Saturday, December 29, 2007

Coming soon near you

I haven't done much with this recently, mainly because my computer has been rather tempermental. Actually, I think it's my dial-up. Anyway, my wonderful son-in-law and his beautiful and wonderful wife (Kay) are giving us a much appreciated gift for Christmas. Cable hook-up or something similar so I can actually download something in less than 5 minutes. I get so frustrated. Hubby would probably appreciate more channels to investigate.

I've apparently stirred up some interest in nursing homes through some of my posts. I have been involved in nursing home ministry and visitation for almost 35 years (and have actually worked in nursing homes for 10 years), so I feel I can give some good pointers if anyone is interested. I hope to do that as soon as I have a more dependable set-up. I say that because sometimes I get kicked off the internet without warning. oh no, it ...................................

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Peculiar Blessing

Our church choir performed at one of the local nursing homes last night. I was afraid it would be put off until too late, but it happened! The choir dressed in black skirts/pants and white tops. They looked very nice. I noticed most of them didn't mingle a whole lot with the residents. Some did and the pastor carried his grandson around and his little grandaughters wandered around among the people. I went around inviting people, though the staff did a wonderful job of getting the residents to the dining room. There was a lady I had never met. I tried to converse with her but I couldn't understand her. I asked a nurse about her and she apparently had invited her and the lady was going to come after she changed her dress. I found out the lady is blind and deaf, and doesn't have the use of her right hand. She can see shadows so can see signing if there is a bright light and a shadow. I placed her as close to the music as possible because they said she feels the vibrations. She was signing with her left hand, swaying to the music, and smiling her face off. Apparently she was feeling the vibrations and enjoying herself. I have no idea what she was signing but she certainly was pointing toward Heaven frequently and then pointing to her heart. What a blessing that was to all of us.

Monday, December 3, 2007

'Tis the Season

I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but...... Why do people and organizations flock to the nursing homes during the Christmas season, and neglect them the rest of the year? Why don't youth groups go "caroling" up and down the hallways all year round, instead of just during December? Why don't church chorales go sing in July? Why is it so hard for people to go to nursing homes? Are they fearful of getting old, handicapped, senile? Are they reminded that they too will grow old and die someday? When our church started a nursing home ministry about 34 years ago, we had to wait to get a Sunday afternoon anywhere. We eventually got Sunday afternoon at four different facilities. There were so many churches doing the ministry that we had to wait to get those days. Now, some nursing homes in our town have maybe one or two churches coming. Yes, it is a hard ministry, and, yes, people don't shout AMEN and reaffirm the preaching, but they are listening, and they might be lost, and they need people to care that they are one step from eternity. My verse is Jer. 8:20 "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved." A friend of mine has a Bible study at a N.H. She has been praying for this one elderly lady for two years. A week or so ago that lady accepted Christ, at the age of 97! God is good.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Well...I have been having computer problems...still! I am at my daughter's house and am able to use one of her several computers (!). Our family had Thanksgiving here and it was wonderful. She cooked a free range turkey, which has no antibiotics, etc. It is much more delicious than the standard ones. She has a lovely home and she likes to decorate for the occasion. Even though there was no television available for the men to stare at, we had a good time. We sat around and actually talked. The one mistake we made was that we made too many pies, even for this family. I also did something I have never done before. I actually threw away a turkey carcass! I usually take it home and salvage the good stuff for noodles, etc., but it was not very convenient this time. I don't know whether to be proud of myself or disappointed in myself! I actually wasted food!! But I also did something that went "against the grain". My brother-in-law brought the two kids a guitar each. An adult nephew was here and he spent maybe an hour showing my 9-year-old grandson how to hold it, how to tune it, and some other basic things. Grandson is pretty interested in it.

My second daughter lives in Missouri and she spent Thanksgiving at her in-laws' home, which is in Branson. They're retired and enjoying life.

