No Church Yet

Last night we sat outside for a bit and watched the International Space Station fly over. She was very excited to see it. She had found an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer a few days before that described upcoming events in the night sky.

We live on top of a hill and have a fairly unobstructed view of the horizon to the west. There are buildings, of course, but all in all not a bad view. After the the ISS disappeared from our view behind our building we went inside and she wrote this note to our children and a few other random family members. She wrote it in Word and printed it out and then asked if I could send it to our kids. This morning I did just that.


Hello, Anna, Scott, David, Janice, Jan, Nancy, Bill Farmer, Iris, Virginia, if I forgot someone, please pass this information along,

During this time of the year, there are often beautiful sights in the night sky. Paul is aware of these because he often researches some of the software that is available. You do not need to have access to special software… although it is
helpful. You can see some of the stars and planets without any special equipment; you can watch the International space station as it travels across the evening sky. These sights are magical! Many if you have clear skies at night… some of them are visible in the early evening. When you learn that there is a lovely event that is expected to occur, get the kids ready for bed, explain the event to them… where to look in the sky, etc., they should ask their
teachers about the night sky.

We found our information for tonight’s show in the Cincinnati Enquirer, the subtitle is “Crescent moon next to dazzling Venus.”, on page 5A.

Love,

Grandma. Aunt Cheryl, and any other relatives who may enjoy this.

The morning started pretty normal. The VERY LOUD ALARM clock awakened me to get her 7AM meds. I helped her to the bathroom and waited on the edge of the bed for the toilet to flush. She took her meds. We laid down again for a while.

Later I got up to find coffee and watched TV for a bit until Cheryl got up. She popped out of the hallway to our bedroom all excited because she could not find any underwear. In my stupidity I pointed out that she had underwear on just no pajama bottoms. (She was confused getting up this morning but I did not understand the extent of her confusion.) She was intending to get dressed for church but I did not realize this at the time. I was pleasantly ensconced in my Saturday morning coffee and newsy programs.

The newsy programs I have found to be not so newsy. The pattern is repetitive and to me boring — Covid we’re all gonna die; the latest political kerfuffle; desperate folks swimming the Rio Grande trying to get to Texas; some weather activity. Lately there seem few MASS SHOOTING events that make the news. Are they becoming commonplace? Or is it merely that most do not rise past some low bar of heinousness that is defined somewhere.

Nevertheless She was looking for underwear so I went back with her and found some undergarments which she pronounced good. I asked if she needed more help and she said no. I resist being a helicopter care person because it seems to anger her when I give unsolicited help. I went back to the coffee and pressed play on the DVR. This is a handy way to watch a two hour news show which is actually fifty-seven minutes long with a lot of breaks for commercial messages about Prevagen, Progressive insurance, the Good Feet Store, Kroger’s and the local weather. With a pre-recorded program you are able to fast forward through the windows direct USA.com and the rest of the crap that comes with commercial television. Cable TV is much better with no commercials and the inability to speed through the ads. (Facebook has this same model.)

After a suitable period of time, it takes concentration to speed up the saved file and catch the actual stories from the Saturday news show, I returned to the bedroom and realized my error. She was all dressed up for church and fidgeting with her earrings in front of the bathroom mirror. I apologized to her and told her that church was not for seven more hours. It is not time to go to church yet. But she was dressed and ready to go.

She blew up at me a little. “No one tells me. Neither of you told me anything!” I was two people. One in the mirror and one behind her. I admit I did not think of it. Almost everyday this week when she woke up she would ask, “What time is mass again?”

This seems to be turning into a constant in this life. For the past few weeks she awakens thinking it is time to go to church. I usually tell her – no this is (mon, tues,wednes,thurs,fri)day. Church is on Saturday afternoon. If she does not ask I do not tell. It worked for Bill Clinton, alas, not for me.


I find in myself an anxiety about getting something fixed before she spirals off into the weeds. By this I mean some task with which I have decided to help her. Her interests are not always my interests. Cheryl has taken on the task of sending thank you notes to those who have participated with or donated to the Sunflower Rev It Up for Parkinsons walk/run/ride last weekend. In this new world of no white pages phone books and no landlines it is harder to discover the addresses of those who have disconnected from the 48VDC copper transmission lines. For a parkie with no sense of how else to search that information it is impossible.

