Optimism about Things

It is hard to do each day with a Parkinson’s patient but if you allow yourself some time you can find optimism in the days ahead. This cartoon – published Jan 17 in the Cincinnati Enquirer – struck a cord in me.

Contagious Optimism

Stephan Pastis and his “Pearls before Swine” is a favorite comic strip of mine. I have not seen the alligators and neighbor Bob for awhile but the sarcastic rat and the naive pig are also favorites. In the gloom and doom of care-taking the characters provide both laughter and insight.

Enthusiasm, Optimism and Fear

Enthusiasm for life and all that it brings may be dismissed as naivete by some. Much like laughter it can be contagious. When I first retired from what I think of as my real career – earning a living – I had very little to accomplish with my day. I began to walk around the neighborhood. At the time we had a house in the Cincinnati urban area known as Pleasant Ridge. We were located on top of the hill very near where the topography starts to rise into the next neighborhood Kennedy Heights. P-Ridge is a very walkable neighborhood in Cincinnati proper with few people walking in it but as I walked more and developed several routes, all intended to remain on the top of the hill, I discovered in myself an enthusiasm for walking the neighborhood to enjoy other folks gardening efforts, the fresh air, the sunshine and simply being out.

I spent the first summer of retirement walking about three days a week. My walks became longer as I got more fit merely by walking. My favorite route took me through four city parks at a length of just over five miles. Occasionally I would chat with the guys mowing when they were taking a lunch break. (A handy feature of walking through a park is there are many picnic tables to sit at and simply enjoy nature.)

When I visited my family doctor during one of my twice yearly visits, he did not say hello, he blurted out – you have lost ten pounds! Huh! His optimism was contagious. We continued our conversation with various medical topics but at the end he encouraged me to keep it up. I have since discovered that I am a fair weather walker but I have not lost my enthusiasm. These days I am still hunting for a good route in our new neighborhood.

Enthusiasm breeds optimism. Optimism for one aspect of life spills over into others. Cheryl has some adjustments to her meds which seem to be helping her. Reduction in one. A slight increase in another. The result is that we are both sleeping better. It seems that things are looking up. Optimism.

There is a prayer — God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. This could as easily read; Lord, you know all things, instill in me the optimism to accept those things over which I have no control; the enthusiasm to change those things over which I have control; the ability to discern those things. In many ways optimism about life is an acceptance of one’s life situation. What is in front of us is unknown. What is behind us is nostalgia. What is here and now is what we have to deal with and understand and make the best of. It is exciting to do that every day. Optimism.

Optimism gives us the courage to do what is necessary to finish the job. There is no manipulation in us by another force. Self reliance and optimism drive us to succeed. Failure is merely a lesson. Fear and pessimism are a capitulation.

Next time you’re found, With your chin on the ground
There a lot to be learned… So look around

Just what makes that little old ant
Think he’ll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant, can’t
Move a rubber tree plant

But he’s got high hopes
He’s got high hopes
He’s got high apple pie
In the sky hopes

So any time your gettin’ low; ‘Stead of lettin’ go
Just remember that ant!
Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant
Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant
Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant

….

Oops, there goes another problem kerplop

lyrics from the internet of all knowledge…

… An old song by Frank Sinatra — optimism and tenacity

Along with optimism for the outcome, one must be tenacious and follow through. Each day, take another step.

Giving care to a loved one provides one with the opportunity to show grace and grow grace within oneself. I believe this and each new day is a chance to help Cheryl and understand the gift that God has granted to me. That understanding is still and may always be a work in progress for me. Many of her recent and current symptoms include rapid switching between emotions. This journey is delicate and the stepping stones available have little illumination. Those steps have no outline. Nothing to make them stand out as the way to proceed. Moving forward step by step is tenuous and delicate. Feeling for lose stones takes time.

I tell myself, do not fear what comes today but be aware of what may come today. Do your best and remember God is in everyone.

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. — Emerson

Perhaps a New Activity

Cookies. Everybody likes cookies. Cheryl likes to make them. It doesn’t take the mental capacity to operate a seventeen year old access data base to make cookies. The hardest part is tracking down the chocolate chips that migrated to the back of the fridge under the leftovers. And you get to eat them. Even if they are not the best food, who cares. Cheryl is skinny as a rail and I am excited to get her to eat anything.

