Sunday, December 31, 2023


I used to think of midnight as the “witching” hour, but now I think of it as my absolute latest bedtime. I don’t know why, but it seems that no matter what time I begin preparing for bed, it is midnight before I actually crawl between the sheets.

Every night I go through a mental checklist: I prepare the coffee pot for the next morning, take the dog outside, fill the dog’s feed and water bowls, fix ice water for the bedside, put on my pj’s, take my meds,  brush teeth and use the Waterpik. It almost never fails that as soon as I lie down, I remember something I forgot to do.

Lately, I’ve gone to bed at midnight and awakened at 4 a.m. If I’m lucky, I can read my book for a while, and go back to sleep until a more appropriate hour. I’m pretty sure that the early wake up hour is a carryover from the days when Jim slept an average of four hours at night, which meant that I also slept about four hours a night.

On good days, I get to take a nap. On busy days, I just force myself to keep on going.

Today has been a busy day. I picked up my mom and we went to music practice at my brother’s house. I wasn’t sure Mom would go in the freezing cold weather. During our morning telephone conversation she said that it seemed like she just spent a lot of time in her chair and that she just didn’t feel much like going out. Anyway, she felt like going to music practice.

“I know how you feel. It seems the less I do, the less I want to go,” I said.

I’m always playing catch-up. I have so many tasks I need to do, and then there’s the chores I intend to do, and, of course, there are things I want to do. I want to play my ukulele and sing, so I look forward to practice and to playing at the retirement/nursing homes. We worked on some new material today and the challenge was good for us.

These short winter days throw a kink into my plans. I have trouble driving at night. My eyes have always been sensitive to light and the new ultra bright headlights give me a headache. Our club meetings are after dark this time of year. The drive into town for the last meeting was nerve-wracking, and that was in good weather.

I’m slowing down in my older age. Everything takes longer and my concentration isn’t what it used to be. I certainly cannot multitask anymore.

This is the last day of 2023 and one minute after midnight, we usher in a new year. I don’t plan to set any earth-shattering goals for 2024. I hope that I allow myself to rest when I’m weary, look for the good and overlook the bad, cherish the quiet moments, think happy thoughts, and be kind to others and to myself.


Copyright © Dec 2023 by L.S. Fisher


Monday, December 25, 2023

Christmas Mouse and Angel Dog


Earlier this month I went to the basement, rummaged through the storage tubs, and decided how many decorations to scatter about the house. In the past few years, the tubs have been moved around due to some plumbing issues, and I often find my decorations right after the holiday.

As I rode the chairlift from the basement, I placed nutcrackers on the shelf next to the stairway. I was a little puzzled as to why I only had three of the four Wizard of Oz nutcrackers. The cowardly lion had apparently gone missing.

I continued to carry up ornaments, the table centerpiece, and various other decorations. I placed the centerpiece on the table and decided I needed to rest.

That evening, Harold called from the hall at the head of the stairs, “There’s a dead mouse on the floor.”

I rushed to see the “mouse” and told him, “That’s not a mouse, it’s a sprig off the dining table centerpiece.” OK, it was dark in the hallway, but really? I know he has trouble seeing, but the mouse would have had to be dead for a long time to turn green.

Later, we decided to begin by decorating the artificial tree that stands in the corner of the living room. Harold handed me the ornaments, and I placed them on the tree.

We leave lights on the “tree” year round and through the foliage, I sometimes miss ornaments. I found an ornament toward the back of the tree. “Oh, look, I said, here’s the Dalmatian angel I bought you when your dog died.”

I only brought up one fiber optic Christmas tree and it required no ornaments. I usually put up the silver Christmas tree that belonged to Harold’s mom and the small tree that was in Jim’s room at the nursing home.

Often, when I walked into Jim’s room, he would be gazing at the Christmas tree. I only put up a tree in Jim’s room and never went overboard with decorating. I’d learned my lesson the last time, I decorated when Jim lived at home. I was removing framed family photos from the shelves in the living room so I could put up Christmas decorations. I turned my back and Jim replaced the photos where they belonged. That’s when I realized that he didn’t want the familiar family photos replaced with the bright and shiny decorations.

I have so many nutcrackers that I haven’t been putting up all of them. Last Christmas I placed nutcrackers on the landing shelf on the west side of the house. I usually later replace them with snowmen and in February show off my elephant collection. Well, I have a hard time on those stairs because they don’t have a stairlift. About October, I thought I really should take down those nutcrackers…but since it was nearing the Christmas season again, I just left them.

I happened to think that maybe that’s where that cowardly lion was, but I looked them over and he wasn’t there. Another trip to the basement, and I found another group of nutcrackers. As I placed them on the shelf, I saw the mouse king. Hmmm, I thought I’d already placed him on the shelf. I took a closer look at the “mouse king” and discovered it was the missing Wizard of Oz lion. Guess Harold isn’t the only one that needs new glasses.

The house looks festive, without being overdone, and I enjoy being in the living room at night with the soft glow of the Christmas lights. When I walk by, I always touch the Angel Dog for luck. It may not work, but at least it doesn’t hurt anything. 

