It was a Good Breakfast, Dear.

It is important to try making it into a nice day. A few weeks ago another Cheryl wrote on her blog – just let it go – or words to that effect. As we move further down this road of Parkinson I find ways to simply make life more enjoyable.

Cheryl likes egg bread. It is a memory from her childhood. My mother always called it french toast. I do not know what the French call it which sent me on a quest for knowledge from the internet of all knowledge. They call it pain perdu and that translates into lost bread. French toast (pain perdu) is always better if it is made with stale bread. It is better in my opinion if it is made from stale sourdough bread.

This morning I coaxed her awake with the thought of french toast with blue berries and a little whipped cream. This is a picture of mine. She was already eating hers when I decided to take this picture. She had slept late today but it is a good day.

French toast (aka eggbread)

“It was a good breakfast, dear”, she said to me as I was loading my plate into the dishwasher. We have no real plans for today. Perhaps I will take her for ice cream later in the afternoon. Perhaps not. We will just go with the flow today.

Carpe Diem

A Never Ending Search

Breakfast

In my never ending search for a good day for Cheryl, this morning I went to a little donut shop near us and bought a dozen from Maggie. I had not purchased donuts from Maggie for some time.

Linda was coming over today to sit with Cheryl. I was intending to ride my bike around Lunken and the Ohio river trail. I asked Linda what kind of donuts she liked last night. The chocolate iced ones are hers. I sent this picture to her in a text this morning. She appeared early.

The donuts were only hours old. Ron makes them overnight.

Donuts used to be $11 a dozen with coffee. Today they were $14 a dozen without coffee. That is twenty-seven per cent more for you math weenies out there. It might be more considering the coffee. Inflationary pressure has finally come to donuts. Gasoline prices are down. Donuts are up. Darn.

I went to ride my bike. When I had returned Natalie was almost finished cleaning our little condo.

I made chicken Parmesan for dinner. We went to a little ice cream shop for dessert.

It was another good day.

Carpe Diem.

Dressing the Bed

When I make the bed in the morning, lots thoughts run through my mind.  I imagine that everyone does this or at least everyone who makes the bed consistently. I recognize that not everyone dresses the bed in the morning before work or other chores. These days it is often a necessity.

I once remarked to my sister-in-law as we traveled to our pizza Tuesday destination or some other dinner destination and she asked Cheryl, “Is this a good day?” that it is a good day. There is no extra laundry. As this disease moves on occasionally there is extra laundry.  That there is none does not equate to a good day so it was just a stupid comment. Uncalled for as I looked back on it this morning while getting the extra laundry in the mixed load started.

Laundry is one of those chores I never did before this disease. It crept into my life four or five years ago. Now I am defensive about my methods and organization of it.

But what started me down this meditative road this morning was not laundry, it was the thought of a good day.

A week or so ago on the family chat text session, Ken remarked that he could get pizza delivered to his slip where he docked his pontoon boat at the lake he lives near. I texted him late in the evening to ask if he was up for pizza Tuesday and early in the morning he said he was. Her face lit up when I told her that Ken was coming for pizza Tuesday.

A few days ago I asked her brothers and sisters to spend more time with Cheryl or simply call on the phone to chat. It is something she really enjoys. It is also something that is difficult for her to do on her own with her current diminished cognitive ability. Tonight her brother is coming to share pizza.

She probably will not remember he is coming until she sees him.

And Ken being Ken was already there when we got to the restaurant from the occupational therapy session this afternoon. Her face lit up again. He slipped into the back of the booth we selected across from Cheryl. They talked about family. Cheryl occasionally struggled to find a word or a name. Ken waited. They talked more about old times that had occurred in this very restaurant when it had a different name.

It was a great visit. Cheryl thanked me for the great evening. I thank Ken for his patience and gracious support and understanding of his sister’s struggles.

It was a good day.

Carpe Diem.