Everything is a big production. First we have to find the Toll House cookie recipe printed onto the back of the chocolate chip bag. Way back in the beginning of the pandemonium I had purchased a different brand of chocolate chips. Alas and woe is me — I had to return to the store to purchase the correct brand with the recipe.

What about this one I found on the internet from Betty Crocker? It looks like the low calorie version. See, only one cup of butter.

Go to the store and get the yellow bag she replied.

I left.

Here is the bag. There is even a bonus recipe for FAMOUS FUDGE. I do not care for fudge. My daughter does and when she makes some, I eat it. Perhaps I prefer that someone else does the cookies and fudge. I do bread, english muffins, bagels and coffee cake and other baking things. Cheryl does cookies.

Perhaps this is an Aha moment.

We also had rigatoni for dinner. Parkinson’s sucks but you can always make cookies unless you would rather make fudge.

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.

Food Therapy

We have tried a new thing. Sometime during the past couple weeks I tripped over Hello Fresh. There are several of these around and as the pandemic pandemonium wears on I have cooked enough dinners that I am bored with my repertoire of recipes. Time for a new thing, new ideas and new spices. Time for someone else to select the menu for tonight.

Last evening I selected this one to start.

One small critique: both the prep time and cook time are optimistic. Perhaps you and your significant other are supposed to be in the kitchen together enjoying a glass of wine while assembling this fine repast. That could work.

The back side of the menu card

The back of the menu card has very specific instructions. I made one or two additions along the way. I used parchment paper under the chicken breasts. I put the broccoli in a bowl to toss with the olive oil. I have cooked many vegetables in the oven this way. It seems to me that the optimum roasting temperature is about 400 – 425 degrees Fahrenheit. (about 220 C) I set my timer to 20 minutes which seemed to cook the chicken breasts and Broccoli to perfection.

Three meals came boxed together

In this case six medium Yukon golds, a little bag of broccoli tops, out of the picture are two small chicken breasts, cheese, sour cream packets and seasonings. The little glass bowls are part of a set that I bought many years ago from Williams Sonoma. They have been pretty handy for 25 years or so.

You have to have oil, butter, salt and pepper.

There is a fair amount of shrapnel after the prep. The back row is waiting for the potatoes to cook. The bigger bowl with butter is waiting for the broccoli.

I have cleaned this pan enough that I use parchment paper often.

I have several of these cookie sheet pans. This one is about 11 by 17 inches. (A standard B-size drawing for all engineers.) The chicken crust has cheese in it so the parchment paper aids with clean up.

My plate

The portions seem just right.

Her plate.

I will have to work on my drizzle technique.  I am more of a glopper.

Overall a good meal and a well planned cooking experience. A glass of wine while assembling this would have been great.

The parkie ate all her chicken, half of the broccoli and some of the mashed potatoes. She is not a big fan of onions and I wonder what onions taste like without out a sense of smell. The chicken has French’s Red Hot seasoning on it so it had some flavor for her.

Parkinson’s disease sucks but this at least was a successful dining experience.

Love Stories Make Me Cry

I don’t know why that is. They just do. They are not sad but some are. Life long love is precious. Some say that it is rare. Perhaps what makes me tear up is the fact that many people do not find love that lasts for a lifetime. Perhaps an inner joy in me appears when I discover a story like ours. Perhaps my tears are tears of joy for, I cry at weddings and births too.

In the Fall/Winter Miamian (The magazine of Miami University) is a wonderful love story. Many Miami University grads met their life partners there while in school Oxford, Ohio. I imagine this is true of many university campuses but at Miami it is legendary. The story is about two people who met at a basketball game but did not know each other. They were set up by friends and began to date. During this time she noted that they could get a one hour PE credit for taking a social dance class. He did not want to do that but she insisted with, “If you’re going to date me, we will do this.” Later as they found out that they were in different sections of the class, she wanted to drop the class because it was not what she wanted it to be. He responded with, “If you’re going to date me, you are going to take this class.” The woman teaching the class allowed them to take their final exam together. It was a waltz. It was a metaphor for the rest of their lives.

