Another Friday Morning

6:18 am – Mom is up before my alarm, having awakened and turned hers off. I hear her in the kitchen and hurry to let the dogs out and get in there. By the time I make it, she has already poured her own coffee and dribbled half-and-half on the floor. Gracie will take care of that shortly.

6:20 am – I feed the dogs.

6:22 am – I hear “clickety-click-click” and turn to see one of Mom’s pills from yesterday morning come to rest on the floor behind her as she settles into her chair. Where has it been hiding since this time yesterday? Who knows? I pick it up and show it to her, explain where it came from, and try to reinforce the idea that she needs to put ONE PILL AT A TIME in her mouth. She says, “Okay.” “Okay, what?” “Okay, whatever you said.”

6:25 am – I get Mom’s morning meds for her. I stand by to make sure she takes ONE PILL AT A TIME. Towards the end, she grabs two. I bend down, holding up one finger – “ONE PILL AT A TIME!”. She nods and sets her pill cup aside because she can’t see the last bright orange pill against the bottom of the bright orange cup. I tell her there’s still one left. She feels around the bottom of the cup three time before finding it. She asks if she should take the one from yesterday that I found on the floor. I tell her no and throw it away.

6:30 am – I let the dogs out after their breakfast.

6:33 am – I fill my coffee cup and settle at my desk for morning journaling.

6:36 am – I hear Gracie barking and let the dogs back inside.

6:42 am – The dogs bark at a passerby.

6:48 am – The dogs bark as our neighbor across the street backs his car out of his driveway.

6:59 am – I open the front blinds. Too early to wake Mom from her doze on the couch, as she will tell me she’s waiting for 7:05. Or 7:06. Or some other arbitrary time.

7:13 am – I arrange Mom’s walker straight in front of her and wake her so she can get up to go get dressed. She gathers up all the paper napkins (five? six?) she’s arranged across the middle couch cushion to transfer them to the basket on her walker. I take them from her and throw them away, along with the one on the lamp table that Gracie is waiting to chew up when no one is looking. I walk over to the dining table to put exactly three paper napkins in the napkin holder by her seat at the table. I notice the coffee spill from her overfilled cup on my white and pastel striped tablecloth.

7:15 am – Mom calls from the bathroom because she has no toilet paper. I ignore the ringing phone and let the confirmation call for her ride service go to voice mail. There are three or four such in my voicemail box from other days.

7:20 – I hear Mom come out of the bathroom and enter her bedroom. I retrieve three pairs of socks from under one of her Bingo prize pillows on the couch and make it to her room just in time to put them in the hamper along with the clothes from yesterday that she is reaching for to put on again today. “No, Mom. Get clean clothes from your closet.”

7:32 – Mom comes out of her room so she can sit on the couch and see out the window while she puts her socks and shoes on. She looks at me, smiles, and says, “Peek-aboo! I see you!” I smile back and wave.

7:36 am – I take a chance at brushing my teeth and hear the dog alarm go off. Mom’s ride has arrived. I rinse my mouth and go to the living room, where the dogs are barking and jumping at the door, and Mom is watching TV. Can she really not hear them or is she too involved in I Love Lucy to notice? I can’t tell. I open the door to the studio so the dogs can run in there to bark. I close the door behind them. “Mom, your ride is here!”

7:40 am – I comb Mom’s hair in the back as she makes her way to the front door. I open the door for her. “You have a good day and I’ll see you when we get home. Tell Steve to have a good day, too. Night-night!” I wait until Mom makes the step down off the porch with her walker, then wave to the driver, Walt. I close the front door behind her. I let the dogs out of the studio. They run to bark at Walt through the front window. Now, it’s my turn to get ready for the day.


Grocery bags by the door-2 2017-03-27 08.08.56
Bag o’ grocery bags, waiting by the door

Every Sunday afternoon, we go grocery shopping. Every Sunday afternoon, I dread the time leading up to grocery shopping. We usually leave around 5:00 pm, give or take a few minutes, but Mother starts asking about it shortly after lunch.

“What time are we going to the grocery store?”

“I’m not sure, Mom; around 5:00, probably.

“Well, I’ll be ready!”

“I know you will.” (said under my breath for no apparent reason, as Mom can’t hear me unless I face her and yell.)

Around 2:30, Mom gets up and heads toward her room. I realize it’s time for me to prompt her to change her Depends. I move to the door of the office, and she looks up and says, “I’m going to change my Depends.” Wow. Good job, Mom!

After her trip to the bathroom, she heads into the bedroom, gets dressed, goes back to the bathroom to put on her lipstick, and moves back to the couch to wait until it’s time to go the the store. “I’m ready to go to the store when you are!” she calls out. It is a full two hours before the time I told her we’d be leaving. Every half-hour or so, she calls out, “Are we about ready to go?” No, Mom. This half of we is not.

I finally get my weekly meal plan and grocery list pulled together, and we head out the door. I grab the bag o’ grocery bags, and open the car doors for Mom to get in and for me to put her walker in. I try to hand her her purse with one hand while I wrangle the walker with the other.