There is some confused repetition to her actions and to our life. I will tell her I will do something for her and find that a few minutes later she is doing whatever that may be instead of waiting for me to complete that task. I admit to not being johnny-on-the-spot about it. Her needs are not mine. Her interests are not mine. And I might have to gracefully let go of whatever mundane task I have given myself to do.

It stresses me a bit. I worry about letting her wander off into the weeds of Parkinson confusion, delusion, hallucination and altered reality. But it does provide some relief to me as long as it is not harmful to her. At least, that is my selfish view. Even now as I pour my inner thoughts into this commentary she is reading and re-reading a two year old story she wrote about the beginnings of whoopadiddee as though it is new.

I suppose the idea that nothing and no one cannot fix her confusion is most troubling to me. As long as she does not seem to be lost completely to me I let it flow around me. It is disturbing to my soul. Occasionally I am two people, the one who lives with her and that guy who brings the pills in the morning. Once in awhile I am Paul.

Alas, Carpe Diem.

Time after Time

A few minutes ago I went in to check to see how she was doing. She told me that Tari picked out some really cute birthday cards this time around. (Tari was not with us shopping for cards yesterday but that is not important.) She is working on the August birthday cards. She had just put on her favorite Rod Stewart CD on the player in her little office. This song came on. It happens to be one of my favorites. This disease of Parkinson is slowly taking her from me and I long for the old days.

What good are words I say to you?
They can’t convey to you what’s in my heart
If you could hear instead
The things I’ve left unsaid

Time after time
I tell myself that I’m
So lucky to be loving you

So lucky to be
The one you run to see
In the evening, when the day is through

I only know what I know
The passing years will show
You’ve kept my love so young, so new

And time after time
You’ll hear me say that I’m
So lucky to be loving you

I only know what I know
The passing years will show
You’ve kept my love so young, so new

And time after time
You’ll hear me say that I’m
So lucky to be loving you
Lucky to be loving you

An old standard by Rod Stewart

It is a lament of times passed and an optimism for the future. I often struggle with that last part when this disease of Parkinson appears in the middle of the night or I am researching incontinence products on various websites. On melancholy days I think about the preParkinson times. It helps to not look back with longing for those experiences. Time only moves forward. I am grateful to have had those experiences with her. I am grateful for the times we have yet to experience.

Do I wish she did not have Parkinson’s disease? You betcha.. Cyndi Lauper has a song that might be more familiar with a similar sentiment. Once in a while I get very nostalgic for our previous life. I let it roll over me in waves. It is helpful.

Tonight’s menu is Salisbury steak, rice, green beans and corn. I am baking a small cinnamon crumble cake for dessert. These are some of her favorite foods. I am following the Dinner for Two cookbook by Betty Crocker which is her favorite cookbook. She will compare her version before our kiddos came along to my version this evening.

Hopefully the hallucinatory little girls that often populate our home in the evening will not appear and we can rest later.

She is looking for earrings after she awoke from her nap.

Carpe Diem.

Pizza Tuesday

Several years ago we began going to a favorite local pizza store one night a week. We tried different days and over time we landed on Tuesday as the day we went out for pizza. It developed into a tradition as my youngest son would say. It became known as “Pizza Tuesday”. Sometimes in conversation a friend might say, “Can we get together tomorrow?” I might reply, “No. That’s Pizza Tuesday.” It became sacred. We did, however, invite others to our favorite pizza store to share. Occasionally one could see local celebrities such as one of the local colleges’ basketball coach there snarfing pizza like the rest of us fans.

When we sold our old house and moved to our condominium we invited our neighbor and friend Jane to our Tuesday dining adventure. It became a time to chat and catch up. Pizza Tuesday as a tradition became even more ingrained in our routine.

The pandemic pandemonium stopped much of that activity. At first we carried out (took away) our pizza from our favorite pizza store and moved our tradition home to our dinning room table. That worked well for a bit. Over a period of approximately fifteen months we experimented with pizza that was not only pepperoni. We added vegetables and fungus. We tried other sauces from the menu. We tried other pizza stores. We tried take away from other food emporiums. We expanded our flavors.