Today she is suffering with Alzheimer’s disease. And he is her caregiver. As time progressed she needed more care than he was capable. As he was moving her into a facility to care for her better the pandemic struck the U.S. The facility was about to lock the doors to curtail the spread of the virus to their residents. Could he move in with her? Yes. He has moved in with her to the assisted living facility to be with her throughout this Covid-19 pandemic. They locked the doors to the facility to stop the spread. True love.

I wonder about our future with Parkinson’s disease. As time progresses I notice that my life partner struggles with many of the simple organizational tasks associated with day to day living. I have taken over many of these, most of which fall into the category of chores – laundry, cleaning, cooking and the like. I wonder if it might have been better for me to not assume some of these tasks. It is not that I mind doing them but I have taken many of the daily routine tasks away from Cheryl and she has little of the daily routine chores to help her organize time during the day.

As it is, I am able to keep up with daily living chores. But I cannot resist looking towards the future and wondering about what is next.

In addition to being a movement disorder, Parkinson’s seems to destroy in some people the ability to perform parallel tasks. Cheryl has filled her days that I have removed the chores from with a task that her mother used to perform for the family. Elaine used to keep track of and send an appropriate card to children and couples on the recognition of their birthdays and anniversaries. Intermingled with this was additional well wishes for illness, deaths and other life events. It is somewhat unique in her extended family as I have noticed no one else doing this. Facebook has the unintended consequence of reducing within a family notes, cards, phone calls and other intimate connections. (Perhaps a good new year resolution is to get off Facebook and onto the phone or email or snail mail to reconnect.)

I have digressed. The simple act of keeping an address list up-to-date and maintaining a calendar with birthdays, anniversaries, deaths or other dates is confusing to one who is loosing her ability to remember which pocket of her purse holds the chap stick she put in there moments before. I help her and have helped her a bit around the fringes but I am resistant to take over this task in its entirety. It is something she wants to do. It seems to be something she likes to do. It is something that frustrates her greatly upon occasion. It is something that derails her objective when she discovers an incorrect address or thinks she has discovered an incorrect address because she has remembered an address from “auld lang syne”. When this happens one must stop and wait for the correct address to appear from the email inbox – or text message stream which is a variety of the same thing.

This is merely an example of a deteriorating brain and I wonder if I will be able to keep up with her needs into the future. The husband of the couple interviewed in the Miamian recognized that he was unable to tend to her needs completely and decided assisted living was the answer. His wife has Alzheimer’s which is by my perception much more debilitating than the slow progression of Parkinson’s disease dementia but will I recognize when I am unable to take care of her on my own?

Our love is here to stay. Their love is also. I will always cry when I find a love story of two people devoted to each other for life.

Parkinson’s disease sucks. I hope I can recognize where it is sucking us toward.

Do … Resolutions for 2021

Do all you can while you can. Life is a one time deal.

Carpe Diem — longing for the old days is wasteful. While it is fun to reminisce about previous experiences today is here. Stay tuned into your surroundings.

This Post card from Bishop John H. Vincent

I wish to resolve to do this care giving thing better:

Goal:

my attitude to be positive, my hands to be gentle when administering help and my heart to be full of compassion. [What she sees, hears, feels and tastes is real to her no matter what time of day.]

Plan:

Understanding and education of symptoms and what can cause those symptoms. Keep educating myself and make no assumptions about cause and effect. [This can help me to understand that I do not know all the answers, that only she knows how and what she is feeling.]

Action:

Be supportive when necessary, explain if asked, and lead if called upon. [It will be tempting to know the right answer but to find the patience and empathy to determine what is called for at any particular time is wisdom to be sought after.]


Some Specifics:

When walking with Cheryl, stroll. She moves slower than she once did.

Do not tune out the surrounding world and merely wait for the next event. Seize down time for exercise, education and entertainment but do not regard the environment as an intrusion of self.

Be more upbeat! (That is not specific. (smiley face here)) Look for the gold in every day. Leave the tarnish for yesterday.

Parkinson’s still sucks. Let’s make the best of it in 2021.

Why Ride?

A great poster

I ride to empty my head and relax. This poster captures how I feel riding my bike generally.