I am so thankful for my wonderful family and friends. I hear everyday about the hardships some families have constantly; this child on drugs, this child in jail, etc. I am very aware of how God has blessed us. Thank you, Lord!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Old bloggers

One of my daughters wonders how I can blog but she needs a child's help getting on the internet. Well, I heard on a morning show, I think, the other day, about a guy setting up a blog for her 95-year old grandmother in Spain. She has had thousands of people check it out and is having the time of her life. They also mentioned a 108-year old woman in Australia (I think) that blogs regularly. So there! Can you imagine what the nursing homes will be like in a few years? The activity people will really have to change their approach. There will have to be computers readily available for the residents. They will be playing computer games and blogging instead of talking about homesteading. Wow! Too much to think about!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

I'm still around

My computer has been on the fritz (can I say that?) Is that a person's name? Anyway, I have been having a nightmare with it. First I thought it was my phone jack cable, then my phone jack, then my server, etc. I accidentally got online tonight so thought I'd better say something. I just finished a book by Angela Hunt called The Elevator. It was intriguing and very much a page-turner. It's about three women who get stuck in an elevator during a hurricane. I also just read a book by Patricia Woods called The Lottery. That book was fun and very charming, although there were some crude words, none of which were used by our hero (except for once), because his Grandma told him it was bad to say those words. I recommend both of them.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Duh Moment

When I worked in activities at a veterans' nursing home, there was one black fellow. He was probably in his early 80's and had grown up in the deep south. His "problem" was discussed at a care planning meeting one day. The "problem" was that sometimes he would raise such a ruckus when it was time to get his bath. By the way, this man had Alzheimer's disease and his memories were probably 30 to 40 years in the past. Lowly me, I spoke up and said, "Do you realize what would have happened to him 40 years ago if he had been caught naked in the same room with a white woman?" Duh was the expression on most of the faces, including social workers, R.N.s, etc. So, good idea! The black female nursing assistant and the men were to bathe him from then on. Well, guess what? He never threw another ruckus about it! Isn't it amazing what can happen when one stops to think a little bit.....

Friday, October 19, 2007


This is another one of my younger daughter's poems. My sister rescued a Shetland pony 30 years or so ago. She doesn't know how old he was when she got him.

To the little man, loved by many. Good pony.

Rescued from fate...welcomed
to love
Better than most...long were
your days
Learning to trust...
the hands that touched you
Grazing in peace...plenty
of hay
Darkness took you...yet peace
still remained
Kind hands kept you...long in
your days
The end comes to all...some
sooner than others
If not for your fall...still
would you be...
Grazing in peace, trusting the
long in your days
Julie 9/13/05

Sunday, October 14, 2007

My dog park experience

I had never been to a dog park. For obvious reasons. I don't have a dog and there are no dog parks nearby, at least no fenced ones where the dogs can run and do dog things freely. I spent a few days with my daughter who has recently acquired a dog. A really sweet dog. So we went to the dog park three days in a row. What a hoot! All the dogs had to run and greet every new arrival and had to escort each friend who was leaving. They had to inspect each person-thing that came in, just to make sure they were okay, I guess. They had to establish their dominance with each other, which was very interesting to watch. There were many breeds and mixes there, some very comical. A half golden/half Bassett was hilarious looking. Golden with a retriever's head and the body of a Bassett, tail of a retriever; legs of a Bassett. I can't describe all that was going on there...too much! But I think every community needs a fenced dog park with a place for the elderly and bored and lonely people to sit and watch. Of course, not inside where you get wallowed and drooled and licked. And where you find yourself petting three at a time. I got nailed by a couple of dogs running. One hit against my right leg. I didn't fall but it hurt. Seems okay now though. Go visit a dog park, just for fun, and stay out of the way.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Facing a Fear

I tolerate bugs and spiders and other creepy things pretty well. BUT, I find centipedes and green tomato worms quite disagreeable. I think the centipede thing comes from an experience on a farm one time when a guy forked up some loose hay in the barnyard. It seemed to me (a child of about 5 or 6) that there were hundreds of centipedes scurrying around underneath that hay. I don't know about the tomato worms except that they're made out of green juice. Did you ever throw one into a chicken pen and see the green juice squirt everywhere? Yep. That's it. Well, this summer I planted a few tomatoes in a tub. I looked at them one day and wondered why one of them looked so awful. While looking closely, I finally saw why. A big green tomato worm was clinging to a stem! At first I almost freaked out. Then I decided to look him over real close. Do you know that they have legs? When he was hanging on the bottom of a stem, I saw about 4 or 5 sets of bright yellow legs (not feet) curved around the stem. He also had eyes and a funny mouth with tiny teeth. Of course he had the hook and the "eyeballs" on the sides of his body. I looked at him every day for weeks. Then one day he was gone. Did he go do whatever they do this time of year, did a cat get him, did a bird get him? I have to admit I felt a little sorry he was gone. I don't think they are so disgusting after all!

