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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Be Still My Soul - Cadence of Grace (1)

There are many books on my "to be read" list. I decided to start tackling that list in my spare time.

I've wanted to read this series for awhile and just started the first book, Be Still My Soul.

So far, I have found it very relaxing to open the pages and be transported back to the Appalachian mountains. I sometimes need an easy read to sink into and just get lost in. 

Here's the Goodreads description:

Night’s chill tickled her skin. Lonnie pressed her hands together and glanced up. He was even more handsome up close. Having grown up the shy, awkward daughter of Joel Sawyer, she’d hardly spoken to any boy, let alone the one who had mothers whispering warnings in their daughter’s ears and fathers loading shotguns.

Pretty Lonnie Sawyer is shy and innocent, used to fading into the background within her family, and among the creeks and hollows of the Appalachian hills. Though her family is poor and her father abusive, she clings to a quiet faith. But when handsome ladies’ man and bluegrass musician Gideon O’Riley steals a kiss, that one action seals her fate. Her father forces her into a hasty marriage with Gideon—a man she barely knows and does not love.

Equally frustrated and confused by his new responsibilities, Gideon yearns for a fresh start, forcing Lonnie on an arduous journey away from her home in Rocky Knob. Her distant groom can’t seem to surrender his rage at the injustice of the forced matrimony or give Lonnie any claim in his life. What will it take for Gideon to give up his past, embrace Lonnie’s God, and discover a hope that can heal their two fractured hearts?

Monday, August 15, 2016

When The Truth Hurts - Precious Memories 8


 
My mom had always insisted that I never to lie to her. I was brought up that if I told the truth, the punishment for whatever I had done, would be far less than if she had to ferret the truth out of me.

All of my life, I tried really hard to tell the truth.  Even when I knew I was in trouble. 

So imagine the guilt I battled, when I had to embrace a technique called “therapeutic fibbing” to manage my mom’s dementia and confusion. Sometimes, in order to keep your loved one calm and soothed, you need to be a little creative with their reality. You cannot rationalize with dementia. If your loved one thinks it’s June, and there is a foot of snow outside…. it’s June.

Their reality has to become your reality. What was best for her, had to be best for me.

I cannot tell you how many times I repeated that as a “mantra” of sorts, walking down the hall to her room. Bracing myself for whatever I might face that day. Dementia patients feel grief over and over again, if you tell them the truth. For example, when they ask about a loved one who is dead, telling them the truth can be cruel. They don’t remember what you’ve told them, and they will relive that “death” over and over again if you try to explain it. Or, they might get upset with you, and accuse you of lying to them (even though you are telling the truth). They can’t believe or process what you are saying, so to them, it may become offensive.

Bob DeMarco put it perfectly when he wrote:

When someone living with Alzheimer's repeats the same question for the tenth time, you'll learn once you make it to Alzheimer's World that they are asking you the question for the first time -- each time.

When my mom would ask about “her people”, or my father, or whomever popped into her mind, I made up excuses as to why they were absent. When she wanted to know when she was moving, I would say soon.  When she asked about her dog, I would say it happened to be at the groomer’s or out for a walk.

Lies, all lies. My heart was so heavy, but it was the best I could do. My main goal was to do my very best, to keep her happy for whatever time she had left. I worked very hard to avoid situations or conversations that brought her stress, anxiety, or more confusion. Some days were easier than others. When she would ask, “Are you taking me home?” that was the hardest.

Instead of outright answering her with a “No”, I simply told her that I didn’t have an extra bedroom right this minute, and we needed to have enough room for her things. I assured her I was working on it and it would all be taken care of. She was satisfied, thinking the ball was in motion and it bought me some time until she asked again.

When she refused to get out of bed, and pointed to “that” on the floor, (we never really figured out what that was), I would bend down and begin “sweeping”, pretending to mop and clean, until “that” was no longer a concern. When she would tell me all about her plans to move, and go “home”, and what type of job she was looking for, I would tell her that was a very good idea and it sounded like she would really enjoy her new job. She would smile and continue telling me about all of the ways she could help people. I told her they would be lucky to have her.  I was lucky to have her.

