Mother’s Day and Alzheimer’s

As Mother’s Day approaches, I feel something in my heart. A low growl of pain. The kind an animal who has been wounded makes. I think of the kittens birthed in the back of my parents’ closet. The low moans that came from the mother cat. And, gradually, the tiny mewling that issued from the blind bundles of fur.  Are we meant to spend our lives aching, searching for the one who loves us? Maybe so. As that’s how we come into this world. And leave it.

Mom, in her 80s.

My mother had Alzheimer’s for 14 years. She slipped away, borne on the waves of memory to a place I couldn’t follow, leaving me weeping on the shore. And, suddenly, she would return, full-sail, a mother ship, so resplendent with the weight of wind in her canvas. As if she had no reason to be present other than to spread kindness and love.

I remember the night I kissed her goodbye at her rest home. A typical night, one where she had barely spoken a word all day, gradually slumping to one side in her lounge chair. During lunch, she hardly took notice of the food on the fork I held to her lips. She was someplace else, had perhaps become someone else, a person I no longer recognized.

Mom, as a high school student.

As the moon left patterns on her quilt, and I turned her bedside lamp off and bent my head to kiss her, her lips pursed. She kissed me on the cheek over and over again. Feathery kisses, the kind she used to share when she was fully alive, fully mine.  At the time I thought she is giving me kisses for the future.

Or maybe they were kisses held in time, kisses to be remembered, to remind me of who she was, who she will always be, even when her body is no longer on this earth.

So, on this Mother’s Day, I still feel the ache of what’s missing; I scan my life for the places where I feel love. There are many. Yet, inside me, I cup the emptiness, feel a low moan caressing my chest. Today, I give thanks for the presence of memory, the tender gifts of love a mother leaves a child.


Endings and Beginnings

Endings and beginnings. This month I seem to be in the midst of both of these passages. Everywhere I turn, it seems there’s another ending — a change, a loss, a time to say goodbye. But lest I get too caught up in grieving the passing of a season, I can’t help but see the seeds of new beginnings all around me as well. Read the rest of this entry »

A Writer’s Life: Circles of Support

I’ve been thinking a lot about circles of support in my life this week. Some of those circles have overlapped and intersected recently.

Today, a very special cruise to the Caribbean begins. I won’t be on this cruise, but both my heart and my memoir, Motherhood: Lost and Found, will be.

Creating Circles of Care and Building Bridges of Hope is a dementia cruise and conference created by my friend Lisa Marie Chirico. For the past several months, I’ve been working hard alongside the management team of AlzAuthors (Marianne Sciucco, Kathryn Harrison, Jean Lee, Vicki Tapia and Irene Frances Olson) to create The AlzAuthors Inspiration Collection, extraordinary books about Alzheimer’s and dementia. This collection is made up of over 35 books carefully chosen around the needs of cruise and conference attendees. Read the rest of this entry »

Seeing Clearly by the Light of the Super Moon

The morning after the eclipse, I woke at 4 a.m. and saw the light of the super blood wolf moon shining into my bedroom. I got up and peered outside at the trunks of trees standing ghostly in the silver light. I felt as if something important was happening. But I was tired, and I fell back asleep. I woke early again this morning and saw stripes of moonlight painting the floor. As I snuggled back under the covers, a couple of things floated to my consciousness. My word for the year – clear (as in “be clear”) – and Mary Oliver, the beloved poet who passed away last week. Read the rest of this entry »

Thoughts on the Eve of My 59th New Year

The approach of the New Year always gets me thinking about the past, present and future. I like to sift through the memories of the old year, cataloging my experiences – successes, challenges, periods of growth, etc. I also like to think ahead and dream about what’s possible in the fresh new days that lie ahead. Read the rest of this entry »

5 Thoughtful & Last-Minute Gifts for Caregivers

Do you have a caregiver on your Christmas list? Have the holidays gotten the best of you, and you’ve only got a few more days to finish shopping? Don’t let the culture of buying unnecessary gifts get to you. You can show your love to the caregiver on your list by choosing one of the thoughtful gifts below.

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Stock Up on Great Books During the AlzAuthors Book Sale & Giveaway in Honor of National Caregivers’ Month

November is National Caregiver Appreciation Month and a wonderful time to recognize the long hours, sacrifice, and love all caregivers bring to the task of caring for a loved one with dementia or any long-term illness. In honor of their efforts, is hosting a Book Sale & Giveaway from November 7th – 13th. This is a terrific way for caregivers who are looking for knowledge, guidance, and support to build a library of carefully vetted books to help guide and inspire them everyday.

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