As the pandemonium eased Cheryl and I slowly began to visit restaurants with few or no utensils or menus. I learned how to use the square bar code thingy that restaurants pasted to their tables, walls and doors. A restaurant with paper menus became a favorite when previously it was not a favorite. Victoria, a young waitress at the favorite-not favorite, began to recognize us by sight. We came when she was working often. We began to look for her and tease her a bit about her constantly changing hairstyle. There was a reason to go there beyond pizza.

Socialization is a strong motivator. I worried a bit for Cheryl’s safety and health but I recognized that for her it was important to simply get out and see people other than me. Even in a pandemonium, one must live. Neighbor Jane who is immune-compromised remained isolated.

This past Tuesday evening we went back to Pizza Tuesday. The three of us went to yet a different pizza store. Perhaps, for us, THE PANDEMONIUM IS OVER! Prior to this event we made a list of various foods both home cooked and restaurant dishes that we would like to have. Jane aimed this discussion specifically at Cheryl. We will read the list and tick them off one by one. And I hope make a new list at the end of this list.

We are all three vaccinated. Not one of us has bought into the disinformation distribution on social media. Eating out and conversation provides all of Maslow’s hierarchy in one way or another. This chart is similar to one I saw many years ago.

An old psychology chart that I have not seen for awhile.

Godspeed and Carpe Diem.

Another Morning Conversation

Today is the day after St. Patty’s day.  So what?   Nothing what except we are now three days into the asinine idea of Spring forward.  In another week or so we will be adjusted to the new med schedule but not yet.  I could spend several paragraphs discussing the odd arguments pro and con to the whole idea of time change but it seems to boil down to a cover-up for a scheme to get more golf daylight without having to negotiate with each individual employer to do so.  Who started this idiocy?

What a mess with a parkie!  For those of you who are not taking care of a Parkinson’s patient on a daily basis, it is a crisis in disguise.  The medication schedule is off by an hour all day long.  I know from previous experience she will be miserable for about thirty minutes before each dose and then about thirty minutes after each dose as the meds kick in and the chemicals stabilize.

Assorted confusions appear in her mind.  Early this morning when I got up and brought her her first dose of everything all seemed normal.  I sat on the edge of the bed and waited as she did everything she needed to in the bathroom and then took the collection of pills I had set on the bathroom counter.  When she was done I took the little glass bowl we use and the water glass back to the kitchen.  Usually when I return from that we have a little discussion about what is happening that day as she is deciding to lay down a bit more or stay up.  Today, she was still standing at the bathroom counter waiting.  I asked her if she needed something else and she responded with she was waiting for that guy to bring more pills.  I convinced her that there were no more pills for a few hours. And we had to go nowhere until noonish when her exercise class began.  She seemed satisfied with that and we napped for a while more.

I awakened about an hour later and realized she was in the bathroom again so I got up. In the daylight savings time darkness I could see she had laid out some clothes that she might wear if she was going to church. I gently pointed out that we are not going to church. We were going to exercise class later. Anger and confusion appeared so I went to the living area to prepare for the miny tirade with some coffee.

In the kitchen I helped her get some cereal and dried fruit for breakfast. Life cereal with dried cherries is her favorite combination for breakfast with some orange juice. She ate that and I had some scrambled eggs with toast.

Afterward she started. One minute we are going to church, the next minute you say we are going to a funeral, and now you tell me it is an exercise class. Which is it! I do not understand why it keeps changing. Pointing out that she was dreaming and when she awakened she continued on in the dream, although appearing to be the case, was not the explanation she wanted. She was certain someone (me) was trying to purposely confuse her and she was tired of it.

Joe Dater – cartoon

Last night was very tiring she told me. You mean the business with the address list? Yes she said. I thought there would be more so I took my coffee to the chair I often sit in. On the previous evening she was organizing her birthday and anniversary card list. I had hoped to help her and simplify this activity last year with a new planner from Staples. All of the information I have installed in a spreadsheet that Avery can read so that I can print labels for each card. I printed labels and last year she carefully pasted the label information on the proper page in the new planner. Each month she gets out two or three old hand written address books left over from her mother and from her office before we moved to the condo minimum. I asked where the new planner book was and she responded that she uses that but it was going to take a year or longer to get the correct information in it. I incorrectly pointed out that she had put the information in there last year which caused an angry response so I quit talking about it. Eventually she became tired, took her night time meds and went to bed. So did I. It was early for me too.

