People Are Still Dying

She went to bed early and did not seem to stir all night long.

Look at this she says to me holding up the obituary page in the paper today. I rarely look at the obituary pages. Cheryl reads them everyday. It is the one of three reasons we still subscribe to the U.S. News and World Report Cincinnati Enquirer. The three reasons are obituaries, comic and puzzle pages, banner page with today’s date. I occasionally look at Daugherty’s sports column. He is a good writer.

I asked, “Is there anyone you know?” But she does not recognize any of the names. She goes through the list several times. The first go does not register every name. She has had two and a half doughnuts and she brings a clementine orange as well as some orange juice with her to her chair as we settle to watch the TV. Lately I have been purchasing Minute Maid orange juice concentrate from the store. It is about $1 more that the store brand orange juice. I do not drink orange juice with breakfast. It is the only thing Cheryl drinks and has been for some time.

She tells me that the Enquirer publishes a list like this a couple days a week and it is much longer on Sunday. I relax as I listen to her talk about dead people. Death is a part of life I remarked. Yes it is she replied without looking up from the list as she read it one more time.

She reads the list carefully as we watch Sunday Morning on CBS. There is a story about Liza Minnelli. Cheryl catches the reference to Judy Garland at the end and remarks that she is dead too. She is thinking Liza is dead, I suddenly realized. There is no point in correcting her thought so I do not.

It is Donut Sunday and she is sitting with me watching what I think of as our Sunday show. We used to watch this show on the VCR after Sunday mass. We often stopped at the Pleasant Ridge Donut Shop on the way home. We always walked to church.

Last evening after church we went to a local pizza haunt to enjoy the quiet and have something to eat. The Cincinnati Bengals playoff game had sucked the life out of the late afternoon pizza scene. The NFL had assigned them the 4:30 PM slot on Saturday. Few people attended church that evening. Some of the lack of attendance may have been due to the latest covid wave or the play-off game.

After we entered the empty restaurant and settled at our table conveniently located with a clear view of the sixty-inch flat-screen TV, another crowd of six appeared and was seated at a nearby round six top. After our dinner – a small pizza for me, a favorite appetizer for her – I suggested that we drive over to a local bakery for some doughnuts or a coffee cake for our breakfast tomorrow.

We did that and as luck would have it, the doughnuts were a special price to move them out of the store. I will have to remember this for future reference and future Donut Sundays.

Today is a good one. I am pretty sure that she slept well last night.

Carpe Donut Sunday Diem.

January Eight

I am not a huge sports fan, so, should I write or should I read? On that day I elected to read after hanging the new calendar on her office door, putting away most of the Christmas decorations and helping her finish a batch of cookies. It was a pleasant two hours of downtime before preparation for church.

Church was sadly uninviting as the pastor is out with illness due to covid. We are back to socially distanced mask wearing in a gathering of perhaps eighty people in a building that holds 450 but has not experienced that level of participation for many years prior to the whole pandemic pandemonium.


So today is January 9, 2022. I checked with Cheryl and it is time for the three kings to go back to the orient. But the storage area is actually slightly west of where they are displayed this morning. Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar (or Casper) are their names according to Western church tradition. Balthasar is often represented as a king of Arabia or sometimes Ethiopia, Melchior as a king of Persia, and Gaspar as a king of India. So, maybe, the fact that the bucket and the storage area is west makes little difference. It is a much shorter walk than the guy going back to India.

Guys chasing a suspected super nova…

The past week has been a bit of a trial. Cheryl has been having trouble sleeping through the night. It is a common issue with Parkinson’s disease. As a consequence during the day she is easily upset, occasionally moody, somewhat apathetic, quick to anger and often fatigued. The rivastigmine was making her nauseated so it was discontinued. She has been taking quetiapine (Seraquel) and in working with her nurse practitioner we are slowly changing the dosage and timing of that to help with sleep. It is an annoying process but it seems to be working sort of.

Last evening we made blueberry muffins for Sunday breakfast today and for awhile she sat with me to watch our used to be favorite CBS Sunday Morning show. She has not sat and watched this show with me for any length of time for many months. It used to be our Sunday morning activity after returning from church.

Times change and I suppose I am attempting to preserve as much of the routine as possible while we travel this Parkinson’s journey. I do miss watching various pieces with her and commenting about it.

As her memory, creeping dementia and other odd behaviors appear it is incumbent on me to not correct her or even explain those behaviors to others. Her friends all know what she is dealing with. I do not have to remind them. People will show kindness or not. Total strangers can be remarkably kind and generous. Maybe because Cheryl navigates with a cane in her hand.