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Why does this blog thing rearrange my spacing in the poems? Has it no respect? I was told that once something is placed on a blog it becomes a published article. So those poems I put on this blog can't legally be published now? Only as a reprint I was told. Where is that information found? I hope I didn't give away my daughter's poems, though they're so personal who else could claim them, unless they know the people they're written about.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Here is another poem written in November, 1997 by my younger daughter. It's about my Mom who died in February, 1998, on her 95th birthday.

With tired blue eyes faded by years
She looks at her loved ones without any tears.
Though some have passed on most are still near
With children in tow on visits appear.
Does she remember the time when younger in years
She could come and go freely without any fears?
An independent woman ahead of her time
Her dreams and desires not to be realized?
Born in a day when women were meek
Her humor and boldness must have been very unique.
A house full of children and a household to keep,
Were her dreams just dreams out of her reach?
Could she have been a poet, her thoughts would flow;
Or a healer of sickness, a hero in war?
Does she wonder what if, and then shake her head,
Too late for what if, she’ll take what she had?
Fine children, hard times, history before her eyes.
From buggy to rocket, pigtails to gray.
Those blue eyes missed nothing, I’m sure, along the way.
So much love she still gives us.
So much strength to draw from.

I know her eyes are faded, but before you pass
Look closely at my grandma and see what I see;
A woman of secrets and great mysteries,
knowledge and questions;
answers untold all hidden down deep;
that spark gives them away
inside those tired blue eyes
under that wavy hair of gray.
Julie 11/97

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Break-up

A retired colonel resided on an Alzheimer's unit where I worked. He was early stage and knew something was wrong. He was so kind and courteous to everyone. A real gentleman. One day he asked if he could talk to me. I said yes and we went out into the courtyard. He sat us down in the gazebo and then he took hold of my hand. He started telling me that he knew something was wrong with him and that he had something he needed to take care of before he became unable to do so. We walked around the courtyard holding hands, while he talked softly. I soon realized that he was trying to break up with me! He was so gentle and apologetic and didn't want me to be hurt. I didn't use "reality orientation" with him because it would have embarrassed him beyond belief. I told him that I really respected him and his decision and said it was okay, that we could still be friends. He thanked me and he seemed extremely relieved. We walked a little more but we talked of other things and he never said another word about it. So, was he doing something that he hadn't been able to take care of because of his illness? Or was he reliving something from his past? Regardless, it was one of the strangest and sweetest incidents I had ever experienced working with dementia patients. I later got to share the Gospel with him and he prayed for salvation. (Had to be sneaky because I was on duty at a government facility. Thank God for that gazebo and the Gideon New Testament). He died of heart failure about three weeks later. God spared that good and dignified man the humility of the downward spiral he would soon encounter.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Moon Sweeper

This was written by my younger daughter about Gaylen.

This short-story is dedicated to my Mom who has loved many an odd person in her life & is better for it.


Once upon a time there was a man who loved the moon.
He loved the big, full, orange moon of the fall, the pale white moon of winter, and the yellow moon that came in summer.
During new moon he would quietly mourn the absence
of his round-faced friend,
and when the full moon would reappear he would be
filled with joy, as if seeing it for the first time.
As this man who loved the moon grew older,
an amazing thing began to happen.
His body was aging, but his mind was not.
He could still look at things with true wonder in his eyes,
and be happy just to see them.
The people around him changed.
Some of them grew up and moved away,
some just got older, and others died.
But the man who loved the moon remained the same.
He greatly mourned the loss of his friends,
but the moon could always cheer him.
As time went on and his body aged he was moved
from what friends he still had to a
place that could care for him better.
But they did not know how he loved his moon
and not being with his loved ones and having a new moon
to look at was more than his heart could take.
Go outside on the next full moon.
Look at it. Really look.
See the texture and how the shadows fall to make a face.
Notice the color, the roundness and the size.
People don’t become angels and Heaven is the home to God’s saints,
but I think that once a month for a day or two God
lets one man take care of the moon,
the moon that was such a friend to him while he was on this earth.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