Happy Anniversary (52)

I woke up this morning and there on my Facebook feed
Was this beautiful expression of love on our anniversary

It was made by my friend Edie down south
God spoke to her, we never talk by mouth

She has this exquisite talent she is sharing
she posted this on the day of our pairing

Edie, you did not know
that fifty two years ago

Cheryl and I were wed. Thanks for your art.
This day is special, thanks for the great start.
August 29, 1970

It was a seriously hot day. We were dressed to the nines. We were skinny. Life was in front of us.

Happy anniversary to us!

Carpe Diem. (I do not know why I wrote 53) 🙂

To My Cousin Frank (aka Butch)

Frank, I know you are not with us any more and have not been for awhile but I suspect that like Google and Facebook you can watch us, so here is what I want to say to you.

Thank you ever so much for marrying Linda all those years ago when we were young. These days she is an immense help to me and a good friend. As you are aware, her simple act of kindness to Cheryl and me comes in the form of being with Cheryl while I go do something else. Lately that has been riding my bike around Lunken Airport.

When she first started doing this for us I had signed myself up for a care giving class which put great emphasis on making sure that you take care of yourself as a care partner. I asked if Linda could be with Cheryl during those class times and she agreed. I took the “take care of yourself” message to heart and make an extra effort to find help so that I can be on my own for a couple hours.

Since I am seeing Linda more these days, prior to this as you know we met for pizza Tuesday maybe four or five times a year, I think often about our conversations and ponderings in Aunt Dorothy’s kitchen. Do you remember some the questions we posed? How does one determine if sour cream is bad?, for example. I had not thought about it at the time but it was the same sort of thing that would puzzle my dad and I am guessing his brother, your dad. Sometimes small people would run through and we would wonder who they belonged to. Those are good memories. That entire older generation of our family is gone now. Aunt Bert passed away last year. But you know that. Have you talked to her yet? Does dementia go away when you get to heaven?

So, here is a couple questions for you. How are you doing in heaven these days? Is heaven a no smoking area? Is there a smoking section? Or did you give that up?

Did you know grapes are better when they are frozen? I learned that from Sarah’s Luke.

Ray and Shirley passed through town a few days ago. We gathered at Sarah’s house with as many folks as we could conjure up. Not all of your kids were there but some were. Betty and Herb came from Brooksville. Andy was not there but Kyle and Julie were. It was a great time. Ray took a picture:

the gathering

Good talking to you.

Carpe Diem.

We had a Moment

It was early afternoon. It was about an hour after she had taken a dose of meds. She was standing at the kitchen sink. Her dyskinesia was noticeable. Her conversation was anxious.

She was worried about what was going to happen with the occupational therapist … I think. I tried to convince her to sit and rest for a bit until we had to go there.

I went to putz in my office. Alexa was playing Rod Stewart old standards from his Great American Songbook album. Time after Time came on “… so lucky to be loving you” a waltz or foxtrot. I asked her if she wanted to dance. The song was a favorite of ours. I turned it up a bit and coaxed her into the space between the dining and living area. She put her arms up around me and I did the same. We hugged and danced in place.  She burst into tears as some Parkinson’s emotions took over.

Me too. We took a moment to feel a little sad about our current situation. We took a moment to let the emotion wash over us. At that point in time life was overwhelming. We had to let it be overwhelming in order to move forward with life some more. It is okay to lament life for a bit.

The song ended and we sat in the living room. Rod started singing, “I see fields of green, red roses too…” She watched some of the pictures go by on the Frameo that Anna gave her a couple years ago. She cried a little bit more and enjoyed the nostalgia. And then we were ready for life again.

an earlier dancing opportunity

Carpe Diem.

Overnight at the Lodge

A few days ago the kids and grandkids camped at a nearby state park. Cheryl knew about it.  They had exchanged text messages back and forth while the planning went on. I did not talk seriously to Cheryl about it until the day before. If I give her too much to think about she becomes anxious with the planning activity.

I suggested we could stay overnight in the lodge there and visit the kiddos at the campground. She readily agree. I called the lodge desk and THEY HAD HANDICAPPED ACCESS rooms available. I did not ask about their cancellation policy. I was hopeful that Cheryl would still be interested in visiting the kiddos campsite when she woke up tomorrow.

