Tuesday, December 7, 2010


The following is an article I wrote for a monthly newsletter at a veterans nursing home where I worked on the Alzheimers secure unit.

May I share some of the things rattling around in my head? "They're all the same but different." How many times have we heard that expression? It never really meant much to me until I began working with Alzheimer's Disease victims. How much they are alike, how much they differ.

Sometimes when I feel particularly distressed, I go sit with the guys in the solarium on the secured unit. We visit and hold hands and smile at each other. I observe them as they observe me.

One gentleman sits upright, with his legs crossed, arms in an appropriate position, looking for all the world as though he were not suffering from a devastating disease. He speaks appropriately, but it seems he wakes up to a new world every few minutes because he doesn't remember things that occurred very recently.

One of the many things I don't understand about this disease is...why do these men remember the way back from the dining room from day to day? How do they remember that it's okay to go with me for a cup of coffee? They know when I walk into the room that I just might offer them that opportunity or invite them to go for a ride or a walk or offer them a snack. We are familiar to them yet we are strangers. They obviously sometimes think we're wife, sister, daughter, brother, mother, father, or an old neighbor from their childhood. How can they recall how to fix their coffee to their liking?

There are some mannerisms that many of the guys have used at one time or another. My favorite is the one in which it appears that he is handling a piece of hair, lifting it from one hand to the other. I am so tuned into this mannerism that, when he gives me that object (which I can't see), I will not only take it, I will carefully put it into my pocket! How about the mannerism where he is placing a "long key chain" into the palm of my hand, watching it curl into a circle on my hand, winding it a little so it stays on my hand. What is he seeing?

One the few things I can accept is the way these folks lose their "hang-ups" or inhibitions about certain things. For instance, the way a couple of men will walk down the hall holding hands with each other (Now, really, would they have done that without feeling like a "sissy"?). But they've forgotten that men "don't do that" and just respond to the need to be comforted by the closeness of another.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Good Friends Forever

Something I had considered off and on during the past 10 years or so, finally happened! I didn't start it but I helped finish it. Our church had a Christian School from 1974 to 1992. A reunion always seemed like a good idea but I never tackled it. So... one of the young ladies, who attended for a year or two when she was very young, started making plans. I, like the softie I am, offered to help get addresses from the people in the church who were associated with the school. Funny me! Things were going well until the young woman had some personal situations come up and she felt she couldn't continue. She suggested cancelling it, but I said we couldn't because of all the people who had already notified. After a period of time she was able to jump back in and did a great job getting it all together.

Do any of you have any idea how much fun it is to find people after 18 years? I spent a total of 10 hours going through the school records, looking for parents' names, addresses, or phone numbers that jived with our current phone book. After mailing close to 100 invitations, and asking people to notify their relatives and friends, we had a wonderful reunion. We had only 22 people actually associated with the school, plus their spouses and children, but with some wonderful helpers, we had about 62 people. We all had such a good time. We had a table where we spread out the yearbooks and all the photos we could gather. Some came from other states to reunite with some of their school buddies. We had hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, corn on the cob, peach cobbler and ice cream.

Will we do it again in a few years? Don't know, but we have a pretty good start with a nice long list of names. Although I was disappointed that the most likely ones didn't come, I was so pleased that some unlikely ones did come.

Monday, May 24, 2010


I haven't blogged for three months. Not sure why except I seemed to run out of things to talk about. Today God reminded me of something of which I am not particularly proud. I care more about some people than others. Example: If a friend's son is badly hurt in an accident, I pray fervently for him. However, if an acquaintance's son is also badly hurt in an accident, I pray differently, less fervently. Is it because I know the friend's child, and don't know the acquaintance's child? When I read in the paper or hear on television that someone was injured, I usually, "Oh, that's too bad!", and go on about my business. May the Lord forgive me for this weakness.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


He has quite a history. He went missing for a few months some years ago and was eventually found to be living in a drainage ditch, bumming off the people nearby. He disappeared more recently for about 3 weeks and was found to be living in a drainage ditch in another area of town. A man was feeding him. He's had some very severe times of illness, once thought to be leukemia, was treated, and got well. The doctor said it must not have been leukemia, but maybe severe anemia, or he would be dead. Another time he was actually seen trying to avoid people and find a hiding place. He was forced to go see a doctor. They ran some tests and found out that instead of leukemia as the cause of his severe anemia, he had a blood parasite! He received daily care, almost forced medicating, and a room of his own. It took two months for him to heal, but he is fine.

However...... yesterday he climbed up a tree in the neighbor's yard and couldn't get down. I tried everything I could but had to resort to calling for help. Some handsome firefighters came, big truck and all, and helped get him out of the tree.

His name is Vinny and he's a flame point Siamese.