Carpe Diem!

The Bread is Made. The Meatloaf is in The Oven.

Many gather at this time of year. The plan B gathering area for Cheryl’s family is at our house. It was supposed to happen at her brother Ken’s house. Ken’s wife is ill but she is on the mend. The dinner count is down by two. Cheryl’s sister Debbie also cannot attend. Sometimes grand kids sports get in the way as families grow. But all is well. Our table sits eight comfortably and we now only have five. Hopefully there will be leftover cherry pie.

Children visit their parents’ home. Grandparents visit their children’s homes and when they leave the mess stays there. In this grandparents’ home the gifts are all wrapped, sorted and ready for transport. Santa is unsure of the number of stops required this year. He is awaiting further instruction from the other Clauses.

Traditions abound and new traditions are made. Sometimes big brothers help little brothers. Zachary is the smallest one in our bunch. He has only had four orbits around the Sun so far. It looks like he is being mentored on decoration hanging.

Even some as sickness creeps in and some cannot visit. Zoom and Face-time is meant just for this situation. What a wonderful technological world we live in for a short time.

‘Tis the Christmas Season

Carpe Diem.

October

Holy Moly it is October.

The beginning of the shiver months is upon us. I do not want to think about it but it happens every year. Because I am the contact person for our little condo HOA, I get a mailing from our landscape folks that it is time to put some money up to get on the schedule for the ice or snow storm clean up(s) for the new winter season. He usually sends he note out in late September. I always respond to him that I do not want to embrace his message but here is a prepayment anyway. It is the first sign of the shiver months to come.

Today it is raining. Strangely it is a warm rain but it is only three days into the month. Perhaps global warming is real.

Our little family has two important events in October. Two of our grand children have October birthdays. Both Maxwell and Audrey have October birthdays. They are child number two and number three in the same family group. This year they are eighteen and sixteen. Where have the years gone? Happy Birthday to you guys. May God give you long lives, good health and keep you safe. Godspeed.

Covid-19 boosters are here. We are old. We went to Walgreens and got a Pfizer third booster shot. The WHO thinks that it would be better to get the rest of the world vaccinated against this Rush Limbaugh killer cold before us old folks get a booster to stave off the infection but I prefer to be assured that my wife who deals with Parkinson’s and creeping dementia on a daily basis remains safe and healthy. To some that might seem selfish. I think it is merely prudent.

Carpe Diem. Happy October.

Sunday used to be Different

This story is about nostalgia and remembrances of past years. We used to go to 9AM mass. When the kids were small it was 10:30AM mass. Over the years as the priestly population dissipated and became smaller the parish we belong to reduced the number of masses from five to three to two to sharing a priest with another parish. Word is that is to change again here shortly as the Archdiocese of Cincinnati tries to find a solution to the priest shortage. The Roman Catholic church’s own rules keep it from fixing its own dilemma.

A few years ago we switched to attending 4:30PM mass on Saturday. Cheryl’s medication, sleep and “feeling good” circumstances changed when she could tolerate being in church.

Covid-19 changed it again. We stopped attending for a while. The archbishop said it was okay to not go to church on Sunday. People in secular society argued about wearing masks inside. The pandemic eased a little. Health officials said vaccines are coming but wear a mask for now. People argued about other folks telling them what to do or not to do. No one argued about the archbishop saying no one need attend mass. Attendance in person was no longer obligatory. (Is the archbishop telling us what to do?)

The church scrambled to put the mass online as a streaming service. Cable TV still provides a local service channel with an incredible amount of boring but sometimes interesting stuff. A live streamed mass with no videographer or camera operator can easily out do the cable public channel for uninteresting content. There are many boring live streams now. Many live on with YouTube. Seems like every parish has its own live stream. Public health and government officialdom said it was okay to go to church again but wear a mask.

And then little blue ribbons appeared to separate folks from sitting to close together in the pews. Hand sanitizer appeared in the back of church with little baskets of disposable masks. Everyone wore a mask to keep from inoculating others with our asymptomatic illness for many weeks. The ranks at mass were very thin especially the old people’s 4:30PM mass. An entire year went by in this fashion.

Random arguments started about vaccines and how they were made. Experts who knew little about the process spoke anyway spreading the gospel according to Dimwit. The church got on the side of social empathy and “get any vaccine you could.”

Are we riding the horse into the dirt? Many years ago I worked for a large company that kept shrinking and shrinking until it no longer existed. Remnants of it are still around but it no longer exists as a whole. I met one of the former management folks later in a different company around town. The conversation often drifted into what happened? The perceived fault always lay with others or some insurmountable object, however artificial that may be.