For many years, I’ve heard the expression "special" applied to developmentally disabled persons and I always felt it was rather patronizing. But then Gaylen came into my life. He was indeed "special". My heart still tweaks when I think of him and it’s been many years since he went to be with his Lord.
The beginning of our relationship is a little vague. He was residing in a nursing home near our church and he began attending, usually walking to and from and occasionally allowing us to transport him by car, van, and, later by bus. Somehow we thought this was a privilege! At some point it became his "job" to empty the trash cans in the church and adjoining Christian School. He was never asked to do this but took it upon himself, probably because that was his job at Developmental Training Services where he went daily. Upon arriving home he would walk the block or so to his "other job". One late evening he was found sitting outside the pastor’s study window, apparently waiting for the opportunity to empty the pastor’s trash can.
Gaylen had a wonderful relationship with the children at the school. They loved him and learned much about feeling comfortable about "different" people. Although Gaylen was in his early 40’s he was very much like a child in his feelings and thinking (he had Down’s Syndrome). One day he came to the school wearing the medal he had won in Special Olympics. While playing ping-pong, one of the boys began teasing Gaylen about getting a necklace from a girlfriend. Gaylen put up with it for a while and then he took action.Joe had hit the ball astray and, when it stopped rolling, Gaylen casually walked over as if he intended to pick it up for Joe. Instead he very carefully stepped on it and smashed it. Joe reported it to the teacher who came and questioned Gaylen about it. "Gaylen, did you step on the ping-pong ball?" "No." "Gaylen, let me see what you have in your hand." Gaylen opened his hand, saw the smashed ball and exclaimed, "Oh! THAT ping-pong ball!"
Gaylen was the only one besides the pastor’s wife who was allowed to address the pastor by his first name.
Gaylen was the perfect church member. He was so devoted, however, that he would come to church sick. One time he passed out and we had to have someone from the nursing home come and get him. He was in bed for a week with the flu. They had to use safety devices to keep him in bed long enough to recover. He also listened attentively. On many occasions, when I would go to the nursing home on Sunday afternoon, I would find Gaylen standing in front of his mirror preaching, using the same words, expressions, and inflections that the pastor used that morning. Gaylen had his own "sitting place" at church and woe unto the innocent who sat in his place. One occasion stands out in my mind. A couple (who probably knew better but were displaced when someone sat in their place) sat in Gaylen’s row, at his end of the front pew. When he saw this, he snapped his fingers loudly, pointed at the couple, and motioned them out of his place. Of course, who argues with such authority? They moved.
This wonderful fellow always wore his cowboy hat and carried his "banjo" (which was actually a cheap guitar). He would strum and sing songs for the children. It sounded terrible but he was so full of love for everybody that it didn’t seem to matter somehow.
Gaylen loved Jesus and knew he would go to Heaven. He loved the moon and talked about visiting it when he went to Heaven. On day at church he kept trying to tell me something. As he was somewhat difficult to understand at times, I didn’t think too much of it. He kept saying he was going to Salida, a neighboring town. Going on outings wasn’t unusual at this particular nursing home so I thought little of it. Later that week I learned that he was being placed in a group home in Salida where he could live a "more independent" life with other developmentally disabled persons. Before a week had passed, my dear Gaylen got to go to be with the Jesus he loved so much.
Later, I learned that the people caring for him wondered about the church and school he repeatedly asked to go to, and that they had no idea who "Carl" (the pastor) was that he kept asking for. My heart breaks when I think of that week. I wanted to go see him the very first weekend he was gone but convinced myself I should let him make an adjustment first. Before the next weekend came, he was gone. I know in my heart that he didn’t understand what "going to Salida" meant. I don’t believe he had the capability to understand what "moving to Salida" meant in terms of time. He didn’t know he was going to stay there. I TRULY BELIEVE THAT GAYLEN DIED OF A BROKEN HEART. In my head I know that Down’s Syndrome people reach a peak in their 40’s and then start a decline which ends in total dependency. We know now that it is the same as Alzheimer’s disease and it would have been terrible to see Gaylen go through that. I also know that heart abnormalities are common in people with Down’s Syndrome and that it was a massive heart attack that killed him. But I truly believe that he died of a broken heart because he couldn’t find the church and his beloved friends.
It was the sweetest funeral I had ever attended. All the children from the school and Gaylen’s friends from DTS were there. Gaylen is buried where there is no perpetual upkeep but his friends from DTS keep his grave clean and decorated. I was concerned that he would never have a headstone, but someone has made him one out of concrete, a simple one but one made out of love. The important thing is that Gaylen is in Heaven and probably is the moon-keeper or something. I think of him absolutely every time I see the moon, especially a full moon because that’s the one he especially loved.
Knowing this man was such a blessing to our church family. Thank you, dear Lord!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Jerry REPOST from 8/07

