Caregiver Connections: Bringing AlzAuthor Jean Lee to Charlotte

Ever since my trip to Naples last November (which I wrote about here), I’ve been wondering what it would be like to bring members of my AlzAuthors Management Team home. I’ve grown close to these women, who I’ve been working side by side with in a virtual office for about a year now. We are scattered around the country and beyond (our art director lives in Canada), yet we share an intimacy that’s hard to imagine, if you haven’t been an Alzheimer’s caregiver.

I met Jean and Vicki for the first time in Naples, Florida, last November.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Jean Lee and Vicki Tapia once in person. I only know Marianne Sciucco, Kathryn Harrison and Irene Olson through social media and Google Hangouts. But I feel as if I know their hearts. I’ve read their books. I know their stories, and I know the passion they bring to the work they do at AlzAuthors. After all, who would think that a handful of volunteers would have collected and collated 170+ resources from around the world about Alzheimer’s and dementia? And that’s just a fraction of what they do. Read the rest of this entry »

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National Poetry Month: The Joy Of Writing Poems With Tony Abbott

It’s a rare opportunity when you get to honor your mentor, who is alive and well, still reading poetry and teaching at the age of 84. This, after a bout of lung cancer and dealing with chemo and radiation, which makes it all the more meaningful.

What an honor it is to celebrate Tony Abbott during National Poetry Month. I was so pleased to have him introduce me at the launch party of The Beach Poems. See previous post here.

April is National Poetry Month, a perfect time to reminisce over my early days as a poet and the gifts I’ve received from Tony Abbott. I spent those days searching for the next line that would move me deeply, digging into my past, roaming beyond the ragged edges of my heart, seeking something bright and unexpected – the sun rising over a new land created through language.

In short, I wanted to be broke open and reformed – again and again.

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A Book Launch Party: the After Effects

On the Ides of March, there was a book launch party for The Beach Poems. I started the day fearful that it would be an embarrassment, that so few people would come that the bookstore would lose money and the kind staff who supported this event would never want me to show my face there again. This is what the mind does – spiral and spiral until we are cringing at our own unworthiness.

Release Party sign for The Beach Poems

Fortunately, I was blessed to have an incredibly supportive core of women, part of the CWC-N board who assured me not only that they would be there (they put on the book launch party and made the entire thing a piece of cake, so that I could sweep in and not lift a finger), but that no matter who showed up, they were looking forward to an afternoon of sharing time together, listening to my poems and celebrating our love of all things literary.

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Trip to Florida, Part IV: The Miami Book Festival

(This is a four-part series. Click here to read Part I.)

After packing and saying our goodbyes to Jean and Vicki, Gilda and I drove south towards Alligator Alley. I was excited to be driving across Florida and to get a view of the everglades. My father, a civil engineer for the Army, had worked throughout South Florida on various projects before I was born. The names of towns were familiar to me because I had grown up listening to him talk about them.

Alligator Alley: on the side of the road.

While I felt as if I were home and had hopes of catching a glimpse of an alligator, Gilda’s husband Stu had warned her not to get out of the car because he’d been warned there were large snakes in the area. Gilda wasn’t sure what to do when I pulled over and asked her to take a photo of me by the water. Read the rest of this entry »


Trip to Florida, Part III: An Honorary AlzAuthor

(This is a four-part series. Click here to read Part I.)

Gilda joined me in Naples on Thursday night. I had shared with Jean and Vicki how much I loved Gilda, that she was wise and funny, a delight to be with and a wonderful writer. They welcomed her at the condo and into the fold. I had also shared with Jean and Vicki how Gilda often talked about AlzAuthors in her writing classes.

Gilda had firsthand experience with Alzheimer’s. Several female members of her extended family have developed dementia. Gilda was also one of the few friends who had visited my mother during the last stage of her life. Jean named Gilda an “honorary” AlzAuthor.

Jean, Vicki and I toasting. Gilda took the photo.

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Trip to Florida, Part II, An Amazing Author Connection

(This is a four-part series. Click here to read Part I.)

Once I made the decision to go to Florida, I felt a magnetic pull through the next several weeks of preparations. Jean Lee of AlzAuthors stayed in touch and shared details about flying, car rentals, the weather in Naples and what to expect.

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Trip to Florida, Part I: An Inner Pull

(This is a 4-part series. Click here to read Part II.)

Just settling down after a whirlwind of activity … so much going on in November, much of it swirling around the eye of the 10th anniversary of my mother’s passing. I suppose it should be no surprise that my poetry collection, The Beach Poems, was released in November, since it was a group of poems that came to me slowly after my mother’s death. The beach itself returned to me, a place I had almost forgotten; it surged back into my life carrying with it memories of my mother and deep pools of reflection.

The beach surged back into my life, bringing with it memories of my mother.

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