And then she became calm. She got her sewing project and sat down to watch the early morning news with me for a bit. And I might be understanding the confusion. The old address books are crammed with a lot of info in a small space. The planner — being a planner like a teacher might use — is organized by month and day. We labelled it with the correct info on the correct day but her cognition no longer allows for that recognition. To her, it is a big black book with almost no information in it. I may have to create a cross reference by name and family.

Exercise is more effective than drug therapy

On the way to class she suggested that we go somewhere for lunch. It started goofy but it may turn out to be a good day.

We went to our old favorite diner for lunch after the exercise class. We had not been there for more than a year. Her conversation was about the diner and old remembrances. The diner had been painted and the ceiling had been replaced. It was much brighter inside. Often something on the menu in one of these places will spark a memory of part of her family. This time an old friend that we had not seen for awhile strolled in to have lunch with her friend.

The pandemonium seems to slowly ever so slowly to be breaking free. “Hallelujah” is on the music loop at the exercise class.

Sadly the daylight will be saved whether it needs to be saved or not. Personally, I think not. The system is idiotic. Keep in mind China has only one time zone. Geographically that country is as wide as the U.S.

Chart from the U. S. Navy

And Parkinson’s will still suck. Just more so while we stand still and the time zone shifts left or right.

Food Therapy… More

As I find things that Cheryl will eat I try to add them to my repertoire of recipes. If I was a better planner and shopper my larder wouldn’t get stocked with random stuff. As it is random stuff is what I have, although, I have become better at shopping the freezer and the pantry and then looking for a nifty recipe. Thank the Lord for Pocket, Kitchen, Cooks Country and Betty Crocker.

Lately I have tried a meal subscription service called Hello Fresh. The first three meal kits – set up for two people – were Shepherd’s Pie, Buffalo Chicken and Flautas. The shepherd’s pie uses common ingredients put together in an entertaining way. The flautas do also. They could be paired with rice and beans which would make them appear as they would in a Mexican restaurant. The buffalo chicken breast was a more normal dish with mashed potatoes and roast broccoli as sides.

Over time dealing with PD we have settled into a weekly routine. Tuesday night is pizza night. Pre-pandemic we would go to a specific small locally owned pizza restaurant. During the pandemonium we carried out from the same place. Often Wednesday night is cafe night. We have a couple local restaurants – diners actually – that we spread our business amongst. We have added several over the years and are always on the hunt for new local restaurants. Sunday if we are not with family is a toss up. The other days not mentioned, I typically cook something.

It is not a rigid schedule. Remember the motto “Carpe Diem” or in a parkie’s case carpe momentum — I try to seize any good time that Cheryl is feeling and we might take a walk in a park somewhere and find lunch. Or we might just go find ice cream at a dairy whip soft serve. In either case the mid day calories will kill off any formal dinner idea I might have had. Sometimes we have breakfast for dinner.

The initial results of our food experiments have been good. Buffalo Chicken, Flautas, Shepherd’s Pie from HelloFresh.com — So far a good experience.

Life is an experiment in many ways. It is also short and one can find that when you get to the end of it, all that crap you were so passionate about really was not that important. Be kind and try new things. Parkinson’s disease is what it is. It does not have to be debilitating. With a little bit of spice here and there it is actually edible. It doesn’t have to suck, sometimes it is chewy.

A Different Reality

Where is this?

Cheryl awakens in a different place each day.  She thinks that multiple people bring her morning meds to her.  She sees multiple copies of her things. Why do we have so many bathrooms?, she asked me.

It takes a bit of time and a bit of routine for her to get a grip  on reality.  I promised to not tease her and always tell the truth. Sometimes her grip on the actual world around her is tenuous.

It makes me sad. This behaviour is presenting more lately. Mostly in the morning but sometimes we have talked about it at other times as she works through her perceptions.

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and carry on.

Night Time Conversations

Elevators and pills?

It is an odd conversation. Made more odd because it was quarter after six and I was in the middle emptying my old bladder for the second time that morning. Standing over the commode about halfway there, the door pops open and Cheryl looks at me for a moment then backs away and closes the door most of the way. I finished up and flushed the toilet.

As I came out of the bathroom, she asked me – you will have to show me how that works sometime. I replied – do you mean the toilet? No, she said. That elevator thing that you came out of. You will have to show me how to work it. Where does it go?