The next day we went. It was a great day. I got the big bed pad out and packed it on the bottom of the big suitcase with extra incontinence solutions so that Cheryl would not have that anxiety all day long. On top of that she packed clothes for a week. Girls need choices. I packed a change of clothes in the little bit of space left in the suitcase.

We got there about 3:30-ish and found the room. I texted David and found out where their camp sites were and cruised through the campground twice after misreading the signs the first time through. We found them unloading coolers and tables and chairs and other stuff. Everybody was busy with something so I parked in an empty campsite across the little drive through the camping area. Luke was loading a cooler with soft drinks. Anna, Laurencia and Virginia were making quick work of erecting a couple tents.

Good times were soon to be had. Frisbee games were unloaded. Eric and Max tossed a baseball back and forth. Corn hole was set up. It is not camping if there is no corn hole set around.

There was great camp food. Our son, David, with Cheryl’s help, current veggies and sausage packets to place on the fire. Cheryl had a great time participating in the food preparation. For a short while she was Mom again. She was talking and cutting. Dad was hanging out with the grandkids and the other adults.

We had some great conversation around the campfire.  Parkinson disease interlaced with dementia takes most of the spontaneity out of our living activities these days. I had forgotten about that. I am sincerely grateful that Cheryl was feeling good that day and evening. We both miss the spontaneity of retirement.

And grateful that some of our hoped for spontaneity in retirement was there that day. Twenty-five years ago we would spontaneously decide to disappear on the weekend and hike in the woods or explore some little town we had not been to before. Once we stayed overnight in a bed and breakfast in Chilicothe, Ohio and the B & B was being run by others because the owner was going to Columbus overnight for a cancer treatment. So, we stayed overnight with strangers in someone else’s house. It was amusing and fun and spontaneous.

Carpe diem

MMXXII and Enjoy the Moment

Tim Scott has a new book. It has just been published so he is making the rounds promoting his new effort. Perhaps merely because he is intelligent and half of the Senate representation from South Carolina but probably also because he is black and Republican, the CBS Morning newsies cannot resist asking questions that have little to do with his book.

To a question about whether he was considering a run for the Presidency of the U. S. he responded, “… You shouldn’t worry what’s next if you haven’t finished what’s now.” He gets my new life philosophy.

Carpe Diem. Latin for seize the day. I use it to end my little posts about various issues Cheryl is dealing with but it is also a reminder to me to stay in the present. Do not linger in lamentation over perceived losses. Stay focused on the now. But do not get so narrow minded that everything has to be “just so.” It can be good enough. (An engineer would add – for who it’s for.)

Do not become anxious about the future unless you are making a list of stuff to take care of before leaving on an extended trip. Worrying about what is to come is of no useful purpose. Plan and if God laughs at you, laugh with Him.

Carpe Diem to me also means stay in the moment. Enjoy this moment. Take a selfie if you want to have a remembrance in some future time. I personally do not understand the selfie thing. Most of the selfies I see on Facebook do not give one a sense of where one is. Occasionally there is a glimpse of beach or Mickey Mouse ears but often the background is some drinking establishment which could be anywhere in the world. I have also noticed that the camera aficionados in my family point the camera away from themselves. Me included.

Cheryl found this image of my youngest sister, Laura and her husband Jeff. They look very happy. Laura looks radiant. They are enjoying the moment. I maintain it is impossible to look this happy and not be happy in your soul.

This picture was made pre-smart phone. It is therefore not a selfie. Many years ago I visited with my west coast sister in Seattle. I was working on a job farther north in Vancouver BC. Walking down Market St. I was nearly clothes-lined by some woman with her selfie stick. It was the first time I had seen a selfie stick. (Oh, I have wandered off into the weeds.)

Carpe Diem.

EEEEke, Get Outta Here!

House centipedes occasionally wander into the house. This morning one went to its demise after scouting for prey in our kitchen. If you read the link to family handyman at the beginning it tells you that you probably should not kill them. Cheryl did not read that article.

Watching that activity, I thought about it from the bug’s point of view…

bug – “doddy-oat doe” Humming to itself. This looks like a good place to hunt as it moves into lighted part of the kitchen floor.