During one visit, she showed me a little coin purse she had, where she was hiding her “bus fare.” I told her that was really smart, and to just keep saving. She was so proud of the progress she was making towards her bus ticket. We talked about where she would go, and how long it would take to get there. I tried to honor and respect my mom, though she was no longer the mom I had known growing up. I would see glimpses of her now and then, but as time went on, those faded more and more.

There was a man at the memory care facility who used to really bother me. I often overheard him talking over his mom while she was speaking, as if she wasn’t even there. She would tell the same stories over and over, and I knew he was tired of hearing them. Sometimes I would ask her a question and try to include her in conversation. He would answer for her or loudly talk over her, drowning her out. I could see the distress on her face and the frustration. It was so sad. He was more interested in having his say, and correcting her mistakes, than letting her be.

Though seeing those interactions, hurt my heart, I did understand the long days of confusing conversation. I knew how taxing it was mentally to try and interact with a dementia patient. There are many things I would do different, if I could. I’m sure maybe one day he’ll look back and say the same. It is a learning process, and no one does all of it right. It’s like raising a child for the first time. Everything is a new learning experience.

Changes took place daily, sometimes hourly with my mom. The woman who adored Godiva chocolate cheesecake, suddenly hated chocolate. She would tell me it was bad and refuse to eat anything chocolate. So we switched to something else. It was exhausting to keep up.

Alzheimer’s and dementia expert Carrie Hill, PhD,states that “Alzheimer’s affects the brain in such a way that trying to reason or use logic with the person no longer works.” “The bottom line is,” Hill explains, “that if a white lie is the only way to make your loved one feel better in a particular situation, and it isn't hurting anyone, then you're helping your loved one by entering their world instead of forcing reality upon them.”
 

*The Precious Memories posts you read here, are dedicated to my mother, who battled Alzheimer's. I share snippets of our story, and some things I learned along the way.

Precious Memories Part 1 
Precious Memories Part 2
Precious Memories Part 3
Precious Memories Part 4 
Precious Memories Part 5
Precious Memories Part 6
Precious Memories Part 7

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Shelter Dogs On The Run

I love stumbling upon heartwarming stories. Being an animal lover, and former Humane Society Volunteer, this made my day.

The Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter teamed up with the St. Joseph High School Cross-Country Team to give their shelter dogs a bit of outdoors time.

I hope more high school track teams will take note, and team up with their local rescues and shelters.

What a GREAT idea!

 You can see the video here.

It is worth taking the time to watch. These dogs are in pure heaven, going for a run.

Pay special attention the last little dog  :-)


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Darker Side of Dementia – Precious Memories 7

Elder abuse includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, neglect, and abandonment. Perpetrators include children, other family members, and spouses—as well as staff at nursing homes, assisted living, and other facilities.            NCOA – National Council On Aging 


There are parts of our story, that I may never share here or anywhere else. There is a darker side, with many complicated details that are painful. Some days I still cannot wrap my mind around them. I don’t know if the anger or shock ever subsides, when you walk through something like this.   

While this isn't a "precious" memory, it is part of our story, unfortunately.  Our story, like so many, has a side of betrayal, lies, and elder abuse/neglect. 

All of this came from the very one who was supposed to be in charge of her care. The one she personally selected and sought out, years ago.   The one person she (and we) thought we could trust, to do right by her if the need arose, to handle her care.

We were wrong.   
We are not alone.

According to the National Council On Aging, 1 in 10 Americans 60+, have experienced some form of elder abuse. About 1 in 14 cases are actually reported. Ours was one of the reported cases, however, I am not at liberty to share all of the details.