Today at the mental health care center, one of my regulars called me over just before I was to start. He asked me if I pray for people. I said yes and asked what was wrong. This man has told me countless times how he got saved at a Campus Crusade for Christ meeting years ago. He always talks about having Jesus in his heart and that we have to do that before we can go to Heaven. He knows a lot about the Bible, too. This day though, he was having delusional thinking. He said that years ago when he was a rock star, he caused hundreds of people to disappear from a football field and a concert hall. He was so upset because he said that he was going to go to hell for that when he dies. He said that Satan deceived him into doing it. Okay, I thought...the only thing I can address is his salvation. I know nothing about him, although he does dress like a rock star from the 70s or so, and he has been to college. Anyway I told him that when we do something that displeases God, all we have to do is repent of it and ask for forgiveness. He said he had prayed but he was still going to go to hell. I told him that if Jesus came into his heart when he in college, then Jesus is still there. He fretted about those people who had disappeared and I assured him that God knows where every one of those people are and they are under his care. So finally, he said, "Ohhh. Because I asked Jesus to come into my heart, when I die I will go to Heaven! I said, "Yes, Jerry." He smiled and thanked me.
What a blessing that he felt he could talk to me about such a personal thing.

Monday, August 27, 2007

'Tis over

This morning I saw Spot asleep by the trash can on the patio. I took out a piece of turkey to see if she would eat it. She let me drop it in front of her but she didn't seem interested. I had backed off some like usual so as to not spook her. She got up, walked over to me, and rubbed on my legs. Never before has she deliberately approached me and rubbed against me. The few times in the past week or so she had rubbed against my legs, she was anticipating being fed. This time I picked her up and held her and she didn't even struggle. I petted her and placed her in the carrier. She didn't fight at all. She complained a couple of times in her low manly voice but that was all. My hubby drove us to the humane society. I got her out of the carrier and held her and petted her for several minutes and then the vet just gave her a shot in her tummy. I held her for several more minutes and then lay her down. The vet checked her and that was it. I wrapped her in a towel and carried her home and buried her in the backyard.

I've seen vets shave the leg and place a needle in a vein, all while having to hold the animal down. This was so much better and easier for both of us. I appreciate the opportunity to get to love on her like with most cats. She didn't seem terrified at all. A few weeks ago she would have not come near me at all. Why after 19 years did she become friendly and unafraid? I think the time was perfect. I'm sad but relieved.

Discarded people

I watched a "Masters of Science Fiction" show Friday evening. It was futuristic in that the freaks and abnormal humans were placed on a space ship sort of environment, in outer space. They had been relegated there by the authorities on earth as misfits. Granted, some of the characters had extreme problems. One had an extra head extruding from his shoulder, one had a huge 10x normal left arm, etc. They were the unfit, unloved, and untouchable in normal society. They were visited by a ship from earth and were given the opportunity of getting to go back to earth (they had been there for 27 years). The "disease" had spread on earth and the scientists had discovered that a serum made from the blood of these misfits would stop the spread. In return they would be returned to earth and would be accepted by society. The leader refused, saying that it was a lie. He was killed and the others agreed to do it. They gave blood and then waited until the ship came back for them. The ship came back but, instead of taking them to earth, it brought another load of discarded people.

This show disturbed me greatly. Don't we see this in our society, even today with all our enlightenment, our disabilities acts, our equal opportunity, etc.? Sunday afternoon, during our church services at a local mental health care center, I watched each and every face there (again). I thought...these are still discarded people. Of course, none of them have the abnormalities that the ones on the show had, but they're not "normal". Well, guess what? They're better friends to me than many of the people in my church, my community, etc. They love me and are always so glad to see me, and so thankful that I've come. It makes me feel so good to visit there, that I feel selfish. Am I doing it for them, or am I doing it because it is such a blessing to me?