It just comes up from the pill area, I replied. Good! Can you get my pills for me? I’ll take them but I have to go first. She passed me and closed the door to the bathroom.

I got the morning meds from the kitchen. It was not too early. This was the day after the “fall back” idiosy that we have perpetrated on ourselves to get more golf daylight after work. Parkies have a problem with the shift. It is easier in the Autumn but it is still there.

The next day

It had been our usual (for these days) night. She headed to bed at 10PM after taking her night time meds. She laid for a while with an icepack on her head and eventually gave me the icepack to return to the freezer after several trips to the bathroom.

Over night she got up to go once or twice but returned to bed with out any confusing conversation until about 5AM. — some of this is fuzzy to me — She went into the bathroom for a bit and seemed to be having a conversation with someone. (Not unusual – she talks to the spiders before executing them.) She came back out and told me there was a woman in a pink bathrobe that needed to use the bathroom first. I got up and went into the bathroom and removed her pink bathrobe from the door where it was hanging into the closet and closed the door to the closet. I returned to the bathroom and said – she is done now. It is all yours.

She used the toilet, brushed her teeth and returned to bed. I asked about the teeth brushing and she said her mouth did not taste very good. Now her breath was minty fresh. I told her so and she replied with – I love you.

About two hours later at 7AM the incredibly loud and annoying alarm clock brightened itself and loudly pronounced – Time For Medicine! I got up to fetch her morning meds. She got up and went to the bathroom after I set her medicine on the bathroom counter and helped her out of bed which is another normal routine these days.

Afterward she did not come back to bed. Often we lay in bed until she starts to gently snore and I get up quietly as possible and let her nap for a bit or she gets up after about thirty minutes to return to the bathroom. This time she stayed up. I asked – are you coming back to bed? She replied – no, I think I will put some clothes on. I did not probe any further but should have done so.

I got up and fetched the paper, made coffee and settled into the chair I cannot decide about keeping. I turned on the TV to catch up with the boring political news of the day. This is election day. The TV news is like the pre-game show from hell. … it is a nice day outside but the lines are long at the polling places… reports the guy standing outside a poll in New York City down the street from a boarded up Macy’s. Cheryl came out of the bedroom dressed up to go to church or some other gathering requiring an upgraded look.

Do you know who is picking me up?, she asked. I replied – no one yet. You should have some cereal for breakfast. (I was hoping that she would wake up.) She ate a bowl of cereal.

Afterward she went back to the bathroom, I thought, for a second time. As she came back out she said again, I don’t know when they are picking me up. I replied that no one was picking her up to go anywhere. This, of course, did not register as she was convinced that someone was picking her up to go somewhere. When I asked for that detail – where she was going – she replied, I don’t know but they will when they pick me up. She remained agitated and got her keys and went out into the front hall. (I thought she was checking for mail at 8AM.)

She returned and said, there’s no one out there. Do you know when they are coming? I coaxed her over to her chair (The Chair) and got her to sit down. I moved the rocker over so I could sit and look straight at her. And then I explained again that she was probably dreaming when she heard someone tell her that she would get picked up soon to go (wherever). I repeated this message and the one that we where going to her exercise class at noon today and, oh by the way, this is pizza Tuesday. Some of that sunk in through the fog of confusion because she asked again. I’m not going anywhere? No, not yet I replied. To your fitness class around noon, I continued. I look pretty good don’t I, she said. Yes you do. You look very nice, I replied.

I brought her some tea. We watched some more of the pre-game election news madness. She remarked that her watch agreed with the clock on the mantle but the news person had reported a different time. I told her that we were watching a recorded program – a benefit of cable – and we were watching it on a delay of about forty minutes. Oh, she replied and I could tell she understood. She was slowly becoming present.

At 9:30 AM she announced she was going to put on jeans and rest for a bit. I took her the ten o’clock meds at ten. She went to the bathroom and returned to bed and slept for about thirty minutes.

… 11:09 AM — she is back! But tired. She ate some yogurt and drank a little 7-Up.

Changing time zones is one of the more moronic ideas of the twentieth century carried into the twenty-first. China has only one time zone. Think about it and look on a map.

Cyptoquips and Word Jumbles and Sudoku

Her favorite games in the newspaper are these. Even though she may have episodes of confusion, she still works these. They require both logical and expanded thinking – references to puns, etc.