“Just put in on the floor, here.”


I get her walker into the back, get in the car, and start the ignition.

“Did you put my walker in the back?”

I nod. I wish I could say ‘I always put your walker in the back’, but in a distracted moment, about 4 years ago, I forgot and almost drove off without it. Now she asks every time.

I don’t want to be annoyed by our shopping trip every week, but it seems I always am by the time we get going. On the short drive to Publix, I’m thinking about how the circumstances aren’t going to change, so I need to somehow change how I look at the circumstances. Mom really enjoys going to the grocery store and seeing the people there. She looks forward to it all weekend. Except for the PACE Center, it’s her only outing. Her weekly outing.

That’s it! I won’t be going grocery shopping on Sundays anymore. Instead, I will be taking Mom on her much-anticipated Weekly Outing, at which time I will also have the opportunity to buy our groceries. I’ll let y’all know how that goes….


Mom's shower 2017-03-24 07.35.43

Last week, when my daughter and granddaughters were visiting, Linda, The Bath Lady, arrived at her appointed time on Wednesday evening, and Mom refused her shower. Mom has never refused bathing since we started having bath ladies come in. She has attempted to refuse at times, but I’ve always been able to convince her of their importance and necessity. Not this time.

So, mustering my best negotiating skills, I had a mini-meltdown panic tantrum, yelling and threatening, and eventually turning off the TV and putting away the remote in an effort to compel her compliance. She wasn’t having it. Linda’s lower-key attempts were useless once I had set the stage for a show-down, and Linda ended up finishing out her hour by doing ad-hoc therapy with me as I catastrophized about how Mother might never shower again and how if she refuses to shower, maybe she’ll refuse to go to the day center, and if she refuses to go to the day center, how will I go to work? It wasn’t pretty.

After Linda left, my daughter suggested that perhaps Mom didn’t want to “be showered” with all the extra people in the house. I rejected that idea because I don’t think Mom has any real modesty left. My daughter stepped in for more ad-hoc therapy off and on all evening.

The next day, I called Christina, Mom’s Social Worker at the day center, and left a somewhat coherent message, as I was a little calmer by then. She called back and assured me that bath refusal was not an uncommon part of the dementia disease progression, and that if Mom refused more than a couple of times running, then the team would make a treatment plan for her to have her baths when she was at the day center. I was very relieved by this conversation.

When Mom got home that afternoon, I asked her if she promised to have her shower with Linda on schedule on Saturday. She assured me she would. I gave her back the remote. One more crisis averted.


Mom's med box 2017-03-15 06.37.33
Our medication strategy

Mom's med key 3.20.17

When Mom first moved in with me almost 10 years ago, she didn’t have any meds. She also hadn’t been to the doctor in who knows how long. Even after I got her in and had some health concerns addressed, she only took 3-4 pills per day, and one of those was a multi-vitamin. We initially had her pill bottles on the breakfast table, but when I realized that she wasn’t taking them properly, I got a weekly med minder set up for her.

This worked pretty well until after her heart attack last year. After she came home from the hospital and rehab, she just never could get back into the rhythm of taking them herself. That’s also when her number of prescriptions increased. And she was more disoriented. After she woke up from an afternoon nap, thought it was 5 am instead of 5 pm, and took a her morning meds for the second time that day, the med minder moved from the bathroom counter to the kitchen counter so I could set them out for her each morning at breakfast and each evening at dinner.

With the increase in her number of medications, it became a little overwhelming even to me, and I had to set up a key and number the bottles to be sure I filled the weekly minder properly. I can’t even imagine how elderly people living alone keep track of all their meds on their own.

Bingo Prizes (and dogs)

Bingo Prizes 2017-03-13 07.56.59.jpg
Gracie and Sophie wait for a chance to knock pillows onto the floor.

Mom loves when they play Bingo at the Senior Center, and she especially loves when she wins.

The monkey on the table to the right is a bingo prize from several years ago, one of many Beanie Babies we at one point had artfully arranged around the living and her room. Most of them are up in the top of her closet now, packed up when we moved.

Lately, she’s been winning and bringing home small hand-sewn items – pillows, lap-quilts, totebags. I try to arrange them artfully around the living room, on the couch, mostly, but the rambunctious dogs usually make sure they end up scattered, not artfully at all, across the living room floor.

My granddaughters will be visiting this week for Spring break. I’m hoping Mom will let them each choose a pillow to take home.

Daily Word


Sometime after Mom and I moved into our duplex in Kerrville, I got up on a Sunday morning and took myself to church. Mother hadn’t been a regular church-goer since well before I was born, and wasn’t interested in going then, either. Ellen, my friend from work, and I met that Sunday morning at Unity Church of the Hill Country. I never actually joined the church and only attended a few times, but I did pick up a copy of Unity’s monthly devotional magazine, Daily WordI subscribed a short time later, and now have gift subscriptions going to my daughter, a good friend, and soon to my son and his wife. (Surprise, Josh and Sarah!)

