Sunday, March 31, 2024

Hope, Renewal, and New Life

This has been a busy week with quality family time. Between the early Easter celebration last Sunday, and lunch with my son and grandson, I was able to connect with most of my sons’ families. I saw three of my four grandchildren and both great-grandsons.

On Good Friday, we decided to have a music practice at my brother’s house. I picked up Mom to take her to practice. We worked on some new songs and set up a date to work on our final program for April.

After practice, Mom and I drove the winding, crooked road. A car popped over the hill, and I  was startled when a pickup flew past my car. He came dangerously close to hitting the oncoming car head on, and swerved back into our lane, missing the front of my car by inches.

It happened so fast that I didn’t have time to be afraid, but I was plenty angry that someone was so stupid as to pass on a double yellow line. I call him an “idiot” with a colorful adjective preceding it.

It was a reminder of how fragile life is. I told my mom, “Since we cheated death, today is the first day of the rest of our lives.”

After a stop at McDonald’s, we were walking up to her door. Mom said, “It would have been awful if someone would have had to call Harold and tell him you’d been killed in a car accident. I just don’t know what he would do without you.” Okay, I couldn’t stop laughing about her thinking it would be more of a tragedy for Harold to be left to fend for himself than for me to die in a wreck.

A near miss is a wakeup call that we need to seize each precious moment we have with our loved ones. No life is without adversity, and the older we get the more problems we face. Life can throw down a virtual gauntlet of challenges.

The biggest challenge of my life was Jim’s dementia. Throughout the ten-year span of his decline, each day had the potential of producing an unexpected crisis. Still, we had a lot of good, happy days. At first, we still took our trips to Colorado, and later spent time in Branson. Jim loved to travel, and at times life progressed on a semi-normal pace. As his abilities declined, we settled for ice cream at Dairy Queen and a walk in the park. Other times, we would drive through the countryside. This was full circle since when were first married, going for drives was our favorite cheap entertainment. Life is good if you want it to be.

Of course, we know how our story ended, and that brought another challenge to my life. Although the disease had taken Jim away from me a piece at a time, I had to adjust to the absence of his physical presence.

Jim always said that death was closing one door and opening another. Easter is a time that reminds us that death is trading our mortality for immortality. Our hearts are filled with hope and a renewal of our spirituality. 

Springtime is the time of new life. Trees bud out and blooms from flowering bushes release their fragrance on the breeze. Dormant plants spring forth from the earth, flower gardens, meadows, and road ditches and form a rainbow of vibrant color. Viviparous mammals begin to give birth to young ones. Birds and reptiles lay eggs and incubate them so they become live animals. When the conditions are perfect, morel mushrooms pop up and the hunt begins.

My mom has learned an abundance of wisdom in her 97 years of life. After giving her observation about my hypothetical death, I realize she made a valid observation. Yes, the sting of death falls heavily upon the loved ones left behind.

The best way to honor the loss of a loved one is to go on living a full, productive life. Cherish your memories, and find comfort in the love you gave and received. Face the future with faith, hope, and abundant love.

Copyright © March 2024 by L.S. Fisher


Sunday, March 17, 2024

Irish for the Day

As I drove to the post office Saturday morning, I noticed a lot of commotion around Ohio Street. It took a minute for my mind to click in and realized the St. Patrick’s Day Parade was about to begin. My biggest concern was whether I could get out of town without backtracking.

I didn’t stay for the parade because I had a busy day ahead of me. As I drove out of town, I ruminated about St. Patrick’s Days of the past.

At one time, our Alzheimer’s Walk Committee participated in the St. Patrick's Day parade. One year, we were brave enough to sign up for the bed races. We didn't have to build a bed since another group had loaned us their bed from the previous year. We put the smallest kid in our group in the driver’s seat and our fastest people to push. As our group huffed and puffed their way down Ohio Street, Ginger lost her shoe. The good news was that we won Second Place…the bad news was only two beds were in the competition that year.

During the parade, the announcers promoted our dance and auction coming up in the evening. As soon as the parade finished, we rushed to set up the silent auction and arrange the items chosen for the live auction. Our celebrity auctioneer, country music singer Leroy Van Dyke, always drew a crowd. Leroy jokingly said that it was amazing how much work a person could do when they volunteered.

In keeping with the holiday theme, gooseberry pie was always a premium auction item. Ted Distler, the Jefferson City Alzheimer’s Walk chair, and I, the Sedalia Walk chair, were always the final two bidders for the pie. Once our friendly competition ended with a successful bid, the winner sliced the pie and shared with the other. 