 Copyright © Dec 2023 by L.S. Fisher


Sunday, December 24, 2023

Mario Karts, Christmas Eve 2001

 Excerpt from Indelible:

Another Christmas. I put up a tree while I was alone in the house and didn’t cry.

The nursing home halls were ornately decorated for the holidays. “Jim stopped his merry walker in front of Santa,” the charge nurse said pointing at a wall hanging of the jolly old elf. “Then, he stopped and said, ‘Hello, Santa.’ ” She held up her hand as if to swear it was the truth.

“Wish I’d seen that!” I said. Jim spoke so rarely.

Along with the Christmas decorations, was a flag made with cutouts of children’s hands. It had been hanging on the wall since a few weeks after the September 11 tragedy.

A few days after the Santa incident, I noticed Jim stopping in front of the flag and tipping his cap. I thought maybe he was adjusting it, but a few days later, he stopped in front of the flag and saluted it. 

There was some discussion among the family as to whether I should bring Jim home for the traditional Christmas Eve gathering. My thoughts were that Christmas was for our family, and Jim was still part of that family.

I brought Jim home and helped him out of the van and down the walkway. He took his usual seat on the reclining section of the couch.

Rob and Colby were playing video games on the TV. Before long, Jim yelled, “Hey!” and jumped up and started going toward them.

“I wonder if he wants to play,” I said. At one time, Jim loved video games, and he played Mario Karts long after he developed dementia.

Rob ejected the game they were playing, and inserted Mario Karts into the Play Station.

“Here, Dad,” he said as he handed Jim a control. Jim didn’t seem to remember how to use it, so Rob passed the other control to Colby and helped his dad maneuver the one he held.

After a few races, Jim remembered how to run the car around the track, but the master of the game was not competitive.

Colby, in true Fisher fashion, bragged about winning. “I beat Grandpa!” As young as he was, Colby was well aware of his grandpa’s reputation for being a formidable opponent.

After the game ended, Jim paced up and down the hall, but didn’t try to go out the door. He showed no interest in opening presents.

After the gift exchange, we loaded Jim in the van for the trip back to the nursing home. Jim didn’t notice the cheerful Christmas lights on the houses we passed.

About halfway through our trip, he yelled and tried to get out of his seatbelt. I may have bundled him up too much trying to keep him from getting cold, and instead he was entirely too hot.

We never knew that due to circumstances, and Jim’s declining health, this would be his last Christmas at home.  

Copyright © Dec 2023 by L.S. Fisher

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Making a Positive out of a Negative


Being a volunteer has changed the trajectory of my life. At first, volunteering for the Alzheimer’s Association was a way of making a positive out of a negative. Volunteering helped to offset the helplessness of losing Jim one memory, one skill at a time.

Jim and I were the only two people from Sedalia in the 1998 Memory Walk, and I volunteered to chair the walk the next year. I didn’t realize how many miles and years would follow. I was chair for five years and have served on the planning committee for more than twenty years.

For nineteen consecutive years, I made the journey to the Alzheimer’s Forum in Washington DC. At the Forum, we learned about Alzheimer’s research, attended plenary programs, soaked up information about research funding and legislative issues. On Hill day, a thousand Alzheimer’s Ambassadors armed with facts, figures, and personal stories wore purple sashes and visited their senators and representatives.

The first year I went to Washington, DC, NIH research funding was about $400 million. Because of the Ambassador program, funding for Alzheimer’s disease research at the National Institutes of Health has reached $3.7 billion annually.

The experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met have enriched my life. The first year I attended the Forum, I met kindred souls: Jane Adams, Kathy Siggins, and Sarah Harris. I met and became friends with Alzheimer’s Association staff members, other advocates, celebrities, senators and representatives, and persons with dementia.

  The year I was to make my 20th annual visit to Washington DC, Covid hit and the meeting was cancelled at the last minute because of restrictions. Because of health concerns, I resigned as an ambassador last year. I most likely will never go to the Forum again.

In 2008, I began to blog at Writing was an outlet for my emotions, and I was able to help others by sharing my experiences as a caregiver. Annually, I print a book of my blog posts and use them as part of my Mozark Press corporate sponsorship at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Each year after the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, I feel exhilarated, refreshed, and hopeful that a cure is imminent. The white flower at our walk symbolizes the first person to be cured of Alzheimer’s disease.

Like most Alzheimer’s volunteers, I have a connection to the disease and saw the Alzheimer’s Association in action. Their local Chapter helped me when I was at my most vulnerable.

My observation is that good volunteers have passion for the cause, take action and use their particular skill set to do their share of the work, and are willing to be part of a team effort. A volunteer needs a positive attitude to get past any disappointments.

Losing Jim to dementia was the greatest tragedy in my life, but I feel so blessed that we shared good times, hard times, love, laughter, and tears. He not only changed my life, he changed me.

Jim was the reason we went to the first Memory Walk. “We need to go to that walk,” he said, “because I’m having trouble with my memory.” That walk was the beginning of a new era in my life when I stepped out of my comfort zone and became a volunteer. I believe that I receive as much from being a volunteer as I give.

Photo credit Kevin Walker Photography, 2023 Sedalia Walk to End Alzheimer's


Copyright © Dec 2023 by L.S. Fisher