Parkinson’s disease is puzzling and it sucks.

Now it is Autumn

Halloween is coming

It is the Fall of the year. The time to transition to walking from bike riding. Yesterday I started to do just that. It is cloudy and damp and hot for October but I enjoy walking through several neighborhoods near our home. I will still ride. I bought some kit to hopefully extend my riding into late fall and winter months but today I walked.

In the picture above, someone who lives here enjoys decorating for Halloween. I think I will return in December to see if they have the same enthusiasm for Christmas.

Wildlife abounds

Older folks walk looking down for trip hazards. At least I do. This little guy was getting ready to cross the walk I was on when I happened upon it. As you can see this tortoise has decorated itself for Autumn and blends easily with the oak leaves nearby. I almost missed it but it was startled by my passing and turned to go the other way.

And more Halloween decorations.

Bush Jack-o-lantern

Neighborhood walking is entertaining. It appears that I walk about a third of the distance that I ride. Hmm.

The path and stats

Keep moving all you caregivers! Find something that appeals to you and keep it up. Your health and the health of the one you care for depends upon your own good health.

And Parkinson’s still sucks.

It has been a couple years now

This meditation has guided me through these last few months since I read it. I have edited it a bit for me personally. I try to read it and hold it in my heart each day. In an email from him, James Clear makes points about success, happiness, health, wealth and peace of mind. I try to use mindfulness as a way to reduce my own anxiety and understand what it is that any higher power may have in store for Cheryl and me.

Wealth is the purchases you don’t make.

Spiritual wealth is tied in no fashion to material wealth. Over time Parkinson’s disease has robbed Cheryl of her abilities to control and reconcile our check book. Through our entire fifty years of marriage she has done this family task. My interest was usually – how are we doing this month dear? Are we winning or losing? Her response was often – we are winning but it will be a little tight this month. She is frugal. Material wealth is not in our cards. Neither of us are risk takers. But over time if it is not important for one to have the latest, newest, nicest shiny new object enough material wealth accumulates to see one through to the end.

Spiritual wealth is more illusory. Spiritual wealth requires work. How can I do my best job to acquire more spiritual wealth, more inner peace? What sort of spiritual purchases can I avoid to gain or regain wealth spiritually?

Routine in life is calming to me. Routine provides a place for one to put your thoughts and displace the anxiety that arises from new PD behaviors. But lately, my routine is not my routine. New things seem to get added each week. Like laundry, which I never did in our previously un-parkinsons life. I have adapted to this addition. Friday is now laundry day for clothes. Monday is laundry day for the sheets. Wednesday was for towels and the like but I left this up to Cheryl because every now and again she would decide it was time to clean and part of that was to wash the towels. Over time with her parkie mind it became random. I suppose this is a new routine to be added. Service given freely to others, in my case, my wife, who needs my help provides an opportunity to gain spiritual wealth. Not purchasing the anger that arises from the constant tug of war between my way v. the previous (her) way can help with spiritual wealth. Remaining mindful of the mental fragility that comes with some PD patients may add to stress in a caregiver. Acknowledging that fragility, recognizing the tug of war, and then letting any stress or anger with the disease go often for me gives way to a bit of grief for what is to come and a calmness (acceptance?) of what is to be. This is a sort of meditation.

I think we all long for an easy road regardless of whether we are giving care to someone with a chronic illness or not. I know I do. I long for the pre-parkinson banter. The snide comments and the snappy comebacks would make us laugh. We spent fifty years becoming comfortable with that banter and learning how to push each others button and how to not do so.

From Sunday’s Gospel–MT 21:28-32; ‘What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He went and said to the first, “My boy, go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not go,” but afterwards thought better of it and went. The man then went and said the same thing to the second who answered, “Certainly, sir,” but he did not go. Which of the two did the father’s will?’ They said, ‘The first.’ … after this Matthew wanders off into the weeds talking about tax collectors and prostitutes.

This is an odd gospel reading. The first kid responds as a teenager might — nope, not today pops. I’m hangin’ with the guys. Then he changes his mind. He does not apologize. He just goes. The second kid is a liar. Families are complicated. The first child is a reluctant helper. The second child is an asshat. I do not know where Matthew is going with this story and he does not tell us. He goes off into a ditch about the less desirable elements of any societal group.