On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish. Now the big event of the day and evening is the Pub Crawl. Yes, Irish and drinking do tend to go together. My favorite alcoholic beverage is Irish coffee.

My thoughts turned to the tour of Ireland that my sister and I took in 2005. Going to Ireland had always been on my bucket list, and I was not disappointed! I loved the old castles, the Irish people, and the green, green grass. Throughout our travels in the Emerald Isle, I had many moments of déjà vu. The landscape, castle ruins, Cliffs of Moher, and ancient cemeteries with their scenic arches tugged at my heartstrings. I kissed the blarney stone, as if I needed a better gift of gab than I already have.

Our tour guide regaled us with stories about leprechauns and how these magical, wee creatures hold the key to the “luck of the Irish.” Leprechauns are tricksters, and the reason we wear green is to keep them from pinching us. Personally, I’ve only been pinched by people, with nary a leprechaun to be seen.

Yes, everyone wants to be Irish for a day—St. Patrick’s Day. I would rather be magically transported to Ireland for a day. 

As this St. Patrick’s Day comes to a close, I hope you’ve had a day filled with luck as abundant as the shamrocks in Ireland. Until next year, “May the road rise to meet you and the wind be always at your back.”


Copyright © March 2024 by L.S. Fisher


Friday, March 15, 2024

Turn a Deaf Ear


Several years ago, I went to see my family physician for an earache. He told me I had an ear infection and sent some medicated drops home with me. The throbbing in my ear stopped when blood trickled down my neck. I called the doctor and told him about the new development. He assured me that I wasn’t going to bleed to death from my ear. (Guess he never saw the same westerns I had!) My eardrum had ruptured, and he said it would most likely heal on its own.

Once the incessant buzzing stopped, I figured I was good to go. I never noticed a problem until I took a hearing test as part of a workplace health fair. “You have a slight loss of hearing in your right ear,” the technician told me.

Eventually, I noticed that if someone spoke softly in my right ear it was the “wah wah wah” sound much like Charlie Brown’s teacher. It finally occurred to me that I was unintentionally turning a deaf ear.

 It’s annoying to have hearing loss in one ear, but it does make me stop to consider that at times turning a deaf ear is advantageous. “Turning a deaf ear” is an idiom for ignoring what another person says. When I was a caregiver for Jim, I learned to turn a deaf ear at times. 

·     Turn a Deaf Ear to Negativity: A caregiver has enough challenges without outsiders heaping negativity on them. Negative people sap precious energy that you will need to make all the decisions necessary to provide the daily care your loved one needs. There’s no better way to ruin a day than to listen to someone who finds fault with how you are handling the difficult choices you need to make.

·       Turn a Deaf Ear to Criticism:  There’s a lot of truth to the old saying that everyone is a critic. I’ve known a few people in my life that think criticizing others makes them look better. When a caregiver is doing her best, no one else has the right to criticize. If the job of caregiving is overwhelming and the best solution is to seek professional care, it becomes a family matter. When I made that difficult long-term care decision for Jim, I only cared what my kids and his mom had to say. Once we were in agreement, I turned a deaf ear to everyone else.

·       Turn a Deaf Ear to Self Doubt: As a caregiver, you need to learn to ignore that nagging voice in your head that constantly runs through the “should have—could haves.” Once you’ve made a caregiving decision, you need to stop doubting yourself. Self doubt is fraught with negative emotions: anxiety, indecision, depression, and guilt. I’ve known caregivers that had to seek psychological and pharmaceutical help. There’s no shame in taking care of your healthcare needs with professional guidance.

·       Turn a Deaf Ear to Gossip: When you are doing what is best for you and your loved one, don’t give credence to the opinion of someone who has not walked in your shoes. Here’s a helpful hint—no one has ever walked in your shoes but you! 

The good thing about turning a deaf ear is that you don’t actually have to be deaf in one ear. All it takes is a positive mindset to turn a deaf ear when necessary, but listen with both ears to trusted advice on best practices for caring for your loved one with dementia.

When you type into your browser, you will find answers to almost all the questions that you have about the disease, caregiving, or how to get involved in the fight to end Alzheimer’s. The 24/7 Helpline 800-272-3900 is prominently displayed at the top of the home screen.

When Jim was first diagnosed, I knew nothing about Alzheimer’s or dementia. Throughout my caregiving journey, I trusted the Alzheimer’s Association to steer me in the right direction, and they did.

Copyright © March 2024 by L.S. Fisher