Is that happening to the Catholic Church? It seems that many stalwart parishioners spent a great deal of time analyzing what church meant to them. I know I did. The church is changing. I am changing. For me the church and parish is a spiritual socialization. And I like the stories in the bible, many of which I have a different take on then the priest might have in his lecture after the readings.

I started down this thought about Sunday not thinking about church in particular. We used to get some donuts on the way home from church and sat and ate them with coffee for me and tea for her and watched the prerecorded CBS Sunday Morning news magazine show. We did this for many years. I miss it. Cheryl no longer sits for any length of time longer that fifteen minutes to watch anything on TV. We would sit quietly and watch with only occasional comments from either of us. Later in the afternoon we would prepare a meal for her mother and my parents that evening. Sundays are different now. Some of that is age and some of that is the disease of Parkinson. Sundays are just different.

Carpe Diem! Even when the days are short and numbered, remember that we are all flawed humans but if we pool our talents the flaws are out numbered.

Emotion is often Close to the Surface

Cheryl carries her emotions close to the surface. It seems more so lately. When we received this thank you card today from a great-niece, she was very excited to hear from her. Ally thank you for being so considerate of your great Aunt Cheryl. I responded to her.


Dear Ally,

Thank you so much for the thank you note and response to our graduation gift. We wish you well in your new career. Can you tell us a little bit about that? What took you to Austin?

As for your questions, the Covid crisis (I prefer pandemonium) in many ways has passed us by. We were vaccinated in January and February at U. C. Health here in Cincinnati. They made it very easy by creating a drive through clinic in the garage of the building that houses Cheryl’s neurologist. In Cheryl’s case they sent her an email notifying her her upcoming appointment with her neurology group and she should make an appointment to get the vaccine by July – and oh by the way here’s a button to click on to set that up. 🙂 She was fully inoculated with the Pfizer vaccine before the end of January. It took me a few weeks longer because I had to set up being a patient at U. C. Health first and then had to wait for a slot to open up but I got both doses by mid-February.

Parkinson’s disease is great practice for staying isolated. Often Cheryl really does not want to do anything. Sometimes I have to push her to get going. She has an exercise class on both Tuesday and Thursday that is oriented towards Parkinson’s patients.

I do not know how much you know about Parkinson’s but it is more than just the jiggly motion with which you may be familiar. Michael J. Fox and his foundation provides a great deal of information and a great deal of money for research. Unfortunately there is no cure (yet) and the disease itself is degenerative. It affects everyone differently. Cheryl’s mobility is generally good with medication but in her case the disease is affecting her cognition and memory. She used to be a whiz at computer databases but now struggles with opening email. 😦

With your graduation card, I suspect she sent it to your grand mother. Cheryl often mistakes who is living with whom and who belongs to which family. I often have found myself correcting that information but it is a never ending task. It is tricky to keep track of your own stuff and someone else’s stuff too. 🙂

If you are interested I whine a bit and muse about things as they are in my life on my little WordPress blog [ www.adjunctwizard.com]. I have discovered over time that your grandfather and I think a lot alike. I did not realize that until a few months before he passed away. I am glad I was able to visit him before that happened. Sometimes I wish that we had been closer when he was alive.

Cheryl’s sister Janice who also lived in Florida passed away from Covid in August of last year. So, the pandemonium has touched our family closely.

We wish you well in your new life. Keep in touch and stay safe.

Best Regards and Godspeed,


Stay safe and be well Ally. May the road always rise up to meet your feet, May the wind always be at your back. Godspeed, young one.

Carpe Diem.

Last Night it was Bacall’s Cafe

Wednesday night dinner out was a favorite place Bacall’s Cafe. She had a half BLT and a salad. I had pot roast, mashed potatoes and vegetables which turned out to be sauteed zucchini. It was a regular night.

Cheryl spent a great deal of the time trying to get her right earring in. She never did. The waitress tried to help but was worried about hurting her ear. Many years ago when she had her ears pierced the incompetent piercer did not get the hole straight through. For many years she was able to make it work. These days her PD fidgety motion makes inserting the post or pin often unsuccessful.

Eventually I convinced her that no one cared and she should put it in her purse and try later. We talked about different things none of which stuck with me. She did not have any odd topics to talk about. It was a dinner conversation that lulled me into forgetting about her PD. We teased each other as old married people do.

