Sunday, August 28, 2022

The Loop


"Coleslaw for breakfast?" Mom asked. "I've never had coleslaw for breakfast."

"It's not breakfast, Mom," I said for the 15th time in the 30 minutes since Mom had been awake. "It's 6 o'clock at night. It's supper."

"What? No!" she said. "It's early in the morning!"

"You slept nearly the whole day," I remind her. "And now it's time for supper!"

She takes a bite of her coleslaw. "This is delicious!" Chews a minute. "I've never had coleslaw for breakfast."

It's a circular conversation. Anyone with aging parents—with or without dementia—is familiar with looping: this repetition of ideas, questions, stories. 

The stories always begin as if this is the very first time she's ever told them. 

"My mother was a good cook like you are. She used to make food for Dad's store and people would line up to buy it." 

"I loved to sit on the porch swing with Mama. She lived right across from the junk yard, and we'd watch people bring their junk."

"I loved my Dad.  His store was across a busy road and I ran away to get to him, but I got stuck in the mud before I got to the road. I could have died."

"I used to love to watch Shorty kill the cows. He'd thump 'em on the head and they'd fall over."

These stories are having their last telling. Who will tell them after she's gone? I may tell my own children and future grandchildren how my mother told these stories, but I won't tell them with the same first-person gusto. I don't hold these memories myself, these memories of folks long, long gone, of a time when a woman would sell angel food cakes and German potato salad at a neighborhood grocery.

The looping is endless. Oh, we know all the right things to do. We smile. We answer a question, again and again. We listen to a story and smile. We exude patience, love, and kindness. 

But let's be honest: The looping drives us bananas. The looping is hard, and we just want to shout: I JUST TOLD YOU THAT! or YES! YOU'VE TOLD ME THAT STORY 600 TIMES BEFORE!

Hang in there, caregivers of aging parents. You're not alone. 

I repeat: you're not alone.

(Did I mention... you're not alone?)

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Books Read in May


Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney. 

This was a fun psychological thriller. Lots of secrets and some fun plot twists with plenty of eye-rolling moments. Not a masterpiece but a good in-between read.


The Woman They Could Not Silence by Kate Moore. 

Subtitled "One Woman, Her Incredible Fight for Freedom, and the Men Who Tried to Make Her Disappear," this is the nonfiction story of a mother of six in the mid-1800s whose husband, a Presbyterian minister, decided she had way too many opinions. And so, because he could, he committed her to the asylum. After all, she had the audacity to challenge his religious and political beliefs; thus, she was clearly insane. The author uses the letters and journals of Elizabeth Packard in telling her incredible story of fighting not only for her freedom, but for justice for women incarcerated by their husbands across the U.S. This was an amazing story, both frustrating and inspiring, and the short afterword reminds us that “difficult” women continue to be silenced.  Highly recommended!




The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams. 

This will definitely be a contender for my favorite book of the year. A series of people in a community find a list: “In case you need this” with a series of book titles. The titles draw them to the library, where they all interact at some point, and as they read, they find healing and connection. I laughed, I cried, I wanted to curate my own reading list and stuff it in mailboxes, slide it into library books, and pin in on bulletin boards. 


What would be on my reading list? What would be on yours? Great fodder for a book club discussion!

Sunday, May 29, 2022

We have a lawyer!


When I started blogging, he was 12. 

Then he became a teenager and then, in a blink, turned sixteen. He was an Eagle Scout and then graduated from high school and college. That all seems like forever ago.

Last July, he and Summer got married in Las Vegas, and we celebrated together at a big family campout when they returned.

Zooming after their wedding!

Family camping week, post wedding celebration

And now, he's a lawyer. While he was in law school, he worked on the law review journal and clerked at a law firm, and he graduated with highest honors—in the top 5% of graduates. 

You could say we're a little proud, yep.

"What's next?" That's what everyone asks. There is only one answer: pass the bar exam. 

Stay tuned! That happens in late July with results by October. Until then: he'll be studying.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Home at Last

 Twenty-two years ago we bought our first house. We didn't have a huge list of requirements. We were thrilled just to have our own house after living in rentals for the first 11 years of marriage. But we did want a house that had an attached apartment—not a basement one, but one with plenty of light and its own entrance. Our dream was always to have my parents spend time with us. For the first 10 years, my parents were snowbirds. They came to TN from NY from November through March of each year. It was a wonderful time; we had what we always wanted: that our children would know their grandparents.

After dinner games and books, 2004

And then they finally decided to sell their beautiful house on the shores of Seneca Lake and move down here full time. They bought a house just two minutes down the road from us and lived there for 12 years. Every now and then something would happen— a fall, a hospitalization, too much housework—and we'd wonder if it was time for them to move into our apartment. But they always rallied and decided they wanted to stay in their own space. 

Mom in the hospital with a broken arm

Dad battling a toe wound

Last month, just a week before Mom's 95th birthday, Dad sent me a text on a Sunday afternoon. "Can't wake Mom up. Can you come?" When I got to their house, Mom was out cold, completely unresponsive. We called 9-11, and she was transported to the hospital. She'd had a mild heart attack and also had a urinary tract infections. UTIs are serious in the elderly, often causing delirium and leading to hospitalization. She finally awoke the next day, bewildered and weak. My brother and I alternated between being in the hospital with Mom and transporting Dad to and from the hospital. Randy fed us every evening. We all decided that it was time to move Mom and Dad into the apartment.

Mom said "This hospital sure is nice!'

And so, here we are in this new season—one we always knew was coming but didn't really know what to expect. This all happened at a good time. I just had a few weeks left in the semester. As an adjunct at a small private college, my load is light anyway. Mom and Dad seem happy to be here, although Mom is often confused, wondering where she is and where she came from. 

We still have some adjustments to make. My brother is putting in a walk-in shower—and also finishing his last semester as a college professor. We have to eventually figure out what to do with their house—and all their stuff. For now, we're just taking this day by day.

It's an honor to have these two kindhearted people who have lived in this world so long and seen so much here with us, for however long it lasts.

Thursday, April 28, 2022


 Oh hey! 

I'm not gone yet.

2021 is gone, yep, and 2022 is nearly halfway gone, but I'm still here.

A lot of things have changed this year, and a lot of things have stayed the same.

Our oldest child got married.

Our middle child and her husband moved 12 hours away.

Our youngest is finishing his junior year of college.

My parents moved in.

Some things stayed the same. Our jobs. Our friends, mostly. Our love for hiking and for each other. Our desire to travel, to see it all, and yet to stay home on the couch and watch Hulu.

I'm going to be updating here more often with a focus on preserving memories of these last year with my parents. My blog's gone from raising kids to partnering with aging parents, and the time between is short.

If you're still here, thanks for reading! I'll be back soon.