Cheryl – “Eeeeke! Get outta here you!” Lot’s of thumps and bumps while she tries to get up.

bug – “Holy cow there must be some kinda earthquake going on.”, it thinks. It freezes to check its surroundings.

Paul – “What’s happening in there?”

Cheryl – “There’s one of those thousand leggers.” As I come into the kitchen she says, “There it is!”, pointing to the insect hiding under the base cabinet front. I grabbed the fly swatter hanging on the pantry door and handed it to her as Mr. Centipede scampered out of harm’s way under the refrigerator.

Paul – “Here use this it will work better.”

The centipede stayed under the fridge for a few minutes searching for prey and weighing options for escape. Soon the cry erupted, “There you are!” WHACK. WHACK WHACK.

bug – “Damn. Crazy woman. What is up with you? I’m outta here.” It retreated back under the fridge and Cheryl shoved the fly swatter under the front of the refrigerator in an effort to chase the bug out from underneath. It reappeared to the left when Cheryl was probing to the right. She whacked at it some more as it attempted to scurry away.

bug – ” Ow, ow ow. OUCH. That hurts. Why are y…” Centipedes are delicate creatures and tend to disintegrate with a direct hit. This one did just that.

Gone to centipede heaven as dust.

Cheryl – “Got it!”

There is a rule in our house. No bug of any type may live there. No benefit may ameliorate the absoluteness of none.

I laugh now. It is entertaining to watch. I used to worry because of Cheryl’s balance issues. I worried that she would fall down chasing a bug across the floor. And then I realized that often her Parkinson disappeared for a bit. The necessity to cause death to all bugs overrode any Parkinson. In fact she is pretty good at mashing ants with the tip of her cane or the tip of a walker leg. The only thing that needs improvement is her reaction time.

Bug whacking is also pretty good exercise. She will come right out of the chair to bush whack a bug.

Carpe Diem.

Donut Day

It was going to be doughnut day and I forgot. Alas. Woe is me.

Going down this sometimes bumpy, sometimes smooth road of Parkinson, I hunt for ways to make memories. Happy memories. You have to see how Cheryl’s face lights up when there are doughnuts for breakfast. You will know then why getting up early to go find doughnuts is a special memory. Cheerios will not go nearly as far to creation of happiness.

Skeptics will report that doughnuts are not good food. Some will even report that doughnuts are bad for you. Others will discuss yogurt and oat bran and report their studied benefits to those I say malarkey, nonsense and bovine feces. Nothing, absolutely nothing compares to a lightly textured butter enhanced wheat dough gently lofted by yeast plants straining for full growth finished in deep oil at the proper temperature and upon proper cooling, coated with a just-right glaze of sugary vanilla. (I know you can taste it. That is because I am eating one while writing. Darn, sugar on the keyboard.)

I offer only condolences to those with celiac disease. Gluten free donuts are a sad replacement. I offer condolences to those who are lactose intolerant also for they are doomed to enjoy margarine and vegetable oil.

Nevertheless as we returned home from our dinner at a diner and a walk around the park last night, Cheryl expressed an interest in having doughnuts for breakfast. I agreed but at 8 PM those are hard to find and when you do there is little selection. I said I would get up early and go find some. Alas, this morning that thought had not remained with me overnight.

Cheryl got up a little after 8 with no help from me. I heard her stirring in the bathroom and went to be an annoying helicopter care partner. All was well. I asked her what she wanted for breakfast to which she replied, doughnuts! I was initially crestfallen as I had forgotten our discussion. I put on clothing and went to our local IGA to see what was still available in their Busken Bakery cabinet. Fortunately for me the selection still contained kettle danish which is a favorite of hers. I will eat any combination of sugar and wheat dough. No favorites for me, although, my grandson once brought me a maple iced long john which a strip of bacon on top. Yummy. (When you are in Chicago next time find some “fried dough” — fattening but exquisite.)

The day was saved. The crisis was averted. Dip-able things appeared next to my coffee. Perhaps I will make a new pot.

Carpe Diem.