One particular man stood and listened to the service. He usually never stays still long enough for anything, but he really listened. I looked closely at his face for the first time. He usually is walking in and out and on the go, talking loudly and disrupting things. He has light blue eyes and a rather handsome face. I could see something in his eyes I had never noticed before. I believe he has probably been mentally ill all his life. Did he have family that loved him at one time? Does he now? What does he think about God? Does he know he is considered insane? Does he care? Is he capable of making a decision for the Lord? Would he even be able to listen long enough? I have seen God clear the minds of people long enough for them to understand and get saved. Pray for Robert, please.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Crisis coming

Just when my old cat has finally started actually rubbing against my legs and letting me reach down and pet her, just when she doesn't run every time she sees me, and just when she purrs when I pet her, she is having difficulty eating again. She still is eager to eat but her face is bleeding again so apparently it hurts when she eats. Can it break my heart any more to take her to the vet now? I don't know. Can't until Monday anyway. Is she feeling comforted by my petting her? After almost 19 years of only getting to "accidentally" touch her (so she'd think it was her pal Gilligan rubbing against her), it pleases me to be able to pet her and hear her purr. As my daughter Kay said, who knew she would be so easily bought (referring to the deli turkey meat).

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Who would have thunk it?

I said something about if and when my poor cancer-stricken old cat's behavior changed, I'd reconsider my approach. Well guess what? Since I've been feeding her deli meat, her behavior has changed. She has come running across the yard a couple of times, has actually come when I called Kitty, Kitty, and spends more time hanging around the patio door. (Of course, that might be because I feed her whenever I see her sitting at the door). She eats really good and with much eagerness. I think it doesn't hurt her anymore to eat. You know, how a 4th degree burn can be less painful than a 1st or 2nd degree burn because the layer of skin where the nerves are most sensitive has been destroyed, or something like that. It appears I lengthened her lifespan after all. I don't know if that is good or bad.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Decision Made

As long as my poor cat is gobbling down oven-roasted turkey breast from the deli, I will feed her as much as she'll eat. As long as she continues to move around, drink water, and potty, I will leave her alone. As soon as she starts showing signs of distress or stops coming to eat, I will reconsider. I feel better. I can't believe how stressed I have been over this decision. Thanks for your comments.

Thursday, August 9, 2007


The funny thing is, the kitty doesn't even act sick. She is thin but she does all her same things. She follows her companion cat around, rubs on him, goes to her various hiding places, even trots across the yard at times. She is eating better now that I gave her some oven-roasted turkey from the deli (of course). She gobbles it down. She seems as interested in things as she always has been. I thought about having the vet come here but the only thing she would be spared would be the car ride. I'd still have to grab her and shut her up in a carrier, otherwise I'd never find her when the vet got here. I'll just go day by day I guess. Thanks for your comments.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A learning experience

Years ago when my church first started a nursing home bus ministry, I wasn't very wise about certain things. I let the people sit wherever they liked instead of having us all sit together where I could have a little control. One lady (from the mental health facility) stood up in the middle of the sermon and yelled, "Happy Mother's Day, everybody!" I was clear across the auditorium from her. I discussed it with her but still didn't have her sit with me. (DUH) The next time she got it right. On Mother's Day, she stood up and yelled, "Happy Mother's Day, everybody!" We had a "dinner on the ground" after church that day. Someone asked her if she'd like some macaroni and cheese. She said, in her very loud voice, "I can't eat cheese! It makes me con-sti-PATED!" Needless to say, she didn't come on our bus again.

Cruel vs cruel

You see, I have a very old cat who has cancer in her nose and it is digging into her sweet little face. She has been so timid and fearful of people since day 1. The two times I have handled her much were when I got her neutered, and when the neighbor dogs played volleyball with her and I grabbed her to take her to the vet. I have fed her twice a day for about 19 years and she still acts like I'm going to kill her. I grab her, shove her in a carrier, take her in a car, have other people handle her, give her a shot, etc., and put her down? OR, do I let her continue to lose weight (although she is still hungry and following her old companion around), get weak, and die in her own time in familiar surroundings? Both seem bad to me but it breaks my heart to think about terrorizing her for the last hour of her life. I want her to just go off and die on her own but I don't want her to die! I have such mixed feelings when I think she's not going to show up to eat, and then I have other mixed feelings when she does show up. My husband thinks I don't have the courage to take her to the vet. That's not the point. It's the idea of terrorizing her for the rest of her life that bothers me. What is wrong with me!!!