Greater spiritual wealth is gained by doing for others without grumpiness about it. Lesser spiritual wealth is achieved by doing only. Spiritual wealth is gained in both cases. It is human to grump occasionally. Don’t beat yourself up about it but do not be a liar. Liars are below prostitutes in the social order and they are asshats.


Happiness is the objects you don’t desire.

I desire very little in life. It is a low bar but as long as the money and I run out at about the same time, I am good with that.


Health is the injuries you don’t sustain.

Exercise and eating your veggies add up to relatively good health. Stretching when you get “on in years” is a must. If it hurts, stop! Physical therapists will tell you that over and over. All good advice.

Find some sort of exercise that you can enjoy and stick with it. If you want to body build do it. If you are a runner, do it. If you are a dog walker, do it. If you are a stroller, do it. If you can do yoga and like it, do it.

Take care of your mental health. If you spend a great portion of your day caring for another or others, take time for yourself occasionally. When your grumpiness takes control it is time to go out and find balance.

Do not hurry your relaxation.


Peace of mind is the arguments you don’t engage.

Taking extra meds to fight side effects brought on by the Parkinson’s meds. It is an argument that is unwinnable even without the loopy logic of PD. Stay away from there.

Cheryl first; me second. It use to bug me a bit that she would schedule my time without warning after she quit driving. I became a built in Uber driver. I actually referred to myself as the driver — as in — Do you want to join us for dinner? My reply — Don’t ask me I’m just the driver.

Do not do that to yourself as a caregiver. You are in this too.

Someone else is using my pads. Virginia is making some sandwiches. She is taking care of the baby left here. … it seems that more and more Cheryl is slipping into her own reality. Trying to correct her thinking about what is real and what is delusion merely creates heartache and anxiety.

Avoid the bad to protect the good. — Stay off Facebook and avoid political crapola in your life.


Success is largely the failures you avoid.

Failure can be turned into success if one takes the time to learn from that failure. Life is rarely a straight line.


Thoughtfulness, meditation and mindfulness help to bring peace of mind. These are all different names for prayer.

Daily Schedule

Daily and weekly routine is comforting to parkies. It is comforting to caregivers of parkies. I suspect it is comforting to all of us.

Breaking routine opens new doors to mental fitness. And sometimes, if unexpected, creates unease and imbalance in the day.

Monday – Wash the sheets! In our third week of — beep, beep, beep; get the meds; help her to take them; in the bathroom; back into the bed for another hour or so — I have come to realize this is routine now. This is Monday too, so, I am thinking, when she gets up I will strip the bed wash the sheets.

I used to wash the sheets on Sunday. A few weeks ago I changed that to Monday for no particular reason. Often we visit the kids and their families on Sunday but the washer runs unattended, as does the dryer. I did not need to change because of interference with anything. I changed for the sake of change. It is one of the basics tenets of Buddhism, everything changes.

If the kiddos would visit us, they might find grandpa putting the bed back together.

Tuesday – Exercise and Pizza! More — beep, beep, beep; get the meds; help her to take them; in the bathroom; back into the bed for another hour or so — It is Parkinson’s Community Fitness Day! (smiley face) Shouting that here sounds in my head like the Mickey Mouse Club of old. Nevertheless on Tuesday Cheryl has an exercise and fitness class at PCF. This organization grew out of a recognized need for some structured fitness routines oriented specifically toward Parkinson’s patients.

It works wonders. Physical exercise seems to have the same if not better affect to her mobility as the meds. She is often tired afterward but her spirits are brighter and for a few hours she seems to move better. For Cheryl, having a specific time and a class of similar folks, seems to work better. She is able to but uninterested in doing these same exercises at home. The community atmosphere is encouraging to her.

Do not forget the pizza. Tuesday became our go out for pizza day perhaps seven or eight years ago. We bounced around on different days of the week for a time until we settled on Tuesday, at the same time, same pizza store and after awhile, same waitress. It has been enjoyable through the years. Our next door neighbor and good friend, Jane, joined us the past couple years. Good conversation over good pizza. Enjoyable. Indigestion to come later but not remembered next Tuesday.

Wednesday – wash the towels and house keeping chores, Paul cooks. — beep, beep, beep; get the meds; help her to take them; in the bathroom; back into the bed for another hour or so — The towels do not always happen. Cheryl has kept this activity for herself and I have left it that way. When she has collected the towels she does a clean up in both bathrooms. The real cleaning happens every other week on Wednesday by our niece who operates her own cleaning service.

