Throwback Thursday…Renewed Strength

At work this weekend I met a man that melted my heart.  He was an elderly man with cancer which had begun metastasizing.  Though he was still undergoing treatment to fight the cancer, he was beginning to think that death was nearer than he would like.

Despite his circumstances he was incredibly gracious, more gracious than I would imagine myself to be in those circumstances.  We only spent an hour together.  My role was to help him, but it was he who provided me with awe and wonder. Though the subject of our conversations mostly were on the serious side, at the end of my shift I had a renewed strength in why I had pursued nursing as a career.  Even though there are many above me who dictate what I should do as a nurse and make more money, it is I who provide the hands on care, that receives the real gifts.

I’m not sure if I will see him again, I won’t forget him though.

Throwback Thursday…Big Hair and Bright Pink Lipstick

Waiting, in a daze.

She hears a song.

Wistful about times gone by.

a moody eyelinered man sings about love, and love lost on a mix tape now discarded.

Music beams her back.

Permed hair, lots of hairspray.

Bright pink lipstick.

A skirt that swirls just a bit, tanned legs

Dancing, feeling weightless, no pain.

Her eyes are closed, feeling happy and tranquil.

Lost in memories of friends and good times.

Then, “ma’am, MA’AM, its your turn”.

Nothing like being called ma’am

to jolt one back to harsh reality.

Not much to say about this one, except that I confess to having big hair at one time.  In summer the bright pink lipstick usually went with a tan, in the days when I didn’t worry about aging or skin cancer.

Throwback Tuesday…..Tears Never Cried

The words she never said

were like tears never cried

Tears invisible to the world

Still they remained with her

The world wanted her quiet

just to smile

Once she thought she was strong

to control the tears

she was wrong

the tears inside

the unspoken words

turned to stone inside her

a burden still to be carried.

Published one year ago.  Still true.  My issue, I suppose, because people expect me to be how I am most days, but aren’t sure what to do when I crack.

Throwback Thursday…..Written on Your Face

I knew your mother, so I met you.

Your mother, when I met her, was plummeting into the depths of a neurological affliction. An affliction slowly taking away the essence of who she is, her ability to talk and her ability to express herself.

Because of your mother I met your dad.  Your dad, a devoted figure at your mother’s side. Everyday trying to do the right thing. sometimes, struggling to hold back a tear or two or three.  Sometimes leaving the room if your mother’s mood changes because of her disease and she says something hurtful.

You, when I met you, almost always polite, smiling and gracious in  difficult situation. Do you get this from your parents, I wonder.  I can tell, though when you are having a harder time, your mouth hardens and your skin color pales.

Your mother, day by day, fading.  Still though, her face bears a royal countenance, a sort of beauty to be immortalized forever in a statue.  Sometimes a smile breaks the stillness of her face, a beautiful smile, a smile to be treasured.  A smile to connect her with husband, her children, her grandchildren.  A smile not to be forgotten.

Your dad, a representative of both parts of the married couple.  Stories to be told. Connections to be had.  I, who pride myself on being professional, steely and detached, soften as I get to know your dad.

You.  I see much of your dad in you.  Always trying to do the right thing.  What did you get from your mom, it is harder to know, apart from your clear blue eyes and shape of your cheekbones.  Oh and you have your mom’s smile as well.

Your mom.  Fading.  Withdrawing. Hungry only for the smallest amounts of food.

Your dad.  More tears, sometimes hidden.  Trying to get your mom to eat bites of most anything.  Mashed potatoes, sherbet, foods that take little effort to swallow.

You.  Are you aging or just simply weary?  You’ve grown a beard which partly masks your beautiful smile.  As you stand next to me, talking about your mom, I look up at you, your teeth almost seem like aging tusks emerging from your beard. No matter the physical price this journey seems to take,  still though you are devoted.

Your mom, slipping away from the world.

Your dad’s tremendous loss and sorrow.

You, your devotion.  Though not your intention, a lesson about family for your children.

The chapter of this book has closed.  Tears I did shed for the life of this lovely woman. Memories will be saved of her, and her wonderful family.

I wrote this post in early 2017, after the death of one of my patients.  When you are in nursing school, they don’t really prepare you that you are taking care of family members as well as your patients.  The family members I wrote about here were incredibly gracious in such a difficult situation.   It was an honor and privilege to know them.

Some family members aren’t so gracious.  My work family closed a chapter this year with a daughter of one of our patients who was always a challenge.  Wild accusations, swearing , insults and even slapping one of the workers who was caring for her mom was part of our time with this particular woman.  Thank goodness she was the exception and not the rule.


Throwback Thursday….Beauty

They say symmetry is an important component when we judge whether we find someone’s face attractive or not.

When your face turned from stone to one in motion, that is when I began to find you beautiful.  Who could resist the light in your eyes paired with the charm of your crooked smile.

I first wrote this in 2016. A man with a crooked smile is one I often find charming.  Those subtle imperfections give the face character whether it is a small scar there or those darn crooked smiles.  They will get me every time.  As we age we all gain more of those subtle imperfections, and with age most of us gain an appreciation of those imperfections and find them beautiful.  I have yet to find my grey hair charming though, so I use a toxic mixture every so often in attempt to persuade others my hair is perfectly radiant without a trace of grey.  


pShe sits in a bar with a nautical theme and little white Christmas lights.

Her drink has become watery as she contemplates life’s latest complication.

Does she go forward with her parents’ plan to find someone to marry, and transform into a sedate society matron adorned with pearls?

Or does she detour from the plan for the man sitting next to her, the man with the Southern accent who spins words into a web in which she has already been captured?