I remarked that none of her family came to her family gathering at her cousin’s house. She replied that maybe since they had been at our niece’s wedding the previous weekend they were doing other things. Perhaps she right, as family gatherings go, the clans tend to stick together with not much intermingling.

We saw several old acquaintances at other tables and booths. It was Wednesday afternoon and the old folks were out having dinner and a drink or two. Talking about this and that. She was having a good day for the moment.

When we got home, I settled into my recliner to watch a bit of news and for Nature to come on our local PBS station. She went into her office to look at the clutter and maybe check email. About an hour or so later as I was starting to read my book and tigers of India were saved for now, she showed me some pictures that she thought were of my sister Laura and her family from a trip out west. (POOF) she was off in PD la la land.

The pictures have little to do with Laura although she is in some of them and nothing to do with any trip out west but Joyce and Rob, our family’s only westerners, are in them. The pictures are of two Christmas celebrations twenty-five or so (maybe thirty) years ago.

Oh well, Carpe Diem!

A fun trip to CA

My daughter gave me a gift I may never be able to fully appreciate. In many ways I feel refreshed. I had not realized or believed how important it is for someone caring for another who has a chronic disease to be able to get away from that situation for a bit. It took a couple days for me to relax. My daughter somehow knew this and sort of pushed me into it.

Way back at the beginning of Spring I was two weeks past my second vaccination dose. I called my sister in Portland, Oregon whom I had not seen in person for about five years and asked, “What are you doing the end of April?” I explained the whole vaccination scenario. She was vaccinated also and over the past few months we had discussed traveling the countryside and having a hug tour. She has a very good friend in Florida and they got together about once a year somewhere. She had not been with Phyllis in awhile.

She suggested meeting up in Sacramento CA to visit for a bit, drink a little wine and attend our nephew’s wedding. What a great idea!

Last week I headed West to visit.

Over the course of several telephone conversations Joyce and settled on a little inn located in Freeport, California called Freeport Wine Country Inn. This turned out to be an ideal location for site seeing, wine drinking and visiting. It is a little inn with ten rooms and a bistro which was not officially open when we were there but probably is as I write this. California was not officially open yet, Gavin did not have his big announcement until the following week but the population was pushing in that direction. Next door is the Freeport Bar & Grill. An excellent location for drinks and dinner. Breakfast is available at the golf course on the other side of the Bar & Grill but we found the Cafe Latte about a mile up the road on Friday morning and went there everyday afterward. Overall neither of us had any complaints about our accommodations.

The Freeport Inn is a very low key relaxed inn run by Marnie and John. I recommend it to everyone. Across the street (Freeport blvd.) and up the levee is the Sacramento River and nice walking/biking path (albeit gravel) on an old railroad track. About six miles north on Freeport Boulevard is the California State Capitol building and gardens.

The picture at the top of this post was taken by Jeff Hook. Most pictures of the Sacramento skyline show this lift bridge across the Sacramento river. It is on the other end of Mall Blvd. from the capitol building. Few show the state capitol building.

We traveled to Pittsburg for dim sum with the nephews one day. We traveled to Lodi another day to Stama Winery and Dancing Fox Winery for a little tasting and lunch. South Lake Tahoe made the agenda on the third day with lunch obtained from a sandwich shop and an empty picnic table facing the lake only made more perfect by a younger Hispanic woman cooking on a grill nearby for mom and dad and the rest of her family. It smelled heavenly.

The wedding happened on Sunday in the afternoon between two very happy people who seem very much in love.

Joyce and I parted ways reluctantly at the rental car return. At Sacramento International Airport there are two terminals and as near as I could tell there was no transport between them without leaving the secure area. Bummer. We were early for our flights. I was because Joyce was driving and her plane left about an hour before mine. Joyce was early because that’s the way she rolls. Sitting for a bit at the departure gate with a sandwich and a bottle of water, my phone played its little text message tune. My flight would probably be late into Dallas-Ft. Worth were I had to make a connecting flight. I settled in with my book to wait for what the rest of the day would bring.

Carpe week-em! If someone offers to keep track of your loved one for a bit while you travel and hang out, take it! Do not feel guilty. Two things will happen, that person will understand better what you have been dealing with and you will get some time off from a burden that you accepted gracefully but had no knowledge of how much it would narrow your world when you started.

It is called respite for a reason. My daughter kept a little journal of activities and gave it to me when I got home. We exchanged a lot of text messages in between and I called every day but she was with Mom.

The trip home was amusing but I did not concern myself with things I had no control over. This is something PD has taught me over the years.

Carpe Diem, baby!