Lately however I have Cheryl on my mind I’m unable to assure myself that she is okay while I am away.

It distracts me from the Zen zone that I get in. Runners call it – runner’s high. In my case it’s bikers butt.

Getting to it can take several miles. But if get there it is all smiles inside your head.

There is a zone when you ride and a rhythm in your brain as you strain to listen to a podcast.

Or avoid the mom’s with small ones who refuse to cooperate that day but are doing their best to rest little feet that are not as fleet as mom’s are.

I ride the same circle and listen to whatever on my Bluetooth earbuds that did not come from Apple.

A book takes too long but a song or two or three is just right and Pandora tells me to buy their service with out ads for five bucks a month but with fifteen seconds of ads it is better than commercial TV and it is free.

If I want words about nothing or about something a Podcast is just right and a delight. It can be insightful if it is about something or frightful if it is about something else.

And eventually it is noise and I am in Zen zone and cone of self and the world is separate and indistinct.

It is a joy to ride with the wind at your back. It is like flying but slower.

Electra Townie 7D – cheap efficient and fun

This is my bike. I am not trying to get anywhere. It is just there to ride and hide for a bit from responsibility and duty when it calls.

Glamorous it is not but it is what I got in addition to bike tights and the rest of the kit to look fit.

Ten miles is typical and twenty miles is magical. And then the podcast is over. It is sad but I am glad that for a bit I felt very fit in the zone.

It is the Little Things

Glasses piling up on the counter

Most little things are not important to care about.  Our niece, Natalie, who cleans for us once said you are neat people in response to a comment from Cheryl about how quick and efficient she is at cleaning our place.  She is right about that Cheryl and I are neat people generally.  Clutter of newspapers and magazines will appear during the week but by weekend they are in the recycle bin.  I get up and make the bed every day.  While I am cooking dinner which is something I find myself doing more and more often these days, I put things in the dishwasher as I complete a task. We put the dishes in the dishwasher right after using them. 

I’m not big on dusting  which is why I hired Natalie to do that for me but since she has been dusting and cleaning every couple weeks, I have spent time spiffing up my office.  Lately I have noticed a slight changes here and there with Cheryl’s behavior about neatness.  It seems to be another sign of the degradation of mind caused by the Parkinson’s disease.  Something else for the caregiver to do.

The inconsistency of PD is often confusing to me and always frustrating for Cheryl.  I have mentioned this before.  Paul McCartney  has a new album out and on it a song titled “Seize the Day”.  Absolutely one should seize the day but often with a parkie one must seize the moment.  Her day might be disconnected from reality one moment and acutely aware twenty minutes later.

Mail… junk mail

As one gets older the junk mail increases. At least that is my perception. Cheryl used to be able to discriminate junk mail advertising and new credit card offers without opening the envelope. These days each envelope is opened and ruminated over. I think that’s how the Readers Digest started to get delivered. She may have asked me in a weak moment – Do you like Readers Digest? The subscription has been renewed until 2025 or so. Oh well. It was cheap.

Perpetual Christmas card list

Finally it is the end of an excruciating three weeks of getting the Christmas card list in order and sending them out. Cheryl has been looking at printing out and re-looking at the list of addresses she has from 2018, 2019 and edits from this year. This is all made so much harder by the fact that the original list of addresses is kept in an Access database which makes little sense to me. The list itself is a couple names short of 100. Both Aunt Alberta the last of my father’s core family and Aunt Ruth the last of my mother’s core family have passed away in the past twelve or thirteen months. Cheryl’s sister Janice is also gone, as is my brother Bill. Things need to be adjusted.

This exercise is more than just making sure that the address list is accurate.  It is a time to think about those folks. Maybe a letter is needed for the card.  Maybe a phone call is needed to get current.  To me it’s about the list. To Cheryl it is more than that. The sewing machine becomes desk to finish off the last 30 or so cards that require extra thought. Lots of distractions jump in the way of sorting through these last cards.

Is this one of those “Aha” moments that a Facebook friend talks about? Aha! She is not able to focus her thoughts long enough to ask for help. When she asks for aid, it is very hard to understand when I must not push back when she wants to do it differently. I was not able to accept micromanagement in my working career either. This is frustrating. There are four more addresses to go.