What I can share is that in her own voice and of her own free will, my mother was able to name her abusers. She consistently repeated the details.  Once given the opportunity, and in a safe place, she told medical professionals, our dementia specialist, social workers, police, and caregivers.  She never wavered when relaying those details. Times, dates, and names didn’t change or become mixed up.


She never needed coaching or prompting.  This was in the earlier stages of the disease.  While she may not have remembered everything she had for lunch, the abuse was burned into her mind.  She suffered from PTSD, as well as from emotional abuse and “taunting”, and we had to adjust her care accordingly. She had been intimidated and ridiculed.  I felt sick (and still do) every time I heard her tell the story.  There were certain people she was no longer comfortable around, and we made sure no contact was made again.

She began telling her story, prior to the dementia taking over completely. The geriatric specialist and other qualified medical professionals found her competent enough to speak to an attorney and state her last wishes. They all believed her and we also had proof in the form of pictures, witnesses, documents, and medical evidence. An attorney was able to help us set her affairs back in order, and obtain court assistance in making sure her wishes and legal decisions were not changed again. 

The only comfort I really have is that I believe that those who violated her and were cruel, will face God.  I will let Him deal with them. 


While I was devastated emotionally and mentally, I pulled myself together and maintained a laser focus on making sure NO ONE would ever hurt my mom again.  This is when the “pit bull” instincts kicked in, as I have mentioned in other posts. I didn’t care who it was. After what took place within our family, I didn't trust anyone with her, at least not completely. I was all over my mom’s care, and to the best of my ability, made sure nothing was overlooked, neglected, or slighted. I chose to focus my time and energy on her and with her. I would not allow the lowest of the low, to take anything more than what they had already stolen from her (and me).


Once we caught on to what was happening, and had proof, we became consumed with setting things right, as much as we possibly could. My mother was socially isolated over a long period of time.  She was physically neglected, and emotionally and mentally abused.  Her mail and calls were monitored, and mind games were played.  Gifts disappeared or simply never arrived.  This was a slow, subtle process that wasn’t easy to figure out.  The abusers were calculated and sly.



Her power of attorney abused not only her, but also their “power”, and changed documents to financially benefit themselves.  We may never even know the full effects of the abuse.  



One lesson learned?  Be very, very careful who you assign as your power of attorney.  

What a nightmare it was to wade through all of that, while trying to bring her medical care current.  We were lied to about many things, including her care and doctor's visits. For those of you who aren’t aware, you cannot just walk into your loved one's doctor’s office and expect the staff to speak with you. HIPPA laws are very rigid and you must have HIPPA authorization to speak with medical personnel. This authorization must be signed by the patient and/or the power of attorney (to my knowledge.)  This paperwork is easily changed, with a signature.  In our case, this was not to our benefit.

The original HIPPA authorization my mother gave me, was quietly changed per the Power of Attorney so that I was unable to obtain medical updates.  I didn't find this out, until we were in the thick of it all.  I had no idea that the copy of the paperwork *I* had, was not current.

So why am I sharing this?   Because I want you to be alert and watchful.


If you are in a situation like this and are facing any of the things I have mentioned, please seek legal counsel.   I am not authorized to give legal advice, I am simply sharing my story.  It took days, weeks, and many hours to sort through finances, health issues, medical records, all gone awry.   To find out legal documents had been changed, to the benefit of one was maddening.  Who does this? 



I will never understand what motivates someone to lie about medical care, or what benefit they received, from abusing someone who was quickly becoming helpless.



The only explanation I have is pure evil.   

And this doesn't begin to include the mental, emotional, and physical toll it took on my mom, and myself. Though she had counseling, and was in a good place up until the time she passed away, I never allowed myself to relax.  I was always looking over my shoulder, ready to go to war if need be, should her abusers attempt to make contact again.  

Please don’t walk away from this post and judge us.  It happens in every demographic, and socio-economic status.  It happens to the closest of families and the most broken ones.  No one ever would have believed, it would have happened to ours.  I didn’t want to believe it, and sometimes still can’t.  Never say never.


