to move us forward with a win. If instead of winning, we rack up losses, it becomes a choice to know when to walk away and try something different.

Chance and choices played a big part in my marriage to Jim. The way I met him was a combination of chance and choices. By chance, I met Jim’s uncle on one of our Saturday visits to town. His uncle chose to bring Jim with him the next weekend to meet me. If it wasn’t love at first sight, it was darn close to it.

I was a student in college and Jim was in Vietnam. Neither of us had any money, but Jim obtained permission to take R&R in Hawaii so we could get married. Gambling, or the roll of the dice, was how Jim made the money to buy my plane ticket to Hawaii and to pay the expenses for our stay. He often liked to say he won me in a crap game.

Chance is often the difference between health and illness. We all know healthy people who are struck down by a terrible disease—cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, autoimmune disease, diabetes, arthritis, and an endless list of other chronic diseases. Sometimes, choices tip the scales for some. Throughout the decades of our lives, we all acquire bad habits that increase our chances of developing certain conditions.

We used to think that tanned people looked healthier, smoking was cool, certain drugs were not addictive, sports injuries weren’t serious, and what harm could come from eating junk food. Choices turned into habits and chance (or genetics) often determined whether our lifelong habits would come back to haunt us when we were older.

I’ve found that my medical conditions just keep piling on top of each other. Each year, I’ve had to add more pills to my arsenal of prescription drugs. Although recently, my family physician discovered a new condition and nixed one of the medications my rheumatologist prescribed. Getting old isn’t for sissies. No pain, no gain, takes on a scary connotation.

 One of the most distressing aspects of my current health situation is being exhausted most of the time. I was always a self-motivated, high-energy person who never napped. I wonder how I used to work ten-hour days and then spend an additional two hours tending to Jim. Obviously, I was a much younger, healthier version of the person I am today.

Now, after an hour of work, I have to take a break. Taking a break might be lying on the couch napping, reading, or watching TV. Another way to relax is to play my ukulele and practice for the family band nursing home gigs. I like to work on songs I know and new songs I’d like to learn. It’s hard to think about pain and getting old when you’re enjoying yourself.

I am happy that my mom enjoys life and is still in good enough health to play music with the family band. Soon, we’ll have the best of both worlds when we celebrate her 96th birthday on the same day we play music at the nursing home in our hometown.

Chance gives us adversity, but we choose whether we prevail in spite of them. My choice is to follow my mom’s example and do that which brings me joy.


Copyright © January 2023 by L.S. Fisher