We wrote a generic message to those who were left to go. We did this in the car riding to visit my son yesterday. Today when I asked her for the notes she took so I could write it up, she did not know what I was talking about. I had to be very specific in my discussion. But we got there. This is the note:


I have written this short note to everyone on my Christmas card list. My Parkinson’s disease is making typing and writing more difficult as time progresses. So, even though I would like to write a longer note, I cannot do it. I do want to find out how everyone is doing this year, so, if you are interested please send a text message to 5——–0 or email to me@Gmail.com and Paul will set up a Zoom meeting to keep in touch.

Thanks to you all and have a very Merry Christmas!

Cheryl

printed 6 to a page

I probably spend too much time trying to understand why I am angry (at myself) and frustrated (with myself) about a stupid list of addresses. I printed the labels – weeks ago. I just went in to check on the last four. She is handwriting an address for a fifth one to someone not on the list at all. Carpe Diem…

Questions

In a Facebook Parkinson’s disease caregiver’s group – a person asked in a posting if anyone else got driven crazy with questions.  I am not.  I wish I was.  Occasionally she will wander down a rabbit hole and come out the other side anxious about loosing a piece of information, email draft, telephone number or address.

What day is this? Is Scott going with us? What do you think Jan wants on her pizza? Are we staying here or can we go home? Did that guy bring my pills yet? … I do get these sorts of questions.

There is very little straight line activity in Cheryl’s world. Her world has many distractions along the way.

I have read and re-read this several times. I am whining but there it is – a couple weeks in the life of a PD caregiver. It certainly is an odd disease. And it sucks!

This particular image has nothing whatever to do with anything I have written here but amusement parks used to have photo booths in them. Remember photo booths?

Two Young People in Love OR We had Dark Hair Then

There is no value to looking backward in time. It is, however, enjoyable to reminisce about days gone by.

A Tribute to Bob Torbeck

Today is Bob Torbeck’s birthday – my deceased father-in-law. As Cheryl remarked that today is Dad’s birthday I thought about posting “Happy Birthday, Bob!” on Facebook to see how many of the family might respond with thoughts and remembrances. When I woke up Facebook I found this from Ken my brother-in-law at the top of my “news feed”. It is a good remembrance.

Robert O. Torbeck

Memory Lane is open and BUSY this weekend. Christmas is often a reflective time for me. The images from my childhood have filled my heart all weekend.

Today is my Dad’s 98th birthday. It’s the 43rd time that we’ve celebrated/ acknowledged it without him. Dad and Christmas memories are synonymous in many ways (for me). As a young(est) child our Santa came on Christmas Eve. I am quite certain that I was totally geeked out waiting for Dad to close up the gas station, come home, eat dinner, have a cigarette, more coffee, another cigarette, tease about what’s for dessert……finally slipping behind the heavy drapery that entombed our living room (seemed like for months), to THANK Santa for being so generous to us Torbeck’s. Once Santa noisily took off from our roof the wrapping paper was flying. And I remember Dad seated in the corner grinning ear to ear with tears in his eyes? Were they joyful tears bc we kids were SO happy? Tears of pride bc he worked crazy hours to beable to create such joy for our family of 8? Or was Dad sad that he couldn’t do more? Some combination? As a dad I have memories of crying for each of those reasons over the years.

Another Dad and Christmas memory is the Open House / Lunch at the gas station on Christmas Eve (afternoon). A huge spread of deli meats, cheeses and all the fixings from Ron and Angela Stafford ‘s grocery store. Pkgs of cookies and candies from Dad and Daniel Torbeck ‘s customers. All washed down with Seagram’s 7, Canadian Club and or Hudepol beer. Friends, neighbors and customers typically all in one! As I mentioned Dad and Christmas memories are often the same thing.

A trip to Oldenburg for lunch yesterday opened this flash flood of images and memories. As we drove through the town I wanted Jill Semple Torbeck to drive, in reverse to achieve the FULL rear facing, 3rd row seat, smooshed against the window experience of a trip to visit Cheryl Paul J Weisgerber at school 😎. (Pre I 74).
Anyways HAPPY BIRTHDAY Dad! Merry Christmas Dad, Mom and Janice Torbeck Farmer ! Thanks for the memories! I miss you all. Hopefully you and Mom are getting caught up on your Jitterbuging.