Reunion correction

Not my husband's mother's side of the family. I meant my husband's family, sister, nieces, nephews, etc.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Reunion run wild

Tomorrow is the 36rd reunion for my father's side of the family. Tonight, in my sister's front yard, there sat about 13 people from my mother's side of the family. Some more are expected tomorrow. Over the years it has gradually become a two-family reunion. The daddy side and the mommy side have folks who grew up together more or less anyway. There are also family from my husband's mother's side so it is becoming a three-family reunion. It is interesting to try to introduce people and explain how they are related.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Like minded people

Kay said that she has recommended my blog to a lady who is interested in church ministries to the mentally ill. Our church has had a nursing home ministry for nearly 34 years. One of the homes is the place I mentioned in another story. The church goes once monthly but I go weekly to do a "Bible Study". I put that in quotes because it is not a traditional study. I tried that with the sitting around the table and everyone finding the scriptures. Even with the Gideon Bible (so I can just have them turn to a page number to find a specific scripture), it took so long to make a point. It was"what page again?" "What page did you say.", etc. over and over. More and more wanted to come and we needed more room so we have to meet in the dining room. It is no longer practical to try to have everyone search and read the scriptures. Right now we are going through the book of Matthew, with as much participation as possible. I do the reading of the scriptures and make commentary. I encourage them to participate by asking them questions and letting them share their ideas. Some of the people know a lot about the Bible, however, some just think they do (just like any church). There is a common connection between schizophrenia and religious fanaticism and I see some of that, but, for the most part, we have a pretty normal session.

Two or three times a year we take the regulars to our church for a cookout or a lunch. Attendance at the Bible Study is expected in order to go to the cookout. Residents with behavior problems can be managed quite well by using the gain or lose privileges system.

You know, when you get right down to it, they just want to be treated like normal people.


I was wrong. I know Kay and Susan (not Sue) read my blog. This Susan doesn't show a profile so she isn't the same as Accidental Poet. SO, I do have three people at least. Thanks!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Anyone out there?

I know at least two people read my blog. Does anyone else read it besides Kay and Sue?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Where had she been?

When I worked on a VA Alzheimer's unit, there was one woman there. I'm not sure she had Alzheimer's or some strange type of mental illness, but she had been in this condition for a long time. She was ambulatory but wouldn't speak. She seemed to understand directions. I had known her for several years and had never heard a peep out of her. She had been a nurse during, I believe, the Korean War. She was sitting in the solarium day room and I heard her say, "I know a good nurse when I see one and there aren't any around here." I alerted the others and one of the doctors came in with a recorder and sat with her for several hours. Her voice was very weak and raspy from not using it for so long and she was a little hard to understand at first. She spoke about being an Army nurse and other aspects of her life. She talked about things that had happened on that unit and mentioned some things she felt the nurses had done wrong. Then she quit talking and, as far as I know, never did it again. It about blows my mind every time I think about it. Where had she been and where did she go?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The eyes of the "unloveables"

Today was our church service at a local mental health care center. While Carl was speaking, I was looking at each person sitting there. All were listening carefully and respectfully. Because I also go there weekly to do a "Bible study", I know them all pretty well.
I saw in their eyes a soul and spirit that God had placed there. A spirit which has been beaten up by mental illness and the stigma that goes with it. In spite of that, most of them are friendly and as happy as they probably can be anywhere. I know that a lot of them had been basically turned away by their families because of years of mental illness, behavior problems, drugs, or alcohol. Many do have family members who are in contact. Many have schizophrenia or bipolar diagnoses and have probably been sick most of their lives. There are a few elderly but most are probably under 60, many in their 30s or 40s.

I was thinking... "who loves these people?" I do. They trust me and treat me very well. Some of the staff love them. Some have worked there for many years and consider the residents their own special family. Others can't take it for very long but it's just as well that they move on. It is a difficult place to work. Every staff member has to know all the behavior modifications for each resident, if there is a problem. Who else loves them? God, for sure. For some reason he allowed them to be affected by mental illness. Why, I don't know. But whenever someone treats them kindly, he is treating God's creation kindly, and He gets the glory.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Momma in a rowboat

When I was in junior high, my Mom had 3 or 4 heart attacks before they could get her to a doctor. She spent several weeks in a hospital in a town about 80 miles from us. While she was there she started hemorrhaging. The choices were to do a hysterectomy and chance her not surviving because of her heart, or let her bleed to death. She did fine with the surgery. When she came home she was bedbound. Our small town was only a couple of miles from the convergence of two rivers. It was expected that both rivers would crest at the same time and possibly flood our area. My brother and his family lived on a farm on the other side of one of the rivers. We drove my mother to the near side of the river and she was loaded on a rowboat and taken across the river where my brother got her and took her to his house. First of all, my mother couldn't swim and had never been in a rowboat on a river that was at flood stage (who has?). She was pretty helpless also. I don't remember ever feeling so forlorn as I did while standing there watching her cross that river (this sentence makes me feel a little weepy). I recall that night when the flood was predicted to happen. We lived a mile or two from the other river but I swore I could hear water lapping on the side of our house. As it turned out, one river crested before the other and only some land in the immediate area was flooded.