Please be the voice and the advocate, for your loved one.    
 
I am including some links, if you wish to explore this further:



















 *The Precious Memories posts you read here, are dedicated to my mother, who battled Alzheimer's.   I share snippets of our story, and some things I learned along the way.

Precious Memories Part 1 
Precious Memories Part 2
Precious Memories Part 3 
Precious Memories Part 4
Precious Memories Part 5
Precious Memories Part 6

Thursday, July 28, 2016

When Calls The Heart DVD Set - Season Three






If you're like me and have been anxiously awaiting to purchase the third season of When Calls The Heart, I've got great news!

Fish Flix has some special promotions going on, for the pre-release of this series.

You can find great Christian movies at their site, and more!

You can pre-order When Calls The Heart Season 3 and when you do, you will also receive a FREE BONUS GIFT DVD set of the first season!

All orders placed before October 11, 2016 receive a free gift - When Calls the Heart Season 1 (3-DVD set - $29.99 value).

The newest boxed set of Season Three, includes both TV and film versions, along with three bonus discs.

With an offer like this, you can add to your When Calls The Heart collection easily!


You can also enter a drawing for a $100 gift card by leaving a review of Season 3 HERE.

Once you post your review, just email promo@fishflix.com with the "nickname" you used, for your review.

The drawing will be held on September 1st, 2016 and one lucky winner will receive a $100 to use at Fish Flix!


As with the When Calls the Heart Season 1 and Season 2 Collector’s editions, this 10 DVD set contains both the film versions and the TV episode versions of When Calls the Heart Season 3. You can watch the series as 10 hour-long episodes or 5 feature films. As in previous years, fans will enjoy finding small differences between the film versions and the individual episodes.

The really exciting elements of the Season 3 collectors’ edition are the three bonus Discs. Disc 8 features the typical bonus material one would expect from a project like this – behind the scenes footage, interviews, etc. Disc 9 is a very special product devoted to the fans that have made When Calls the Heart such a grassroots success - featuring footage from the #Hearties gathering in Vancouver in January of 2016. The 10th disc is a When Calls the Heart trivia game that devoted fans are sure to love.

 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Where The Light Gets In - Kimberly Williams Paisley

 Many know Kimberly Williams-Paisley as the bride in the popular Steve Martin remakes of the Father of the Bride movies, the calculating Peggy Kenter on Nashville, or the wife of country music artist, Brad Paisley. But behind the scenes, Kim was dealing with a tragic secret: her mother, Linda, was suffering from a rare form of dementia that slowly crippled her ability to talk, write and eventually recognize people in her own family.
 
Where the Light Gets In tells the full story of Linda’s illness—called primary progressive aphasia—from her early-onset diagnosis at the age of 62 through the present day. Kim draws a candid picture of the ways her family reacted for better and worse, and how she, her father and two siblings educated themselves, tried to let go of shame and secrecy, made mistakes, and found unexpected humor and grace in the midst of suffering.

Ultimately the bonds of family were strengthened, and Kim learned ways to love and accept the woman her mother became. With a moving foreword by actor and advocate Michael J. Fox, Where the Light Gets In is a heartwarming tribute to the often fragile yet unbreakable relationships we have with our mothers.


Cafe Lily's Review:

I actually read this when it first came out, but it has taken me this long to find the time to review it.

Personally, I liked this book, because I could relate to it.  I felt like I was right there with Kim and her family, as they went through the discovery of their mother's illness.  Kim is open and honest about the mistakes they made, and the struggles they faced.   My heart ached, when I read what Kim's father went through, trying to keep his wife at home.

I will say that if you are a very conservative reader, there may be words and subjects that offend you.   Kimberly is a very open and honest writer and shares exactly what was said, swear words and all. For those of us who have lived with dementia related illnesses, we understand this is a reality.  It didn't bother me, because I lived that out with my own mom's Alzheimer's.