I decided to go through my desk this weekend to try to clear out clutter, etc., and thought that my 7+ year stash of Daily Word could finally go to the library donation store. But first, I would go through and make a list of the daily affirmations that still resonated. I’m up to November 2010, and have 18 pages so far. Double-spaced, but still. Even time-travelling back to where I’ve been, almost every devotional and affirmation speaks to me.

The May 2009 issue is how this clearing-out became a blog post. Esther Koch‘s short essay, Creating Moments of Joy, talks about her gratitude in caring for her mother for the last 10 years of her mother’s life. One passage jumped out at me:

Although cognitive ability might decline with age, one’s capacity to feel does not. Even severe dementia is interspersed with moments of clarity. Knowing this, I never felt I could say “I love you” too often to Mother. My favorite response from her was “I know you do.” She always said it with full clarity and emotion.

And that’s where we are. Mom sometimes forgets the names of things or how to say exactly what she’s needing help with. And sometime we argue about socks. But she knows that I love her and that she loves me.

Mystical Fortune


Me: Mom, why aren’t you wearing socks with your shoes?

Mom: I don’t have any socks.

Me: You have a drawer full of socks!

Mom: Can you bring me some?


Last night, after dinner and as Linda, the Bath Lady, arrived, I drive three blocks down our street to attend the last half-hour of Grand Opening Day at Mystical Moon, a new metaphysical store in Palm Harbor. There were lots of bright-and-shiny objects (one of which is now mine), and comfy, artsy clothing (one of which is now mine), and books and all kinds of other things.

They had a basket for entering a drawing, and a tray of little fortune scrolls. I entered the drawing, and took my fortune scroll (see above) which I read and put into my pocket. When one of the ladies asked me about it, I pulled it out, showed it to her, and told her I thought I must have gotten someone else’s, as I am the least angry person I know. They asked if I wanted to try a different one, but I declined and kept this one.

This morning, after Mom and I had the above conversation, I was pretty frustrated at our on-going back-and-forth about socks. I remembered my fortune scroll and dug it out of the bottom of my purse. Turns out folly means foolishness.  So, if we change this up a little bit:

Frustration leading to Anger begins with foolishness (say, the foolishness of getting upset about socks), and ends with regret.

Well, maybe this fortune scroll was meant for me, after all.

Wheelchair Transport

Mom’s ride

Suncoast PACE contracts with Wheelchair Transport to pick up and drop off Mom every day. Mom is generally ready around 7:30 am and she and the dogs watch out the picture window for the car or van to pass the front of the house before pulling into our driveway.

Mom may not always notice when her ride arrives, but Gracie and Sophie certainly do, and sound the Potential Intruder Alarm. They also sound the PIA whenever our neighbor across the street backs out of his driveway to go to work, or when the neighbor a few doors down walks his dog. Or when anyone walks, bikes, or skateboards by, with or without a dog, although I do think they bark a little more if there’s a dog. It’s hard to say.

Anyway, Mom’s ride arrives anywhere between 7:30 and 8:30, depending on the driver and his or her particular route on any given morning. Today, Walt is Mom’s morning driver. We like when Walt has Mom’s route, because he picks her up at the beginning of his circle of riders. I am especially happy when Walt is the morning driver, now that I am trying to leave for work right after she is picked up.

Thanks, Walt!

New Schedule

Mom’s home! Hooray!

But until I can be fully comfortable with her being home alone even for an hour or so in the afternoon, until my husband or I get home from work, my daily schedule is pretty tight.

Instead of a leisurely writing time in the morning, I’m getting dressed while she’s getting dressed and working to get out the door shortly after her ride comes. And I’m leaving work by 3:00, since she sometimes gets home as early as 3:30, and finishing my work day remotely, thanks to the flexibility my employer allows in extraordinary circumstances.

That means getting up earlier in the morning in order to have any writing time at all. And this morning’s blog is stolen time, since I am, by nature, a night owl, and getting up earlier is just not an easy thing for me.

No more time, now. Kennel time, doggies!



My husband and I visited with his parents this past weekend, and my mother-in-law gave me her most-loved cookbooks and their stories. When she was pregnant with my husband, her first child, she took the bus to downtown Detroit where she bought the Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook. She learned to cook with it, and it has her special recipe for stuffed cabbage leaves. Which I will, unfortunately, probably never cook, as her son hates cabbage. Oh, well.

The Good Housekeeping Cook Book has her favorite recipe for meatballs, which is also my husband’s favorite recipe. It calls for 2 T. of parsley. When he tried to approximate it a few years ago, he put in “some” parsley. I think a lot more than 2 T. I am hoping the original recipe will yield meatballs that do not make it seem that you can taste the grass that the cows enjoyed during their pasturing.

And, since Mom is coming home from the rehab center tonight, and my work schedule will be changing so that I’ll arrive home before she does in the afternoons – at least for awhile – I’ll have plenty of time to read through these, try some some new/old recipes, and make a lot of meatballs.