The doctors didn't think my Mom would survive that heart condition but she managed to do very well until age 95. We always leave God out of the equation, don't we?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Snake extinguisher

Years ago I worked as activities director on an Alzheimer's closed unit in a nursing home located pretty much on a prairie. The unit had a solarium with a door which led to an outside fenced yard. One morning I was glancing through the casual notes the nurses sometimes made. The latest entry said "Little rattlesnake found in solarium. Please note: fire extinguisher does not extinguish snakes."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Assisted-Suicide Advocates Target Mentally Ill

Can you believe this? I have been thinking about such a possibility for a long time, with all the talk about the "burden" on the taxpayers caused by the aging "Baby Boomers". I was thinking, now our govenment will allow all the old and damaged people to be "helped".

Jacob Appel, who teaches at Brown University in Providence, R.I., wrote in the May-June issue of the Hastings Center Report that the arguments used to defend assisted suicide for the terminally ill can be applied "in many cases of purely psychological disease," including "repeated bouts of severe depression."

For the full article go to July 10th and look for the title as it is at the top of this posting.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I was tagged to write seven things about myself. I can't tag any other bloggers because I only know one and she's the one who tagged me.

1. I know how to snap a banana in half without a knife.
2. I am an overthinker, which usually gets me more frustration than information.
3. I don't actually hate anyone or anything except sin, satan and those who rape and kill little children.
4. I love my daughters and husband and actually also like them. Also my grandchildren and sons-in-law. There are no duplicates among them.
5. I tolerate bad cat behavior much more than I ever tolerated bad child behavior. Ask my daughters.
6. I have a special calling from God to love old people, disabled people, mentally ill people. I love Downs Syndrome people.
7. I hate housework, am a clutterer, and would much rather sit around and contemplate ideas. I do have lots of books on organizing but I can't find them.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Mr. Henderson

When I was a child, I spent hours playing checkers under a tree with an old man who lived in our trailer park. He later moved to an apartment on Main Street in the little town where we lived. I left town after graduation. While I was home on a visit, Grandpa Henderson died. I was in his upstairs apartment with his son just before the funeral. His son was looking out the window towards the only stoplight intersection in the town. Suddenly he ran out of the apartment. I left, wondering what was going on. At the funeral some people came in dressed in shorts and T-shirts. I was upset that they would attend a funeral dressed so casually. I later learned that some of Mr. H's grandchildren were stopped at the stoplight and his son saw them and drove after them to tell them about their grandfather. I always wonder about the timing of their arrival at that stoplight. It has always bothered me to think maybe they were not planning to stop and see their grandfather. I loved that old guy! I never knew either of my grandfathers.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Sensory Stimulation Repost

Years ago when I worked at a nursing home as an activity director, I decided to use a picture to provoke a conversation for a group activity. It was the picture of the blacksmith shoeing a horse underneath a tree. One of the ladies had extreme memory loss (we didn't know about Alzheimer's disease then). She could answer questions sometimes but she couldn't remember what she did 10 minutes before. You know the story. Anyway, several of the residents commented on the memories the picture provoked. One lady told about how her father was a blacksmith but he didn't go out of business when cars became so popular. He just learned to work on them and did very well. Mrs. B., the lady with the memory loss, who hardly knew her name anymore, began to speak in her weak, not used very much voice, and recited the entire poem The Village Blacksmith, word for word. Needless to say we all had tears streaming down our faces. After that recitation, she became quiet and re-entered her little world. It is one of the grandest memories I have.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Thoughts Stuck in My Brain

I want to share some of my feelings about the elderly, nursing homes, compassion, and the fear of dying. It is hard to find a kindred soul who totally understands my love and compassion for old people (yes, I can use the word "old", it's in the dictionary). I feel our society has relegated our elderly to the trash bin, so to speak. That does seem surprising due to the fact that many of our leaders and potential leaders in our country are over 50 or even 60. That used to be considered old. But I am talking about the ones who are past that, those who are hindered in some way physically, socially or mentally. I feel there is some real discrimination in our society.