I have been cooking on and off through our marriage. I prefer to not cook and merely eat but I have discovered that there are some comfort foods that I have become good at cooking and I like my cooking. As Cheryl’s disease has progressed and the whole Covid-19 pandemonium has caused us to stay home even more, I cook more often. Sometimes she eats what I cook. Sometimes she eats little. Things that I think taste good have little taste to her. Parkinson’s has robbed her of her sense of smell.

On a good day, when she cooks, she will ask, Does it smell good? I reply yes it smells wonderful. She smiles wistfully at a memory of that smell and takes a bite of blandness.

Thursday – exercise and go out for dinner. — beep, beep, beep; get the meds; help her to take them; in the bathroom; back into the bed for another hour or so — A second fitness class this week occurs on Thursday. A third class would work better for her but Tu-Th is what we have for now.

The class is very different with the Covid-19 restrictions and social separation but PCF is doing their best to support their clients and keep the doors open.

Social distance between the clients

Eventually there will be a vaccine. Often on Thursday we would pick another restaurant to go to for dinner or occasionally a late lunch and dessert for dinner. Covid-19 has often made us cook at home.

Friday – laundry day, Paul cooks again. — beep, beep, beep; get the meds; help her to take them; in the bathroom; back into the bed for another hour or so — I took over the laundry duty as time progressed. At first Cheryl was concerned that I would wash her delicate items with the Levi’s. I was able to convince her that I would not do that.

It is my second or third day to cook.

Saturday – coffee cake day — beep, beep, beep; get the meds; help her to take them; in the bathroom; back into the bed for another hour or so — Many years ago we would stop at a local donut shop on the way home from church on Sunday.

The donut shop was forced to move by the landlord which was a larger slightly competing store. Not a small bakery but they sold donuts. Sad but it is capitalism at its best. I followed the donut shop to its new location but it took a bit for them to get their store going and it gave me the opportunity to spend more time with baking.

Making coffee cake or sweet rolls or other pastry has become a Saturday routine for me. On Sunday we enjoy it.

Sunday – church and eat the coffee cake — beep, beep, beep; get the meds; help her to take them; in the bathroom; back into the bed for another hour or so — In addition to a priest shortage in the Roman Catholic Church, the Covid-19 plandemic (as my conspiracy theory friends tend to call it) has turned this activity on its head.

Church used to be 9AM mass. Afterward we queued up at the donut shop to get some sugary carbohydrates to snack on while we watched the prerecorded CBS Sunday Morning program when we returned home. Tea for her and coffee for me rounds out the rest of a pleasant relaxing Sunday morning that started by walking to church and back. It is a memory now but we used to get a little exercise, get religion, get breakfast, and get rejuvenated all in one trip. Sadly those days are gone.

Parkinson’s is a progressive disease and over time it became easier to go to the 4:30PM Saturday mass when the 9AM Sunday mass became too hard. There are many contributory factors to this change; poor sleep patterns, reaction to meds, creeping PDD, to name the most important. Nevertheless for a few months our routine became 4:30PM Saturday mass and afterward we would go to a cafe or small restaurant for dinner. Often our friend Jane would join us. On one occasion the pastor joined us. He has Parkinson’s too.

Then boom-chuck-a-lucka. Covid-19, no masses, later no pastor, blending of two parishes, no mass except 10AM Sunday, streaming mass on the internet – not the same thing, going to church anywhere else is not the same. Mass and church is community. Mass anywhere else or on line is not. The church is its people. Its people are the community. The gathering of those in a common rite is comforting and routine. Any other collection of people is something to get through, hence, the thirty-minute mass.

We still enjoy the coffee cake and ponder the safety of going to church prior to a vaccine.

Repeat: Monday – wash the sheets.

I started this story on Monday as I realized that I knew with certainty what activities I would do during the week and I was reading a snippet of a news item somewhere that indicated planners, the paper kind, where of growing interest to the younger generation. Wow, I thought, I really do not need a planner. My daily activities are routine. Maybe even narrow. Perhaps I need to expand and try new things and make them routine.

Parkinson’s disease has a sameness to it. It plods along and then, BOOM-CHUCK-A-LUCKA, it is different.