Is it she who is the pearl, trapped inside a shell that has started to open just a little as she sits next to the silken tongued man. She lets him open the shell the rest of the way with his words to discover what she has hidden deep inside.

This is a repost from a couple years ago, along with some new commentary.  The bar mentioned is inspired by one in my hometown where the preppy, wealthy sorts would hang out.

The man with the Southern accent…..he is someone different, someone who is not in her parents’ plan.  She hopes to be understood by him.

The post also represents a more old fashioned way of thinking.  The woman only sees that she has two choices, but doesn’t see she has a third choice, to be independent.

Independence Day

This week the United States of America will celebrate Independence Day, on July 4.  242 years old.

I’ve been studying my roots.  I have new appreciation for the struggle my ancestors had to move to what they thought was the greatest country on earth.  I’m sure the rest of the world’s view changes day by day as Trump continues in his bizarre, irrational presidency.

All of my ancestors were Christians of one sort or another.  They were allowed to come to the US to pursue a better life.  Somehow though, the portion of American Christianity that helped elect Trump doesn’t think we need to extend this same kindness to our neighbors South of the Border.  How can these Christians reconcile the brutal behavior of the Trump administration with the teachings of Jesus?

We can do better.28085916085_11763ff751_c

Throwback Thursday…Suitcase

She snooped in the suitcases, looking for clues.  Clues about the owner of the suitcases.

She found neon colored bras and sparkly panties galore, enough to make a stripper jealous.  All brands outside of the snooper’s price range.

Bottle caps and receipts for the liquor store.

A planner with many entries, of tasks never accomplished.

Overdue bills and credit card receipts.

Potions and eye shadows, enough for a year, not just a short trip.

Bottles of pills with no labels.  Not Motrin or Tylenol best she could tell.

She stopped snooping, more bewildered than ever.  Clearly over the years the gap had become ever wider, and she wasn’t sure she would ever understand the owner of the suitcase.

This is another one inspired by my sister.  Almost a year ago, my sister came to stay for a while to act as a paid caregiver for my mother.  I am mystified by the person my sister has become, and nothing seems to make sense.  Things my mom had hinted at, that I did not believe, were not only true, but even more bizarre than one could realize.



Taking Mom to the Store

I head down the interstate to see my mom.  Today I am taking her to the doctor.  After that we’ll have lunch and then go grocery shopping.

The doctor is very patient with her.  At times I wish he would take control of the conversation.  Hearing her odd tales in front of another person is somehow more painful then hearing them when it is just the two of us.

Dementia is a strange thing.  Things that would have been forbidden once upon a time, my mom now does.  She has some grapes in the cart.  She starts eating them one by one as we stroll through the store.  She would never had allowed us as kids to eat the grapes unwashed, before we had actually paid for them.  During another trip, she has a bag of pastries in the cart.  She starts eating them before we get to the register.  She remembers to tell the cashier how many pastries there were originally so she can pay for everything.  She would have never done things like this years ago.  I don’t try to redirect her because I don’t see it will be effective.

I encourage mom to load up on the groceries.  I want to set up grocery delivery for her, but she gives strange nonsensical reasons why this won’t work.  When winter comes, though, we’ll need to have this conversation again.  Mom has helpers come into her house a few times a week.  She explains to me a bizarre reason why they can’t take her to the grocery store.

At the end of the grocery store trip she is exhausted.  We need to sit a bit before we get in the car.  I gather that she hasn’t had adequate fluid intake on this day in an effort to decrease her urinary incontinence.  She doesn’t seem to follow me when I tell her that dehydration will make her feel dizzy and weak.

When we get home, she has to rest in a chair for a while.  I give her some water to drink, make sure she is feeling better and then get back on the road.

My mom was fit for many years and then something happened.  Arthritis?  Fear?  Pain? If I lived locally I would try to take her out every day to get more exercise so a trip to the grocery store wouldn’t be so exhausting.

The day is exhausting for me, not physically, but emotionally.  Being a spectator to the cruelty of dementia is hard.


Throwback Thursday….The Seedy Side of Town

Everywhere she goes she always can connect with the seedy side of town.  In her hometown it is the dividing line where old money sits across the street from the very poor.  Nestled nearby is a “charming” historical district with many bars.

In the seedy side of town the golden rule does not apply.  The predatory and the opportunistic easily find the most damaged of society.  Sometimes it is hard to tell the predator from the prey.

In the dim light of night she looks attractive.  If you look closer though you can see her smudged mascara, dirty fingernails and unwashed clothes, and you might turn away.

She mostly seeks her own type, those who cannot say no to another beer.  She seeks validation and affirmation that she is still something.  She doesn’t care the price she pays as long as she gets her fix for the night.

Not content to sit at home and fall asleep after one too many drinks, she comes alive in the night.  For just one more night she can tell a sympathetic stranger her tales of woe.

In the hot blinding daylight of summer, life is just too harsh to face.  Better to sit in the dark air conditioned bar where no one cares if she is sober or drunk.

I plan on selecting some old posts to republish, scheduled on Thursdays.  When I republish the old posts I plan on giving some more background on what inspired me to write the post.  I wrote this one about a year ago during one of my sister’s chaotic episodes with alcohol.  There is a historical district with several bars in  our hometown that would be a frequent landing place when she came back to visit.  She would often “run away” when visiting my mom to have a few drinks.  At least one of the bars has asked her not to return.  I have no idea why.  If you met my sister sober and cleaned up, you would never imagine the person she is drunk.  When sober she can often have a sweet childlike manner when she first meets people that fools others about what lies beneath.