From Nancy:

Wow! Beautifully said!! Thanks for sharing your memories…. I only remember a few of the ones that you mentioned 🙄
I am always GRATEFUL to hear my family’s memories (my sibling’s and my children’s) bc I have so few 🙄
Love YOU and LOVE that you are so tender hearted, like our Dad was 😘❤️💚 I THINK that we had to sing too before the blanket came down 🤔☺️

From Dan:

Yes WOW is correct !!! Thanks for sharing those memories and reminding all of your siblings what a great life we experienced when that was all we knew. We did not realize how hard Dad worked until we were responsible for our own Families. I miss him every day that I go to work continuing the traditions that he taught me so many years ago. Thanks for sharing your Heart and Soul with all of us. Well Said Youngist Sibling. Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night !!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

From Debbie:

Oh My Goodness! Thank you for sharing your heart felt childhood memories. You expressed them perfectly! I’m feeling all of the same thoughts and emotions! So grateful for all of our families many blessings! ❤️💝

From me:

Happy Birthday to you, Bob. Thanks for letting me drive the wagon. Thanks for not staying mad about no bumper guards on the VW. Thanks for the opportunity to clean the men’s room. Thanks for letting me earn a few bucks on the weekend. But most importantly thanks for bringing Cheryl into the world.
Many times through life I have often wondered what was the purpose of it all and more importantly what was my purpose.
The answer to that question recently has been made very clear to me. Thanks to you and Elaine for producing Cheryl as a product of your love. She consumes all of my love and life purpose now as you know, so, thanks Bob.
As Ken said, I hope you are able to jitterbug into eternity and Happy Birthday to you!

From Cheryl:

Every time members of our family gets together, we have lots of fun. We don’t need board games or card games.  We remember lots of events, and those memories breed  more memories. Most of the time, the memories are triggered by a long-lost photo that we find when getting out the Christmas decorations. For instance, there is a memory I have that I have told many times over the years– it’s a good memory.  I was probably 4 years old and Jan was probably 2 years old, and she had curly blond hair.  I had straight brown hair.  Mom wanted me to have curly hair.  It was Christmas eve.  Jan and I were supposed to take a nap. Mom used some metal curlers to curl my hair for the occasion. Then she put Jan and me to bed  in Mom and Dad’s bed. At the time, their bedroom was separated from the living room by a set of  sliding pocket doors. So Jan and I were told to go to sleep. Jan went to sleep almost right away, while I tossed and turned…wide awake!  In the pocket doors there were a couple of key holes that were just high enough in the doors for me to look through.  So, of course I peeked in, and there, across from the door, was a  doll-size table and chairs, with a baby doll sitting on each chair! I just stood there staring at my new toys. Then suddenly Mom opened the door   right in front of me.  Then Mom gently scolded me, and told me to get back in bed. She said that Santa was in the kitchen, and he wouldn’t be happy if he saw that I was awake. I went right back to bed
and kept quiet until it was time for supper. This is one of my fondest Christmas memories.

All of our memories are precious. We preserve people we love by remembering them. Sometimes the memories are so powerful they cloud reality. When I look at Cheryl I see a younger version of her.

Thanks Ken for your remembrance of your dad. Thanks for reminding me of those trips to Oldenburg. I am at peace today with everything.

Enough of This Crap! Let’s Celebrate!

Melisa and David and the kiddos

Melissa Comer and David Weisgerber got married in July. They first met in high school (upper left) and life took them in different directions for many years and this year they were married.

They have a blended family. Two different mothers and three different fathers later here they are as a group. It is a wonderful group. They have a busy houseful of teenagers and two dogs and a female feline named Thomas. Thomas sounds like a small child crying and occasionally says, “Mom” in a way that will make you look to see which kid is trying to get attention.

Luke is interested in photography. [far right in the middle picture] He put this collage together for me. It tells a love story spread out over many years. Ellie’s photo-bomb selfie in the lower left expresses the joy, happiness and camaraderie that all the children seem to have when they are in their home.

So enough of this crap… Let’s celebrate two people who found each other again.