This is a hard, very emotionally raw read.  Kim opens up her heart and home, through the words she shares on the pages of this book.  You literally see their story play out, from the time when Kim was just starting out in her career, to her wedding which actually was a huge red flag, leading to her mother's diagnosis.

I have to say, that though I am not a huge country music follower, and I don't know much about Kim's husband Brad, my respect level went up for this couple when I understood how much they have have personally invested, both financially and physically, in the care of Kim's mom.

This is a story of family, pulling together, pooling energy, time and resources, all for the love of one woman.

I highly recommend it! 


*If you would like to read about my personal experience with Alzheimer's and dementia, I have been sharing our story in my Precious Memories posts, dedicated to my mother who battled Alzheimer's:

I share snippets of our story, and some things I learned along the way.

Precious Memories Part 1 
Precious Memories Part 2
Precious Memories Part 3
Precious Memories Part 4 
Precious Memories Part 5
Precious Memories Part 6
Precious Memories Part 7 
Precious Memories Part 8 


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Traditions and Milestones - Precious Memories 6



The one year mark has officially passed and I made it through all of the firsts.

First holidays, first birthdays (hers and mine), first Mother’s Day. Funny how we started out in life, with her marking all of my milestones...... first tooth, first step, first word...

And it ends, with me marking hers. Her first year in Heaven, counted by my time, not hers. For her no time has passed at all.

There is a Jewish tradition, where visitors leave a small stone or pebble when they visit a loved one’s grave. It shows that the grave was recently visited, and the loved one has not been forgotten. Though I am not Jewish, I have borrowed their tradition somewhat.

This blog, these memories - and stories, are my “stones.” A way to keep my memories alive, and a place for me to find comfort. A way for me to make sure that she isn’t forgotten.

It’s just my way of saying, “I remember you and I miss you.” 

((The butterfly in the photo up above is significant too, but that’s another story for another day.))

It is my job now to carry on the traditions. If you've spent any time reading my Precious Memories posts, then you already know about our birthday tradition.

Before "black Friday" became an official thing, we had already started our yearly tradition. We didn't start at midnight or skip Thanksgiving, but we got up on the Friday after and hit our favorite stores. This was before the pushing and shoving, and massive long lines.

We hit up Bath & Body Works, Yankee Candle, and had lunch somewhere. On Saturday, it was junk food / movie day. This was back when you actually had to drive to the video store and pick out movies kept in hard plastic boxes. After we had gorged ourselves on food and entertainment, we'd put up the Christmas tree and decorate that night. We never took fancy vacations, cruises, or spent a lot of money.

We just made some precious memories that I could carry with me, when she was gone.

I have read that scents can be powerful and strongly linked to memories, both good and bad. I am a living and breathing example.

I will never smell her favorite Bath & Body Works scent without smelling my mom. She adored it and sadly, at some point they discontinued it. Every Christmas and birthday, that was her number one request. She REALLY loved her "signature scent."

Recently, I received an advertisement in the mail that Bath & Body Works was bringing back some retired scents for a limited time. They call them “flashback fragrances.”  Sure enough, hers was one of them. I knew it would take me back. I was so tempted to buy some, but too afraid of the wailing mess it could turn me into.

I was brave, and I bought some.  And I didn't fall apart.  It made me smile and brought me comfort.  She would have been thrilled to know the tradition was alive and well.

I have many good memories (and traditions) full of love and laughter, to cherish until the time we are all reunited in Heaven.  My mother left me a priceless gift.

To those of you who may just be starting this journey......there are many of us who have walked, are walking, or will talk this thorny, sorrowful path, as Ann Gabhart has called it.

She also wrote about her mom's dementia over at her blog.

You can read more here:






 *The Precious Memories posts you read here, are dedicated to my mother, who lost her battle with Alzheimer's. I share snippets of our story in these posts, and some things I learned along the way.

Precious Memories Part 1 
Precious Memories Part 2
Precious Memories Part 3 
Precious Memories Part 4
Precious Memories Part 5